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Published: Thursday, 5/15/2008

Enjoy the concert - but hold the applause


In a surprising reversal of standard performance practice, Donna Tozer Wipfli, artistic director of Masterworks Chorale, will ask the audience at the group's final concert this weekend to hold their applause - at least for a while.

Tozer Wipfli, in her 18th year as conductor of the 36-year-old ensemble, is looking for a seamless production in a collaborative concert featuring Masterworks singers, Ballet Theatre of Toledo dancers, and select local instrumentalists and vocalists.

"The concert calls for rapid juxtaposition of musical styles and performers - without the interruption of applause," explains Tozer Wipfli, of the ambitious production set for 8 p.m. Saturday in the Maumee Performing Arts Center.

"Collage," the title of the concert planned by the choral leader and Nigel Burgoine, artistic director of BTT, suggests the reason for the need for restraint by audience members.

"Collage is a concert that joins together many different musical fabrics, colors, and textures, with rapid juxtaposition of musical styles and performers," explains Tozer Wipfli.

"Collage is a study in antitheses. Pieces are contrasted on the basis of era of composition (old versus new), scale (soloist versus full choir), and dynamics (quiet versus loud)," Tozer Wipfli explains.

A glance at the program indicates the level of variety that's in store.

The rousing rhythm of a South African freedom song will be followed by two violinists playing a Shostakovich duet. A Bach chorale will give way to a Joplin piano rag. A pristine Gregorian chant will segue into the romance of Saint-Saens' "The Swan," a cello and dance duet.

"The lighting will also play a significant role in the visual impact of the concert," notes Tozer Wipfli. "Between each individual performance, the hall will go black and silent, inviting reflection and anticipation, only for a few seconds as the next performers move into place."

And so, as much as Toledo audiences love to register their appreciation for a fine performance with a thunder of applause, Burgoine and Tozer Wipfli hope to heighten the contrasts by having them flow seamlessly, one into the other.

Other highlights in store include R. Murray Schafer's "Epitaph for Moonlight," with text by junior high school students who devised new words for moonlight; a duet for cellist James Anderson and BTT dancer Kelsey Carpenter, choreographed by Burgoine; and a flute solo, "Singing," by University of Toledo composer Lee Heritage performed by his wife, Toledo Symphony flutist Amy Heritage. Pianist Jill Roth will perform Joplin's rag, "Easy Winners," with BTT dancers.

Audience members who have held their applause through this innovative program will be ready to jump to their feet after the closing work on the program: the Finale of Carl Orff's powerful Carmina Burana, in a production for choir, two pianos, percussion, soloists, and dancers.

Tickets at $5 to $25 are available at 419-246-8000 or 1-800-348-1253 or at the door.

Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com.

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