A Christmas Crescendo

Cirque de Noël
Cirque de Noël

by Bri Kilroy • photo courtesy of GRS Terry Johnston

It’s that time of year when we seek tradition and a joyful playlist to accompany the year’s departure. The Grand Rapids Symphony is gifting us both during the annual Holiday Pops (December 3-6) concert performances and The Fifth Third Cirque de Noël (December 22-23), at DeVos Performance Hall.

Holiday Pops (December 3-6)

Nothing brings holiday joy more than being enveloped by your favorite holiday classics. This annual concert returns with Grand Rapids Symphony’s (GRS) outstanding instrumental performance of familiar tunes, and some surprising ones, to fuse the holiday spirit with everyone in the audience.

“Whether you are six or 60, the spirit of holiday music is something everyone can enjoy,” said Samara Napolitan, Communications Coordinator for GRS. “There is no better way to experience it than live in concert with a professional orchestra and choruses.”

No matter what quality ear buds you have or how loud you play the radio, nothing compares to experiencing GRS’s collection of talented musicians and their instrumental accolades performing songs like Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and Sleigh Ride in DeVos Performance Hall. First year Principle Pops Conductor,Bob Bernhardt is including selections from the Home Alone soundtrack to bring new twists to the Grand Rapids tradition.

The exciting Holiday Pops Spectacular pre-concert party takes place at 1 p.m. before December 5th’s 3 p.m. concert. Festivities shower attendees with treats, games, caroling, family photos and an instrument petting zoo; kids from one to 92 will love it!

  • Tickets: $18 per concert. $20 for concert and Holiday Pops Spectacular. For tickets and showtimes, visit www.GRSymphony.org


Cirque de Noël (December 22-23)

For those looking to pair your seasonal favorites with choreography that illustrates the melodies in a way you’ve never experienced before, Cirque de Noël brings performers of Cirque de la Symphonie to the stage, combining acrobatic artistry with GRS’s acclaimed instrumental performances.

“Among [the performers] are world record holders, gold-medal winners, Olympians and some of the most original talent ever seen,” said Napolitan. “Each performance is perfectly choreographed to classical masterpieces, raising cirque artistry to a fine arts level.”

The collaboration of GRS and Cirque de la Symphonie has brought the magic of cirque to the Grand Rapids stage since 2010, following an idea to add a second holiday show the year prior. Enchanting pieces like The Polar Express, The Nutcracker Suite and Sleigh Bells brings the audience nostalgic joy and scores from movies like Hook and Star Wars add something new to the playlist.

“One of the most memorable parts about the holiday season is the music,” said Napolitan and there’s no better way to experience it than pairing GRS with the talented movements of the Cirque de la Symphonie performers.


Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumna who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio.




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