Ben Folds with Grand Rapids Symphony

Thursday, July 20, 2023
7:30 PM9:45 PM

Gates open 75 minutes prior to show time, times subject to change

  • Cost: Members $81 | Non-Members $83
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Ben Folds’ masterful new What Matters Most collection is less a statement than it is an offering—an open hand reaching out to all those wounded and bewildered by a world that seems to make less and less sense every day. Recorded in East Nashville with co-producer Joe Pisapia, the album marks Folds’ first new studio release in eight years. It’s a bold, timely, cinematic work, examining the tragic and the absurd in equal measure as it reckons with hope and despair, gratitude and loss, identity and perspective. The songs are bittersweet, hilarious at times, but often laced with a quiet sense of longing and dread: a text message goes unanswered; an old classmate descends into the dark depths of internet conspiracies; a relationship unravels in the middle of a lake. Yet taken as a whole, the result is an undeniably joyful record that refuses to succumb to the weight of the world around it—an ecstatic reminder of all the beauty and promise hiding in plain sight for anyone willing and present enough to recognize their moments as they arrive. Folds ultimately isn’t interested in simply lamenting the flaws of our times, but rather in finding ways to still connect to the magic and wonder of being alive, no matter what the world may throw at us.


Recognized nationally for the high quality of its concerts and educational programs, the Grand Rapids Symphony has been an important cultural resource in Grand Rapids and the West Michigan community for almost a century.

Led by Music Director Marcelo Lehninger, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, and Assistant Conductor Duo Shen, the orchestra presents more than 400 performances each year, enriching the lives of approximately 200,000 people. Thousands of those who benefit are students, senior citizens, and people with disabilities who are reached through the orchestra’s extensive education and community service programs.

The Grand Rapids Symphony released its 13th professional recording, Strauss & Villa-Lobos, a collection of live performances under the direction of Lehninger, in late 2021. Another notable recording, Invention & Alchemy, featuring jazz harpist Deborah Henson-Conant, was nominated for the Grammy for Best Classical Crossover Album during the 49th annual Grammy Awards.

The orchestra boasts longstanding partnerships of over 60 years with the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony & Classical Orchestra, and more recently has formed an additional affiliate in the Grand Rapids Bach Festival.

The Grand Rapids Symphony made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2005 and returned in 2018 for a triumphant performance with the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus under Lehninger’s baton.