New season ahead for St. Cecilia Music Center


The art of music is taking center stage at one of the city’s favorite venues, St. Cecilia Music Center. Here to help us preview some of the new season is Cathy Holbrook.

SCMC’s 2018/2019 Jazz Series

  • The Jazz Series will launch the new 2018/2019 concert season beginning on October 11, 2018 with 10-time GRAMMY™ Award winner Jazz Trumpet Great Arturo Sandoval. Arturo Sandoval, protégé of the legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie, is one of the most dynamic and vivacious live performers of our time, and has been seen by millions at the Oscars, the Grammy Awards, and the Billboard Awards.
  • Following Arturo Sandoval on the Jazz Series will be the Kenny Barron Quintet performing on November 1, 2018. Barron has earned eleven GRAMMY™ nods beginning in 1992 for Best Jazz Album with “People Time” an outstanding duet with Stan Getz, and most recently in 2017 for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. The Los Angeles Times has called Kenny Barron “one of the top jazz pianists in the world” and he was named Best Pianist in 2017 by the Jazz Journalists Association for a record seven times.
  • Multi-talented Jazz Musician Joey DeFranceso will appear with his quartet “The People” on February 7, 2018. Applauded as “one of the best B-3 players on the planet” by Jazz Times, DeFranceso will be releasing his new album on Mack Avenue Records – Project Freedom. The new album features him on the Hammond B-3, along with contributions on keyboards, trumpet and as a vocalist. Accompanying DeFrancesco will be drummer Jason Brown, guitarist Dan Wilson and saxophonist Troy Roberts—collectively billed as “the People.”
  • The final Jazz Series Concert of the season will be the Benny Green Trio with young rising jazz singer Veronica Swift on March 7, 2019. Veronica Swift will launch her newest album for release in 2018 and the album will feature the great pianist Benny Green and his trio. At age 23, Veronica Swift is now being recognized around the country as one of the top young jazz singers on the scene. Benny Green, a veteran of the jazz world combines a mastery of keyboard technique with decades of real world experience playing with no one less than the most celebrated artists of the last half century.

SCMC’s 2018/2019 Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Series

  • The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center 2018/2019 season begins on November 15, 2018 featuring the beloved composition The Trout Quintet. Five consummate musicians will perform diverse gems from the 19th century during this program. Musicians will include pianist Orion Weiss, violinist Paul Huang, violist Paul Neubauer, cellist Keith Robinson, and double bassist Zavier Foley. During the first half, their performance will include duos and trios featuring Beethoven’s variations on Mozart’s melody, Schubert’s creation for the arpeggione, and Bottesini’s virtuoso showpiece for violin and double bass. The artists will join forces after intermission to perform Schubert’s “Trout Quintet”, which has garnered a reputation as one of the most popular works in the chamber repertory.
  • In Spring, March 14, 2019, CMS will return to perform a program entitled Russian Mastery, featuring works by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Arensky. Co-artistic Director and pianist Wu Han will return to Grand Rapids with violinists Arnaud Sussman and Alexander Sitkovetsky, and cellist Nicholas Canellakis. Russia’s vastly expressive music over time has told the story of its country and people, painting a picture through music of its turbulent historical landscape. The Prokofiev Two Violin Sonata, written in 1932, stands apart as an audaciously creative work from the period between the wars, while the remaining works will be glorious musical outpourings of the age of the tsars and the Russian Empire.
  • The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will perform again on April 25, 2018 with a program titled From Mendelssohn, who led composers to follow him for generations. Mendelssohn’s combined mastery of melody, form, counterpoint, and the chamber idiom was admired and imitated by composers for generations. In a program bookended by two works of Mendelssohn from 1845, one brief, the other epic, the audience will hear Mendelssohn’s close friend Robert Schumann’s response to Mendelssohn’s piano trios; how, near the end of his life, Brahms recalled Mendelssohn’s lyricism through the viola’s dark voice; and, finally, how Mendelssohn’s great admirer Tchaikovsky combined the German’s signature scherzo idiom with Russian melancholy and splendor in three selections from The Seasons for solo piano. CMS musicians performing for the final concert of the season will include pianist Inon Barnatan violinist Cho-Liang Lin, violist Paul Neubauer, cellist Jakob Koranyi, and clarinetist Romie de Guise-Langlois.

SCMC’s 2018/2019 First-of-the-Season Folk Series Concerts

  • The first Folk Series Concert of the season will feature Pokey LaFarge, St. Louis-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. LaFarge will begin his solo tour at St. Cecilia Music Center on Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. The last time Pokey LaFarge appeared at St. Cecilia Music Center was with his band on February 2017 to a sold-out audience. Pokey LaFarge incorporates elements of early jazz, ragtime, country blues, Western swing, and much more in his performances. His expansive musical vision and vivid storytelling sensibility are totally his own.  Two of LaFarge’s albums have been named Best Americana Album by the Independent Music Awards. LaFarge is beloved by both Garrison Keillor and Jack White who have both added him to their performances in the United States. White added LaFarge to his Third Man label and included him as his opening act on his North American Tour in 2013.

SCMC Executive Director Cathy Holbrook exclaims, “Pokey LaFarge charmed our audience in February 2017 and due to the heartwarming welcome he received, he’ll be returning to SCMC on October 4 to begin his solo tour across the country. This is his first solo tour since he began in 2006. He’s a fabulous musician and totally engaging entertainer. This is certainly a concert not to miss.”

  • The second Folk Series Concert will feature The Lone Bellow on November 29, 2018. The Lone Bellow is a Brooklyn-based band (now in Nashville) who have become known for their transcendent harmonies, serious musicianship and lively performances. The trio features Zach Williams (guitar/vocals), Kanene Donehey Pipkin (multi-instrumentalist), and Brian Elmquist (guitar). This evening will be part of The Lone Bellow’s acoustic “TRIIIO TOUR”. They will be releasing a new album, Walk Into A Storm, on September 15, 2018 with Sony Music Masterworks.  Their victorious release three years ago, Then Came The Morning produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner, was nominated for an Americana Music Award and helped create a large dedicated fan base. Subsequently, the band appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Late Show With David Letterman,” “Conan O’Brien,” “CBS This Morning,” “Later…with Jools Holland,” and “The Late Late Show With James Corden” in support of the album.

SCMC Executive Director Cathy Holbrook adds, “We are very excited to welcome The Lone Bellow on this special acoustic tour. SCMC will be the perfect venue for this great band to start SCMC’s Folk Series.  Stay tuned for more folk concerts to be announced as the fall approaches.”

  • Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn will be returning to SCMC on February 9, 2019.  “The king and queen of the banjo” first appeared together on stage at SCMC this past February 2018. The audience adored meeting and hearing them perform together. Washburn totally charmed the audience and told stories about their lives and relationship that left Béla blushing. With a strong fan base in Grand Rapids, SCMC is delighted to bring the two of them back for an encore performance. Béla Fleck is a fifteen-time Grammy Award winner who has taken the instrument across multiple genres, and Abigail Washburn a singer-songwriter and clawhammer banjo player who re-radicalized it by combining it with Far East culture and sounds. From writing concertos for full symphony orchestra, exploring the banjo’s African roots, to jazz duos with Chick Corea, many tout that Béla Fleck is the world’s premier banjo player. Washburn has the earthy sophistication of a postmodern, old-time singer-songwriter who has drawn critical acclaim for her solo albums. On stage, Fleck & Washburn perform pieces from their Grammy-winning self-titled debut as well as their newest record, Echo in the Valley (Rounder 2017). Whether at home, on stage or on record, their deep bond, combined with the way their distinct musical personalities and banjo styles interact, makes theirs a picking partnership unlike any other on the planet.

SCMC Executive Director Cathy Holbrook says, “We are so excited to have Béla and Abigail with us again in our new season.  Their sold-out concert together this year was one of our finest ever. They don’t often appear together due to their individual schedules performing with their own bands and other individuals. We are very lucky to have them together on stage again in 2019 to celebrate our 135th year anniversary.”

  • Two-time Grammy nominees and winners of The Best Duo Group of the Year by American Music Group Association, the Milk Carton Kids will perform on the 2018/2019 season Acoustic Café Folk Series at SCMC on February 28, 2019. The Milk Carton Kids are an American indie folk duo,  Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, from Eagle Rock, California. The duo has been performing since 2011. The Milk Carton Kids have been described as a “powerful voice” defining the continuing folk tradition with a refreshing alternative to the foot-stomping traditional folk music grandeur. An “understated virtuosity” defines their music. Garrison Keillor of the popular A Prairie Home Companion hosted them multiple times on his radio program and calls them “absolute geniuses in close-harmony.” Nominated in 2015 for a Grammy for Best American Roots Performance, Best Folk Album of the year in 2013, and winner of The Americana Music Association for Best Duo/Group of the year in 2014, the Milk Carton Kids just released a new album on June 29, 2018 from ANTI-Records entitled “All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do”.

SCMC Executive Director Cathy Holbrook says, “We are so happy to bring The Milk Carton Kids with their band to St. Cecilia Music Center this season to perform from their new album. It will be a joyful experience for all to see and hear as these two talented performers and their full band perform together in the exquisite Royce Auditorium.”

  • Legendary Guitarist Leo Kottke will return to St. Cecilia Music Center on April 18, 2019 for another captivating performance. Kottke, who has been described by Rolling Stone Magazine as “so good that he didn’t need a band” will mesmerize the audience with his amazing six and twelve-string guitar picking genius. Kottke who has more than 41 years of touring under his belt, nearly 30 albums to his name and an astonishing array of material to choose from, will entertain the audience with his instrumental genius and engaging sense of humor. Kottke has been touring and recording since 1968, when he released his first live album, 12-String Blues on Oblivion Records, a tiny label started by the Minneapolis Scholar Coffee House where he began playing after dropping out of college after one year, the same starting point that launched another Minneapolis dropout—Bob Dylan. 

SCMC Executive Director Cathy Holbrook says, “Leo Kottke is truly a one-of-a-kind performer. His last two appearances both sold out thanks to his devoted fan base. Every Kottke show is being witness to guitar mastery and fabulous story telling. We are delighted to bring him back again this season for another stellar show.”

Along with the exciting Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Jazz and Folk series concerts, St. Cecilia Music Center is pleased to announce the following March 2019 Celebration Events for their 135-year anniversary during Women’s History Month.

  • March 23, 2019, the first annual Helen DeVos Legacy Award dinner will debut to honor the late Helen DeVos, lifelong benefactor and supporter of many arts organizations within the community. SCMC will honor the late Helen DeVos for a lifetime of philanthropic service and, in particular, her support and love of the arts. The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation has been one of the most important benefactors of SCMC over the years. Helen DeVos served on the SCMC Board of Directors and had a special appreciation for music. Her lifetime of patronage to the arts had a huge impact on the cultural growth of Grand Rapids as a city. At the gala dinner on March 23, 2019 SCMC will pay tribute to Mrs. DeVos. In subsequent years, each March, SCMC will select a woman in Grand Rapids to receive the Helen DeVos Legacy Award at the annual honorary dinner event. The honoree will be a person who has demonstrated exemplary service within the Grand Rapids arts community and whose efforts have helped expand the cultural landscape of the city.

“Celebrating SCMC’s 135th anniversary with special events during Women’s History Month in March 2019 is extremely meaningful and appropriate,” comments SCMC Executive Director Cathy Holbrook. “We are thrilled to honor the late Helen DeVos for the amazing vision she had for the arts in Grand Rapids and to keep her legacy alive with the continuation of the Helen DeVos Legacy Award in years to come.

  • A second special event celebrating women during the 2018/2019 season will be an educational outreach performance for Grand Rapids Public Schools from the New York based organization JazzReach. Currently scheduled for March 15, 2019, the program titled “She Said/She Says The History and Status of Women in Jazz” will give students a view of the important role women have played in jazz.

Holbrook explains, “Part of SCMC’s mission has always been about education and our School of Music, so bringing in GRPS students for an assembly highlighting the history of women in jazz and broadening their horizons about jazz is a perfect fit for our anniversary celebration.”


Season subscription tickets to the 2018-2019 Jazz Series and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Concert Series are now available at special rates by calling 616-459-2224 or visiting St. Cecilia Music Center at 24 Ransom NE, Grand Rapids, 49503. Single tickets to chamber, jazz, and folk concerts are also on sale now and can be purchased by phone at 616-459-2224 or online at For each concert a post-concert party is open to all ticket-holders giving the audience the opportunity to possibly meet the artists and obtain signed CDs of their releases.  There will also be pre-concert receptions for the CMS of Lincoln Center concerts and the Jazz Series concerts featuring wine and hors d’oeuvres for $15 per person.

Series Subscribers are offered with great benefits including:

  • 15-20% discount off single ticket prices
  • Reserved parking on concert nights (subject to availability)
  • A discounted rate on pre-concert reception ticket price ($10 per person per reception in the Jazz or Chamber Music series – discounted from $15 per person per reception)

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