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Published: Sunday, 2/16/2014 - Updated: 6 months ago

Bell, Grant among highlights of Toledo Symphony Orchestra’s 2014-2015 season

BY SALLY VALLONGO
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE
Joshua Bell. Joshua Bell.
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Superstar violinist Joshua Bell is giving a 4 p.m. recital today in Hill Auditorium on the University of Michigan campus. Tickets at $72 per are nearly gone.

That’s the kind of turnout a musician of Bell’s caliber can generate. Despite this winter’s season of cancellations and postponements, the “poet of the violin” generates enough musical heat that his fans will brave any weather to see and hear him live.

So, consider that next year, Jan. 31, Bell will perform in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Tickets for that 2015 concert will be a mere $35 per ticket.

That’s right, on the quarter century mark of his first appearance in Toledo, Bell will return as a headliner and incentive to help sell subscriptions to the Toledo Symphony’s 2014-2015 season.

Kathy Carroll, symphony president, and her artistic planners were ecstatic when they were able to book Bell, star of musical stage, screen, television, and even the Washington D.C. subways, as a highlight for their 71st season.

Not only does the Grammy Award-winning Bell perform regularly around the world, record frequently, and conduct — he’s music director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields — but he has a children’s book detailing his experience playing anonymously in a Washington Metro station.

Even more recently, Bell is a featured actor in Mozart in the Jungle, a new online drama series produced by Amazon.

But Bell isn’t the only big name the Toledo Symphony has dropped into its next season, which is officially announced today.

Amy Grant. Amy Grant.
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There is Amy Grant, one of the all-time best-selling Christian singers and recording artists — her latest album, “How Mercy Looks From Here,” is climbing the charts.

Grant is slated to perform Dec. 6 in the KeyBank Pops series at the Stranahan Theater.

Other hits for that popular series will be Classical Mystery Tour — a 50-year celebration of the British invasion. Manhattan Transfer will be here for Valentine’s Day.

And the Wizard of Oz is slated to blow into Toledo on March 21, 2015, for a screening of the classic film, with live musical score.

Then there’s the matter of Storm Large and Pink Martini.

Large, an incredible song stylist, will perform with Thomas Lauderdale’s society orchestra, Pink Martini, bringing Portland, Ore.-style heat and hipness to the Peristyle Feb. 6-7 in a Classics series program titled Rhapsody in Blue and Ansel Adams’ America.

If you liked last weekend’s theater piece, Amadeus: In Concert, then next year’s collaboration between the symphony and the University of Toledo Glacity Theatre Collective is a must-see.

Set for March 27-28, 2015, it will pair music inspired by Claudio Monteverdi with a version of Shakespeare’s comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in the North American premiere of Volker David Kirchner’s 1994 theater work, Labyrinthos.

Pianist Abdel Rahman El Bacha Pianist Abdel Rahman El Bacha
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There’s a reprise of this season’s Brahms Project concerts (Feb. 28-29), both Brahms piano concertos performed by Kirill Gerstein. Next year, it will be the Chopin Project, with Lebanese pianist Abdel Rahman El Bacha to solo.

Crave some chamber music?

To foster even more international flavor in Toledo Symphony programming, young and gifted musicians from the International Academy of Liechtenstein will join players from Bowling Green State University and the symphony for concerts in the Classics and Mozart & More series.

Among other guest soloists will be cellist Mark Kosower; pianist Jiayan Sun — he won the 2013 Cleveland International Piano Competition; flutist Eva Nina Kozmus, pianists Joyce Yang, Danae Dorken, and Roberto Plano, and conductor Karina Canellakis.

And in the grand finale of its award-winning series, the symphony and artistic director Stefan Sanderling will perform Symphony No. 1 by Anton Bruckner on May 8, 2015 in Rosary Cathedral.

Can you say, “pump up the volume?”

If so, you’re echoing Sanderling, now entering his second decade with the orchestra. Through conducting gigs in the United States, Europe, and Asia, he is sampling the latest in performance ideas, then bringing the best of those to the Glass City.

The process started a few years ago and is part of the reason the Toledo Symphony wound up making its celebrated Carnegie Hall debut in 2011.

But no resting on laurels allowed here.

As resident symphony philosopher, Sanderling relentlessly examines the very purpose of a symphony orchestra in today’s fast-paced, constantly evolving community.

“The Toledo Symphony needs to reinvent itself,” Sanderling told The Blade last month.

Centuries ago in Europe, later the United States, a newly emerging middle class gained prestige by founding and supporting its own orchestras, borrowing an idea previously limited to the titled and wealthy.

“The way we produce results in 2014 is the same as it was in 1810,” he explained. While to some concert fans, there is no need for change, Sanderling feels live classical performances can and should adapt to the world outside.

When the Toledo Symphony was founded 70 years ago, local pride in being able to sustain an orchestra was high. There was a sense of ownership. Attending a performance was a point of pride.

But in recent decades, the middle class has begun to vanish from the Peristyle and other local venues, as it has from concert halls across the country. This has meant financial woes for America’s many fine orchestras.

Some have folded.

Others, like those in Detroit and Minneapolis, most recently, have canceled seasons because shrinking revenues could not support concert series and the highly trained musicians who perform them.

Toledo has fared better than many, in part because its board of directors has made smart decisions and been diligent in fund-raising. Toledo Symphony fans are loyal and generous with their support.

And many musicians play intrinsic roles in the entire orchestra operation — their day jobs are working for the symphony in which they perform evenings.

With annual revenues of $6.2 million, the Toledo Symphony delivers thousands of hours of fine live music to northwest Ohio.

But for Sanderling, the true value of the orchestra cannot be measured at the bottom line. It’s counted in the souls it affects with music.

And he wants to tap into that intrinsic power.

“Classical music is highly specialized and emotionally charged. Music is outside space and time,” Sanderling said. “We live in a world so fast and efficient, live music gives us a chance to breathe a little and ponder eternity.”

The kind of music presented thus becomes essential to the spirit of the community itself.

“People want to have an overwhelming acoustical experience,” Sanderling observed, adding, “We have to find our identity and be proud of it.”

And in the coming season, opportunities will abound for music lovers — seasoned concert-goers and those curious to see what happens at an orchestra concert — to do just that.

For brochures and more information, contact the Toledo Symphony at 419-246-8000 or www.toledosymphony.com.

Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com



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