2013-2014 SEASON

Toledo Symphony to celebrate 70th year with stellar lineup

  • toledo-symphony-4

    Violinist Stefan Jackiw.

  • Violinist Stefan Jackiw.
    Violinist Stefan Jackiw.

    The Toledo Symphony will celebrate the big 7-0 during its 2013-2014 performance season. Plans reveal a head-high pile of musical gifts for the community that supports it.

    Here are some of the sure-fire ooh-and-ah inducers in the works from September through May:

    ● A live production of Amadeus, the Peter Schaffer play set to the music of the Academy Award-winning film.

    ● The Manzoni Requiem, one of Guiseppi Verdi’s most majestic works for chorus and orchestra.

    ● Waltzing Through Vienna, an evening of orchestral dance music.

    ● The Brahms Project, with beloved pianist Kirill Gerstein returning.

    ● Frankenstein! A ghoulishly delicious musical celebration of Halloween.

    ● A full-course serving of Bach’s beloved Brandenberg concertos.

    ● Pop tributes to Elvis (the King) and Queen, the former rock band.

    ● A salute to Rodgers and Hammerstein.

    According to Bob Bell, Toledo Symphony president emeritus and chief artistic officer, these elaborate and distinctive plans result from countless meetings and conversations, plus paying close attention to the constantly evolving global music scene.

    “I think we have to have a sense of vibrancy and a sense of using what is created in our time,” he said.

    While too many people still may think of classical music as fusty and old-school, Bell, who has worked with and for the symphony since 1956, knows differently.

    Last weekend’s wildly successful North American premiere of the Fazil Say violin concerto, “1001 Nights in the Harem,” exemplifies the restless search by planners at Toledo Symphony headquarters on Parkwood Boulevard for the latest musical thing.

    Two pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton.
    Two pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton.

    On a budget of barely $6 million — an amount most mid-range orchestras would consider starvation level — Toledo’s symphony inevitably presents performances of Carnegie Hall quality and Grammy Awards innovation.

    “We’d like people to always know they will have a quality artistic experience, a credible and satisfying musical experience,” said Bell.

    Next year promises many such events in more than 200 concerts.

    That figure includes the big corporate-supported marquee series such as the Classics in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle, the Mozart and More in the Franciscan Center, extremely popular chamber performances at the Toledo Club, and burgeoning family-oriented events, which next season will largely move to the historic Valentine Theatre.

    In addition, symphony players provide dozens of neighborhood and regional concerts; they perform in schools, community centers, and other public places, and they help prepare the next generations of performers for the vibrant U.S. classical music scene.

    Speaking of next season brings some name-dropping.

    Coming to Toledo will be mega-star organist Paul Jacobs, French pianist and Van Cliburn Competition winner Philippe Bianconi, duo pianists Christine and Michelle Naughton, conductor Sarah Ioannidis, and violinists Stefan Jackiw and Jennifer Frautschi, among other spangled guests.

    Returning to conduct will be principal conductor and artistic advisor Stefan Sanderling and resident conductor Jeffrey Pollock. University of Toledo theater professor Cornel Gabara will continue his successful cooperative ventures with the symphony via the Glacity Collaborative, the only local professional theater troupe. And Bowling Green State University will build further on its promising symphony partnership via its well-trained choirs.

    Here’s a quick overview of series highlights:

    CLASSICS: An all-Rachmaninoff program Sept. 20-21 will pair Sanderling on the podium and Bianconi at the keyboard. Pollock and the symphony’s resident narrator/cellist, Robert Clemens, on Oct. 18-19 will conspire to scare with H.K. Gruber’s Frankenstein!!, a lively treatment of children’s rhymes based on the classic horror tale. Four Seasons with a Twist will reprise the popular Vivaldi classic, plus Astor Piazzolla’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires,” on Nov. 15-16. The Naughtons will join the symphony for Saint-Saens’ beloved “Carnival of the Animals,” on April 11-12, plus Franck’s Symphony in D minor.

    “I just love this program,” said Bell of the Gerstein concerts Feb. 28-March 1. “He wanted to do both Brahms concertos. It will almost be doing two different programs on the same weekend — like a mini-Brahms festival.”

    MOZART & MORE: Sponsored by Healthcare REIT, this series in the Franciscan Center will be linked next season by performances of all six of Bach’s Brandenberg concertos. Also planned will be Schubert’s Symphony No. 5; Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 with Sara Davis Buechner, and music by Delius and Respighi.

    CHAMBER SERIES: Sponsored by The Blade, this lovely series in the Toledo Club gives players a solo spot. In the works for 2013-2014 are pieces by Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms, plus many surprises.

    FAMILY SERIES: Promedica supports this all-ages series aimed to give families a chance to enjoy the classics together, with extra interest from cooperating partners in the community. Some of these concerts will be presented in the Valentine Theatre.

    POPS: With support from KeyBank, this typically well-sold series will include tributes to Elvis Presley and the group, Queen; will celebrate music from Oscar-winning films, and include some great surprises.

    Right now, subscribers are invited to renew for the next season, but subscriptions also are available to those who have not bought season tickets before.

    Price ranges are determined by where in each hall subscribers choose to sit. Per-person series tickets are: Classics, $153-$363; Pops, $115-$313, Mozart, $112-$130, Chamber, $110-$125, and Family, $75 plus one child free.

    All subscribers will receive a free ticket to the Feb. 22, 2014 concert by organist Paul Jacobs in the Peristyle.

    For more information, call 419-246-8000 or www.toledosymphony.com.

    Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com.