Category Archives: Symphony

Meet Our Bach to Rock® Finalists!

Toward the end of 2017, we had a singing contest inviting local performers to submit videos of themselves singing pop and rock songs. Once their videos were submitted, we invited the public to vote to select their favorite performers to choose a top 10 by the end of 2017.

From the top 10 finalists, the top 5 vote earners were invited to perform their song along with the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra on our Bach to Rock® concert on March 24, 2018. Take a look at these incredible singers!

 

See Them Live at Bach to Rock® on March 24

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.

SeasonPreview_Slides(90thAnniversary)

Announcing our 2017-2018 Season!

by Colleen Cook

We have SUCH an incredible 2017-2018 Season Lineup! We’ve been literally bursting to tell you about it, and last night, we had the opportunity to spill the beans on the season!

It’s a big year for the Renaissance Theatre, in fact, it’s our 90th Anniversary year. This January will mark 90 years since the historic Ohio Theatre opened in a blizzard to a sold out house on January 18, 1928. We are remarkably grateful to be here 90 years later, fully-restored and fully-operational, and still selling out on the regular to Mansfield’s incredible audiences.

We have FORTY shows in our 17-18 season, truly something for everyone. So, here’s the rundown:

Renaissance 17-18 season

For way more details, ticket information, and more check out our Events page here!

Renaissance Theatre Season Preview Party 2016 photo by Jeff Sprang

5 Really Good Reasons to Attend the #RenSeason Preview Party

by Colleen Cook

If you’ve never been to our Season Preview Party before, you might be wondering what all the hype is about. After all, we’ll be publishing the season online right after the party, but there are some PRETTY good reasons to make plans to be there.

  1. Prizes and Giveaways

    Every guest at our Season Preview receives a goody bag chock-full of goodness, and this year’s are better than ever. Plus, we giveaway some pretty big deal items, and your odds of winning are higher than ever this year… but only if you’re there!

  2. Exclusive Performances and BIG Announcements

    The Season Preview is your first glimpse of our entire season. You’ll get to hear music from our upcoming musicals, see and hear things you’ve never seen or heard before, and we’ll be making some pretty exciting announcements you won’t want to miss.

  3. It’s FREE!

    The Season Preview is our chance to say THANKS to our audience and we are probably crazy for doing this, but it’s totally free!  That said, you do need to get a ticket for this event (which you can do so right here: https://seasonpreviewparty.eventbrite.com/)

  4. Delicious Desserts

    After the big season announcement, we have an awesome dessert reception in our lobby! Who doesn’t love awesome desserts?

  5. First access to tickets

    Tired of someone else getting the best seats before you? Subscriptions for our members go on sale that very night! If you’re not yet a member, you can take care of that at the party too.

Haven’t claimed your ticket to the Season Preview yet? You can do that right here.

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.

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How I Fell in Love with the Symphony

by Llalan Fowler

When I was a kid and just getting into music, my grandmother started taking me to all the Sunday matinees with the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra. The whole experience of going to the Renaissance Theatre was a “to-do,” as she might say. Dressing up, buying drinks and popcorn, getting escorted to our seats like we were important.

I was just learning how to listen to music — how to pull apart an orchestra and listen to one section at a time. There’s the low brass, there’s the high woodwinds, I think that’s a viola? And how to watch an orchestra, too — how to see the players watch the baton of the conductor, the rows of string players watching the first chair, the percussion section watching everything. I was learning a new language. I could already read music, but reading a new language is quite a different thing than understanding a conversation.

I wonder if perhaps you have to grow up with symphonic music to continue seeking it out as you age. My elementary school music teacher was a passionate man. Passionate enough to throw blackboard erasers into the chatty percussion section, gesticulate so wildly as to dislodge his comb over, and to rain insults and spittle down upon the first unlucky row of flutes. Most of the kids hated him. I would have, had he not kept playing fantastic recordings for us: Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Goodman’s Sing, Sing, Sing, and Gershwin. I took a tape of Rhapsody in Blue out of the library and listened to it again and again in my room, letting the music take shape and color in my mind.

My grandmother loved that I was exploring the big band music of her youth and encouraged me with her own stories of the bands that played when she was a young woman. She still remembered all the words and sang along in her ageless soprano to my CDs of Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and The Andrews Sisters.

As I got older and my tastes refined, my grandmother took me to even more shows. We saw one of Mel Tormé’s last concerts and even saw Yo-Yo Ma, whose luggage had been lost so he and his accompanist wore lumberjack flannels. We spent several summer evenings on a lawn in Columbus, picnicking and listening to The Canadian Brass, laughing at their jokes even if we’d heard them last year. I played trombone and wanted to be the first lady in the brass quintet.

I played in high school — symphonic band, orchestra, jazz band, marching band — and continued to play through undergrad. I worry that music is accessible only to those who already speak the language. Those of us who recognize all the different voices that combine to one. Those of us who have felt the power in that moment between the last note and the applause. But how much knowledge and history behind a certain piece do you need to “get it?” When I look at Van Gogh’s Starry Night, I know little of his life and of the story behind the piece; but I do know it is crushingly beautiful.

I want to share the beauty of this music with others, but don’t always know how to convince my Millennial-aged peers to come to an orchestra concert with me. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of them do come, but I greedily want everyone to try it. I don’t know if it’s some presumption that symphony-goers are stuffy and pretentious or if it’s intimidation by the unknown that prevents more people my age from joining me there. I certainly don’t know everything about each piece that’s played in a concert. Rather than feeling ill-educated and uncomfortable at the end, however, I feel refreshed and new and as if I learned something just by sitting there. Like the first time I heard Rhapsody in Blue, I didn’t feel stuffy and pretentious — I felt like something bold and new was let loose inside me.

This Saturday, I will be going to the “When Swing Was King” pops concert, and I’ll be bringing my now-91-year-old grandmother. We will dress up, we’ll go to the Altered Eats catered dinner beforehand, we’ll gets drinks, and we’ll be escorted to our seats. We’ll sit in the dark and listen as the chaos of tuning instruments transforms into the asymmetrical jive of Shaw, Miller, and Dorsey. I suspect we’ll sing along.

 

 

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.