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On the creation of an
international Wagner symposium,


Athletic endeavors and opera are by no means strangers to each other. Think of the 'Three Tenors' for instance, who first appeared together in concert at the World Cup of Soccer in July, 1990. Of course, opera in Italy is somewhat of a no-brainer.

In the US, there's the Glimmerglass Opera Company that lives near the little village of Cooperstown, New York, and every baseball fan anywhere knows the importance of Cooperstown! It's home to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Slightly larger than Cooperstown -- which may on a good day boast 2000 residents -- Canton, Ohio (approximately 65 miles south of Cleveland) has many things going for it. It may primarily be known as a sports town; it is, after all, home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as a well-regarded Classic Car Museum.

But, there is also a Presidential Museum (McKinley), which also includes Discover World, a hands-on science center; the First Ladies' Museum and Research Library, and for a city of some 80,000 inhabitants, it also boasts an exceptionally vibrant arts community. The Canton Museum of Art houses not only an impressive art collection -- with an emphasis on 'works on paper', mostly American watercolors as well as contemporary ceramics -- but the Canton Ballet, Voices of Canton Inc (VOCI), Canton Symphony Orchestra and the Players Guild of Canton, a little theater group.

Canton's connection between sports and culture began some years ago, when Jim Strawn, the chief attorney for the locally-based Mary Renkert Wendling Foundation, approached M J 'Al' Albacete, executive director of the Canton Museum of Art and said, 'We'd like to give you some money. Isn't there anything the museum can do to use some of our foundation money?' Well, of course, there was! A new audio/visual system for the museum's library would be a great addition to the facility. Done. It helped that the directives of the foundation were to support animals, Mt Union College and music.

Canton, Ohio, USA
Canton, Ohio, USA

So, one day, not long after the museum had its new A/V system, Mr Strawn and Mr Albacete were talking, and the attorney wondered if there might be a project of some sort about the music of Richard Wagner. Miss Wendling was particularly enamored of opera, especially that of Richard Wagner.

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Copyright © 10 April 2007 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


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