Dancers from the Cassandra Ballet of Toledo will be on hand Sunday night to help kick off the city's longest-running summer music tradition, the Toledo Zoo Amphitheater-based Music Under the Stars series under the direction of Sam Szor.
As anyone who attends these free and often standing-room-only concerts can attest, this has been a half-century of top-flight outdoor music.
Give credit for that to music director Sam Szor, who will be leading the Toledo Concert Band for his 50th consecutive season.
To keep up with the times, the band's repertoire has evolved over the decades from the music of Victor Herbert operettas to that of Leonard Bernstein to a sprinkling of rock pieces. Scheduled for Sunday is an arrangement of ABBA's “Dancing Queen.”
“Sam has always understood that what counts is being entertaining,” said longtime clarinetist Don Seeman. “He has done a remarkable job of selling these programs to the audience.”
To the performers as well.
Indeed, Sunday's stage will be filled with testaments to constancy. This will be the 20th season of zoo appearances by Cassandra Macino's company.
Even more remarkable, Seeman and saxophonist Lloyd Lewis have been in the band since it was founded 52 years ago by Kenneth Holland. Just behind, and matching Szor's 50 years, is percussionist and Toledo Symphony president Robert Bell. Bell began playing with the band while still a student of Szor's at Woodward High School.
Like the audiences, performers keep coming back because the music is good and nights at the zoo are beautiful.
The Cassandra Ballet will be featured in two works, a jazz piece by the ensemble Jump 5 titled “Change Your Heart, Change Your World,” and Sousa's ever-popular march, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
The program also features the band in Shostakovich's Festive Overture, Ward's “America, The Beautiful,” selections from Oklahoma! and Phantom of the Opera, and a medley titled “Jerome Robbins on Broadway.” Members of the Toledo Glassmen will be on hand to assist in Leroy Anderson's “Bugler's Holiday.”
Sam Szor will lead the Toledo Concert Band in a free Music Under the Stars program titled “Broadway Traditions” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the Toledo Zoo Amphitheater. The concerts continue every Sunday evening through Aug. 25.