Grand Rapids Symphony Brings More Than Great Music to Carnegie
By Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, April 17, 2018
The Grand Rapids Symphony arrives in New York this week for its first Carnegie Hall appearance in thirteen years with 85 players, a 135-member chorus, the world-renowned pianist Nelson Freire and its dynamic conductor Marcelo Lehninger.
But according to GRS Vice-President of Marketing and Communication Denise Lubey, the orchestra comes to New York with much more than fine music-making.
I think it is really important that we showcase to the world how fabulous our orchestra is and how much we care about the community that we serve. That’s why it was important to the whole organization that we bring our Symphony Scorecard program here to New York.
Now in its third year, Symphony Scorecard is a unique and successful community outreach membership program developed by the Grand Rapids Symphony, designed to eliminate barriers to symphony attendance.
Anybody receiving any sort of financial aid from the state of Michigan, as well as those who are a member of the active reserve or National Guard, can receive a Scorecard. Scorecard membership provides you with up to four free tickets to most of our concerts throughout the season.
When the program began, the orchestra expected to distribute 400 tickets, but was thrilled to distribute five times as many in its first season. This year, the GRS is on track to distribute 4,000 tickets to Symphony Scorecard members who may not have the financial resources to enjoy the orchestra’s offerings.
Members that are using Scorecard are using it like a typical subscriber, six or seven times a year. Moreover, they are treated like typical subscribers. They are attending our classical programs, our chamber programs, family programming, our outdoor concerts. The community reacted in such a positive way and by our eliminating barriers, we’ve put out the message to our community that the Grand Rapids Symphony cares about everyone. It’s about the fact that you love great music played by a world-class symphony, that you want to be a part of that community and that you are welcome at the Grand Rapids Symphony to share in these concerts.
As the Grand Rapids Symphony comes to Carnegie Hall, they bring not only talent and fine music, but they bring the same Scorecard opportunity enjoyed in Grand Rapids for three seasons to those in the New York City area.
We nicknamed the program Carnegie Scorecard and we began reaching out to the greater community – from YMCAs to an ice skating program in Harlem, a senior community, and to Mantena Global Care in Newark, an organization that works with the Brazilian-American community and which includes a cancer recovery group.
We wanted to make sure that people who may be financially struggling in some way and perhaps can’t afford a concert, will be able to see the Grand Rapids Symphony.
And what is great is that we are finding that a lot of these individuals have never been inside Carnegie Hall! So we are providing the opportunity to see one of the greatest stages in the world. And of course, with our orchestra on that stage.
For the orchestra’s Carnegie appearance, Maestro Lehninger, who was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, is following his passion for highlighting works from his native Brazil. He is joined by Freire, another Brazilian and life-long friend, for Villa-Lobos’ Momoprecoce. Also on the program is Manuel de Falla’s Noches en los Jardines de España, Villa-Lobos’ Chôros No. 10 featuring the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, and Ravel’s Boléro.
Connecting with Mantena Global Care, it is meaningful, to the orchestra, the number of people who now have the opportunity to take in this program with so much Brazilian influence. Our program features Brazilian artists, including our music director, and Brazil’s most famous composers. We previewed this program last week in Grand Rapids and it was a big success.
And by bringing our Scorecard membership program here to New York, we have an opportunity to open up the minds of other arts organizations. The Grand Rapids Symphony has found this to be a really great opportunity to reach out to the community, to the whole community, that loves what we do.
Click here for ticketing information to Grand Rapids Symphony Carnegie Hall appearance on April 20 at 8:00pm.
Cover Photo: Grand Rapids Symphony and Music Director Marcelo Lehninger; photo: Terry Johnston/Grand Rapids Symphony.