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Published: Friday, 5/16/2003

Skilled guests close Classics Series

BY STEVEN CORNELIUS
BLADE MUSIC CRITIC

A revolving door of guest conductors and skilled soloists has made this a memorable season for the Toledo Symphony. More of the same is planned for this weekend, when the orchestra's Classics Series closes with a pair of concerts at the Peristyle. Guests include conductor Larry Rachleff and guitarist Sharon Isbin.

As for the program, accessibility is the keyword. Showpieces by Berlioz and Stravinsky open and close the concert. In between are guitar concertos by Corigliano and Rodrigo.

The evening's most unusual work will be Corigliano's 1993 Troubadours.

Part concert piece, part theater, Troubadours is colorful, nostalgic, and energized all at once, says Rachleff, who spoke last week from Providence, R.I.

Troubadours is set up as a poignant statement about life, about the ideal of the solitary troubadour who must travel as a messenger alone through the world,” he says.

The affable Rachleff is also a messenger of sorts. He divides his time between teaching at Rice University's highly regarded Shepherd School of Music, where he conducts the orchestra, and serving as music director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic.

It is an ideal mix, he says.

“The combination is fantastic. Teaching is so pure, so wonderful. And the students have such incredible energy. As a teacher you try to focus that by giving them a sense of musical space and patience. In a sense, you try to make young people sound old. With professionals you try to do the reverse, make sure they sound fresh.

“Students or professionals, the real issue, in any performance, is to find a balance between poise and passion, between the patience of experience and the vitality of youth,” he says.

Tonight marks Rachleff's first Toledo appearance. Isbin last performed here in 1998.

Guitarist Sharon Isbin will join conductor Larry Rachleff and the Toledo Symphony in a program of music by Berlioz, Corigliano, Rodrigo, and Stravinsky at 8 tonight and Saturday in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Tickets range from $15 to $42. Information: 419-246-8000.



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