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CSO show finds roots in unsung artists from around the world

Courtesy of Scott Meivogel

After exploring Mozart and Brahms, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra has mapped out its next show of 2012 with an extensive look at more modern compositions.

The “Folk Roots Program” will feature composers Kodály, Poulenc, and Prokofiev, who all lived in the 20th century, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Ohio Theatre.

“Although they might not be the most well-known composers, it will be a wonderful show,” said president and chief creative officer for the orchestra, Roland Valliere.

The composers, born in Hungary, France and Russia, all used folk traditions from their culture to create their scores.

Guest conductor Rossen Milanov will lead the orchestra through the program. Milanov conducted several groups previously, including the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and “Lady Macbeth of Mzensk” at the Komische Oper in Berlin.

Milanov, a Bulgarian native, said he is excited to conduct the talent found in Columbus.

“I think the whole concert is quite unique,” Milanov said. “The programming is not something that you could hear every single day.

At least in my lifetime, there are not going to be too many orchestras that are going to invite me back to conduct exactly the same piece.”

One of the pieces Milanov said he is anxious to conduct was written during World War II. Milanov said it not only addresses the material destruction, but a very important question.

“How do we find something beautiful when we’re completely devastated?” Milanov said.

It is these underlying tones that make composing pieces enjoyable for the conductor. This goes for the musicians as well. He does not want them just to physically play a piece but also to put their emotions into it.

“The experience becomes a lot more meaningful because we are not mass producing anything,” Milanov said. “When you play with your heart, it’s a unique experience and this is something that you have to witness live. This is why people go to concerts.”

Joining Milanov on the guest circuit will be pianist Anna Polonsky and her husband, Orion Weiss. Polonsky, whose father, Leonid Polonsky, plays violin in the orchestra, holds the CSO close to her heart. She grew up around the group and is grateful for the opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to playing with the orchestra,” Anna Polonsky said. “It is a gem in the Midwest and is often overlooked with Cleveland up north and Cincinnati down south.”

Not only is this a special experience because of Anna Polonsky’s past with the orchestra, but she will be playing a two-piano concerto with her husband. Although two pianos aren’t necessary for the task, Anna Polonsky said she looks forward to sharing the moment with her husband.

“It is a very special musical experience and it is very unique,” Anna Polonsky said. “We have a sixth-sense feel about it and are consciously aware of it.”

Anna Polonsky said she is flattered that people are genuinely interested in the work of her and her husband, but she wants people to know how important the orchestra is. She encouraged all Ohio State students to attend the show.

WOSU’s Christopher Purdy will hold a free lecture about the program for all ticket holders at 7 p.m. both nights.

Ticket prices range from $24.75-$68 and are available at the Ohio Theater Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations. Discount tickets are available for students with a valid BuckID through D-Tix for $5.

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