Dive into the world of music with ConverZations!  This series of FREE discussions brings you closer to the music with a different topic and speaker each month.  The atmosphere is casual and engaging.  So bring your lunch, relax and enjoy!  Coffee and light desserts provided.

September – April
Second Monday of each month
12:00 noon

Foundation Hall
Zimmermann Symphony Center

This program is made possible, in part, by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressing in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

September 9, 2019

Yaron Kohlberg, Executive Director, Cleveland International Piano Competition

Cleveland International Piano Competition

How can classical music engage new audiences? Internationally renowned pianist Yaron Kohlberg, discussed the challenge of introducing classical music to younger generations. Through his experience performing to people of diverse cultures and backgrounds around the globe, Kohlberg has developed ideas on how to appeal to new audiences and answer this question. Learn how Kohlberg plans to implement his strategy as President and CEO of The Cleveland International Piano Competition.



October 14, 2019

Dr. Sebastian Birch, Professor of Music at Kent State University

The Modern Collaboration

Composers have long strived to convey a message or story through their work. They find inspiration in other art forms and collaborate with people to create the music we listen to on the stage. So what has changed over the years in the ways composers are inspired? Composer, Dr. Sebastian Birch, will bring you into his creative process and share with you how modern composers are inspired and how a modern collaborative work differs from music of the past.



November 11, 2019

New Speaker! Nicholas Stevens,

Senior Lecturer at the University of Akron School of Music, Instructor at Cleveland State University, and lecturer at the Cleveland Institute of Music


Liszt as a Rockstar

When you think “Rockstar”, does the famous romantic composer Franz Liszt come to mind? If he didn’t before, after this talk you will not be able to separate the two. The CSO welcomes Nicholas Stevens, an active musicologist, as he discusses the unique life of Franz Liszt. Learn how he changed the way music was performed and the way musicians were viewed by being the “Original Rockstar”.

December 9, 2019

GlenOak High School Jazz Band – Mr. Chris Irwin, Director

Holiday Program

Join the GlenOak High School Jazz Band as they ring in the holiday season with a set of holiday tunes! GlenOak Jazz plays regularly in communities around the state of Ohio and was featured with the Canton Symphony Orchestra in 2016 in A Swingin’ Holiday concert. Check out the Plain Local Jazz Festival, hosted by GlenOak, in March and support Ohio jazz!



January 13, 2020

Eric Gastier, VP of Design & Engineering, Schantz Organ Company

The History of the Organ

On January 13th, organist and architect Eric Gastier will present a brief history of the “King of Instruments”, its place in the concert hall, and its role as a member of the orchestra.  Eric is Vice-president for Design & Engineering at Schantz Organ Company, and Director of Music/Organist at First Presbyterian Church, Wooster.  He holds a BArch degree from Cornell University, and studied organ with Donald R. M. Paterson and Eileen Morris Guenther.  During his Schantz tenure, his projects have included organs for Severance Hall, Cleveland, Melbourne (Australia) Town Hall, and Rockefeller Chapel, Chicago.



February 10, 2020

Dr. Michael Benson, Malone University

Censorship in Music

Music is freedom to express. Throughout time, artists have been censored because of politics, economic upheaval, or social change. Join Michael Benson as he discusses censorship in music through pieces like Sibelius’ “Finlandia” and examines how censorship has affected the course of classical music.

March 9, 2020

M.J. Albacete, Adjunct Professor, Kent State University Stark, and Executive Director Emeritus, The Canton Museum of Art

All in the Family: Brahms & the Schumann’s

Musical inspiration comes from many places. In the case of Robert Schumann, his wife Clara was a great source of inspiration. Did she inspire other composers? How did Johannes Brahms fit into their family? M.J. Albacete explores these questions and examines the lives of other composers to find out how relationships affected the music they wrote.


April 13, 2020

Charles McGuire, Professor of Musicology, Oberlin College Conservatory

Opera or Poetry? Classical Choral Music

One of the most fractious debates in Romantic music was about how demonstrative it should be. Should music just be music and give pleasure in and of itself, or should it serve broader ends, relating ideas beyond the notes by helping to emphasize ideas of a picture, emotions, or a story? Within “Opera or Poetry? Classical Choral Music,” Prof. McGuire examines Romantic choral and instrumental music by Brahms, Dvorak, Mendelssohn, Verdi, and Wagner, investigating the tension between what music could do and what composers wanted music to achieve.

All programs and guest speakers subject to change.