Music Under the Stars returns Sunday

Robert Mirakian will direct the Toledo Concert Band in a program of rousing marches at Music Under the Stars Sunday at the Toledo Zoo.
Robert Mirakian will direct the Toledo Concert Band in a program of rousing marches at Music Under the Stars Sunday at the Toledo Zoo.

Patriotic music is always popular with music lovers, especially around the July 4 holiday, so it’s no surprise that the Music Under the Stars 2013 series will open with a program celebrating the U.S.A.

For more than 60 years Toledoans have flocked to the Toledo Zoo to hear free family concerts in the historic amphitheater, the perfect end to a summer weekend. Now managed by the Toledo Symphony, this beloved series will return for four 7:30 p.m. concerts starting Sunday.

Robert Mirakian will direct the Toledo Concert Band in a program of rousing marches by American musical icon John Philip Sousa, plus profound and beloved works by Aaron Copland, and Morton Gould. Timothy Lake will narrate Copland’s “A Lincoln Portrait.”

The Ardan School of Irish Dance will appear in the guest artist slot, tapping and toeing to lively tunes.

Tony Geftos, a newsman from WTVG-TV, Channel 13, is to make his debut as narrator and announcer for this concert and the grand finale on July 28. (Geftos was truly wonderful April 19-21 as narrator for Prokofief’s Peter and The Wolf performances by Ballet Theatre of Toledo and the SonoNovo Ensemble at Trinity Episcopal Church.)

Mirakian is the new music director of the Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra, music director of the University of Toledo Symphony, and assistant conductor of the Toledo Opera.

Sponsors for this year’s concerts are The Andersons, the Toledo Community Foundation, Huntington Bank, Taylor Cadillac, and the zoo. This and the following concerts are free but parking comes with a fee, except for zoo members. Nonmembers pay $6.

TARTA will run its Stars Shuttle service to the Broadway entrance to the zoo from Centennial Terrace in Sylvania, St. Luke’s Hospital in Maumee, the Kroger store in Waterville, Miracle Mile Shopping Center, and Sears at Westgate.

Another outdoor series launches this weekend, the Ottawa Park Summer Concerts in the Glyn M. Smith Amphitheater off Kenwood Boulevard, near the Toledo Police substation and Toledo Hospital. From 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, the Chardon Polka Band will play traditional Polish dance tunes in this free public entertainment.

Coming July 13 will be the Las Vegas-style show band East River Drive. For additional information, call 419-936-3887.

At Walbridge Park, the band Night Session will play July 11 from 7 to 9 p.m. July 18 will feature the Toledo School of the Arts pop band; July 25 will feature the Pat Lewandowski Blues Band, and the Aug. 1 concert will feature Kyle White.

A drive eastward for those with more classical tastes will bring the Blossom Music Festival’s opening night performance within earshot. The Cleveland Orchestra and its main conductor, Franz Welser-Most, will launch this year’s outdoor concert season in 8 p.m. concerts Friday and Saturday at the outdoor auditorium, 1145 West Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

On the program for Friday is the Shostakovich Symphony No. 8 and Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs. Soprano Luba Orgonasova will be special guest soloist. The Saturday program includes Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue, the Totentanz by Liszt, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”).

Individual lawn tickets are available at 216-231-1111 or

The Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD Encore Series will continue at 7 p.m. Wednesday with the screening of Giacomo Rossini’s Armida, the mythical tale of a sorceress who enthralls men in her island prison. Singing the title role will be soprano Renee Fleming, with Lawrence Brownlee, John Osborn, Barry Banks, Kobie van Rensburg. Mary Zimmerman directed this production and Ricarrdo Frizza will conduct.

The screening runs about three hours at Fallen Timbers Cinemas in Maumee or the Ann Arbor 20 Imax, 4100 Carpenter Rd., Ypsilanti, Mich. Tickets are $12.50 at the box office.

Kudos to University of Toledo music faculty members Denise Ritter-Bernardini, Don Bernardini, Michael Boyd, and their wonderful guest instructors for the successful conclusion of the second Art Song Festival at the Center for Performing Arts. 

A series of recitals gave each of the nearly 20 participants a chance to show off some of what they had learned and delighted the enthusiastic audiences.

Moreover, Toledo music lovers had the pleasure of listening to Metropolitan Opera tenor Michael Sylvester and the amazing soprano Jessica Bachicha in solo recitals. I am already thinking about what is in store from this excellent endeavor in 2014.

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