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Classical 101

Columbus Symphony Season Finale (for now)

The Columbus Symphony's 2010-2011 Classical Series season ended over the weekend with a packed house and rousing performances of Johannes Brahms' Double Concerto and Ludwig van Beethoven's Third Symphony in E flat ("Eroica"). Axel Strauss (violin) and Nathaniel Rosen (cello) knocked off a sublime performance of the last movement (a passacaglia) in George Frideric Handel's Harpsichord Suite in G minor as an encore Saturday night. The very talented conductor Mei-Ann Chen caused me to have one of those where-have-I-been? moments.  I found out that she's the first woman to win the Malko International Conductors Competition (2005), and that, having recently concluded a tenure as assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, she is now assistant conductor and League of American Orchestras Conducting Fellow of the Baltimore Symphony. For an organization in its death throes two years ago, for the Columbus Symphony to mount bang-up performances of works by Beethoven and Brahms in front of a theater full of screaming (okay, shouting) fans - it's been one heck of a road! The Columbus Symphony seems to have weathered the worst of it. Admittedly the players' pay was decimated, but as the economy grows, hopefully their pocketbooks will, too. I'm so proud to host the Columbus Symphony broadcasts. I'm especially delighted we can bring them to you live, as they happen from The Ohio Theatre on Saturday nights. Here's a program highlight from last October. Jean-Marie Zeitouni conducts Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade [audio src="http://wosu.org/audio/classical/2011/RIMSKY2.mp3"] Recently Zeitouni and the band gave a spectacular performance of the Verdi  Requiem with the wonderful all volunteer Columbus Symphony Chorus directed by Ronald Jenkins [audio src="http://wosu.org/audio/classical/2011/SANCTUS2.mp3"] Zeitouni's appointment as Music Director was of course the season highlight. This smart, amiable Canadian will win many hearts, just you wait. I was also bowled over by conductor Larry Rachleff - who, to me, came out of nowhere. His Shostakovich 11 still sounds in the Ohio Theater. It's always good to have Gunter Herbig back to guest conduct and pianist Katherine Chi made a smashing local debut with music by Prokofiev and Stravinsky. So it's been a good season! Let's go on like this. This is no longer a struggling orchestra. This is a cornerstone of the community, as viable as the Buckeyes in telling the Columbus story. Onward!

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.