If he could wave his baton and make the global economic recession go away, Stefan Sanderling surely would do so.
Wisely, however, the internationally renowned conductor is leaving the solution of fiscal problems to others and focusing on the Toledo Symphony's 66th concert season, just announced for 2009-2010.
"The arts are very, very important in difficult, insecure times, because we help provide guidance and insight," said Sanderling, in his fifth season as principal conductor with the local orchestra, at a recent Rotary Club meeting.
"Brahms cannot tell us what will happen to the Dow Jones and other indicators. But Brahms' music raises the big questions: Why are we here? What is our mission?
"We ask these questions when we spend time with ourselves, as at a concert," continued Sanderling, who helped plan the coming season with symphony staff.
Stirring major compositions by Johannes Brahms, the German Romantic master, will be a highlight of the Classics Series in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle.
Sanderling will lead the award-winning orchestra and guest violinist Jennifer Frautschi in the Brahms Violin Concerto March 26 and 27. And on April 16 and 17, guest conductor Giordano Bellincampi will return to lead Brahms' Symphony No. 4.
The season will open Sept. 25 and 26 with Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 3, led by Sanderling with the Bowling Green State University Women's Chorus, and the Junior Choral Society of Northwest Ohio.
"Music can change the world, not by notes but by offering common ground for communication," Sanderling said. "In many ways, the arts work like religion: they give us guidance and help us find our own way through challenges."
Besides Brahms, there will be major works by Jean Sibelius (Symphony No. 5), Richard Strauss ("Til Eulenspiegel"), Sergei Rachmaninoff (Symphony No. 1), Jacques Ibert (Concerto for Flute and Orchestra), and Manuel de Falla on the nine pairs of Classics concerts.
Classics artists will include pianist Ingrid Fliter in a return visit; pianist and conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn, mezzo-soprano Fenlon Lamb, flutist Joel Tse, Sax Fourth Avenue, conductor Alain Trudel, and pianist Stuart Goodyear.
A conductor-less concert featuring TSO winds, brass, and strings in Antonio Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, and Igor Stravinsky's Octet will kick off 2010 on Jan. 15 and 16.
The season also comprises the popular Mozart and More, Blade Chamber, and the Key Bank Pops concert series.
Mozart lovers will welcome the abundance of music by the series namesake in the Saturday night series in the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College in Sylvania
Programs will include the overtures to The Magic Flute and The Abduction from the Seraglio as well as Symphony No. 41, "Jupiter." Guest conductors Tito Munoz and Alexander Mickelthwate will make their local conducting debuts in the series, which also will feature one concert led by Sanderling.
A bonus concert in the Mozart series is the annual performance of Anton Bruckner - this year the composer's Symphony No. 6 - with Sanderling and the symphony in Rosary Cathedral on Jan. 24.
The Blade Chamber Series on Sunday evenings in the Toledo Club will offer music by composers including Alec Wilder, Louis-Franois Dauprat, Nadia Boulanger, Aaron Copland, and Franz Schubert in four programs planned, prepared, and performed in conjunction with symphony players. Concert dates are Sept. 13, Oct. 18, Jan. 10, and May 2.
The Key Bank Pops series of five events in the Stranahan Theater will introduce Time for Three, an eclectic trio featuring Bowling Green native violinist Zachary DePue, on Oct. 17. Also on the four-concert line up will be the Canadian Brass Holiday Concert Nov. 28, a visit by singer/songwriter Richard Marx Jan. 23, and a tribute to the late John Denver with singer Jim Curry on May 22.
As an incentive to purchase series rather than single tickets, the symphony also offers a trio of special concerts.
First will be the annual production of Handel's "Messiah" with the Toledo Choral Society and the BGSU Chorus in the Peristyle Dec. 5 (Mark Munson conducting) and 6 (Sam Szor on the podium).
Resident conductor Chelsea Tipton II will lead an illustrated performance of "The Planets" by Gustav Holst on Feb. 27. Pianist Kirill Gerstein and conductor Julian Wachner will perform an all-rhapsody concert with works by Rachmaninoff, Leonard Bernstein, and George Gershwin on March 20.
Discounts on series tickets will be offered through June 24.
Free, downloadable brochures for all series, seats, and ticket prices are online at toledosymphony.com. Copies of the printed brochure are available at TSO headquarters, One Symphony Space, Parkwood Ave.