West Michigan Symphony kicks off 2024 with award-winning young pianist in music of Beethoven and Mozart

Muskegon, MI, January 15, 2024—Acclaimed by the Baltimore Sun as “one of the biggest pianistic talents in 25 years,” pianist Terrence Wilson will make his debut with the West Michigan Symphony, conducted by Scott Speck, in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 at 7:30pm Friday, January 26. Also on the program will be Beethoven’s sunny Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral.” The concert will open with Jessie Montgomery’s 2012 Strum. Sponsored by Bank of America, the performance takes place in the Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Avenue in Muskegon. Mike and Kay Olthoff are the 2023-2024 Season Sponsors; Blue Lake Public Radio is the Media Sponsor. For tickets, starting at $19 for adults, $10 for students, call 231.727.8001.

Mozart’s sprightly Piano Concerto No. 21, known as the “Elvira Madigan” concerto due to its use in the eponymous 1967 film, contains what Scott Speck calls “the most revered and recognizable melodies in all of music,” including the poignant theme from its andante movement, incorporated by Neil Diamond into his 1972 ballad “Song Sung Blue.”

Winter is the perfect time for Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony, which finds the composer in his happy place: the warm, summer countryside. Familiar from its use in Disney’s Fantasia, this descriptive piece includes flowing water, birdcalls, dancing and a refreshing cloudburst. It ends with glorious sunlight breaking through—just the ticket for Michiganders in January. 

Currently composer-in-residence of the Chicago Symphony, Jessie Montgomery has long been affiliated with the Sphinx Organization, the Detroit-based nonprofit that supports young African American and Latinx players. Her delightful Strum is a lively, folk-inflected strings-only piece that challenges players to shift rapidly between different playing techniques: from bowing to harmonics to plucking and strumming.

Audience members and the general public are invited to learn more at a free Lunch ‘n Learn event held at 12 noon Wednesday, January 24 in The Block. Sponsored by Embark Financial Partners, the event will be hosted by Music Director Scott Speck and include Q & A and conversations with Terrence Wilson. A delicious and complimentary lunch will be provided by Kuntry Cookin’.

Free shuttle transport is available from Muskegon Farmer’s Market to the door of the Frauenthal, and back again after the concert. A post-concert reception will be held in the lower level Frau Lounge, an opportunity for the audience to mingle with conductor and musicians.

The pianistic feast continues at The Block on Saturday, January 27 at 7:30pm when Terrence Wilson puts The Block’s magnificent Steinway through its paces in an inspiring solo recital of Russian music featuring Rachmaninoff’s Picture Etudes Op. 39 and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. For tickets, $33 to $49 and $10 for students, call 231.726.3231 or visit theblockwestmichigan.org. ###

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts