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Heroes of the Ages

$37 – $40


November 17, 2019
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
$37 – $40
Event Categories:
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Firelands Symphony Orchestra


Sandusky State Theatre
107 Columbus Ave.
Sandusky, OH 44870 United States
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(877) 626-1950
Heroes of the Ages

Patriotic Pops Concert
Sunday, November 17, 2019 4:00pm
Sandusky State Theatre

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Saxton’s Cornet Band will recreate an historically accurate concert experience from the mid-19th century, complete with dramatic readings, period humor, authentic uniforms and entertaining music! You will hear the sounds and see the appearance of brass bands that existed during the antebellum and Civil War eras.

The original Saxton’s Cornet Band was organized in the late 1850s by Henry Augustus Saxton in Lexington, Kentucky, and became very popular in both the surrounding areas and the eastern states.

The FSO Chorale will be included in the concert, performing Peter Willhousky’s dramatic arrangement of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, and Howard Hanson’s energetic “Song of Democracy”, based on a text by American poet Walt Whitman.

Sunday, November 17, 2019 4:00pm at Sandusky State Theatre
Conversation with the Conductor 3:00pm

Carl Topilow, Music Director and Conductor of FSO
Michael Shirtz, Director of FSC
Firelands Symphony Orchestra, Full Orchestra
Firelands Symphony Chorale
The Saxton’s Cornet Band, Guest Artists


Heroes of the Ages is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors.

Randolph J. and Estelle M. Dorn Foundation


To Be Announced!

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Click Below To Learn More


    There have been 27 official versions of the American flag, starting with the first one in 1777 which displayed 13 stripes and 13 stars (for the 13 original colonies). When Kentucky and Vermont joined the union, the flag took on two more stars, so that from 1795 to 1818, 15 stripes and 15 stars graced the flag. It was this version of the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to compose “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the battle at Fort McHenry. Anticipating a crowded field of stripes, lawmakers decided to honor each new state with a star and leave the stripes at 13 after 1818.


    The original Saxton’s Cornet Band was organized in the late 1850’s and played in Lexington, Kentucky and the surrounding areas. The founder of the ensemble was a well known sign painter in Lexington by the name of Henry Augustus Saxton. Mr. Saxton had a very musical family and two of his children, Orrin and Henry, Jr. (aka “Harry”), were members of this band which would play for patriotic and community events throughout Central Kentucky.

    Henry Saxton would lead this ensemble until the late 1860’s when his son, Harry, would assume the role of leader. Harry would increase the popularity of the group through his leadership and musical arrangements making the group well known throughout the eastern part of the United States. Harry would eventually leave the organization in the 1880’s to expand his musical reach. His first appointment was as the musical director at the famed Howard’s Athenaeum Hall in Boston, a regular stop for some of the nation’s most famous vaudeville performers. From there he would return to Lexington only to travel to New Orleans to assume the role of musical director of Hallen and Hart’s Comedy Company, a traveling minstrel and comedy group. Once the Hallen and Hart tour was completed, he would retake his appointment as the musical director at the Athenaeum Hall in Boston until his eventual return to Lexington in the late 1800’s. He would compose many works over the years and would be regularly be called upon to write and arrange music for some of the most famous Vaudeville performers in America. Upon his return to Lexington in the late 1880’s, Saxton would assume the role of the director of the Lexington Opera House orchestra and continue to operate the various Saxton’s musical groups.

    Harry Saxton would continue his musical reign in Central Kentucky until his death on December 5, 1915. He is buried alongside his father and other family members in the Lexington Cemetery.


    Reorganized in 1989, the Saxton’s Cornet Band of today strives to maintain the spirit and high standards set by the original ensemble. Saxton’s Cornet Band is a Kentucky and national treasure. Saxton’s has been featured on the small screen on NBC’s hit show “Timeless” and on the National Geographic Channel’s hit biopic “Killing Lincoln” featuring Tom Hanks. The band has silver screen credits as well having been seen in the Turner films “Gettysburg” and “The Day Lincoln Was Shot”. The band has toured internationally with concerts throughout Taiwan including a performance at The National Concert Hall in Taipei and looks to tour in Europe in the near future.

    The band has performed for the inauguration of President George W. Bush and for the National Park Service at sites around the country, including Gettysburg National Military Park. Saxton’s has performed in concert halls and at universities across America and has played alongside orchestras and bands including the Cleveland Pops and the Lexington Philharmonic orchestras, the Indiana Wind Symphony, and Milliken University Wind Ensemble. Saxton’s is a mainstay at the Great American Brass Band Festival in Danville, KY and has been a visiting artist at the Conner Prairie Museum and at the Ohio Historical Society.


    This year Carl Topilow will be celebrating his 12th season as Firelands Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor. His tenure with the orchestra has seen a dramatic improvement in the orchestra’s quality, a significant rise in subscriptions and concert attendance, and the appearance of world class soloists to our stage.

    In addition to his work with the FSO, Topilow is founding conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, leads the National Repertory Orchestra, a summer festival in Breckenridge, Colorado. He is Faculty Emeritus at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Topilow has appeared as guest conductor for more than 120 orchestras in 37 states and 12 foreign countries.

    Topilow has assisted in the training of talented musicians and conductors for positions in orchestras in the United States and abroad and has supplied numerous young musicians the opportunity to perform as both orchestra members and soloists. His manner of presenting the music through musical illustrations and guides has enhanced the concert experience for audience members.

    In addition to his work as conductor, Topilow continues to perform as clarinetist with orchestra as well as with piano in informal recitals.

    Topilow’s wife Shirley is the President and CEO of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra. Their daughter Jenny is a violinist with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Their daughter Emily is a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University, where she is majored in psychology and minored in marketing, and played in the BGSU Symphony Orchestra.


    A jazz artist, composer, and conductor, Michael Shirtz is known for his versatility with contemporary and traditional music audiences. As a recording artist and producer, Shirtz performs regularly with his group, the Michael Shirtz Quintet, and has worked with such artists as Dave Brubeck, Elizabeth von Trapp, Melissa Manchester, among others, and currently writes and performs with Maureen McGovern. His passion for introducing jazz and American Music to audiences is evident in his shows AMERICA, Our Way, In Finding Faith and Blue Skies. His work in commercial music has led him to be an advocate for mental health awareness, arts education, and the creative economy.

    As a conductor, Shirtz has worked and performed with the Martin Luther King Festival Chorus, Columbus Symphony, African American Composers Festival, Donald Brinegar Singers, the California Philharmonic, Terra Choral Society, and festival choruses in California, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Tennessee. Shirtz has served on the faculty of the Conservatory of Music at Capital University, American Music Academy, Terra State Community College, Tri-C JazzFest & Performing Arts Series, and national workshops, conferences, and repertory theatre productions. Currently, Shirtz is the senior vice president of Entertainment & Programming at Lakeside Chautauqua where he serves as the artistic director for the Chautauqua Choral Festival and choral programs, director of the Firelands Symphony Chorale, conductor of the LIFT Choral Festival, partner with S&S Arts Strategies in Columbus, Ohio, artistic producer of the JAZZ@8 Series, and producer with the Jazz Education Network.

    His compositions include selections for choir, jazz groups, orchestra, film, and large-scale works such as“Hymn to the Earth,” the cantata “The Solemn Blessings,” the oratorio “In God’s Light” and the collection Shades of Blue. Shirtz’s music is published by SMP and his text Essence of Influence and articles have been published by The Choral Journal and CSULA Publications. Shirtz holds a Bachelors of Music degree in jazz studies from Capital University and Masters of Music in conducting from California State University, Los Angeles. Shirtz is managed by OCM Productions and resides in Sandusky, Ohio, with his wife Pamela.