Venezuelan pianist returns to West Michigan for Rachmaninoff 2nd Concerto

Muskegon, Michigan, October 18, 2022—Venezuelan-born pianist Gabriela Martinez returns to West Michigan after nearly 10 years to perform the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 with Scott Speck and the West Michigan Symphony. The concert, held at 7:30 pm Friday, November 4, will also feature Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Adolphus Hailstork’s Fanfare on “Amazing Grace.” Sponsored by the Past Presidents Club of the WMS Board, the concert will be held in the Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Avenue in downtown Muskegon. For tickets, starting at $19 for adults, $10 for students, call 231.727.8001, visit the Frauenthal box office or purchase online at

Genuine, charismatic, and down to earth. Gabriela Martinez is a warm and friendly person who talks easily and enthusiastically about the music she loves. She began her studies in Caracas with her mother and made her performance debut at age seven. She was the First Prize winner of the Rubinstein International Piano Competition and a semifinalist at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Versatile, daring, and insightful, she has established a reputation on both the national and international stages for the lyricism of her playing—perfect for the beautiful and expressive melodies of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto. The work is known for its striking give and take between soloist and ensemble, making it almost a symphony for piano and orchestra.

Adolphus Hailstork blends the music of his African-American heritage with the European tradition. In the present work, he sets the centuries-old hymn in the style of a Baroque chorale prelude, rife with brass fanfares that lend it a triumphant and dignified sound. The Fanfare on “Amazing Grace” gained international familiarity from its performance during the 2021 presidential inauguration.

Like Beethoven’s groundbreaking Fifth Symphony, composed 80 years earlier, the Tchaikovsky Fifth of 1888 features a rhythmic “fate” motif that is heard in the first movement and then returns throughout the piece. One contemporary critic wrote that “if Beethoven’s Fifth is Fate knocking at the door, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth is Fate trying to get out.”

WMS has added several new features to enhance the experience for audience members. First, free shuttle transport is available from the Muskegon Farmer’s Market parking lot right to the door of the Frauenthal, and back again after the concert. Second, a post-concert party will follow the concert in the lower level Frau Lounge, in the space formerly occupied by Smash Wine Bar & Bistro. This will be an opportunity for audience members to mix and mingle with Scott Speck and the musicians.

Proof of vaccination or a negative test are no longer required for admission. Masks are optional while county COVID levels remain at low or medium. In the interest of caution, the WMS encourages patrons to wear masks and will continue to provide them free of charge at all entrances.

An anchor cultural organization headquartered in Muskegon, West Michigan Symphony is a resident performing organization at the Frauenthal Center, where its eight-concert season is the most visible part of a larger artistic enterprise of far-reaching community benefit.

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts