Firelands Symphony Concert to feature French composers

Feb 20, 2024 | Entertainment | 0 comments

Kirsten C. Kunkle, soprano, will perform the vocal solo on Poulenc’s Gloria. (Photo by Doug Klein/Firelands Photography)

The Firelands Symphony Orchestra (FSO), under the direction of Carl Topilow, presents the Vive La France concert on Saturday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Sawmill Creek Convention Center. The program features music by famous French composers. The concert will not only feature the full orchestra but also the Firelands Symphony Orchestra Chorale under the direction of Michael Shirtz, with guest vocalist Kirsten C.Kunkle, soprano..

General admission tickets are available at or by calling the FSO office at 419-621-4800. Adult tickets are $30, and student tickets for youth and college students are free.

Topilow, music director and conductor, has designed a program highlighting the best of French composers. Highlighting the concert will be Francis Poulenc’s Gloria, which is known for both its deep devotional and also playful nature. The full orchestra will be joined by the FSO Chorale to perform this piece, as well as Kunkle performing the soprano solo.

Audience members may recognize Kunkle as the chorale’s artist in residence this season. Most recently, she has performed with the chorale, premiering Matthew Kennedy’s new work, Prayer for Peace, at their annual Thanksgiving concert. A voting citizen of the Mvskoke Nation, Kunkle has been lauded as the leading Native American soprano in today’s classical music world. Kunkle is also the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Wilmington Concert Opera, a women and minority run opera company based in Wilmington, Delaware.

In addition to Poulenc’s Gloria, the orchestra will also perform Daniel Auber’s Overture from Fra Diavolo and Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite. Jacques Offenbach’s Overture from Orpheus in the Underworld, which includes the famous can-can, will also be performed by the orchestra. Rounding out the program will be two pieces by Camille Saint-Saens, one of the most well-known French composers of the Romantic era. The orchestra will play Bacchanale from Sampson & Dalila, as well as Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. The latter will include a solo from FSO’s assistant concertmaster, Victor Beyens, on violin.

Audiences may recognize Beyens not only as a frequent violinist with the FSO, but also as a featured soloist from last season’s Force of Destiny concert. Beyens is currently the concertmaster of the Mansfield Symphony and assistant principal second of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra.

This concert is made possible with sponsorship from Randolph J. & Estelle M. Dorn Foundation, Sam S. & Rose Stein Foundation, Sidney Frohman Foundation, Civista Bank Wealth Management, Erie County Community Foundation and Ohio Arts Council.

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