DSO brings Beethoven to the ‘Neighborhood’

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 19, 2016

 Soprano Jessica Rivera will perform with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra during upcoming William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series shows, one of which will take place in the Pointes.

Soprano Jessica Rivera will perform with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra during upcoming William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series shows, one of which will take place in the Pointes.

Photo provided by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra


GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Usually, you have to head downtown to hear the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

But during a few concerts each year, the DSO brings its musicians to various venues in metro Detroit, giving audiences a chance to hear top-notch talents in a venue that might be just steps from home. 

The DSO is concluding its 2015-16 William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series with performances at 7:30 p.m. July 21 at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield; at 8 p.m. July 22 at the Village Theater in Canton; at 8 p.m. July 23 at Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church in Bloomfield Hills; and at 3 p.m. July 24 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Grosse Pointe Woods. 

Violin virtuoso Karina Canellakis, the assistant conductor of the Dallas Symphony, will make her DSO conducting debut with these concerts. Canellakis’ honors include receiving the 2016 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, a 2015 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award and a 2013 Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship.

Soprano Jessica Rivera, whose voice was hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle for its “effortless precision and tonal luster,” will perform with the orchestra.

The program includes selections by Beethoven, Stravinsky and Barber. Audiences are in for a treat, say DSO officials.

“This concert program is one of my favorites,” said Caen Thomason-Redus, director of community and learning for the DSO, in an email. “Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Dumbarton Oaks’ is an incredible work for a chamber orchestra, where each section gets highlighted. Samuel Barber’s ‘Knoxville: Summer of 1915’ is a gorgeous piece that features the great American soprano Jessica Rivera. Beethoven’s 1st Symphony, which is always an audience favorite, rounds out the program and is unforgettable for the way its opening chords literally changed the course of classical music. These days it doesn’t sound so shocking, but Beethoven literally had his audience wondering what on Earth he was doing.”

This series was started because DSO officials recognized that not everyone could catch the orchestra in its downtown home.

“The William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series is just one of our many efforts to make this orchestra the most accessible on the planet,” said Steven Fronrath, audience development coordinator for the DSO, via email. “It’s all about the music and the people, and the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series brings the two even closer together. The series allows those who normally would not be able to come down to Orchestra Hall to experience the music of this world-class orchestra, guest artists and conductors just minutes away from where they live. When we go out into these communities, the energy and enthusiasm from patrons is unbelievable.”

Whether someone is a seasoned classical music fan or someone who hasn’t had much experience with symphonic performances, the shows promise to be accessible and engaging.

“Enjoying this concert in the beautiful Our Lady Star of the Sea (church) is the best way I can imagine spending a Sunday afternoon,” Thomason-Redus said in an email.

Tickets to the Neighborhood Concerts cost $25 per person and can be purchased in advance online at www.dso.org or through the free DSO to Go app, or by calling the box office at (313) 576-5111. Tickets also may be available at the door.