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Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra starts the season off with a bang


Robert Mirakian is the conductor of the Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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The Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra is starting off its season with a bang.

Well, it won't really get around to the bang part until the second movement of Haydn's Symphony No.94 in G, when a quiet piano theme is suddenly interrupted with a hammer stroke before continuing on its gentle way.

"The whole orchestra just goes bam!" said Robert Mirakian, the Perrysburg organization's new music director.

Mr. Mirakian will conduct the Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra through Haydn's nicknamed "Surprise" symphony as well as Beethoven's Symphony No.3 in E-flat, "Eroica," at 3 p.m. Saturday at Owens Community College's Center for Fine and Performing Arts, 30335 Oregon Rd., Perrysburg.

He said the pieces were an excellent exploration of the late 1700s and early 1800s in that Joseph Haydn was at the height of the classical period while Ludwig van Beethoven was aiming to take music in a new direction.

Mr. Mirakian holds a master's degree in conducting from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and is completing his doctorate at Indiana University. He is a cellist and assistant conductor of the Toledo Opera, as well as the orchestra director at the University of Toledo and conductor of the Toledo Youth Symphony Orchestra's concert orchestra.

Haydn, especially with 'Surprise,' was innovative in his own way, Mr. Mirakian said.

In London at the end of the 18th century on a sabbatical of sorts from his court musician gig with the Esterházy family in Austria-Hungary, the composer wrote No.94 to give the audience something new. He was an astute businessman and prolific composer who wanted to keep the public engaged, Mr. Mirakian said.

"High classical is all about making it easy to hear [and] clear to the listener," he said.

Haydn was writing his "London symphonies" at a time when accessibility to music was growing. An emerging middle class and the development of the piano forte broadened the audience and spurred more playing in the home.

The French and American revolutions also had an impact, encouraging people to "venture out on their own unique path," Mr. Mirakian said.

Beethoven intended his No. 3 to be dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte as a liberator, but when the emperor turned his eye toward the rest of Europe, his conquest was not as admirable in the composer's eye.

"Napoleon couldn't be that guy anymore," Mr. Mirakian said. The symphony was dedicated to simply the idea of a hero, someone who brings something to the world for its betterment, he said.

Beethoven began what is called his heroic period of writing after overcoming severe depression brought on by the professionally crippling effects of his deafness. In 1802, Mr. Mirakian said, the composer's hearing was getting so bad that he could not play piano with an orchestra. Beethoven contemplated suicide, but then launched into writing "adventurous" symphonies.

"Instead of giving up, he decided he was just going to double down," Mr. Mirakian said.

The result of those efforts that the Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra will be playing Saturday is indeed heroic in scale alone. "Eroica" is about 50 minutes long, with the first movement alone at 700 bars of music.

The director offered high praise for the Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra, which he said was comprised of a spectrum of talent from high schoolers to retired musicians, to professional gig players and educators to other professionals with a passion for playing.

"They'll be done very beautifully," he said of "Surprise" and "Eroica."

Mr. Mirakian also congratulated the Toledo metropolitan area for cultivating the kind of accessibility and appreciation for classical music that Haydn and Beethoven strove to do in their eras.

"You should be proud of the community you've built here, especially the cultural scene," he said.

The Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra will round out its 2012-2013 season with Bach, Handel, Rossini, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky.

A Holiday Celebration with the Toledo Choral Society is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at Blessed John XXIII Catholic Church, 24250 Dixie Highway, Perrysburg.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger; they may be purchased at the door or in advance by calling the parish at 419-874-6502.

The program will include Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No.3; Vaughan-Williams' Five Variants on Dives and Lazarus; a Christmas carol sing-a-long; and selections from Handel's "Messiah."

Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony will be performed at 3 p.m. April 27 at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts on Owens' Perrysburg Township campus.

Tickets are $12 for adults; $10 for seniors; and free for children and students with ID; tickets may be purchased at the door with cash, check, or credit card.

The program will feature soprano singer Carol Diskieker and include the overture to Rossini's "Semiramide" opera; arias by Mozart, Handel, and Gounod; and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 in E-minor.

Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at or 419-356-8786.

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