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Renzi returns to stage with TSO


Frances Renzi performs this weekend in Peristyle.


Good things often come in twos and, for pianist Frances Renzi, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra's second Classics concerts this weekend, "Powerful Pairings," promise double the pleasure.

"This concert has very special meaning to me," Renzi said. "It's my first performance since I broke my wrist."

Going to the mailbox the morning of Jan. 19, the Sylvania artist tumbled on ice, shattering her left wrist. Surgery was followed by intensive rehab and then slow resumption of her usual demanding practice regimen.

"My hand wasn't my own," Renzi said of those first sessions. But one doesn't become an internationally renowned keyboard artist without effort, and slowly, slowly, Renzi began to pour it on. Her left hand - the bass/rhythm driver for most piano music - isn't back 100 percent yet, she said this week. But it's getting closer, day by day.

"I'm extremely grateful," she added of her recovery. Canceled performance dates are being rescheduled for 2011 - including two appearances on the TSO Blade Chamber series. (Renzi, just a week before her January fall, had performed with TSO players in a Schubert Piano Trio on that series.)

"The second reason this concert has so much meaning is the chance to perform with my extremely talented and accomplished former student," she said of Samantha Biniker, who will join Renzi on stage for the performance of Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos in E flat major.

Biniker, a Toledo native who began piano lessons at age 6 with Barbara Foote, graduated this year from the Artist and Scholar Honors Program at the University of Michigan School of Music. She studied there with Logan Skelton and Martin Katz.

Her piano trio made the national level in the Music Teachers National Association chamber music competition - the group played Paul Schoenfield's "Caf Music," with the composer, formerly of the University of Toledo and now at UM, providing coaching.

Biniker is now in the graduate chamber music program at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has performed in Toledo frequently, including during the TSO's 60th anniversary concert. She is a former percussion student of Bob Bell, president emeritus of the orchestra.

"It has been wonderful to work with her again," noted Renzi, who has kept in touch with her former student. "It's not a big jump to move into collaboration with her."

Renzi will play on the Jonathan F. Orser Steinway and Biniker will use the Southworth Steinway, both instruments owned by the TSO.

Guest conductor Julian Kuerti will conduct the piano pair and the TSO Friday and Saturday nights in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle in a program that also includes Samuel Barber's Essay No. 2 and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.

Tickets start at $20 at or 419-246-8000.

Contact Sally Vallongo at

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