On Thursday night, Grand Rapids’ St. Cecilia Music Center kicks off its folk series with Lee Ann Womack. Listen to the podcast with venue honcho Cathy Holbrook to learn why it stands out as a concert hall.
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When award-winning country and Americana singer Lee Ann Womack takes the stage tonight (Oct. 3) in the historic Royce Auditorium at St. Cecilia Music Center in downtown Grand Rapids, she and her band will become part of the rich and vibrant 136-year history of what began as the female-led St. Cecilia Society.
Over the years, much has changed at this iconic facility — including recent renovations that have improved auditorium acoustics and seating, and created gleaming office space downstairs — but the mission has remained the same: “To promote the study and appreciation of music in all its branches.”
For St. Cecilia, those “branches” — in addition to all of its music education programs — focus on classical chamber music, jazz and the Acoustic Cafe Folk Series, which has helped bring a new audience to the venerable institution.
RVSP Music Chat hosts Ralston Bowles and John Sinkevics recently sat down with Executive Director Cathy Holbrook to talk about her own intriguing background (she was pianist-composer Andre Previn’s personal assistant for a year) and how she ended up at the helm of St. Cecilia, as well as the goals of the venue’s concert series and what makes the 600-seat Royce Auditorium stand out from the pack.
“It’s a really special venue,” Holbrook said.
“The acoustics .. are unsurpassed. The interaction of audience to artist here at St. Cecilia and Royce Auditorium is unique and exceptional. Visiting artists talk to me about that all the time. They come off the stage and almost immediately say, ‘What a great audience you have. What a special place this is.’ At the end … there’s a been a connection between the audience and the artist.”
It was a fascinating, in-depth discussion which touched on the challenges of attracting audiences — especially younger fans — to concerts showcasing world-class jazz and classical music acts, as well as the addition of a folk series a few years ago.
That series continues to grow and will this year include tour stops by Chris Thile, The Infamous Stringdusters, Rosanne Cash and more. (Get tickets for the Lee Ann Womack concert and other shows online here.)
Listen to the podcast here and feel free to leave a SpeakPipe voice message for RSVP Music Chat below.
RSVP Music Chat: Cathy Holbrook (Oct. 3, 2019)
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