Grand Rapids Symphony performs at Williams Auditorium this weekend

BIG RAPIDS — Perfect for Valentine's Day celebrations, the Grand Rapids Symphony will present a free concert of romantic classical music as part of this year's Festival of the Arts.

"They've been with us since the beginning eight years ago and the symphony is always the biggest draw," said Bruce Dilg, Festival of the Arts chair. "They're the premiere symphony in West Michigan and they've been very generous with us over the years."

The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14, at William's Auditorium on the campus of Ferris State University on South Michigan Avenue. Pieces will include those by conductors such as Bach, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky. John Varineau will conduct.

As with all Festival of the Arts events, Dilg hopes the symphony performance will open the eyes of the community, enrich the lives of those who attend and inspire individuals of all ages — especially the younger generations. Seeing the symphony perform for the first time can be life changing for children who have never seen or heard an instrument such as a violin, trumpet, or bassoon, Dilg added.

"I hope people bring children to hear the symphony," he said. "I'd love to see half of the audience be kids."

Thanks to a grant from the Mecosta County Community Foundation and volunteer work by Ferris Honors students, bus transportation will be provided to the Nisbett Fairman Residences and area nursing homes to bring people to the Grand Rapids Symphony performance. Ferris students will be on board to help anyone needing assistance to safely enter and exit the bus and the auditorium. For locations and pickup times, individuals can call (231) 796-0250.

Tickets are not required and seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"We're here to make the symphony enjoyable for everybody," Dilg said.

For a complete Festival of the Arts schedule, as well as any event updates, visit