It attracts talented, highly educated performers to live and work here.
But who ever thought of the orchestra as a match-making agency?
Well, players Georg Klaas and Jocelyn Langworthy certainly do.
The symphony clarinetists, who will be featured soloists in two Classics Series concerts this weekend, met during symphony auditions in the fall of 2000.
"We were auditioning for the same position - second clarinet," says Langworthy, then 30, who at the time was principal clarinet of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, orchestra.
Winning the Toledo position would be a big step up for either one. Klaas, then 25, was in post-graduate clarinet studies at the University of Southern California.
Auditions were held in the Peristyle, where the symphony, led by principal conductor Stefan Sanderling, will perform famous waltzes by Strauss and, with Klaas and Langworthy as soloists, Mendelssohn's Concert Piece for Two Clarinets at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday.
Their first meeting went like this, they agree:
Georg: "Hi, my name's Georg." (call him George if you will, but he prefers the German GAY-org.) "I had finished playing. I felt happy, chatty," recalls Klaas.
Jocelyn (tensely): "What?"
Georg: "My name's Georg."
Jocelyn: (more tensely) "Can you spell that?"
Klaas recalls the moment with an easy grin.
"She was focused. She was busy winning that audition."
He returned to California and she moved to Toledo. They met up again at auditions in Kansas City and decided to keep in touch.
But when the principal's position, the Clement O. Miniger Foundation Chair, came up for grabs in 2004, both Langworthy and Klaas were on the audition roster together, again. They both made the finals.
This time Klaas snagged the position.
"I was disappointed not to get the job," Langworthy says. "But I was happy Georg was coming to town."
From that competitive beginning grew musical partnership, friendship, and love. Langworthy and Klaas were married at the Lucas County Courthouse on June 8, 2007.
Today, their charming West Toledo home is filled with the sounds of clarinets, as both practice two to three hours daily, though not in the same room. And their two rescue cats, Emma and Frannie, are learning to cope with the combined auditory challenge of high-pitched reed sounds from their professional level Buffet instruments.
Both musicians have master's degrees in their instrument: Langworthy's from USC, and Klaas from Indiana University. Both studied with Yehuda Gilad and Mitchell Lurie at USC, where Klaas, now adjunct professor of clarinet at the University of Toledo, also won the first Mitchell Lurie Award. Both have embarked on doctoral studies programs, although their busy performing schedules - some 200 services per year - have slowed down that process.
Independently Langworthy and Klaas have tapped the Mellon Foundation's major grant to the Toledo Symphony for special projects. Langworthy developed a chamber series, "Inner Voices," which allowed players beyond principals to participate in the Blade Chamber concerts, initiating a new approach to programming for that popular series. Klaas commissioned Toledo composer Christopher Dietz to create a work for clarinet and strings. Thinking of that debut, Klaas says, "I've never worked so hard on any piece."
Although, as Langworthy observes, professional musicians need to be ready to pack up and move - across the country or even overseas - to attain a better position, she and Klaas don't see a move in their immediate future.
"We have a pretty good situation here," she says. Klaas agrees, adding, "This orchestra keeps getting better and better."
And, like many relative newcomers to the area, they don't understand the negative perceptions of the Toledo area shared by many longtime residents.
"It's a really nice city. I see Toledo as a place with lots of potential," Langworthy says.
The Toledo Symphony, Stefan Sanderling, Georg Klaas, and Jocelyn Langworthy will perform at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Tickets are $24-36. The Mercy Health Partners Family concert with Sanderling and the symphony will begin at 3 p.m. in the Peristyle. Tickets are $16-20. Tickets for both are available at 800-246-8000 or online at www.toledosymphony.com.
Contact Sally Vallongo at email@example.com.