Twin pianists to perform with Toledo Symphony

News of Music: 4-10

The duo-piano team of Christina and Michelle Naughton, identical twins, will make their debut with the Toledo Symphony in weekend concerts at the Peristyle.
The duo-piano team of Christina and Michelle Naughton, identical twins, will make their debut with the Toledo Symphony in weekend concerts at the Peristyle.

This weekend’s Toledo Symphony Classics concerts will celebrate all things French, (almost) comprising music by Camille Saint-Saens, Francis Poulenc, and Cesar Franck in 8 p.m. programs Friday and Saturday in the Peristyle.

Guest James Feddeck will conduct the concerts, which are to begin with the Sarka movement from Czech composer Bedrich Smetana’s nationalist masterpiece, Ma Vlast. Making their debut here will be the duo-piano team of Christina and Michelle Naughton, identical twins — both acclaimed soloists in their own right — who have found a highly successful career performing together.

Look out Katia and Marielle Labeque — the French-Canadian sister act and keyboard duo who set that world ablaze nearly a generation ago. The Naughtons, 26, are in demand domestically and abroad, earning consistent raves for the exactitude and freshness of their performances.

Born in Princeton, N.J., and raised in Madison, Wis., the Naughtons were introduced early to music and began piano lessons at age 4. In their teens they each earned praise in solos with the local orchestra.

Studies took them, together, to two of the most respected conservatories in the country: the Juilliard School in New York and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Post grad they embarked on solo performance careers until 2008, when it dawned on them that two heads and four hands were far superior. They are now Steinway Artists with busy, busy performance schedules.

With the Toledo Symphony, they will play the Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals, a colorful and sardonic look at the animal world the composer wrote in 1886 as a personal consolation prize after early artistic disappointments. Fish, elephants, birds, and even fossils are characterized musically in this colorful work.

The Naughtons also are to perform Concerto for Two Pianos by Francis Poulenc, a sparkling yet edgy musical adventure written in 1932.

A string orchestra will accompany both works, with additional winds for the Saint-Saens.

Franck’s powerful Symphony in D Minor, the only symphony he wrote, came at the end of a long and distinguished career as organist, educator, and composer. Equally well-known are his major works for organ.

Like Franck, Feddeck, a rising conductor educated at Oberlin College, is also a renowned organist, with a busy performance schedule. He served as assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, winning the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award last year.

Tickets for the weekend concerts are $22-$55 at or 419-246-8000.

The concert comes in the wake of the Toledo Symphony’s grand experiment: the wonderful Ode to Joy: A Community's Celebration of Music last Sunday at Huntington Center.

For my account of this very successful venture, visit my blog.

Individual Toledo Symphony musicians will be even busier this weekend in several select recitals around town.

The Zin Quartet — Merwin Siu, Cheryl Trace, Reed Anderson, and Renee Goubeaux — will present A Celebration of Folk Music at 3 p.m. Sunday in St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 871 E. Boundary St., Perrysburg.

On the program for this free, church-sponsored Zinful event will be String Quartet No. 1 From the Salvation Army by Charles Ives, String Quartet No. 2 by Sergei Prokofiev, and Corrie Q’s Jigs and Reels by Adam Silverman.

At the same time, symphony cellist Damon Coleman will perform his annual solo recital, with pianist Michael Boyd, in the Toledo Museum of Art Great Gallery.

Both concerts are free. It’s a tough choice indeed.

In the category of music by and for children, this weekend brings the Children’s Choir of Northwest Ohio to sing out for its spring concert at 4 p.m. Sunday in Community of Christ Lutheran Church, 6517 Finzel Rd., Whitehouse. Lisa Alleman directs this 50-voice choir. Admission is free.

The Toledo Opera, now engaged in its Opera on Wheels school performance schedule of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado (tailored for young audiences) as well as starting rehearsals for its April 25-27 run of Faust, will present a short recital of opera favorites by its young artists at 1 p.m. Monday in Olivet Lutheran Church, 5840 Monroe St., Sylvania.

Resident artists Abigail Crawson, Laura Reaper, Jordan Harris, and Nicholas Ward will sing selections from this comic operetta. Jennifer Cresswell, who writes the adaptations, also is artistic director.

Admission will be free.

The Lourdes University Chorus will join clergy and layfolk at St. Lucas Lutheran Church for a Lenten service at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Karen T. Biscay will conduct and Olga Topuzova-Meade will accompany the free performance at 745 Walbridge Ave. in Toledo’s Old South End.

For more information call 419-243-8189.

Free events at Bowling Green State University include the men’s and women’s choruses joined by the local high school honors choir in concert at 7 p.m. Sunday in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. BGSU’s Opera Theater will perform a collection of scenes from famed works at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Bryan Recital Hall.

The BGSU Graduate String Quartet will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Wildwood Preserve Metropark Manor House in Toledo. The same group is to play again at 8 p.m. April 17 in Bryan. The night before, April 17 at 8 p.m., the BGSU Wind Symphony is to concertize in Kobacker Hall, with Carol Hayward conducting. All events are free.

Bragging rights accrue to faculty and grad students working with BGSU’s MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, who will perform at Constellation, a venue at 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago, in an 8:30 p.m. concert Sunday.

On their program will be new music by Marcos Balter, Louis Andriessen, George Lewis, Stephen Hartke, Christopher Dietz (of BGSU), and others. The event is in the Frequency Series at Constellation. Tickets are $10. For more information visit

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