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Grand Rapids Symphony Special Guest Terence Blanchard is Announced

Jazz Trumpeter Terence Blanchard Joins GR Symphony for 2020 'Symphny with Soul'

GRAND RAPIDS, MI, Aug. 29, 2019 – Dubbed “one of his generation’s most artistically mature and innovative artists and a committed supporter of jazz education,” trumpeter and six-time Grammy Award winner Terence Blanchard will be the special guest artist for the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 19th annual Symphony with Soul on Feb. 29, 2020, in DeVos Performance Hall.

Single tickets, on sale today, will start at $18 adults, $5 students, for the annual concert celebrating diversity and inclusion in West Michigan. But ticket buyers who act soon can get tickets at a 30 percent discount by calling the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 or by coming to the Grand Rapids Symphony ticket office at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW during normal business hours.

Winner of the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for his work titled Blut Und Boden (Blood and Soil), Terence Blanchard has composed music for more than 50 films. Beginning with Spike Lee's 1991 film Jungle Fever, Blanchard has composed the score for every Lee film ever since including the 2018 film BLacKkKlansman for which Blanchard was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score.

Blanchard and his band, The E-Collective, will be joined by vocalist Quiana Lynell, winner of the 2017 International Sarah Vaughan Vocal Jazz Competition. The Concert Sponsor is Bank of America, and the Guest Artist Sponsor is Ferris State University.

Associate Conductor John Varineau will lead the Grand Rapids Symphony in the evening of gospel, spirituals, jazz, blues, and R&B, featuring community musicians joining together with nationally renowned artists to perform for the wider community.

Symphony with Soul also features the Grand Rapids Symphony Community Chorus, a vocal ensemble that sings in the gospel tradition, led by Duane Shields Davis.

Last year’s special guests for Symphony with Soul was Black Violin. Past guest artists also include singers Lalah Hathaway and Dee Dee Bridgewater, pianist Marcus Roberts, the Regina Carter Quintet, and Take 6.

Artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz from 2000 to 2011, Blanchard has served as Jazz Creative Chair of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, as artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami, and as a visiting scholar in jazz composition at Berklee College of Music. In June, he was named the first Kenny Burrell Chair in Jazz Studies at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music.

Recommended by Wynton Marsalis as his replacement in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1982, Blanchard went on to become the band’s music director before launching a solo career in 1990 with a self-titled debut album for Columbia Records that reached No. 3 on the Billboard Jazz chart.

After performing on Spike Lee’s films, Do the Right Thing and Mo’ Better Blues, the film director invited Blanchard to compose original music for films including Malcom X in 1992 and Inside Man in 2006. Blanchard also has composed film music for other directors for films such as Primal Fear starring Richard Gere in 1996, Random Hearts starring Harrison Ford in 1999, People I Know starring Al Pacino in 2002.

Blanchard’s past appearance in Grand Rapids include at St. Cecilia Music Center in March 2016 with Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour alongside an all-star ensemble of including Ravi Coltrane on tenor and soprano saxophones, Gerald Clayton on piano, Joe Sanders on bass; Justin Brown on drums, and Grammy Award-winning vocalist Patti Austin.

Performers for Symphony with Soul include young musicians from the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Mosaic Scholarship Program for talented African-American and Latinx students. The program provides teenage students with one-on-one lessons with a Grand Rapids Symphony musician plus the use of a musical instrument, music, supplies, and tickets to Grand Rapids Symphony concerts at no cost to the student.

Opening the program is the anthem “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” First performed in 1900 by a group of 500 school children for President Lincoln’s birthday celebration, the cherished song of the Civil Rights Movement is the traditional opener for the community celebration in DeVos Hall.

Each year, Symphony with Soul is preceded by Celebration of Soul, a gala dinner honoring the accomplishments of individuals and organizations in the community that emphasize and celebrate the importance of cultural awareness and inclusion in West Michigan.


Tickets for Symphony with Soul start at $18 and are available at the Grand Rapids Symphony box office, weekdays 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across the street from Calder Plaza). Call (616) 454-9451 x 4 to order by phone. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum).

Tickets are available at the DeVos Place ticket office, weekdays 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours before the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at

Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the day of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Ticket program.

Special Offers

Students age 7-18 also are able to attend for free when accompanied by an adult. Free for Kids tickets must be purchased in advance at the GRS Ticket office. Up to two free tickets are available with the purchase of a regular-price adult ticket. Go online for more details.

Symphony Scorecard provides up to four free tickets for members of the community receiving financial assistance from the State of Michigan and for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, whether on active or reserve duty or serving in the National Guard. Go online for information to sign up with a Symphony Scorecard Partner Agency

About the Grand Rapids Symphony

Organized in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts, the breadth of its educational programs, and the innovation of its efforts to support diversity, equity and inclusion as well as to serve the wider community in non-traditional settings. Led by Music Director Marcelo Lehninger, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt and Associate Conductor John Varineau, the Grand Rapids Symphony presents nine concert series each year. Its Gateway to Music provides a matrix of 18 unique access and educational programs for adults and children of all ages. Altogether, West Michigan’s largest performing arts organization offers more than 400 performances per year, touching the lives of some 200,000, nearly half of whom are students, senior citizens or people with disabilities. Affiliated organizations include the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus, and the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival, which returns in April 2021. GRS collaborates annually with Opera Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Ballet and biennially with the Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo.

Grand Rapids Symphony Special Guest Terence Blanchard is Announced
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