Road to Carnegie More than Practice, Practice, Practice for TSOPublished: 05/03/2011 7:00 am By: Katie Warchol
Something truly special is rumbling in Toledo's artistic community in the form of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra's Carnegie Hall performance this coming weekend.
An orchestra doesn't simply waltz into Carnegie Hall by playing a few pretty notes. It climbs its way to good favor with a program like the one it has in its arsenal: a dark, raw and edgy collaborative effort between orchestra and the Glacity Theatre Collective. This new venture is a part of the Spring for Music Festival in New York City, a brand-new festival encouraging musical innovation from the country's top symphonies. The Toledo Symphony was chosen from a pool of sixty orchestra applicants for this inaugural event.
"Spring for Music is a new festival which wants to deal with new forms of attracting an audience," said Principal Conductor Stefan Sanderling. "What needs to be done in the 2010s to remain relevant, to remain important, and is the form of overture, concerto, symphony a form which is the only form? I belong to the people who believe that a regular concert still has an incredible value in our society, and I thought if the Spring for Music, this new festival, was created to explore new ways, then we needed to go new ways. Let's find an art form or a collaboration of two art forms which is something unusual and has value and gets interest from the people."
Doing just that, the Symphony began contemplating its program years ago while examining Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, a play by Tom Stoppard and with music by composer and conductor André Previn. The play is rarely performed, as it requires a full, working orchestra as an integral part of the story. The performance will be the first time New York audiences will see the play as it was originally intended, and employs the help of the Glacity Theatre Collective, University of Toledo faculty and Maumee Valley Country Day School students as cast and crew.
The play takes place in 1970s Russia, in which political dissidents are thrown in mental institutions, and details the relationship between one such revolutionary and a truly ill man who believes he has an orchestra at his disposal. The tale is a captivating commentary on the struggle between madness and insanity, both mental and within a political regime.
Once the Symphony chose the play, they decided Shostakovich's Sixth Symphony would be a perfect accompaniment. Written in 1939 Soviet Russia, the three-movement composition is saturated with strings and brass, and one can almost imagine a country in turmoil upon listening. Soloists and instrument sections both excel at conveying the deep and provocative tone of the piece, which finishes with a third movement flush with disjointed melodies and seemingly inappropriate instrumentation.