As his career at Hope College nears its end, long-time music professor Dr. Robert Ritsema will be honored during a Hope tradition that he helped begin.

          Ritsema, who is retiring at the end of the current
  school year, will receive a Meritorious Service Award from
  the college's Alumni Association during the 11th annual
  Musical Showcase.  The concert will be held on Monday, March
  15, at 8 p.m. at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids, and will
  feature all of Hope's major performing groups as well as
  several soloists and small ensembles selected by audition.
          The award recognizes the significant role Ritsema
  has played during his entire 32-year career at Hope, with
  the concert providing an ideal opportunity to present it,
  according to Lynne Powe, the college's alumni director.
  "Since Dr. Ritsema has been an integral part of Musical
  Showcase over these 11 years, we thought it would be a
  fitting audience of his colleagues, students and others who
  appreciate his talents," she said.
          Ritsema has been a member of the Hope faculty
  since 1967, and is the long-time conductor of the college's
  orchestra and Symphonette.  During the concert, he will lead
  the orchestra in its performance of the "Finale" from
  Tchaikovsky's "Fifth Symphony."
          He has conducted the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony
  Orchestra for the past 20 years, and is a member of the
  "Early Music Ensemble" which specializes in playing musical
  instruments of the 12th-17th centuries.  In 1994, he
  received the "String Teacher of the Year" award from the
  Michigan chapter of the American String Teachers
          Musical Showcase owes its origins to a joint
  concert featuring the college's
  Chapel Choir and Symphonette at DeVos Hall in April of 1987.
  The event was such a good experience for the two groups that
  Ritsema proposed that all of the department's major
  ensembles consider joining together for a similar event.
  Former colleague Dr. Rusty Floyd suggested that the concert
  assume the "collage" format that's become its hallmark, and
  in 1989 "Musical Showcase" was born.
          "That's how it had its beginnings, almost
  innocently, not with any long-range project in mind,"
  Ritsema said.  "It was not billed at that time as the 'first
  annual' Showcase concert."
          However, the event was so popular--and such a good
  learning experience for the students--that it returned the
  next year, and the next, and every year since.
          The format has been much the same, with multiple
  groups holding the stage simultaneously, each beginning as
  soon as its predecessor finishes.  Ritsema feels that the
  quality, however, has grown, in part because the student
  soloists and ensemblists have come to view the now-
  established event as a spring highlight.
          "We have very spirited auditions for it.  It's one
  of the plum things for students to do," he said.  "While in
  its format the concert has not changed dramatically over the
  years, I think it has changed consistently in terms of its
  level of performance."
          Tickets for Musical Showcase cost $9 each, and may
  be ordered through the Office of Public Relations at Hope.
  The office, open from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Monday
  through Friday, is located on the second floor of the DeWitt
  Center and may be called at (616) 395-7860.
          Tickets may also be purchased over the counter at
  the Grand Center Ticket Office for $9 each.  The Grand
  Center Ticket Office is open Monday through Friday from 10
  a.m. to 6 p.m.
          In addition, tickets may be ordered by phone, and
  charged to Visa, through Ticketmaster by calling (616) 456-
  3333.  A service fee is added to the cost of each ticket
  purchased this way.