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Published: Saturday, 10/15/2005

Odyssey String Quartet performs tomorrow

BY STEVEN CORNELIUS
BLADE MUSIC CRITIC

When the Toledo Symphony received its first annual $200,000 grant from the New York-based Andrew Mellon Foundation in 1999, musicians were encouraged to submit proposals for creative projects that this money might help fund.

The two-fold goal of giving musicians more artistic freedom and to inspire better music-making was quickly realized.

Some players received funding to travel to educational opportunities abroad, a few brought internationally acclaimed musicians to teach and perform here in Toledo. Others formed chamber ensembles.

One such group, the Odyssey String Quartet, performs at 7 p.m. tomorrow as part of the Toledo Symphony-sponsored chamber music series at the Toledo Club. Also featured is the orchestra's French horn section in a quartet by Jacques Gallay and principal cellist Martha Reikow in Beethoven's third cello sonata.

The Odyssey Quartet has become an important voice in Toledo's musical life. The ensemble has performed live on public radio, in the Toledo Museum of Art's Great Gallery, and appears regularly at a variety of Toledo Symphony-sponsored events.

Having support to form a regular ensemble, as opposed to a pick-up group, has also been good for the music, said Odyssey violist and founding member Ellen Craig. That's because the long-term goals for the ensemble make it easy to put in extra rehearsals for short-term obligations like tomorrow's concert.

"Because we are so committed to the success of the group, we have been able to program repertoire that is much too difficult to put together in a short period of time," she said.

Tomorrow's program features Czech composer Bedrich Smetana's autobiographical String Quartet No. 1 from 1876. Here Smetana gives a generally joyous musical overview of his life, though in the finale those thoughts are jarringly interrupted by shrill sounds of a high E note in the violin. The tone represents the ringing in the ears that foreshadowed Smetana's impending deafness.

All three programmed works are receiving their Toledo Symphony premieres.

Toledo Symphony musicians perform chamber works by Jacques Gallay, Smetana, and Beethoven at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Toledo Club. Tickets are $24 and $35. Information: 419-246-8000.

Contact Steven Cornelius at: scornelius@theblade.com

or 419-724-6152.



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