Tipton’s final Toledo performance is May 23Written by Colleen Kennedy | | firstname.lastname@example.org
After seven seasons with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO), Resident Conductor Chelsea Tipton II will bid farewell to the Glass City. His final performance titled, “The Stars Align for the TSO,” will be a star-studded concert Sunday, May 23. The 4 p.m. event at the Stranahan Theater will feature Tipton, conducting and on clarinet, as well as special guest artists including Doc Severinsen, Mark O’Connor, David Shifrin, the Toledo Youth Orchestra and students of the Toledo Symphony School of Music.
Tickets are $25 or $50 and may be purchased by calling the box office (419) 246-8000 or visiting www.toledosymphony.com.
Tipton initially came to the TSO early in 2003 after serving as the associate conductor with the Savannah Symphony in Georgia, which suffered from budget issues and eventually went bankrupt.
He is leaving to serve as the music director of the Symphony of Southeast Texas in Beaumont. Tipton said the shelf life of an assistant conductor tends to be five to six years so his seven seasons with the TSO has been the “perfect amount of time” to accomplish his goals with the community and the orchestra. Eventually, he said, change is good for both sides.
“I’ve been applying for jobs and really wanting to make this move up to music director,” Tipton said. “I’ve been an assistant conductor for 11 years; seven years here in Toledo and four years down in Savannah. So I’ve paid my dues, I’ve worked hard, I’ve learned a lot and it’s time for me to now step up and see if I can shape an orchestra in the vision that I believe an orchestra should be in a community.”
Tipton was selected as a top candidate out of 140 applicants for the music director position in Beaumont. After a week-long interview period consisting of conducting rehearsals and a concert for the Symphony of Southeast Texas, Tipton said he knew almost immediately there was a connection.
“I didn’t know how my colleagues were but when I left there, I felt that I made a really good connection with the orchestra and liked the community; it’d be a good fit,” Tipton said. “A couple weeks later they called me and offered me the position.”
The position is a step up for Tipton and a goal he said he’s been striving toward for the past several years. Still, he’ll miss working with the TSO.
“The level of musicianship here is just really high,” Tipton said. “We can do a lot so quickly because they come in so well prepared and they’re such good musicians. I’m definitely going to miss that.”
Toledo provided Tipton one of the greatest musical moments of his career during a first-season concert.
“We did the ‘Pines of Rome’ by Ottorino Respighi,” Tipton said. “There’s an offbeat brass part for the end and we used the Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps. So they were playing and the orchestra was playing and we get to the last chord and it’s blaring loud like a circus. I released the last note and the audience just leapt to their feet. It was really thrilling.”
In the past seven years, Tipton has enjoyed working with the community through several different projects including “Music In Our Schools,” a program where the TSO adopts area high schools, mentors them and performs a side-by-side concert at the end of the program and “run-out concerts” where the TSO performs at various venues throughout Toledo.
“One of the things this orchestra does better than any other orchestra is reach out to the community,” Tipton said. “That is a real gem of an organization that really values the need for reaching out to the community.”
Aside from professional experiences, Tipton has developed a sentimental attachment to Toledo.
“This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere except for Greensboro, N.C., where I grew up, and I do regard Toledo as my home now,” Tipton said. “There’s a certain attachment one gains and I’ve developed as a conductor here. It’s been a very important growth period for me as a musician.”
That period allowed him to develop the skill set necessary for his career advancement. The orchestra has also developed, he said, referring to its scheduled Carnegie Hall appearance in May 2011, a prestigious accomplishment for both the TSO and the community.
TSO President and CEO Bob Bell said TSO is grateful for the years and energy Tipton poured into his position.
“He has been especially effective as an emissary, as a promoter of the Toledo Symphony and of good music,” Bell said. “And he’s been especially focused on working with children and he’s just done a terrific job in that area. We’re delighted in his tenure and wish him success in his new venture.”
Tipton said it has been a “real blessing of a ride” and that he appreciates the support the TSO, its command and the community have shown him over the last seven years.
“Has it always been easy? Absolutely not,” Tipton said. “It’s hard —dealing with people, dealing with personalities — but that’s part of the gig. I’ve embraced that and we’ve made great music so I have no regrets whatsoever. None.”