Marcelo Lehninger Named Music Director of Grand Rapids Symphony

Marcelo Lehninger
Grand Rapids Symphony

Brazilian-born conductor Marcelo Lehninger, who has led the Grand Rapids Symphony twice in the past two seasons, becomes the 14th music director in the 86-year history of the orchestra.

Lehninger was the unanimous choice of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Music Director Search Committee following his electrifying performance of Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony No. 9 in February 2015 and an explosive performance of Respighi’s “Pines of Rome” this past April.

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s board of directors, which two weeks ago adopted a 5-year Strategic Plan to guide the organization into the future, voted unanimously this morning to offer Lehninger a 5-year contract as music director. The appointment through the 2020-21 season is effective July 1.

“While there were many fine candidates who brought excitement to the podium during their time with us, Mr. Lehninger quickly created a special bond with the musicians, which resulted in unforgettable concerts,” Austin said. “We look forward to more opportunities to build upon that bond beginning next season.”

“He carries himself with a wonderful sense of honor and graciousness,” said Larry Robson, co-chair of the Search Committee. “From day one, I was struck by Marcelo’s absolute sense of honor and dignity and grace and commitment to his family.”

Lehninger has guest conducted throughout the world, leading the orchestras of Chicago, Houston and Seattle plus the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. in the United States as well as orchestras in Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland. In 2014, he was awarded the prestigious Helen M. Thompson Award for an Emerging Music Director by the League of American Orchestras.

“We are delighted that our search process has led us to Marcelo Lehninger," said Peter Kjome, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Symphony. “Marcelo is an exceptional and dynamic artist who will build on a long tradition of excellence as the Symphony and our superb musicians serve our community through the orchestra’s concerts and educational programs. I am deeply grateful for the outstanding work of our Search Committee.”

Lehninger succeeds Lockington, who was named music director laureate – the first in the history of the Grand Rapids Symphony – when he concluded his tenure as music director after 16 seasons.