Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Clarinet Celebrated at Grand Rapids Symphony’s “Copland and Brahms,” Oct. 24 & 25

The +Grand Rapids Symphony’s third Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series concert of the 2014-15 Season features two pieces for clarinet. Avery Fisher Prize winner David Shifrin will perform Copland’s Clarinet Concerto. The Symphony’s own principal clarinetist, Suzanna Dennis Bratton, will join Shifrin to perform Amilcare Ponchielli’s Il Convegno. Guest conductor Kynan Johns leads the orchestra in two performances on Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25 at 8:00 p.m. in DeVos Performance Hall.

A piece by contemporary American composer Nico Muhly, Wish You Were Here, opens the concert. Muhly is known for his Metropolitan Opera-commissioned work, Two Boys, and his Academy Award-nominated score for The Reader (2008). “Wish You Were Here, written for the Boston Pops, pays homage to Colin McPhee, a musicologist, as well as the great illustrators Carl Banks and Hergé,” commented Muhly. “On top of the twittery and excited music, a long, lonesome melody unfolds. After a desolate interlude with severe, ship’s horn brass, the energetic patterns start again, and the long line returns, this time with a triumphant, revelatory ending.”

Next on the program is Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto performed by David Shifrin. Mr. Shifrin is a much-demanded orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber music collaborator. He is a champion of the clarinet, known for broadening its repertoire as he commissions works from 21st century composers. Copland’s concerto was a commission by Benny Goodman—the “King of Swing”—and is a jazzy fusion of Charleston rhythms, boogie-woogie, and Brazilian folk tunes. Mr. Shifrin’s appearance with the Grand Rapids Symphony is made possible through the generosity of the Edith I. Blodgett Guest Artist Fund.

Il Convegno by Amilcare Ponchielli closes the concert’s first half. Ponchielli is best known for “Dance of the Hours” from his opera La Giaconda. He wrote Il Convegno for two of the clarinetists in his band and demonstrates the virtuosic showmanship popular among Italian clarinetists. The Grand Rapids Symphony’s own principal clarinetist, Susanna Dennis Bratton, will join Shifrin to perform this piece.

The concert’s second half showcases Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98. Brahms’ Fourth Symphony received almost instant public admiration at its premiere and gained the same sort of stature in the symphonic repertoire as other composers’ final symphonies.

Tickets Tickets start at $18 and are available at the Symphony office, weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 300 Ottawa NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.) Tickets are available by phone in the evening and on the weekend by calling 616.885.1241. Tickets are available at the DeVos Place Box Office, weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster, 800.982.2787, online at or in person at Ticketmaster outlets: select D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Stores and Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include a Ticketmaster service fee. Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the Symphony’s Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360 eligible concert.

About the Grand Rapids Symphony
The Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized in 1930 and is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Director David Lockington, ten concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are presented each year, touching the lives of some 170,000. Nearly half of those who benefit are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities reached through extensive education and community service programs. The Symphony’s Affiliated Organizations include the Grand Rapids Bach Festival, Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. The Symphony also provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony please visit

This activity is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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