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This Week's Events

New York to Grand Rapids: Art of the folk song

Thursday, Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m.
People like to say that classical music is dead, but I would argue, looking at the numbers from other cities that maybe it's just that our local perspective could use some infusion of the creative revolution of talent happening within one of the centers of culture: New York's Lincoln Center.
And not only could you prove me wrong by purchasing a ticket to this one-night-only event, but the arrival of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center musicians David Finckel, cellist, Benjamin Beilman, violin, Ani Kavafian, violin, Yura Lee, violin/viola and Paul Neubauer, viola to Grand Rapids is also a big deal.
St. Cecilia Music Center’s ability to book such talent here furthers their mission of providing space for the study, appreciation, and performance of music in order to enrich our lives here in West Michigan. This new program should really connect with our singer/songwriters, musicians and music fans alike, as the night's selections will feature a smashing new program addressing folk music's influence on the classical.
The pieces slated to be performed include Dvorák’s Quintet in E-flat major for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Cello, Op. 97, “The American” (1893), Brahms’ Quintet in G major for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Cello, Op. 111 (1890), and Kodály’s Serenade for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 12 (1919-20).
What is truly amazing is that this series of classical music is one of the most sought-after tickets in NY, where the program will be performed before arriving here. I just hope you understand what a big deal it is to have this Lincoln Center connection in our city. If not, there is always the monster truck pull that we can bring back to the arena and let the de-evolution continue. (See Idiocracy.)
Admission: $35 – 40 with student ticket available at the box office.

WinterWest: Reasons to love winter right now

Friday - Sunday, Jan. 23 - 25, see website for event times
Over the last few years the city has really evolved, and while much of it went unrecorded elsewhere, those who read Rapid Growth know the back story of these events, having been plugged in since the start. We hope he insider's perspective has served you well in connecting you to the fun.
One event that has formed around the beauty of neighborhood events that bring community together is WinterWest – an outdoor themed event returning for the fifth year in a row to Richmond Park from January 23-25.
WinterWest, at its core, is really about creating an opportunity for fun to advance the neighbors of this Westside community -- and to encourage others to see and experience what many call the "Westside/best side" of the city.
This year WGRD’s Pond Hockey Classic moves from Reeds Lake to Richmond Park, where WinterWest, in collaboration with their sponsors, are sharpening their focus like a skater's blade for a single Olympic-sized weekend instead of spreading it over three as they have in the past.  
Events like the Crazy Cardboard Sled Race, sponsored by Grand Rapids Public Schools, are still scheduled to happen. This is one of the most popular (and often most challenging) events for a host of reasons. It will be appearing this year on Sunday, Jan. 25 at 2:00 pm.
This year's sled competition will have two contest divisions – family and corporate. Family registration is free but corporate…yeah, you'll have to pay.
The warming shelter will be open again during the events and will serve its customary hot chocolate and coffee.
This level of event is only made possible through the generosity of its sponsors: OST, Rockford Construction, Swift Printing, Long Road Distillers, and Chemical Bank. These sponsors have made WinterWest possible and also have provided much-needed funds to install skating rinks in three Grand Rapids Parks.
To secure more information on the entire roster of events, including registering to compete, please visit the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks website.

Bangarang Circus: No elephants harmed here, just hamstrings

Sunday, Jan. 25 7 p.m. doors, 7:30 p.m. show
With all the talk about the circus these days and the elephant cruelty issue working its way through city hall, I was hesitant about anything with the word circus until I got to see Bangarang Circus in action. Returning for their third annual Pyramid Scheme extravaganza on Sunday, Jan. 25, ringleader Rachel Finan shares why Bangarang offers not just something unique but also an opportunity for those charged with event planning.
This is a human-centered circus, unlike others where elaborate production values must be installed on a stage to create the desired impact. Bangarang's performers, while performing their feats of aerial, dance, hoop, acrobatic and flow arts up close, allow you an access more on the level of intimate than arena-scaled. The result is a much more engaged audience as the performers lift, twirl and often hover just inches from your seat in what can best be described, as I look at the plan, the Pyramid Scheme's version of the single-ringed circus.
This performance also gives those who have only caught the Bangarang Circus as a street act in places like Holland or ArtPrize encouragement to consider attending to see a beautiful emerging narrative story driven by the entertainment unfolding at the PS.
Relatedly, if you do feel like attending a Tuesday, Jan. 27 protest to end circus cruelty, please visit this site for more information.
Admission: $8 advance/$10 day of, kids 10 & under $5

Part Time Warriorz: Now with The Extra Texture

One of the happiest bands in the city takes to the stage on the West side and you may never attend another band's event the same way.
What has been lost in so much of our pursuit to be "fill-in-the-blanks" as a city is often our sense of humor. This is the void we have created and where, lucky for us, a Bermuda Triangle-like event happens when musicians, including members Michael Cunningham, Jolene Rumsey, Claire Fisher and a revolving door of others, hit the stage to create one of the best nights of music this side of the Grand River.
I wish I could hum you a song or post a video that would break down your hesitation, but this group is so off-the-charts that I wonder if recording is even possible at this point. 
Until then, you have to take my word for it that this much talent on stage is worth every penny of the 300 you have to give away to get in the door on Saturday night.  Arrive early and have a meal to ensure you can get a seat up close to the stage.

Opening for the band is The Extra Texture.
General admission: $3.
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