Recurring Dream: Opera GR remembers MLK’s legacy

Written by Samara Napolitan | Thursday, 04 January 2018 11:16 |

One spring morning in 1968, a young preacher prepares to travel from Atlanta to Memphis to support striking sanitation workers.

Ava Ordman has been playing trombone for more than half a century. For 24 years, she performed as principal trombonist with the Grand Rapids Symphony, and during her tenure there she recorded Donald Erb’s Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra.

Last month, the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival named Pierre van der Westhuizen as its next director. The South African pianist and arts administrator will take the helm this January following the retirement of Daniel Gustin, the current director of 18 years. Widely credited with boosting the visibility of the prestigious Cleveland International Piano Competition, van der Westhuizen brings impressive administrative chops to The Gilmore — as well as the perspective of a renowned musician and passionate educator.

Holiday live entertainment options abound this time of year in Southwest Michigan, but perhaps none so festive and crisp as the Canadian Brass Christmas concert at Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo, which kicked off the season mere days after Thanksgiving.

German conductor Hans von Bülow coined the famous snap judgment of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem Mass: “an opera, though in ecclesiastical robes.”

Review: The Naughton Sisters dazzled at The Gilmore

Written by Samara Napolitan | Monday, 06 November 2017 10:21 |

Many renowned classical piano duos have kept it in the family — consider the Labèque sisters, the Pekinel sisters, or the Kontarsky brothers. The vast benefits of a musical partnership between siblings were obvious during Christina and Michelle Naughton’s concert with The Gilmore’s Rising Stars Series yesterday. The two 28-year-old pianists brought esoteric unity to their art form in a way only identical twins can. But as their spellbinding Sunday afternoon performance showed, the Naughton sisters are no gimmick. The two extraordinary musicians demonstrated uncanny harmoniousness and technical precision, even when expressing individual soulfulness and spontaneity across two separate Steinways.

Controlled chaos. An amorphous, musical blob. A marching band that thinks it’s a rock band.

When an orchestra performs a concerto — a composition featuring a solo instrument with orchestral accompaniment — one can usually expect to hear technical pyrotechnics from a violinist, a mind-boggling performance from a pianist, or even a thrilling showstopper from a woodwind player on clarinet or flute. But while many musicians view mastering a concerto as a rite of passage, some instrumentalists have more opportunities than others.

Eight years ago, Marty Kiefer created the West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus, the first and only openly gay men’s choir in Grand Rapids.

An entrepreneurial spirit may not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about orchestra conductors, but David Lockington said that spirit is exactly what helped him launch a successful career.

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