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Published: Thursday, 4/12/2007

Music calls for teamwork

BY SALLY VALLONGO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Concertmaster Kirk Toth will
solo and assist delivery of the
program Saturday night. Concertmaster Kirk Toth will solo and assist delivery of the program Saturday night.
Enlarge

This Saturday at 7:30 p.m. will mark the fourth and final quarter of the Toledo Symphony's Mozart and More series. Although there will be no final buzzer, there will be lots of scoring - scoring for strings, that is, and for winds, brass, and percussion as well.

Absent from the stage of the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College will be the "coach," typically resident conductor Chelsea Tipton II or principal conductor Stefan Sanderling. Instead, orchestra members will be dependent on each other to maintain a tempo, to enter and exit at the right time, and to play louder or softer, slower or faster as the music dictates.

And concertmaster Kirk Toth will step up to assist delivery of a program that comprises uncommon music by Telemann, a well-known Mozart symphony, and a Vivaldi violin concerto - yes, Toth also will solo in the Vivaldi.

It's a challenge and opportunity for all the players, notes Toth, who has been concertmaster since 1983 and holds the Lenore and Marvin Kobacker endowed chair.

"To replace the conductor's baton, we use chamber music skills and watching small, subtle cues," explains Toth, an award-winning violinist who started playing at age 7.

"We rely even more on listening and watching section leaders, even to a greater extent than if there was a conductor."

Some orchestras do this all the time: think of New York's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra or the Prague Chamber Orchestra. Players plan programs, hire soloists, and perform in a very democratic process.

Baroque and classical music often was written with no conductor in mind, notes Toth.

Plus, although he will start off the works, bow in hand instead of baton, leadership during performance is shared.

"Depending on what the music does, it may be the principal second violin or the cello who leads a section," he explained. Such details are worked out in rehearsal, so players know where to look for their cues.

"It relies on different skills for the players," Toth continues. "There's no single individual whose sole role is to listen and critique. Everyone is playing."

The program will open with a local premiere of an unconventional programmatic work by Georg Phillip Telemann: Overture No. 10 in G Major, "Burlesque de Quixotte." Inspired by Spanish writer Miguel Cervantes' classic tale, Don Quixote of La Mancha, the German composer wrote a suite of seven sections, each named for an episode in the hero's life.

Next, Toth, who has bachelor and master's degrees in music from the University of Michigan, will solo in Antonio Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in E Major. The Stanley Medal award-winner has studied Baroque performance practice, seeking to more effectively convey the style of music as it was heard in the 1700s.

After intermission it will be time for Mozart's beloved Symphony No. 6 in G Major, K.415, The Linz.

A preconcert commentary will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Franciscan Center. Single tickets are $29 to $33 from www.toledosymphony.com, 419-246-8000, or at the box office.

Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com.



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