A Letter From Bruce Richard
3 January 2016
To the Grand Rapids Symphony Board of Directors,
My name is Bruce Richards, and I am a professional horn player from Michigan. I was raised in Kalamazoo and received my Bachelor’s Degree from Western Michigan University in the mid 80s. Growing up in Western Michigan, my family and I were constant concert goers in Kalamazoo, Detroit, Chicago and Grand Rapids. We often went to Grand Rapids as the closest option for our classical music and culture fix. West Michigan is blessed with an abundance of colleges and universities which bring so muchculture to all its residents. This quality in higher education and cultural offerings are beacons for families and businesses, and…
The Grand Rapids Symphony has been at the heart of everything cultural that Grand Rapids has to offer.
I currently live and work in Liège, Belgium. Liège is a city with more, or less, the same population as Grand Rapids. It has a cultural tradition which is centuries older than Grand Rapids, and maybe this is the problem. Do we place the arts, and the fine arts in particular, at the heart of our community? Do we value it as much as other activities? Does it deserve the same respect, the same devotion, the same passion as other parts of society? I believe it does.
The musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony are an investment, an investment in Grand Rapids’ future. In 1991 I auditioned for the post of Principal French Horn with the Grand Rapids Symphony. I made it into the final round and had great hopes of playing in, effectively, my hometown symphony. It would have meant the world to me to be able to perform, and make my living locally. It didn’t come to pass, but that didn’t change the fact that Grand Rapids was a destination
for professional musicians then, as in the decades that came before. It remains, based upon recent articles in major newspapers and magazines, an important destination for businesses and families, and it remains a destination for college and university students from all over the world.
The Grand Rapids Symphony is part of the DNA of Grand Rapids and West Michigan. Choosing not to grow the orchestra today is an attack to the structure of that DNA because you have come to a fork in the road, and you have two choices. Maintaining the current level is the easy road. The difficult fork in the road is scary, but the rewards are greater. You just have to have the courage.
I think Robert Frost said it best,
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Be brave, be bold, and you will see that YOU made all the difference.
Thank you for your time.
Liège Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Liège, Belgium