St. Cecilia Music Center Announces 2019 / 2020 Folk, Jazz and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Series’ with an Impressive Line-up of World-Class Artists


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PRESS RELEASE — St. Cecilia Music Center (SCMC) in Grand Rapids will begin its 136th season of spectacular performances featuring jazz, folk and chamber music from some of the most talented musicians on the world stage. The exquisite Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Series will feature three exciting concerts: The first entitled Great Innovators, on November 21, 2019, featuring the works of Stravinsky, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Smetana; The second called French Enchantment, on January 23, 2020, featuring the elegant works of Ravel, Fauré and Saint-Saëns; and the third entitled From Prague to Vienna, on April 30, 2020 featuring music by Dvorák, Brahms and Suk. 

SCMC’s Spectacular Jazz Series will bring some of the most renowned jazz artists in the world to SCMC during the new season. Jazz greats to perform will include Fred Hersch featuring special guest Julian Lage on October 17, 2019, Emmet Cohen’s Master Legacy Series featuring Benny Golson on January 16, 2020, Jazz Vocalist Sensation Luciana Souza on March 5, 2020, and The Clayton Brothers Quintet on April 16, 2020

Leading off the season in the Acoustic Café Series will be Country Music and GRAMMY® Award Winning Artist Lee Ann Womack on October 3, 2019. The iconic singer / songwriter and GRAMMY® Award Winning Judy Collins will return to SCMC on October 20, 2019. The GRAMMY® Award Winning Bluegrass Band The Infamous Stringdusters will make their debut appearance in West Michigan on February 6, 2020. Multi-GRAMMY® Award Winner Rosanne Cash will perform on February 19, 2020,  Chris Thile will take the stage at SCMC on February 25, 2020, immediately followed by “eclectic adventurist” singer/ guitarist Raul Midón who will perform on February 27, 2020. (Additional Acoustic Café Series concerts will be announced at a later date.)

“We are so excited about all of our concerts and the amazing artists coming to Grand Rapids to perform at SCMC this coming season,” says Cathy Holbrook, SCMC Executive Director. “We’re happy to have three great series’ that appeal to everyone’s interests in music. The exquisite sound and intimate setting of the Royce Auditorium makes these chosen concerts at SCMC one-of-a-kind. Our series concerts are growing, so getting season tickets and single tickets early is highly encouraged.”

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Series 2019/2020

  • The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Concert Series begins on November 21 with a program entitled Great Innovators, featuring the works of four powerful innovative composers – Beethoven, Stravinsky, Mendelssohn and Smetana. CMS artists performing include Anne Marie McDermott, piano; Ida Kavafian, violin; Gary Hoffman, cello; and José Franch-Ballester, clarinet. The program features Beethovan’s innovative Trio in B-flat major for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano, Op. 11, the first of its kind to include the clarinet in a trio; Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale), Trio Version for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano a piece that introduced the composer’s wildly controversial music extremism to the chamber music stage in the early 1920’s; Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words for Piano, an invention all his own; and Smetana’s Trio in G minor for Piano, Violin, and Cello, Op. 15, the first major chamber work from the Bohemian region. 
  • CMS will return on January 23, 2020 with a program entitled French Enchantment where the audience will experience the grace, wit, and charm of French music. The program begins and ends with early works by Saint-Saëns and Fauré that recreate the elegant atmosphere of 19-century Parisian salons. In between the two works will be Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello, written soon after World War I, where he used just two string instruments to produce a composition of unique, austere beauty. CMS artists performing include Pianist and Co-Artistic Director Wu Han, violinist Paul Huang, violist Matthew Lipman, and cellist Clive Greensmith.
  • On April 30, 2020, CMS Co-Artistic Directors Wu Han (piano) and David Finckel (cello) will perform with violinist Arnaud Sussman and violist Paul Neubauer on a program entitled From Prague to Vienna. This concert celebrates friendship and family with three composers who mentored and inspired each other: Brahms, Dvořák and Suk. Brahms discovered Dvořák through a composition competition and helped him rise to international stardom, and became his lifelong friend and mentor. In turn, Suk was one of Dvořák’s favorite students and eventually became his son-in-law. 
CMS Co-Artistic Directors Wu Han (piano) and David Finckel (cello) will perform with violinist Arnaud Sussman and violist Paul Neubauer on a program entitled From Prague to Vienna.

Spectacular Jazz Series 2019/2020

  • The Jazz Series will launch on October 17 with Fred Hersch featuring special guest Julian Lage. Fred Hersch is a select member of jazz’s piano pantheon. He is known as one of the most influential creative forces who has shaped jazz piano over more than three decades as an improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist. He has been proclaimed “the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade” by Vanity Fair, “an elegant force of musical invention” by the LA Times, and “a living legend” by The New Yorker. Julian Lage is hailed as one of the most prodigious guitarists of his generation. The 31-year-old New York-based musician boasts a prolific résumé as sideman, soloist, and bandleader. He’s also a GRAMMY® nominated guitarist who explores the American song catalog from a truly unique vantage point, performing music written by a range of audacious and original artists, from Roy Orbison to Ornette Coleman. Lage builds upon a wandering sonic outlook with jazz fusion, jam band liberation, standards, and rock ‘n’ roll using virtuosic precision, adventurous improvisation, and a remarkably clear vision.
  • On January 16, 2020 SCMC will bring Emmet Cohen’s Master Legacy Series featuring Benny Golson to the Royce Auditorium Stage. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the renowned saxophonist Benny Golson as part of the Emmet Cohen Trio. Emmet Cohen’s mission is to celebrate the last remaining legendary jazz artists from an era long gone, by documenting, featuring, and preserving their artistry and excellence in the later stages of their careers. As the producer of the Masters Legacy Series, Cohen has released two acclaimed recordings including Volume 1 with Jimmy Cobb and Volume 2 with Ron Carter.  
  • On March 5, the uniquely talented Jazz Vocalist Luciana Souza will perform on the Royce Auditorium Stage. Billboard Magazine proclaims Luciana Souza as “a uniquely talented vocalist who organically crosses genre borders. Her music soulfully reflects, wistfully regrets, romantically woos, joyfully celebrates…” Entertainment Weekly says, “Her voice traces a landscape of emotion that knows no boundaries.” Beginning her recording career at age three with a radio commercial, Souza recorded more than 200 jingles and soundtracks becoming a first-call studio veteran at age sixteen. From 2005 to 2010, she was the Jazz Artist in Residence with the prestigious San Francisco Performances. In 2005 and 2013 Luciana was awarded Best Female Jazz Singer by the Jazz Journalists Association. 
Luciana Souza
Luciana Souza
  • Capping off the 2019/2020 Spectacular Jazz Series season will be the two time Grammy-nominated Clayton Brothers Quintet performing on April 16, 2020. The Clayton Brothers Quintet which is led by John and Jeff Clayton became a quintet when trumpeter Terell Stafford joined the group. The quintet is invigorated by young blood with John’s son Grammy-nominated Gerald Clayton on piano and David Alvarez on drums.  

Acoustic Café Folk Series 2019/2020

  • SCMC’s first concert of the season will feature Lee Ann Womack on the Acoustic Café Folk Series on October 3, 2019. Lee Ann Womack’s latest album The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone has “some of the most immediate and deeply felt vocal performances” of her career, and captures “the emotional core of country” (NPR). Praised by The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, New Yorker and more, Lee Ann has sung for multiple Presidents, performed award-winning duets with everyone from Willie Nelson and John Prine to John Legend. Lee Ann has earned six Country Music Association Awards (including Single and Album of the Year), five Academy of Country Music Awards, a Grammy, and much more.
  • The legendary Judy Collins takes the stage on October 20, 2019 on the Acoustic Café Folk Series. 

This will be Judy Collins’ second appearance at SCMC. She last performed at SCMC in Winter 2018 when she packed the house. Judy Collins has inspired audiences with her sublime vocals, boldly vulnerable songwriting, personal life triumphs, and a firm commitment to social activism since the 1960s. She evokes both the idealism and steely determination of a generation united against social and environmental injustices. Five decades later, her luminescent presence shines brightly as new generations bask in the glow of her iconic 50-album body of work, and heed inspiration from her spiritual discipline to thrive in the music industry for half a century.

  • GRAMMY® Award Winning bluegrass/rock artists, The Infamous Stringdusters, will debut in West Michigan at St.  Cecilia Music Center on February 6, 2020. Their uniquely powerful blend of bluegrass, rock and more has pivoted them to the top echelons of the blue-grass/rock scene. The New York Times has reported, “With a nod to the past and a firm foot down on the gas toward the future, the ‘Dusters… don’t leave bluegrass behind; they’re stretching it from within.”
  • Multi- GRAMMY® award-winning artist Rosanne Cash will appear on the Royce Auditorium stage on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 with guest artist musician/composer John Leventhal. Cash’s tour entitled She Remembers Everything, from her most recent album of the same name, is a poetic, lush and soulful collection of songs of personal songwriting and reflection. She Remembers Everything was produced by collaborator and husband John Leventhal and Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket, Mavis Staples, Neko Case). One of the country’s pre-eminent singer/ songwriters, Rosanne Cash has released 15 albums of extraordinary songs that have earned 4 Grammy Awards and 11 nominations, as well as 21 top 40 hits, including 11 No. 1 singles.
  • Multi- GRAMMY® Award Winner and MacArthur Fellow Chris Thile will hit the stage at SCMC on Tuesday, February 25, 2020. A member of Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek, and now the host of the radio program, Live from Here, Chris Thile is a mandolin virtuoso, composer and vocalist. With his broad outlook, Thile transcends the borders of conventionally circumscribed genres, creating a distinctly American canon and a new musical aesthetic for performers and audiences alike. A child prodigy, Thile first rose to fame as a member of GRAMMY® Award-winning trio Nickel Creek, with whom he released four albums and sold over two million records. In 2014, along with a national tour, the trio released a new album, A Dotted Line, their first since 2005. As a soloist, Thile has released several albums including his most recent, Thanks for Listening, a collection of recordings, produced by Thomas Bartlett, originally written as Songs of the Week for Live from Here. In February 2013, Thile won a Grammy for his work on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan. In September 2014, Thile and Meyer released their latest album collaboration, Bass + Mandolin, which won the GRAMMY® for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Punch Brothers released their latest album, the GRAMMY®-winning All Ashore, in July 2018 with the Pop Matters describing the album as ‘a call to savor, to pay attention, to step back from the hustle and bustle and remember the importance of being calm.”
  • Guitarist / Singer Raul Midón will appear at SCMC on February 27, 2020.  The New York Times named Raul Midón “a one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus.” Along with releasing 10 studio albums as a solo artist, the GRAMMY® Nominated Raul Midón – dubbed “an eclectic adventurist” by People magazine – has collaborated with such heroes as Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers, along with contributing to recordings by Queen Latifah, Snoop Dogg and the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s She Hate Me. A native of New Mexico who was educated in the jazz program of the University of Miami – and who now lives in Maryland after years in New York City – Midón has earned acclaim the world over, with a fan base that stretches from San Francisco to India, Amsterdam to Tokyo. A critic for the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper wrote: “Midón has a lovely voice, a beautifully controlled tenor that can express anything from tenderness to passion… And the guy can play. His strumming has a flamenco flourish, but after a while, you realize he can do every kind of accompaniment he needs on acoustic guitar.


Season subscription tickets to the 2019-2020 Spectacular Jazz Series and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Concert Series are now available at special rates by calling 616-459-2224 or visiting St. Cecilia Music Center at 24 Ransom NE, Grand Rapids, 49503 or online for new subscribers at Single tickets to chamber, jazz, and folk concerts are also on sale now and can be purchased by phone at 616-459-2224 or online at For each concert, a post-concert party is open to all ticket-holders giving the audience the opportunity to possibly meet the artists and obtain signed CDs of their releases.  There will also be pre-concert receptions for the CMS of Lincoln Center concerts and the Jazz Series concerts featuring wine and hors d’oeuvres for $15 per person. 

Series Subscribers are offered with great benefits including:

  • 15-20% discount off single ticket prices
  • A discounted rate on pre-concert reception ticket price ($10 per person per reception in the Jazz or Chamber Music series – discounted from $15 per person per reception)

Ticket prices: There is a $2.50 fee for all single tickets. All concerts start at 7:30 p.m. All concerts include a post-concert party for concert ticket holders.