Opening night for the Firelands Symphony Orchestra

Tom Jackson
Mar 23, 2010


Some years ago, it became cool for rock music album recordings to include an extra "hidden track," an additional song that wasn't officially listed on the credits.

Saturday's Firelands Symphony Orchestra concert at the Sandusky State Theatre (and, I assume, the next day's concert at the Ernsthausen Community Center in Norwalk) contained a hidden track, too. Soloist Jason Vieaux had taken everyone to school on Rodrigo's guitar concerto, "Concierto de Aranjuez," teaching us what a really, really good acoustic guitar player sounds like.

Then Vieaux began playing an unannounced solo piece, and conductor Carl Topilow walked offstage. I assumed that was just to allow the spotlight to shine on Vieaux, but after a few moments, Topilow walked back to the stage playing a clarinet, and the piece (the famous Brazilian song "Tico Tico") ended as a duet.

The concert also include the "Academic Festival Overture" of Brahms, but for me the high point was a dramatic performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. I thought the lyrical second movement sounded a trifle hurried, but the dynamic rendering of the other movements was very exciting, a good example of how electric live Beethoven can be.

It's often a little scary going to a classical music concert, because you see so many people with white or grey hair. You wonder what's going to happen to the classical music industry in this country in 10 to 20 years. (Greg Sandow blogs a lot about this, but famous critic Alex Ross seems to be more optimistic.)

The symphony gave away free tickets to students, but only a handful showed up. When I was in college, I knew other students who listened to jazz and classical music, and I didn't go to an Ivy League school or hang out with music majors.

Was everyone watching the football game instead? Playing the concert the night of the USC-Ohio State game was a bold programming move, but I'll bet the word of mouth from the people who did show up was pretty good.



Tom, you are by far the most interesting blogger in the Sandusky Regurgitator. I've got to hand it to you. There are times that I visit the Register and only look to see if you have new posts on your blog. It's nice to read somebody who isn't one dimensional - and someone who knows how to use hyperlinks too.

You can be be pretty (unintentionally)funny too. Really man, the "classical music industry?" Keep up the good work.


Your wide-ranging blogs are read around the country, so be careful what you say! At the Signature Symphony concert in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that same evening (even though Oklahoma's ESPN game with Washington would have been enjoyable, too), I had exactly the same reaction to all the gray heads in that audience. My comment to the gray haired lady next to me was that I'd like the featured work in that concert, the Emperor Concerto, to be played at my funeral in lieu of spoken words. Who better to send me on my way than Beethoven, and when else might most of the younger attendees at that event be tuned in to him?


Let's just celebrate the fact that Sandusky has the Firelands Symphony and the State Theatre in this otherwise vast wasteland of culture. The concert was thrilling and musicianship superb, not just by the guest performer (who was amazing)but the college music students who made up the majority of the symphony. How far the symphony has come from its humble beginnings of local musicians playing at St. Mary's Church! The arts are a large part of what binds a community. Let's get the word out on this hidden jewel in our area, so that young people as well as the grey haired demographic will experience the thrill of live performance.