Toledo, Ohio, is not the first place you might think to look for rabid fandom. Despite boasting a Triple A minor-league baseball team (the Mud Hens) and a hockey farm team (the Walleyes), it's not known as a sports mecca. But the city has something else: the 67-year-old Toledo Symphony. When that ensemble rides into New York for its debut at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, an estimated 1,400 fans will tag along.
The Toledo Symphony is one of seven ensembles chosen from an initial field of 65 who will appear at Spring for Music, the festival of North American orchestras. The trip has taken more than two years of preparation, as well as dogged fundraising to cover $250,000 in trip expenses. In January, when the Toledo City Council rejected a proposal to give the orchestra $10,000 toward the costs, the organization began reaching out to an array of local organizations to buy tickets.
Local universities with New York-area alumni have bought some 250 tickets; the orchestra also cut a deal with AAA to secure three charter buses to drive Toledo residents to New York. Some will ride with the orchestra on its chartered plane and intend to gather with fellow fans at an event at the Russian Tea Room afterward (each Spring for Music orchestra can pre-purchase up to 1,000 tickets for $25 each, but a special allotment was granted to Toledo).
Besides demonstrating the power of a dedicated fan base, the Toledo trip is remarkable because of its program. The night begins with Shostakovich's Symphony No. 6, one of the composer's lesser-known works — and a brooding, moody one at that. After intermission comes the New York premiere of Every Good Boy Deserves Favor. Playwright Tom Stoppard and composer André Previn initially conceived the piece in 1977 as an orchestral work with narration. As Stoppard began writing the musical-theatrical work about surviving in a totalitarian state, the orchestra evolved into one of the lead characters. As Previn told WQXR, Stoppard makes you question "what is the reality and what is the imagination."
Stefan Sanderling, music director
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 6
André Previn/Tom Stoppard: Every Good Boy Deserves Favor
- Director: Cornel Gabara
- Cast: Pete Cross – Alexander
- David de Christopher – Ivanov
- Yazan "Zack" Alquadi – Sasha
- Kevin Hayes – Colonel
- Benjamin Pryor – Doctor
- Pamela Tomasetti – Teacher
(Spring for Music is a collaboration between American Public Media, WQXR and NPR Music.)