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Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Grand Rapids Symphony fuses film with live music

Courtesy Grand Rapids Symphony

As part of its film series, the Grand Rapids Symphony (GRS) performed “The Goonies” score alongside a showing the film on July 26. The concert included a seventy-piece orchestra playing beneath a large movie screen at DeVos Performance Hall, making for a unique cinematic experience.

For many years the GRS has given its audiences lifelong musical memories. Through music, the symphony has provided West Michigan with a sense of community which it hopes to continue to develop through its film series. 

The GRS felt because of “The Goonies” global success and diverse fanbase that its concert would attract a variety of people. They felt it was an easy choice to add the film to this year’s program.

“I want our community to have some fun with this classic movie while listening to the live performance of an incredible orchestra,” said Assistant Conductor of GRS Duo Shen. “People might find out a few interesting things, (like how) music plays a much bigger role in movies that many of us think and that symphony orchestra and the sound we produce is awesome.”

According to Shen, aligning music with on-screen action required intense preparation. To ensure the smoothest performance, Shen studied how the music ebbed and flowed from scene to scene. He spent some of his time practicing alongside a version of the movie that displayed quick-moving information invaluable to conductors.

“Performing with the movie gives us an additional tool: visual, to connect with the audiences,” Shen said. “As a movie buff myself, I have always been interested in how the film score fits with the movie, so this is definitely a dream come true for me to perform the legendary movie with an incredible orchestra like the Grand Rapids Symphony.”

Behind the curtain, it took eighteen months to prepare for the concert. The GRS worked with vendors and tech personnel, ordered special equipment and planned the musicians’ stage placement.

“It’s fulfilling to finally see a concert you’ve been working on become a reality and also see how much fun and excitement audiences get from attending,” said Julie Nystedt, assistant vice president and general manager of artistic operations.

“The Goonies” in real-time allowed people of all ages to enjoy a classic film with the special twist of a live performance experience.

“We provide a unique experience that can transport concert-goers out of the realities of everyday life and into a beautiful world with the music we share,” Nystedt said.

According to Nystedt, experiencing a movie in concert can be surreal for first-time audience members.

“I think this is a great event for anyone to come to, but especially if you haven’t been to an orchestra before,” Nystedt said.

The GRS has many concerts planned for the 2023-2024 season. In continuation of its film series, the symphony will perform many popular movies as concerts, including “Coco”, “Elf”, “The Godfather” and “Black Panther.”

Anyone interested in purchasing a ticket can do so through the GRS website and GVSU students looking to attend the concerts are eligible for discounted tickets with a school ID.


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About the Contributor
Hailey Hentz
Hailey Hentz is the Lanthorn's Arts & Entertainment editor for the 2023-2024 school year. She previously worked as a staff writer in the Arts & Entertainment section. Hailey is a journalism, broadcasting, and digital media major. In her free time, she likes to play guitar, read, watch films and draw. She also enjoys researching music and art history, particularly from the 1990s. Graduating Winter 2026 Major: Journalism, Broadcasting, and Digital Media