Alger Park Church hosts the third season of the series featuring eclectic Michigan acts, including classical music, opera and ‘The Music That Raised Us’ tribute to black female icons.
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Music fans won’t find many concert series that alternate between world music, gypsy jazz, classical music, opera and Motown.
But the third season of Grand Rapids’ free Music in the Heights concert series does just that, with musicians and singers unfurling their artistry in the unique setting of Alger Park Church on the city’s Southeast Side.
“Music in the Heights aims to contribute to the culture of Grand Rapids by presenting free, high-quality concerts of many different genres of music. It’s the first series of its kind in the Alger Heights neighborhood,” said organizer Cameron Blake, a respected musician and singer-songwriter who launched the series in 2021.
“It’s an intimate listening room experience that is focused on the artists and their music making. The sound and acoustics of Alger Park Church are remarkable because all genres of music sound great in the room.”
Blake pointed to the aforementioned “unique bills that you aren’t likely to hear under the same roof. For example, this season kicks off with two award-winning, instrumental bands – Whorled and Djangophonique — and then to contrast, we’ll be presenting a curated program of opera in January. It’s an eclectic series for music lovers of all kinds.”
That opera-driven concert on Jan. 26 will feature a dynamic and unique collaboration between Grand Rapids singers and instrumentalists.
“There happens to be a wonderful, mezzo soprano, Karen Albert, living in the Alger Heights neighborhood,” Blake said. “She reached out last season about a potential concert and it got me thinking, ‘What if I curated a concert for classical voice that includes some lesser known repertoire that is really stunning and can make a believer out of anyone?’ ”
Because opera can be daunting as well as beautiful for listeners, Blake said he decided to collaborate with “three amazing female artists — Lucy Finkel, the versatile Avalon Cutts-Jones, and Albert — and with their concert repertoire and an ongoing list of my favorites, we put together a truly remarkable program.” That program also will feature Robert Byrens, former pianist of Opera Grand Rapids, Jill Collier on cello and Blake on violin.
The 350-capacity venue closes out the series on March 1 with Grand Rapids singer Sarena Rae’s “The Music that Raised Us” all-star revue, featuring the music of powerful and influential female black artists, including Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Donna Summer, Ma Rainey and more.
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