Muskegon, Michigan, January 20, 2021—Today The Block’s management unveiled its updated Winter-Spring concert schedule—including welcome news: the venue is projected to reopen by late May to reduced, physically distanced in-person audiences.
Concerts at The Block—Muskegon’s listening room for the musically curious—have been indefinitely suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic rendered large indoor public gatherings unsafe 10 months ago. Several solo classical artists appearing on the West Michigan Symphony (WMS) Virtual Concert Series also performed video concerts in The Block. But the various jazz and crossover artists slated for the series were forced to cancel all touring.
Today’s announcement reveals a venue poised for reopening as soon as it is safe. The only new cancellation is jazz artist Benny Green, who has postponed until next season. The remaining concerts are rescheduled to later this spring or are proceeding as previously announced.
“We are asking our audience to stay with us,” said Andy Buelow, President & CEO. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we hope they will be loyal and patient a little bit longer!”
The reopening plan—as Buelow frames it—calls for “bringing the lights up gradually.” The Block season resumes online in April and May with three virtual concerts from the WMS Unplugged series: violinist Tessa Lark; concert harpist Sylvia Norris and Friends; and pianist Aldo López-Gavilán. If public safety guidelines permit, live performances will resume in late May for the final three concerts—the Emmett Cohen Trio; Alex Harding & Organ Nation; and percussionist Tom Sharpe. These programs will be available online, for those who prefer, a week later.
THE BLOCK WINTER-SPRING 2021 SCHEDULE
Video Premiere: Saturday, April 24, 7:30 pm
A budding superstar in the classical realm, Tessa Lark is also a highly acclaimed fiddler, delighting audiences with everything from classical to Appalachian and bluegrass music.
SYLVIA NORRIS & FRIENDS: THE FRENCH CONNECTION
Video Premiere: Saturday, May 8, 7:30 pm
WMS’s Principal Harpist brings a colorful program of French chamber music by Ravel and others. Joining her will be an ensemble of outstanding artists, including flutist Nancy Stagnitta, violinist Steven Leonard, violist Renee Skerik, cellist Crispin Campbell, and soprano Laura Osgood Brown.
Video Premiere: Saturday, May 22, 7:30 pm
Praised for his “amazing playing and individuality” by The London Times, López-Gavilán returns on a Friday night WMS concert and a Saturday night solo recital at The Block. The Cuban pianist-composer excels in both the classical and jazz worlds as a soloist, collaborator, and performer of his own music.
EMMET COHEN TRIO
Live Concert: Friday, May 21, 7:30 pm
Video Premiere: Friday, May 28, 7:30 pm
Multifaceted American jazz pianist and composer Emmet Cohen returns with his celebrated trio. A dynamic and charismatic performer, Cohen possesses wide-ranging talents that are invigorating the contemporary arts world both at home and abroad.
ALEX HARDING & ORGAN NATION
Live Concert: Friday, June 11, 7:30 pm
Video Premiere: Friday, June 18, 7:30 pm
Led by Michigan-born baritone saxophonist Alex Harding, Organ Nation explores all facets of African-American music from deepest blues to the funkiest funk to the most swingin’ swing—with Djallo Djakate on drums and Organissimo’s Jim Alfredson on the Hammond B3.
TOM SHARPE: WORLD MUSIC PERCUSSION
Live Concert: Friday, June 18, 7:30 pm
Video Premiere: Friday, June 25, 7:30 pm
Tom Sharpe’s music is a percussive symphony—a sonic ad visual feast for the senses. Best known as the drummer for Mannheim Steamroller, Tom dramatically blends a classica background with world music instrumentation that invites the listener into the heart of the music.
Subscribers are being mailed the updated brochure along with instructions on how to opt in to the Virtual Concerts. To view or attend the concerts, they need to complete and mail the enclosed form before February 12. Subscribers may select one of the following options:
For the first three virtual-only concerts, they will receive an email link the week of the video premiere. The link will allow them to watch the premiere or view the concert any time thereafter during the next 10 days. They will be contacted in mid-April regarding the status of live attendance of the final three concerts.
Single concerts can be purchased by non-subscribers on a pay-per-view basis via The Block website at theblockwestmichigan.org.