Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Op-Ed Columns

Build on symphony success

It might seem unlikely that anyone would consider Toledo a “poster child for success.” But thanks to this community, that is how the organizers of the “Spring for Music” festival describe Toledo.

Our community’s mighty response to the Toledo Symphony Orchestra’s invitation to perform at the festival in New York’s Carnegie Hall this Saturday makes a strong impression. Thank you, Toledo.

We are just days away from one of the most significant events in the history of the symphony. We earned our right to be there, competing against 65 other well-qualified applicants.

We will be one of seven orchestras to perform in the festival this month at the world-renowned concert venue. It’s a dream come true for principal conductor Stefan Sanderling and our 80 musicians.

They deserve it. It’s career validation: Correct. Right. Meaningful.

Yet even more significant than this honor is the support of the people of our community who made it possible — not just getting to Carnegie Hall, but also sustaining this symphony in a way many other communities do not.

Nearly 1,400 of you have bought tickets and will follow us to New York. Toledoans will make up half of the Carnegie Hall audience Saturday night.

How can we not be overwhelmed by that response? And how can the organizers not be impressed? Take a bow, Toledo. You made that possible.

The symphony organization you have supported over the years is part of the fabric of Toledo. It’s one of the many jewels in the community’s crown, along with the Toledo Museum of Art, the Toledo Zoo, the Mud Hens, and other institutions.

These organizations distinguish Toledo as a community. They are proof of what matters to us. There is a unique partnership and collaboration between these organizations and the community, as well as among these organizations. There is an integration of ideas that builds momentum for forward movement.

We see our performance at Carnegie Hall as proof of that movement. We see ourselves as cultural ambassadors representing Toledo to New York. This event has the power to change how the nation sees us and how we choose to see ourselves.

The connection between this orchestra and this community has been nurtured and encouraged over decades. You provide the support to sustain 500 musical performances of all sizes for local audiences every year. One in four of you sees the symphony at concert venues, your place of worship, schools, and community centers.

People across northwest Ohio believe this orchestra is the embodiment of our collective ideas about music — how and where it is performed, the quality of a performance, its strength as a unique artistic medium, and its acknowledged power to bring people together.

To hear great music performed well is to experience what it is like to be truly human, in the company of other people. That power can change you.

So we will be standing on your shoulders in New York this week, as we perform Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6 and the Tom Stoppard-Andre Previn play Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.

We take seriously our role as a part of the fabric of this community. We commit to return from Carnegie Hall even more eager to serve this community in ways not yet imagined, so that your support continues unwavering.

It is not far-fetched to think of Toledo as the poster child of success. Like all other things that matter, it takes our commitment and support. You have decided that this orchestra matters.

Local business and community leaders will entertain investors and corporate executives at the New York concert. Universities and schools will use the symphony performance to connect in meaningful ways with alumni. Families and friends will gather to share a significant musical experience.

It’s wonderful for us to represent this region, where new jobs and industries can be created, and beautiful music can be made and supported. We are humbled by that support, and promise to do you proud.

Kathleen Carroll is president and CEO of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. Richard P. Anderson is chairman of the symphony’s board.

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