The Calvin Community Symphony, formerly known as the Calvin Alumni Orchestra, was founded in 1994 by former members of Calvin’s student ensembles to allow adult musicians to continue to serve the community by sharing performances of classical orchestral literature. The orchestra’s membership is open not only to Calvin alumni, but also to community musicians who share the orchestra’s goals and the college’s mission.
John Varineau was appointed in 2013 to the music faculty at Calvin College, where he conducts the Calvin Orchestra and the Calvin Community Symphony. Prior to this appointment he has been a visiting orchestra conductor at Calvin College, taught Music Theory at Calvin College and, as a clarinetist, taught clarinet at Calvin College, Cornerstone University, Grand Valley State University, and Grand Rapids Community College.
Mr. Varineau is also associate conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony, and conductor of the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra. The 2013-2014 Season marks his 29th anniversary with the Symphony, and 26th year as the conductor of the Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra. For four years, he served as the Music Director of the Holland Chamber Orchestra (now the Holland Symphony). He has also been a visiting orchestra conductor Western Michigan University, a guest conductor for the Traverse City Symphony, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, and the Duluth-Superior Orchestra.
Mr. Varineau conducts nearly all of the Grand Rapids Symphony concert series, including the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series, Fox Motors Pops Series, the SymphonicBoom Series, Crowe Horwath Rising Stars Series, DTE Energy Foundation Family Series, PNC Lollipop Series and the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops. He also conducts a variety of educational and outreach concerts throughout the area. Mr. Varineau is committed to nurturing the next generation of classical music lovers.
He is a frequent visitor to area schools, and shares an infectious enthusiasm with students throughout West Michigan.
Mr. Varineau also appears in a variety of summer music programs in the region and plays in the chamber music group, Montage. In 2003, he appeared twice as a guest conductor with the Arkansas Symphony.
Additionally, he conducts the Grand Rapids Symphony for performances by the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. Mr. Varineau attended Michigan State University, University of Wyoming and Yale School of Music for his clarinet training. He has made three recordings with the Grand Rapids Symphony and three with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
He and his wife, Gwen, have a daughter, Jade, and a son, Justin.
Mary Klooster Hillyard, Orchestra Director
Sarah VanWingerden Bratt, Registered Nurse
Mary Bardolph, Advancement Assistant, ICCF
Kaan Cidanli, Insurance Regulatory Affairs
Rich Huisman, Lab Manager
John Mogor, Physician
Maria Poppen, High School Math Teacher
Melinda Slater, Marketing/Advertising
Marie B. TenElshof, Orchestra Director
Lisa Van Dyke, Registered Dietitian
Christy Wolff, Annual Fund Coordinator, Calvin Theological Seminary
Hannah Piedt, Photographer
Katelyn Brummel, Orchestra Teacher
Nancy Bolt, Retired Social Worker
Ashley Brady, GVSU Student
Suzanna Breems, Homemaker, Editor
Anna Connelly, Writer/Musician
Angie K. Mast, Retired Nurse
Patricia O’Haire-Mogor, Dental Assistant
Susan A. Stoddard, CFO
Michelle Van Dyke, Registration Specialist, Hosp. Emergency Dept.
Amy Vis, Homemaker/Nurse
Olivia Wenzel, Calvin Prince Conference Center
CarlaJoy Strand, Teacher
Debra Rienstra, Calvin English Professor
MaryEllen Bloem, Registered Nurse
Pete Colburn, Stay-at-Home Dad
Brett Kuiper, Logistics Broker
Deborah Anema Mouw, Homemaker
Tiffany Shomsky, Musician
Steve Strand, Software Engineer
Corrin Meyer, Electrical Engineer
Cindy Boer, Attorney
Arda Cushman, Retired Teacher
Ellen Maddix, Stay-at-Home Mom
Andrew Plaisier, Calvin Student
Joshua Ruiter, Calvin Student
Suzanne Smalligan, Furniture Designer
Nancy Van Baak, Church Secretary
Erin Zoutenbam, Editor
Ron Rienstra, Professor, Western Theological Seminary
Sally Northouse De Vries, Realtor
Traci Montgomery, Research Specialist, Calvin College
Laura Schipper, Calvin Student
Amy Netz, Stay-at-Home Mom/Musician
Marie Albers, Homemaker
Marjorie Hage Hoogeboom, Retired Info. Sys. Director
Kathryn MacLeod, Office Assistant, America’s One Title Agency
Jessica Peters, Nanny
Nicholas J. Valenziano, Retired Music Educator
Raymond Stakenas, Project Manager
Kristin Vander Linde McKay, Registered Nurse
Peggy Bentley Patrick, Retired Music Teacher
Carol Nutt, Stay-at-Home Mom
Cheryl Hoogeboom Hoogewind, Lab Manager/ Department Assistant
John Meulink, Social Studies Teacher
Rebecca den Hollander, Homemaker/Insurance Agent
Ann Reinhard, Band Director
John Karnes, Ferris State University Professor
Roger Griffioen, Calvin Physics Professor, emeritus
Ben Huisman, Radiography Student, FSU
Mark Thornberg, Project Manager
James Mollema, Retired Teacher
Ryan Siekman, Calvin Student
Eric Stone, Data Technician
Ted Gerken, Electrical Engineer
Justin Voogt, Electrical Engineer
Tiffany Shomsky, Musician
Elizabeth Colpean, Guest
The Calvin Alumni Orchestra was founded in 1994 by former members of Calvin's student ensembles to allow adult musicians to continue to serve the community by sharing performances of classical orchestral literature. In 2010, the name was changed to the Calvin Community Symphony to better reflect who we are and who we serve through our music.
The orchestra is made up of a variety of musicians from the greater Grand Rapids and West Michigan community who share a love of performing classical orchestral literature. We hope to broaden our audience and increase our orchestra size by widening the door for community players and students to join us.
The orchestra is governed by a self-elected board and is supported by the alumni association, the department of music, and its own membership. The orchestra's members, who give freely of their time and talent, come from all walks of life. All share a common love of performing great orchestral literature from composers past and present, and an abiding respect for Calvin's educational mission and performing arts tradition.
The orchestra performs in the Calvin Covenant Fine Arts Center, typically twice a year on Sundays in November and March. Each concert is also performed at a local community venue. Information about past concerts can be found in this list of the orchestra's concert literature.
Read News & Stories feature Calvin Orchestra Gets New Conductor.