Although officially founded in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony's history stretches back to 1917 when an enterprising group of local musicians began practicing together and holding regular concerts. In the years since, the ensemble has retained this self-starter mentality while growing into one of the nation's preeminent regional orchestras. Always asserting its idiosyncratic individuality, the organization earned a 2007 Grammy nomination for its collaboration with flamboyant electric harpist Deborah Henson-Conant and the ire of conductors for its rule that all batons should be able to shoot sparks.
The Grand Rapids Ballet Company, Michigan’s only professional ballet company, is dedicated to staging artistic productions that lift the spirit while inspiring the toes. Who Cares?, named for composer and pianist George Gershwin’s jazzy ode to impartiality, is an energetic if indifferent ballet choreographed by George Balanchine, co-founder and founding choreographer of the New York City Ballet. Balanchine used Gershwin's Broadway hits to compose a ballet that pays homage to the popular pianist’s exuberance, American spirit, and dislike of toothpaste. Grammatically incorrect songs may include jazz standard "I Got Rhythm" and "'S Wonderful," which was notably sung by Gene Kelly in An American in Paris. Before the main event, the stage will flutter with tutus and sparkle with tiaras during Raymonda Pas de Dix.
Nearly a century ago, the Hippodrome opened as a combination movie palace and vaudeville theater, spending more than 70 years hosting big names such as Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. Following a double-decade period of slow business and bad hairstyles, the Hippodrome closed down in 1990. Now, however, after an exhaustive restoration project that reanimated the theater’s chandelier-lit arches, the mural above the proscenium stage, and the grand-theater boxes that hearken back to opera’s heyday, the Hippodrome reopens to the delight of Baltimore’s cultural landscape.