top of page


Letters of Support


In our October 2015 newsletter, we published letters of support for the GR Symphony Musicians from music-lovers throughout west Michigan . Since then we have received many more letters of support that call for the Grand Rapids Symphony to keep pace with our growing, vibrant region. Keep an eye out for reprints of whole letters in the future. For now, read on to see excerpts of those many heartfelt letters.




"The orchestra needs to grow with the city to keep the quality of performance and maintain the national reputation that this orchestra has achieved."

- Jo Anna Bateman


"We always look forward to seeing these gifted, and well-rehearsed professionals perform in their usual tradition of excellence. The Grand Rapids Economic Club, also, has taken special note of the economic impact the symphony performances has on downtown Grand Rapids. Uniquely, the symphony is an organization that produces revenue for a broad range of private and government enterprises…"
"A new contract with the musicians, which advances the goals of the symphony organization would greatly benefit everyone directly or indirectly associated with the symphony. Please proceed in a positive direction, keeping in mind the Grand Rapids Symphony produces a wonderful musical product, which is desperately needed at this time."
-Patrick Sr. and Shirley Miles



“I can’t oversell the importance of treating our professional musicians like the true professionals they are. They play such an important role in the economic vitality of West Michigan. I urge you to work toward a contract that reflects the professionals it represents.”
-Grace A.M. Smith


"The GRS has worked very hard to attain a high performance level. It has been a real joy to attend their concerts. We urge the board to negotiate a fair contract so that the orchestra may continue to grow and be the musical leader in the community that it currently is. Surely, in a city as alive to the arts as Grand Rapids, means are available to support this wonderful orchestra."

-Maryanne and Paul Heidemann 


"Having a professional orchestra with full time musicians is an important indicator of our civic and cultural health as a city. This musical quality also has an economic impact on our city from creating jobs for artistic people, to bringing people downtown, to making Grand Rapids the 'right place' for people who are considering a job relocation and want many cultural options."

-Cheryl Tully


 “…during my ten years reporting on the arts at On The Town magazine, I saw over and over again what a huge difference attracting these highly educated, intelligent and committed musicians to our community has made. I believe we are reaping the rewards of this city's support of its creative professionals now…”
“I know I don't need to tell you about the many studies that trace this kind of urban growth to an influx of what they call the "creative class". The GRS was a pioneer in this locally and I hope the Board can find a way to continue to attract and retain the highest level of artistic talent to our city.”
-Julie Stivers


“Grand Rapids, as a community, benefits substantially from the contribution of the GRS musicians to the city’s cultural life. The orchestra needs to grow with the city to keep the quality of performance and maintain the national reputation that this orchestra has achieved."
"The musicians ARE the product, and there is no GRS without them. We want outstanding musicians to be able to come here and earn a living so they can stay here, teach our children, and serve the community as they have in the past.”
-Lowell and Kay Hansen


“I have watched the Grand Rapids Symphony improve and grow over the years, and one of the delights of living in Grand Rapids has been the opportunity to attend the wonderful performances of this excellent orchestra.”
“I have been extremely proud of the Grand Rapids Symphony and have bragged to my out-of-town friends about its excellence.  I have been thrilled to watch my Symphony gain a national reputation.” 
-Loretta Jacobs


"We believe that GRS is world-class, and that it needs to continue to attract world-class musicians, paying them at a world-class level.”
“Living in Grand Rapids for 23 years, we feel proud and fortunate to have thriving theatre, food, sports, and most importantly to us, music.  Being a family of musicians, our lives have been greatly enhanced by the Grand Rapids Symphony.  Our son and daughter studied their instruments with symphony members, and the adult mentorship they received was priceless.  We feel equally enriched whenever we attend a performance.” 
“Our Symphony musicians share their love of Grand Rapids by adding deep cultural value to the community.  They work at public schools and colleges, live downtown and renovate Heritage Hill homes, enhance church services with music, adopt rescue animals, and bring music into the hospitals.  We know these musicians to be passionate about their profession and their city.” 
-Janlee Richter
Assistant Organist/ Pianist, Westminster Presbyterian Church


 “The orchestra is interwoven with our community – think of that wonderful performance in the VanAndel arena by many local artistic organizations.  Who else could pull something like this together?”
-Morris & Elizabeth Greidanus

The GRSMA Quartet playing at the Grand Rapids Public Museum

"Classical music awakens, enlarges and refines our lives. Our town has done a lot of work to build a fabulous orchestra. Let's keep the music playing."

-Cheryl Tully


 “I am writing to underline how proud I am to live in a city which supports its orchestra...One reason our city thrives as it does is because our cultural institutions are real and available and present a level of quality which is national, if not world class.” 
“The only way this orchestra can continue to enhance our lives is by supporting our players, their families, and supporters...I hope the negotiations can arrive at a package which is fair to the players”
-Glenn Barkan


 “The community involvement of Symphony members is critical for the advancement and edification of younger musicians, and this type of involvement is not possible without sufficient financial and contractual backing for the Grand Rapids Symphony musicians."
"The orchestra we have in Grand Rapids is already deeply discounted, and too often taken for granted. Having well-supported musicians living within the fabric of the community is reasonable and certainly responsible.”
-Kelly Rhode
College Park, Maryland
BM, Grand Valley State University
MM, Central Michigan University


"The city of Grand Rapids has grown very rapidly through the thirty years that I have lived here. It has grown with the culture of music, arts, and museums. When I think about Art Prize and the talent it can attract from around the world, I wonder why we would shortchange our own GRS?"

- Jo Anna Bateman


“…When I decided to open my own business…one of the main reasons I chose Grand Rapids was because of the high caliber orchestra the city enjoys. When I was researching the city, I was encouraged by the growth of the city's economy. I was impressed with the $40 million dollar endowment campaign and what appeared to be strong financial support for the symphony… A symphony is the crown jewel of the cultural life of any city and Grand Rapids is no exception. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that the board does not value the symphony in the same way.”
 “…Many non-profits do not grow and thrive when they set low goals. Why not set higher goals for this orchestra? I feel that many in this business community have set lofty goals that are being realized right now, and this city is growing and thriving as a result. I would like to see the Grand Rapids Symphony grow and thrive along with the rest of the city and this will not happen unless the board decides to value the orchestra's greatest asset - the musicians. “
-Matthew Noykos
Luthier and Owner, Grand Rapids Violins, LLC



“An orchestra is made up not just of musicians but highly motivated and dedicated people whose best efforts are seen in service to the community such as programs in the schools, chamber music series and performance with the orchestra that help enhance the reputation of the city as a good place to live and do business in.


-Bruce Weinstein

Principal Oboe, retired Israel Philharmonic

Former Principal Oboe, Grand Rapids Symphony




“…Grand Rapids now flourishes with the medical mile, new businesses, Art Prize and the promise of a significant tech center. Our community is thriving. The arts fuel that growth as folks desire to move to communities

with artistic opportunities.”


-Jim Van Zetten




“We presume that your interests are aligned: both the management and the musicians want a professional, flourishing, first class orchestra in our city. The only way to attain this is to attract and support a group of outstanding musicians who would strive continuously to improve the excellence of the orchestra and, in so doing, attract the public to the many varied performances and activities that you are engaged in. We firmly believe that the compensation of the musicians should be proportional to their efforts, talent and excellence, which are exemplary on all accounts. We are confident that an investment in fair compensation to the musicians will bring a return in the form of larger audiences, which would be a win-win situation for our community.”


-Mario and Talia Atias “We encourage you to recognize the investment required to maintain this community asset...We consider the Orchestra to be one of the many positive things in and around Grand Rapids, all of which attract people to our city. “ “We all benefit from our friends and neighbors who live and work in Grand Rapids, earning a living as musicians, teaching our children and serving our community, making the GRS the wonderful orchestra it is...Please help make this a win-win. Find a way to work with the fine musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony.”


-Jill M. Ainslie and Timothy L. Berghuis

DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall

“We are symphony season ticket holders (flex passes) for several years now and are consistently delighted by the performances. At almost every one, the conductor or a guest artist will mention what a treasure our symphony musicians are. Loud applause always follows...Please support the music makers and keep our symphony vital and moving forward in step with our city.”
-Scott and Judi Scholten



“Experiencing art is enhanced when you can talk to the artist.  This connection is exactly what we have experienced in Grand Rapids.  It seems the only successful solution moving forward is to grow the Symphony.  Grand Rapids has shown strong economic growth, which should definitely be followed by support of this wonderful body of people, our Grand Rapids Symphony.”
-Janlee Richter
Assistant Organist/ Pianist, Westminster Presbyterian Church


“…Grand Rapids is a thriving city, and its economic growth should be reflected in the growth of our orchestra… The number of full positions should also keep increasing with the growth of economy.”
-Piroska Szabó, Ph.D


"West Michigan has been so fortunate for its economic fortunes, I am sure that the hundreds of companies here value a city that values its musical arts institutions like the symphony."

- James Leach



“…I had the privilege of being a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony in the percussion section from 2001-2014. During my time with the orchestra, I witnessed a group of musicians who were devoted to the highest level of artistic excellence every day, every rehearsal, every concert. They have an unyielding commitment to bring to Grand Rapids a dimension of music, art, and entertainment in order to make the greater West Michigan area a place where people want to live. The orchestrais not a sideshow, it is part of the reason for this area's growth.
The orchestra helps to make this area what it is."
"However there is another dimension to the musicians, and that is the significant amount of contribution the musicians make to the community outside of the concert hall. The musicians serve with YOUR charitable organizations, do community service in YOUR community, teach music lessons to YOUR children, and are cultural ambassadors for YOUR city. The GR Symphony is branded as "your GR Symphony." Please support YOUR GR Symphony musicians. There is no symphony without the musicians.”
-Eric Sooy
Former Percussionist, GRS


“I can’t even begin to express how much I’ve learned about music and how much I’ve enjoyed the concerts over the many years. I can tell you that the quality of the music, the musical education and the level of professionalism of the musicians has only improved with time."
"…with their focus on producing quality programs, purposefully attracting talented, not just competent, musicians and a continual effort to educate their audience, I feel like I enjoy top quality music in my small mid-western city."
"To be able to compete with the larger cities, Grand Rapids has to provide quality entertainment and cultural activities. Our professional musicians, with their ability to learn, adapt and create can compete with their counterparts in larger cities.”
-Grace A.M. Smith



“Part of the draw of Grand Rapids has been its superb cultural life, which includes the Symphony.  The orchestra needs to grow with the City to keep the quality of performance and maintain the national reputation that this orchestra has achieved."
"I respectfully urge the Grand Rapids Symphony Board of Directors to consider the importance of having a major symphony orchestra in Grand Rapids”
-Loretta Jacobs


“I encourage you to look into this talented group of people and realize that we do not want to lose one more gifted person to another symphony...Grand Rapids is definitely leading the US as the place to want to be. Please help settle this contract soon before more musicians leave our growing city.”
-Terri Handlin


“I would respectfully ask that all parties look at what a precious resource our Symphony is, and what these wonderful members are to the Grand Rapids community. We are thriving and vibrant due to a unique arts scene here. The buzz of arts in general is a fantastic entry point for people looking for a great place to live. When people ask me about moving to Grand Rapids, the excellence of the GRS is the first thing I mention.”
-Stephanie Wiltse
Music Director, Embellish Handbell Ensemble and Campana Handbell Ensemble
Handbell Director, Aquinas College
Handbell Director, Calvin CRC
Music Coordinator, Trinity United Methodist Church


“I write to you to express my deepest admiration for ALL of the musicians in the GRS. I have the good fortune to have played with amateur and professional musicians in the Grand Rapids area for more than 40 years. Yet, it is while playing alongside the pros from GRS that I experience the highest of thrills. I so aspire to them. Attending GRS concerts elevates my spirit as nothing else can do.”
“Please keep our finest musicians performing. The GRS must remain vibrant so its ripple effect will inspire the next generations of GRSO wannabes. Thank you, GRS, for being my inspiration for a lifetime.”
-David L. Wells

GRSMA's ENSEMBLE: A Legacy of Playing Together concert at the GRPM

Concert Night at DeVos Hall

bottom of page