Tag Archives: mansfield symphony

Symphony Chug with Mark Sebastian Jordan

What is “Symphony Chug?”

by Mark Sebastian Jordan

Hello, friends! I’m here today to tell you about an exciting new series of free events that are being added to the Mansfield Symphony’s upcoming season. Many of you will already know me from my Symphony Chat! series of talks before Mansfield Symphony concerts, where I plunge into the music on that evening’s program and try to offer a little insight to what you are about to hear. 

The chats are great, and we will be continuing them, but the thought hit me a few months back that there are a lot of people out there who would like to get into classical music a bit more, but are put off by the formality of it, the jargon involved, the specialized history, and—not least of all—the snooty ‘tudes of some classical fans.

Well, the chats are already just that: chats, not lectures. But I said to myself, “Why not make this even more fun and informal, by taking our musical adventures off-site and ranging over greater ground than just what is on the next program? Steve Taylor of the Mansfield Symphony upped the ante by suggesting holding it at a place where folks could get a drink and unwind while hearing about and discussing the music. Then Colleen Cook worked her magic and found us a home, at The Vault, a restaurant/wine bar in Shelby, where we will meet on the first Tuesday of most of the coming months until the symphony season is over.

Click Here to RSVP for Symphony Chug on Facebook
Symphony Chug is Graciously Presented by OhioHealth

If this takes off, we can continue it into the future. For the first season, I decided that the maximum way to have fun would be to range all over the place. Maybe next year we could start a grand sweep across the history of classical music to fill in the holes everyone has in what they know (trust me, no one knows everything). But for this season, let’s just romp.

September 5 we’ll kick it off by looking at humor in music. These symphonies seem like awfully serious stuff, but there are actually some great jokes buried in classical music: Beethoven pulling the rug out from under you in his Third Symphony, Bartok mocking Shostakovich in his Concerto for Orchestra, or even Carl Nielsen ending his final symphony with a bassoon fart. False solemnity is useless. Truth is, composers are human, like anyone else, and a lot of them like a good laugh. 

October 3 we’ll get into the dark spirit of the Halloween season by looking at some of classical music’s greatest scandals. Classical music is no more squeaky clean than any other gathering of crazy humans, so we might as well take a gossipy walk on the wild side. Which composer committed murder, but was never put on trial? Which male composer got dolled up in a woman’s dress to travel incognito to commit a crime, but chickened out on the way? Who threatened to hang a soprano upside down out a window to get her to sing an aria the way he wrote it? Whose dead body was found surrounded by satanic literature, and did he really commit suicide, or was he murdered?

November 7 we will tackle that dreaded issue of classical jargon by poking fun at it. “What the fugue?” will explain what is meant by terms like sonata, andante, fortissimo, fugue, sinfonia, and so on. Don’t worry, I’ll also have examples of composers mangling the terms, too. It’s more common than you’d think. I’m looking at you, Tchaikovsky!

December 5 will be a combination holiday party (with cake!) and a raising of the wrist to the theme of booze in classical music. We’ll talk about the great imbibers and a few other addicts along the way, proving once and for all that the most flawed folks in the world can still reach the heights of inspiration.

After taking January off (unless we decide to add another session to stave off the chill), we’ll resume on February 6, just a week before Valentine’s Day, when we salute romance and talk about just who was sleeping with whom in classical music. We’ll talk about the composer who got chased out of San Francisco because of his date with a girl in seminary school, a composer who sued his potential father-in-law because the father wouldn’t let him marry his daughter, a female composer who wrote a march for women and preferred them anyway, the composer who got his start playing piano in a whorehouse—at age 12!—and a couple composers never known to have gotten close to anyone, though the rumors always flew.

March 6 we’ll pose the classic question: “What’s Opera, Doc?” Symphonic music is closely tied to the music of the opera house, so we’ll jump into high dramatic mode as we look at how they go hand in hand. We’ll look at everything from the first dramatic cantatas of the early 1600’s to modern masterpieces, everything from Jephtha torching his daughter to Richard Nixon’s trip to China.

April 3 will see us going off the rails with tales of classical music’s greatest mavericks: the composer who invented his own player piano because his music was too tough for humans to play, the conductor who always hired a stagehand to kick him in the butt before he went on stage (hopefully not hitting the pistol he also packed), the pianist who was so fussy about the height of his piano stool he sawed an inch off the legs, and the composer who planned on a light show to be projected with his music 50 years before the hippies invented the same thing in the 1960’s. 

We’ll close the season of Symphony Chug! events with a gem on May 1: How can you read a novel in an hour? Listen to a symphony. I’ll give you a basic road map of your average symphony, and clues about how to navigate your way in anything from a petite Haydn piece to a towering Shostakovich beast. From simple entertainment to moving epics, symphonies are the core of orchestral music, and they open doors to other worlds.

All these events are free, and we’ll even throw in door prizes. We will, of course, invite you to partake of the drinks and more at The Vault, but mainly we just want you to come join the fun, learn a little about music in a lively, non-threatening way, and open your horizon to some of humankind’s most inspired moments. Yes, we’ll laugh at times, and other times we’ll get chills. But most of all, we’ll get closer to some of the greatest music ever created.

And don’t worry: this isn’t about cultural elitism. I encourage you to listen to everything you can, it will all enrich your life more and more. Outside of the classics, I’m a big fan of indie rock (Ezra Furman rules), alt-country (the Old 97’s rock, y’all), and Bluegrass (Bill Monroe forever!). And music from other cultures are important, too. Hear everything you can.

But it’s important not to shut off the classics, even as we expand our worlds, because, let’s face it, friends: Life is tough. We need every bit of insight and inspiration we can gather, and the classics are loaded with it. You might find a moment in Mozart that will give you light on your darkest day. You might find that Tchaikovsky takes your breath away or that Schubert can make you cry. You might find that Handel’s mood swings match your own or that Verdi makes your heart pound.

Whatever you find, I bet you’ll find that it matters a lot in your life. And that’s why we’re doing this. The music the Mansfield Symphony plays isn’t just entertainment. It’s stuff that can change your life.

Douglas Droste Thumbnail

Meet Douglas Droste

by Colleen Cook with DRM Productions

As you probably already know, we’re near the end of a year-long search for our next Mansfield Symphony conductor. With over a hundred applicants from across the globe, we were able to narrow it to three finalists, each of whom have programmed and have conducted/will conduct a concert on our 2017-2018 OhioHealth Symphony Series. The third and final candidate is Douglas Droste, of Muncie, Indiana. We interviewed him to talk about his Ohio roots, his family, his very strong Buckeye-fandom and his philosophies on symphony orchestras. Here’s the full interview:

See Maestro Droste conduct on the Masterworks: Take Me to Your Leader concert on May 13, 2017!

Larry Griffin, Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

Why I Sing: An Interview with Larry Griffin

by Colleen Cook

Forty years ago, locally-renown choral conductor Richard Wink had an idea: the Mansfield Symphony should have a chorus. So many great symphonic works require a chorus, and Mansfield is chock-full of great singers. And so, the Mansfield Symphony Chorus was born.

Members of the chorus have had the opportunity to benefit from the leadership of many great choral conductors through the years, and our current conductor Larry Griffin is no exception. Larry’s exuberance and expertise are truly one-of-a-kind, and his leadership this season has injected a new life into our chorus.

Under his leadership, the Mansfield Symphony Chorus will perform a spring choral concert on April 30th fully loaded with incredible choral repertoire (such as Haydn’s mass in B flat and some absolutely gorgeous short choral works including my all-time favorite, Joseph Martin’s “The Awakening.”) So, we wanted to take a little time to get to know Larry Griffin a little better:

Colleen Cook: When did you start singing? 

Larry Griffin: I don’t remember when wasn’t singing.  In church and school I use to get into trouble because of being high strung.  But once my teachers found out that I could sing it got me out of many situations.

CC: What was your journey to becoming director of the Mansfield Symphony Chorus?

LG: My journey to Mansfield started with Robert Franz inviting my Columbus group, Capriccio, to sing the Beethoven’s 9th in 2007 with the Symphony Chorus. They performed again with the Theresienmesse, and another time with Candide. This was my introduction to this fine orchestra and chorus.  I knew then that it was my desire to have the opportunity to direct the chorus.

CC: What do you love about choral singing?

LG: I love directing choirs more than anything!  Having the ability to mold individual voices and making beautiful music together is such a joy!

CC: What is your favorite choral piece, and why?

LG:  One of my favorite choral works is the Puccini Mass. It’s my favorite because it introduced me to my first major choral work, it gave me my first solo, and introduced me to my late wife, Jane.

CC: What can our audience look forward to on the Sing into Spring concert?

LG: The audience can expect a diverse program featuring the music from Haydn, Mozart, Negro Spirituals and other memorable choral pieces.  The choir will be accompanied by a small orchestral ensemble from members of the MSO and they will get to hear four wonderful soloist: soprano, alto, tenor and bass from the Columbus area. I’m very excited to have Director Emeritus Richard Wink directing and singing as a member of the chorus, as well.  

Meet Octavio Más-Arocas

by Colleen Cook and DRM Productions

Octavio Más-Arocas is the second of three finalists for the position of Music Director of the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Más-Arocas tells us about his musical background, the family of conductors he comes from, and what he does when he’s not conducting.

This is just a fraction of our full conversation, which you can watch here: https://youtu.be/sdClDMrQc1s

See Maestro Más-Acrocas conduct the Mansfield Symphony on March 25, 2017 at the Masterworks: Strife and Victory! concert.

Four Events You Won’t Want to Miss in 2017

by Colleen Cook 

Few things carry as much potential as a fresh, blank calendar. There’s just something about that blank space that feels free and exciting as you look at the next 365 days knowing they can be whatever you choose.

If you’re like me, then you’re probably thinking a lot about what you can do less of, what you want to do more of, and how you want to spend your days this year as you fill in your calendar with birthdays, appointments, social plans, and more. For me, this year I will be working to ensure that the time I’m with my family is spent more intentionally. We’ll be spending more time making memories that will last, rather than binging a Netflix show or scrollaxing through our various devices.

Here are four events that I’m putting on my calendar, and why:

January 27th: The Second City Game Night

The Second City's Game Night

I have always wanted to see The Second City in person, and this is the year! Bonus: I don’t have to make the trek into Chicago! Having been a HUGE Saturday Night Live fan since I was too young to be watching it, as SNL fans know, The Second City is the breeding ground for great improv comedians. Alumni include Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steven Colbert, Steve Carrell, Bill Murray… and our own Michael Thomas! So, we’re calling a babysitter and making sure we don’t miss this night.

February 18th: Pre-Concert Dinner & When Swing Was King Concert

When Swing Was King

My husband and I sometimes downplay Valentine’s Day, but for no good reason. Our love is worth celebrating, and we never regret making a big deal out of silly greeting card holidays – because good memories last way longer than the cards and candy. So, this year, we’ll be celebrating at the Mansfield Symphony’s pre-concert gourmet dinner by Rasul Welch and Anne Massie of Altered Eats, followed by a night of swing music with the Mansfield Symphony and world-renowned conductor Carl Topilow!

April 7th: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Live

We have a preschooler in our house, and Daniel Tiger and his neighbors are like a third parent in our household. We count on Daniel to reinforce some really important lessons for our kids using earworms musical jingles like, “Use your words,” and “When you feel jealous, talk about it and we’ll figure something out,” and of course, “You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back.” Seeing the joy on our daughter’s face last year at this event made it an early contender for our 2017 calendar.

May 20: Classic Albums Live plays The Eagles’ “Hotel California”

Classic Albums Live: The Eagles' Hotel California

As a kid, I remember listening to the “Hotel California” on vinyl in my parents’ basement, the richness of the incredible acoustic guitars and the band’s gritty authentic sound pouring over me. Classic Albums Live has gained quite a reputation as the quintessential authentic recreation of these incredible albums, live – playing every note, every cut, just the way you remember it. And, these guys are good. I’ve been excited to see this group since we started talking about it more than year ago, and you can be sure this event is on my personal calendar.


Comment and tell us, what events are your must-sees this year?

 

Year In Review

Highlights of 2016, Looking into 2017… and a BIG announcement!

by Mike Miller, President & CEO

This has been one of the most exciting and expansive years in my history with the Renaissance, and it’s all thanks to our incredible staff, board, volunteers, donors, and patrons! We have truly got the best team of people working together to bring outstanding arts and culture to Mansfield, and I am proud to be a part of it.

This year, the Renaissance has reduced its total debt down to $150,000, down from $1.2 million when I took the helm in 2010. We’ve done this through streamlining our operations and programming, fundraising for debt reduction, and improving our business practices. We want the Renaissance to exist in Mansfield forever, and adopting a sustainable business model and operating within our means was critical, and we couldn’t have done it without our incredible team.

Another highlight for the Renaissance was Michael Thomas’ original production of Hot Mess: The Musical. Never before have we sold out a production before it even opened, but that was the case with this hysterical new musical that showcases Michael’s adept skill for musical comedy. Even more exciting, renowned Broadway producer Cameron Mackintosh has taken interest in the production and we will be taking our cast to workshop it in New York City in April 2017, following our spring revival of the production on our stage in Mansfield. We couldn’t be more excited for our artists at the Renaissance!

Our Mansfield Symphony conductor search has been a remarkable process, with over 100 outstanding applicants from all over the world for the position of music director! This speaks to the quality and reputation of our orchestra to have such a wealth of individuals vying for the position. Having the opportunity to showcase three of those conductors on our stage this season has already been a treat for our community.

And now for the big announcement…!!!

For me, one of the most exciting things of 2016 is only first being publicly announced right now, and that is our acquisition of a 15,000 square foot building at 166 Park Avenue West. Despite our large building, we have so many educational programs, performance groups, ensembles, and productions rehearsing in our space that we are constantly running out of usable rehearsal and performance spaces in our building. When we approached our board about a building that was for sale by the Richland County Land Bank for $89.00, but required $150,000 in work just to make it usable, rather than back away our board ran in and raised and supplied the funds in 10 days, fully funded through cash and in-kind donations. In particular, massive thanks go to Bill Hope of Alumni Roofing for providing a new roof for the building, and Ary Van Harlingen of Shaw Ott Medical and his team for remediating the extensive mold in the building and gutting it, as well as one anonymous funder.

Over the coming months we’ll talk a lot more about this space with you. We’ll be conducting a feasibility study, thanks to support from the Richland County Foundation, in order to determine what the community needs from this space. We know we’d like to see more rehearsal space, a more intimate performance space, and education classrooms. Keep your eyes open for a lot more conversation about this space soon. If you’d like to hear just a little more, you can listen to the Renaissance Podcast episode the Chairman of our Board, Rand Smith, and I released this week.

The Renaissance is committed to being the cultural hub for our community. We are energized by the partnerships we’ve formed with our region’s non-profits and we are delighted by the support we continually receive to keep our program vibrant and expanding. Thank you for making this the greatest job on earth.

3 Things You Support By Giving to the Annual Fund Campaign

By Jessica Dulle & Colleen Cook

1. Education

Teddy Bear Concert - Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

Teddy Bear Concert – Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

The Renaissance proudly boasts that our Education Department serves 15,000 students each year! We have 13 distinct programs, numerous collaborations with area schools and agencies, and serve individuals of all ages and abilities!

2. Live Performances

Beauty and the Beast 2016 - Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

Beauty and the Beast 2016 – Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

Whether it’s our locally-produced professional Broadway-style productions, touring bands,  artists, or comedians, or offering a venue to local emerging artists and acts, the Renaissance exists to make outstanding live performances available and accessible for everyone in our region! (Did you know that no one is turned away for an inability to pay for a ticket, thanks to our Angel Ticket Program?)

3.The Mansfield Symphony

The Mansfield Symphony Orchestra - Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

The Mansfield Symphony Orchestra – Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

A cultural establishment in Mansfield for over 85 years, the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra is one of the premiere mid-size symphonies in the country. This season, the MSO is able to offer 6 concerts to the public, plus four educational concerts and numerous community outreach performances. As Ben Folds recently said, “Symphonies symbolize the epitome of civilization, i.e., people working together. If you go to a town without an orchestra or a bad orchestra, it’s a crappy town.”

You can give to the Renaissance Annual Fund Campaign $100,000 Matching Grant Challenge and have your gift matched 2:1 by the Landers Foundation and the Hire Foundation anytime between now and December 31, 2016! To give, click here.

Mansfield Symphony Cellist photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

What to Expect When You Come to the Symphony

by Colleen Cook and Chelsie Thompson

Something we hear from our patrons a lot is that one of the reasons they hesitate to come to a symphony concert is because, well, they just don’t know what to expect. Doing new things can be intimidating, especially if your perception of the experience is outside of your comfort zone.

So, here are some answers to some of the frequently asked questions about attending a symphony concert:

What should I expect?

Expect that you’re in for a treat! If this is your very first symphony concert, you might be a little nervous because this is all new to you, but that’s okay – you’ll soon realize that your role as an audience member is one of the best: to sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience. After all, the orchestra is playing this concert for you.

What should I be paying attention to?

Notice the beat of the music, and the way the tunes make you feel.Let your thoughts go, and instead, allow yourself to simply focus on what you hear. For just a couple of hours, you can pretend that there is nothing else in the world except the musical moment that you are experiencing at the time.
Here are a few things to look for:

    • The bows that the string sections use to play will always be moving in the same direction within their section.
    • Woodwinds will be adjusting their instruments and reeds, perhaps changing out their instrument to a smaller or larger model to play higher or lower notes.
    • The percussionists will be moving from instrument to instrument and changing the mallets that they use to play each one, with the timpanist occasionally tapping the drums lightly while holding his ear to them to make sure they are in tune.
    • The brass will be emptying their spit valves – yes, this happens, although any brass player will confirm to you that the “spit” is actually condensation that builds up in the instrument as they blow air through it. The French horns will be the most noticeable in this, as they are notorious for annoying their fellow brass players by purposely emptying up to ten slides in a row.
    • After solos, you might see the string players tap their bows lightly on their stand or the wind players tap their foot on the ground, or hand on their knee, to show their appreciation to the soloist during the music.

What do I wear?

Well, what do you like to wear? There’s no dress code for the symphony, so you’ll see everything from jeans and tees to cocktail dresses and suits. Going to the symphony is all about experiencing the magic of a live orchestra, so you might even notice that the orchestra dresses in all black so as not to draw your attention away from the music. Wear something that’s comfortable to you, and feel free to dress up as you see fit.

Where do I park?

You’re in luck – the Renaissance Theatre, which is the Mansfield Symphony’s home, has its own large parking lot, which connects directly to the back main entrance of the theatre (you can’t miss it – you’ll see four glass doors marked “Theatre Entrance” on your right as you walk towards the building). On busy nights, you may end up in one of our secondary lots: the two adjacent lots just West of the Ren on Park Avenue, and the gravel lot behind the main parking lot, next to the Sons of Italy building. You might also find parking on the streets in front of and behind the theatre.

Will it be interesting to watch?

There’s quite a bit going on during a symphony concert, which can have anywhere from 60 to 100 musicians onstage, so there’s plenty to see – in fact, when we add the chorus, the number of musicians onstage at one time can reach 170! The conductor is in command of all of these musicians at once, so his arms, hands, and the rest of his body are perpetually in motion to make sure that everyone is always on the same page.The musicians themselves are enjoying the music, too, so you’ll see some who are smiling, some with looks of intense concentration, and some moving to the beat.

Will I know any of the songs?

You might! You’ll probably know some of the music, and some of it will likely be new to you. Even if you don’t think that you are familiar with orchestral or classical music, chances are good that you hear it on a daily basis – it’s in commercials, movies, and in the background of radio ads. Since music speaks for itself, it’s used quite frequently to convey a mood or elicit an emotion in these formats. In fact, even current pop and hip-hop music often uses familiar melodies from classical pieces. Don’t believe us? Check out this list of just 25 of them on ClassicFM. (In case it isn’t obvious, our personal favorite is Nas + Beethoven).

Who are the musicians?

The Mansfield Symphony is an exceptional group of professional musicians from right here in Mansfield, as well as Cleveland, Columbus, and everywhere in between. They are professional musicians, music teachers, graphic designers, college professors, managerial professionals, and even music students who are currently completing their Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees. They are all different in many ways, but one thing they have in common is that they love to play music for you, the audience.

Will anyone be singing?

We have a fantastic chorus, and they do accompany the orchestra on a few different occasions each year – the Holiday Pops is a perennial favorite, and we often perform at least one additional large-scale work each year that features our talented vocalists. In addition, the Mansfield Symphony Chorus is active in the community, performing an annual “Sing Out! Choral Extravaganza” with several area schools each fall – and this year, the chorus will perform their inaugural “Sing into Spring” concert in April. Shameless plug: if you love to sing, then this is the group for you!

Can I bring my children? Will they like it?

Children are always welcome at the symphony, but you’ll find that some concerts are better than others. Many regular season symphony concerts are almost two hours long, which can be hard for the little ones to sit through without getting antsy and distracting your fellow audience members and musicians. Concerts with lots of extra action onstage (like the Holiday Pops concerts)are a great first symphony experience for the family, as the multimedia and interactive aspects offer more to catch kids’ eyes and keep them engaged.

You can also give us a call to ask whether a specific concert might be okay for kids – we can give you some insight on the music and length of the concert that may help you make your decision. And if you’re still not sure, why not try out our interactive Teddy Bear Concerts with members of the Mansfield Symphony? These concerts are slated for afternoons three times each season, and offer a small group or soloist from the MSO accompanying an original story or children’s activity.

When should I clap?

Okay, this is a very common question, with good reason! After all, no one wants to be “that guy” that clapped at the wrong time. There are a few easy spots to remember:

  • At the beginning of the concert, the Concertmaster (a.k.a. the first chair violin) will enter the stage to tune the orchestra. As he or she enters, clap to welcome him or her.
  • When the orchestra is done tuning and the Concertmaster sits down, the Conductor will enter the stage, so you’ll clap to welcome him or her as well.
  • If there is a soloist, they will enter the stage when the orchestra is ready to play their piece, and the audience claps at that time.

It is also appropriate to applaud at the end of each piece – and this can be a little tricky, since some of the songs you’ll hear have multiple parts, which are called “movements.” The movements are listed in the program, and the orchestra and conductor prefer that the audience does not clap between movements, as they need that time to concentrate on the next part of their music.

A good rule of thumb is to watch the conductor: the conductor will turn around when it’s time to applaud. If the conductor’s hands are still in the air, or is still facing the orchestra, then most likely they’re still concentrating and need quiet. When the conductor’s hands drop, and he or she turns to face the audience, the orchestra is ready to hear your appreciation and applause. If ever in doubt, just hang back a bit – regular symphony-goers will help you know what to do by starting the applause at the right time.

How do I buy tickets?

Easy-peasy: you can purchase tickets through the Renaissance Box Office by calling (419) 522-2726, or visiting in person. The Box Office is open 12-5 Tuesday through Friday, and 2 hours before every show, but you can purchase online anytime.

We hope this is a helpful guide for any symphony-goer. Did we miss your question? Comment below and we’ll happily answer you! If you’d like to see what performances are upcoming in our Mansfield Symphony’s season, you can find that out right here.