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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

New GR Symphony director meets Latino leaders

Mariano Avila

If you didn’t already know, the new director of the Grand Rapids Symphony, Marcelo Lehninger, is Latino - specifically, Brazilian. 

The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted an event to introduce Lehninger to Latino business leaders Monday night.

Chamber director Jorge Gonzalez says he hopes Lehninger’s heritage will open new opportunities for more Latinos to attend the symphony.

“Maybe even events where they partner events partnering with the Hispanic Festival or the Mexican Festival so they’re more visible. But also coming up with maybe programs like salsa symphony.” 

Vanessa Flores Giles, is a symphony regular and president of VFG Creations. She says her hope is that this will be a step toward bringing music from other parts of the world to Grand Rapids.

“You know Indian—they have beautiful music that can be played through the symphony, or South American. I mean, just having someone that understands the diversity in itself is important.”

Lehninger, who flew in from Brazil for a few days, will conduct his inaugural concert as music director in October with romantic music from Russia.

“We’re doing the Tchaikovsky violin concerto with the soloist Philippe Quint, Russian violinist, and then for the second half we have Rachmaninoff second symphony which is incredible, incredible piece of romantic music.”   

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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