The Toledo Symphony turned 65 and a local group toured the Ohio Statehouse. Both events gave participants a feast for the ears and the eyes with a dollop of history on the side.
A sea of bright fabrics along with the "Star-Spangled Banner" set the mood for a spectacular evening of auditory and visual pyrotechnics. It was the 65th anniversary celebration concert of the Toledo Symphony Saturday night at Stranahan Theater. And it was fabulous!
The concert, Chelsea Tipton II conducting, included selections from thousands of votes cast for the people's choice, including Jupiter from The Planets by Gustav Holst; "Eine kleine Nachtmusik," first movement, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Imperial March from Star Wars by John Williams; the West Side Story overture by Leonard Bernstein, and many, many, more favorites, including the Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
From its beginning with roughly 50 musicians to today's orchestra with more than 100 musicians for certain concerts, the symphony has come a long way. Such an occasion called for star-spangled emcees, including Rick Woodell of WRVF-FM, 101. 5, Fred Lefebvre of WSPD-AM NewsRadio and Sashem Brey of WTVG, Channel 13.
In addition to the orchestra members, all dressed to be noticed in elegant gowns and tuxedos, special appearances were made by Samantha Biniker, piano, and Carol Dusdieker, soprano. The GlassMen Drum & Bugle Corps marched down the aisles of the audience too. George Isaac won the bid to be guest conductor that night, but could not attend. But he was there in spirit as the orchestra played John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever."
Those privy attended the post-concert birthday party on stage with the orchestra, complete with cake and champagne as John Cleveland played background tunes.
Cutting the cake and serving champagne in souvenir glasses were Toledo Symphony League members, including Joanie Barrett, president, Mary Pat Anderson, Carol Sizemore, Pat Eistetter, Margaret Doresco, Mary Decker, and others.
Bob Bell, president and CEO, who stressed that it's the 65th consecutive year for the symphony in October, beamed as he announced to the group that "well in excess of $100,000 was raised" that night. He graciously thanked the orchestra and the supporters, including Ann Stranahan, and gave credit to behind-the-scenes guys Ray Clark, production manager-librarian, and Tim Lake, stage manager. Mr. Bell announced that a documentary of the symphony will air soon on WGTE, Channel 30.
Kathy Carroll, executive vice president of development, remarked about the musicians' versatility and depth of talent and their dedication and extremely hard, daily work.Then she thanked everyone who made the night possible, including the top sponsors, Fifth Third Bank and The Andersons, followed by The Hylant Group, Mercy Health Partners, Owens-Illinois, Owens Corning, Merrill Lynch, and Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick. Media were sponsors as well: The Blade, Clear Channel Radio, and WTVG-TV, Channel 13.
Ms. Carroll also thanked the TSO League for its support. At the beginning of the month the league hosted a Pre-Birthday Bash at the UAW Administration Building for more than 65 members and friends. Everyone received a birthday present: a ticket to Saturday's concert. The event, hosted by Beth Bowman and Trina McGivern, netted more than $3,000, which helps the league's mission.
Among the party-goers were Sam Szor, John and Yolanda Szuch, Adelaide Morse, John and Mary Fedderke, Lovi and Dick Aldinger, Ann Sanford, By and Laura West, Jon Orser, and Deborah Born, Suzanne and Doug Neckers, Jerry Baum, Jackie and Rick Yocum, and Kim and Bob LaClair, who headed home to get ready for the Glass City Marathon the next morning. Ditto for musicians Georg Klaas, Nancy Lendrim, Revee Goubeaux, Diana Dyer Anderson, and Merwin Siu, who said of the marathon: "It is a stress reliever, but right now, its a source of stress," because of having to get up early.
Bill Buckley of The Hylant Group, and his wife, Jean, who looked especially lovely that night, attended everything, but they started the night early because they hosted a preconcert reception at the Toledo Country Club.
Among those at the Hylant preconcert reception were Dick and Fran Anderson, Susan and Frazier Reams, Fritz and Mary Wolfe, Marna and Suresh Ramnath, Mark and Gretchen Zyndorf, David and Joan Katz, Ted and Suzi Hahn, Mark and Merideth Wagoner, June and Erwin Effler, Jeannie Hylant, Chris and Pam DiSalle, Frank and Lynn Jacobs, Darryl and Lynn Lippman, and Judd and Sheila Johnson.
Last week about 25 members of the Press Club began "Daytrippin' to the Statehouse" by boarding the bus for Columbus bright and early. We munched on breakfast and read the paper as we got to know each other.
Before we knew it, we were at the Statehouse, in the Rotunda.
Rep. Barbara Sears, a new kid on the block, stopped by to say hi and welcome us all. She joked that there were two rules: "Nothing starts on time and everything takes longer than it is supposed to take."
There was so much to see in the Rotunda. In the middle of the floor is much symbolism. The 13-center stones represent the original colonies, and the outer band represents the U.S. Constitution.
Toledo native and University of Toledo alumnus Gregg Dodd, our host, said the Statehouse, or, as he calls it, the People's House, is one of five or six working statehouses, which means it has offices and legislature. Some 70,000 tours are given every year and there will be more traffic next year when the museum opens.
It was all marble, brass, leather doors, and tile floors. Even the elevators were fancy- schmancy with hardwood and brass.
Behind the scenes and up 72 steps on a narrow spiral staircase, we made our way to the Cupola, not usually on exhibit. It took $120 million to restore the Statehouse to its 1861 glory, and, as Mr. Dodd said, it was worth every penny.
In line with tradition we signed the wall dotted with local names past and present, such as Lynn Olman and others.
The view of Ohio was spectacular from this vantage point, and just outside, was the pole for the Ohio flag that would be raised later in the day when the Senate was in session, a tradition going back more than 100 years.
Just when we thought we had seen it all, we went on up another flight of stairs, wooden and looking a bit rickety, to the very top of the inside of the dome, where we could peek through a slit and see the building's interior. In the Cupola, one is 120 feet above the Rotunda floor.
Some dropped business cards in case someone several years from now finds them. Back downstairs, we made it for the House of Representatives' session.
The House was ornate as well as historical and interesting. The wooden desks, equipped with laptops and microphones to speed up the work of 99 representatives, sat on rich print carpet. Pink and cream walls, accented with brass and gold, were lit by golden chandeliers and the sunlight that flowed through towering windows.
The American and Ohio flags were prominent on either side of the podium, and perched above it was a golden eagle.
After prayer and the pledge, a reader relayed the minutes at a speed faster than an auctioneer. We were introduced, then it was down to business. A gong sounded when everyone had voted. We saw Rep. Randy Gardner in the meeting. Giant electronic boards, each encased in a gold-leaf frame, kept everyone apprised of what was happening and who was there. We saw Peter Ujvagi was not present because his name was in yellow, as were the other absentees.
Time to roll. The Senate was something to see too. But with only 33 members, things are done a bit differently, and we were there before the session started. No fancy electronics there for voting. Individual yeas and nays are counted in person, however, the senators have phones where the representatives have pagers.
Hmm, the beige hard back chairs in both Senate and House are for the press. The rest are upholstered and comfy.
Lunch at Emma's in the Statehouse followed, with wait staff in period clothing, well, after a stop at the gift shop for souvenirs, where many bought pins.
Gov. Ted Strickland briefly spoke to the group, pitching his proposed $1.57 billion economic stimulus package. "It's designed to create jobs and infrastructure and retain Ohio citizens in Ohio," he said. He also promoted his separate energy plan that would re-extend the state's regulatory authority over electric utilities.
Attorney General Marc Dann talked about his hopes to site a state-of-the-art criminal forensics laboratory in Toledo in cooperation with the University of Toledo.
Sen. Teresa Fedor and Rep. Edna Brown stopped by as did Rep. Matt Szollosi.
A few more sights in the Statehouse, then we strolled outdoors and admired the building from afar as we headed to the Judicial Center, where everyone went through security.
Wonderful bronze reliefs of former U.S. presidents who were from Ohio, along with a few other notables grace the walls of the halls of the 15-story building which opened about 75 years ago. The building, restored in 2001-2004, is rich with classic architecture, mosaics, vaulted ceilings, and more. The architecture, art, and decor merge as one to tell stories of yesteryear and of right and wrong. Giant murals show Ohio industry, agriculture, commerce, crafts, prohibition days, and more, including a Toledo outdoor market scene.
Especially impressive and awe-inspiring was the lavish Supreme Court room. Red velvet drapes were the backdrops for the bench for the seven justices. Leather, velvet-covered chairs, a ceiling that reminded one of the Sistine Chapel, and carved totem poles framed the doors and windows. We were told it took $85 million to renovate.
There is an interactive education center with a courtroom for mock trials.
Time to catch the bus, but oh, traffic; we didn't count on that. We lagged behind schedule, but no one noticed as they sipped beverages. Thanks to Lauren Amstutz, we stopped in Waldo as planned, rather than pass it by. Even though we had a late lunch, most folks indulged in the G&R's famous bologna sandwich, made with a half-inch thick slice of specially made bologna, and consumed giant slices of homemade pies. Fuller than ever, we boarded the bus again, but all were glad we stopped by.
We had promised one passenger, Darlene Dunn, that we'd get her back by 7 p.m. or so because she had a speech to give at
7:30. So she rehearsed it with all of us as her audience. Great job! As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, she rushed out, and headed on her way to give the real deal. Ah, back in Toledo, along the riverfront at The Docks. A nice place to live.
I have organized many an event in my time, from trade shows to "Holy Toledo It's Spring."
But sometimes we forget all the details and phone calls that go into doing an event. I was reminded as I planned this tour, but what really made it a success were Mr. Dodd and Kathy Wellington, who gladly helped me, the event chairman, with the details. Assisting Mr. Dodd was Mike Rupert, communications specialist. So, the next time you go to an event, don't take for granted all the behind the scenes work and advance planning by volunteers and staffers. I know I will notice the decorations, the entertainment, the food, and other details that make each event unique.
This time, the tour was the Statehouse and Judicial Center. Next time, it's Washington.