Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Lehninger debuts as GR Symphony music director

Marcelo Lehninger was greeted by raucous applause the minute he stepped onto the stage last Friday to lead the Grand Rapids Symphony for the first time as its new music director.

Lehninger, who was born in Brazil, is just 37 years old. Previously, he held the positions of assistant and associate director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and just finished a four-year term as director of the New West Symphony Orchestra in Los Angeles.

A three-and-a-half year international search led to the unanimous decision to offer the position to Lehninger in May of 2016. Lehninger replaces the orchestra’s director of 17 years, David Lockington, who finished his tenure at the end of the 2014–15 season and is now the director of the Pasadena Symphony.

Lehninger called it “an honor” to be on stage with the symphony and expressed his admiration for the high quality of musicianship he has found at the Grand Rapids Symphony.

The first half of the concert featured violinist Phillippe Quint performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Major, one of the most famous concertos in violin repertoire, known for its beauty and technical difficulty.

Calvin student Katherine Jonker, a violinist in the Calvin Orchestra, expressed her admiration for the soloist’s interpretation: “I felt he was very true to the piece.”

“His body language was cheerful,” Jonker commented, referring to the soloist’s active presence onstage. “The overall feeling of the piece is very joyful and shouldn’t sound too heavy or dark.”

Quint drew a standing ovation after the first movement of the concerto, and joked, “I’ll play the second and third movements as an encore” before continuing the piece.

The theme of crowd-pleasing romantic works continued after intermission with Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 in E Minor. The hour-long piece is full of lush string melodies, and draws to a close with a triumphant, fanfare-like movement.

The triumphal tone was a fitting end to Lehninger’s first concert as music director, heralding a new era for the symphony. The audience was eager to show its appreciation; Lehninger earned an immediate standing ovation.

And last Friday, Lehninger appeared eager to become a part of the Grand Rapids community, too. Before the concert he asked the audience to introduce themselves to him afterwards, saying with a smile, “I’m moving to a new city. I’m going to need some friends.”

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