Previews & Features
The Cleveland Orchestra to debut
by Mike Telin
“We haven’t performed in Severance Hall during the summer since we opened Blossom Music Center in 1968, so this is exciting,” said Ross Binnie, Chief Marketing Officer at The Cleveland Orchestra, in a recent telephone conversation.
The Cleveland Orchestra will begin its new Summers @ Severance series on Friday, August 1st at 7:00 pm, when conductor Johannes Debus will lead performances of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess and the Piano Concerto in G major, featuring Benjamin Grosvenor as soloist. The series marks the first time in decades that the Orchestra is presenting its own series of ticketed summer concerts at Severance Hall.
Although some “Popular Concerts” and Opera were presented by the Orchestra in Severance Hall during the summers of 1932-33 and 1964-68, aside from the occasional special performances such as the Final rounds of the Cleveland International Piano Competition and The Cooper International Competition, Severance Hall has remained silent during the summer months. >>read on
Salieri and Mozart to face off in Master Singers concert in Akron on August 3
By Daniel Hautzinger
For most people, the name Antonio Salieri denotes mediocrity envious of genius, and is inextricably (and unfavorably) associated with Mozart. In Pushkin’s play Mozart and Salieri, Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera of the same name, Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus and its film adaptation, Salieri is depicted as a jealous composer who poisons Mozart after being upstaged by him.
But Salieri was a popular composer in his own right, and the mythology surrounding his relationship to Mozart has probably been exaggerated. His operas were widely known in Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and he was a well-regarded teacher of composition whose students included Liszt, Schubert and Beethoven.
You can evaluate Salieri and his music on their own terms at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Akron on August 3, when the Master Singers Chorale and Strings present his Requiem in c minor under the direction of J.D. Goddard. >>read on
Apollo’s Fire announces 2014-2015 Season
by Daniel Hathaway
Apollo’s Fire will present seven local subscription programs totaling thirty concerts during its 23rd season in 2014-2015. Additionally, Cleveland’s baroque orchestra will make its debut at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in December and at London’s BBC Proms next August, undertake a national tour of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers in November, and appear on the Pittsburgh Renaissance & Baroque Society series in April.
The subscription concerts, to be presented in several venues, will begin with “Orchestral Fireworks,” the first of two celebrations of Johann Sebastian Bach’s 330th birthday. The programs will include works new to Apollo’s Fire’s repertory: the double harpsichord concerto in c (featuring artistic director Jeannette Sorrell and Joe Gascho), the Violin Concerto in E (featuring Olivier Brault) and the second orchestral suite (featuring flutist Kathie Stewart). The four concerts will run from October 9-12.
Four performances of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 with Apollo’s Singers from October 31-November 7 will feature vocal soloists Oliver Mercer & Karim Sulayman, tenors & Molly Quinn & Nell Snaidas, sopranos. >>read on
PAND concert to mark 69th Anniversary of
bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki on August 6
by Daniel Hathaway
PAND — Performers and Artists for Nuclear Disarmament — was formed in 1984 during the height of the U.S.-Soviet arms race, which threatened, even in the case of a limited nuclear war, to destroy human civilization and much of life on the Earth.
“Today,” the organization states, “our goal is to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Our willingness to devote our time, talents and reputations to achieve this springs from our belief that art can contribute not only to aesthetics, but to ethics; not only to beauty, but to peace.”
The local chapter of PAND, which is part of Cleveland Peace Action, annually presents a concert in early August to commemorate the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This year, which marks the 69th anniversary of an event that changed the course of human history, members of The Cleveland Orchestra and friends will perform at Nighttown, 12387 Cedar Road in Cleveland Heights, on August 6 at 7:30 pm. >>read on
Hats, Liszt, and garlic: a conversation with pianist Stephen Hough
By Daniel Hautzinger
Interviewing Stephen Hough is a daunting task. Besides being one of the most successful, talented, and intelligent pianists of his generation, he composes, is a visiting professor at Juilliard and the Royal Academy of Music, writes wide-ranging regular blog posts for The Telegraph and articles for other publications, has published a book, The Bible as Prayer, writes poetry, and has given a solo exhibition of his paintings in London. Where do you even start?
Luckily Hough is an amiable, disarming conversationalist, exuding the air of a well-mannered English gentleman. (At one point, he enthused over a hat store in Chicago, recommending it as “a wonderful place, well worth seeing.”) He is extraordinarily genial, both in the sense of being friendly and displaying genius. And he is an engaging musician, who will perform Liszt’s First Piano Concerto with John Storgårds conducting The Cleveland Orchestra on July 26 at Blossom Music Center.
Liszt is a fitting match for Hough, since both are technically gifted pianists, composers, writers and Roman Catholics. >>read on
Oberlin Cooper Piano Competition: top winners announced after Severance Hall finals
Cleveland – July 26. Following the final round of the Oberlin Cooper Piano Competition with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall on Friday evening, Dean Andrea Kalyn of the Oberlin Conservatory introduced the judges and thanked numerous individuals who had made the competition possible. Then, competition sponsors Thomas and Evon Cooper announced the decision of the judges and awarded the three top prizes.
First place and a cash prize of $10,000 went to Tony Yike Yang of Toronto, who appeared last on the program with Tchaikovsky’s first concerto. Zitong Wang of Inner Mongolia, China, won second place and $6,000 for her performance of Prokofiev’s third concerto. And Sae Yoon Chon of Seoul, South Korea, received the third place award of $3,000, having opened the evening with Beethoven’s fifth concerto.The finals were broadcast live by WCLV, 104.9 FM and via the internet on wclv.com. (Photo: Roger Mastroianni)
CD Review: Margaret Brouwer — Shattered
by Mike Telin
On her latest recording, Shattered, released on the Naxos Label, composer Margaret Brouwer has compiled four beautifully constructed and emotionally captivating compositions. Each work reflects her personal and continuing musical journey to come to terms with the first decade of the turbulent twenty-first century. However what makes Shattered so appealing is that you do not need to know of Brouwer’s inner conflicts in order to immerse yourself in her alluring music. She has a talent for taking the simplest melody and through her expansive array of compositional techniques, develop it into a polished musical gem. And even when employing a twelve-tone row, Brouwer never ventures into the realm of compositional gimmickry. Every note she writes has musical purpose. >>read on
Nature takes a part in Cleveland Orchestra Blossom concert (July 26)
By Daniel Hautzinger
The environment in which you hear music has a potent influence on a concert experience. Obviously, the acoustics and size of a hall impact the sound, but physical surroundings can also intrude upon the music or affect the way you perceive a work. This is especially true at outdoor venues like Blossom Music Center, where nature decided to take a role in the music on July 26, when the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, pianist Stephen Hough, and conductors Brett Mitchell and John Storgårds presented a three-part concert there.
The elements made their most obvious appearance during Liszt’s First Piano Concerto, which Hough brilliantly performed with Storgårds and The Cleveland Orchestra. As Hough began a trill near the end of a cadenza in the first movement, an earth-shaking thunderclap caused him (and many other people in the pavilion) to jump in surprise. >>read on
Oberlin Cooper Piano Competition: Finals at Severance Hall (July 25)
by Daniel Hathaway
Out of an initial field of 28 competitors in the Thomas and Evon Cooper Oberlin International Piano Competition, three young pianists, having survived semi-final, concerto final and recital final rounds at the Oberlin Conservatory earlier in the week, won the opportunity to appear on the stage of Severance Hall on Friday evening, July 25 to play concertos with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra.
The impressive audience that turned out to hear Sae Yoon Chon, Zitong Wang and Tony Yike Yang in concertos by Beethoven, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky was full of young people — largely made up of friends, relatives and colleagues of the Cooper participants, no doubt. Palpable energy was in the air, and each of the three finalists was greeted with whoops and cheers both before and after they played. >>read on
Ohio Light Opera’s The Little King (July 23)
by J.D. Goddard
On Wednesday, July 23, in the College of Wooster’s Freedlander Hall, Ohio Light Opera presented the opening performance of its seventh and final work of the summer season, Emmerich Kálmán’s The Little King (Der kleine König) with libretto by Karl von Bakonyi, Franz Martos and Robert Bodanzky. This was OLO’s premiere performance of the rarely performed 1912 work and its eleventh Kálmán operetta.
The convoluted plot deals with a boyish monarch who falls in love with a famous visiting opera singer. She also happens to be the daughter of a revolutionary plotting his assassination. During her visit she orders a bouquet of roses for the king and has a bomb placed in amongst the thorns. In true operetta fashion, the plot is foiled by an overwhelming love attraction between the two and the bomb is defused. >>read on
Cooper International Piano Competition Recital Finals (July 23)
by Daniel Hautzinger
On July 23 in Oberlin Conservatory’s Warner Concert Hall, six young pianists vied to win a chance to play a concerto with The Cleveland Orchestra and for cash prizes as part of the Thomas and Evon Cooper International Piano Competition. The competitors were already assured a monetary reward, having survived three elimination rounds that culled an original field of 28 young musicians ranging in age from thirteen to eighteen.
The pianists were required to perform a 30 minute solo recital for this latest round, which was broadcast live on WCLV. At the end of the night, the judges advanced Sae Yoon Chon of Seoul, South Korea, Zitong Wang of Inner Mongolia China, and Tony Yike Yang of Toronto. Those three will perform with The Cleveland Orchestra on July 24 at Severance Hall for the final round of the competition, where the $10,000 first prize will be decided. >>read on
My Fair Lady at Ohio Light Opera (July 22)
by Kelly Ferjutz
Special to ClevelandClassical
“The majesty and grandeur of the English language,” as Henry Higgins put it to Eliza Doolittle, is on glorious display in My Fair Lady, currently on the boards at Ohio Light Opera in Wooster. In a word, this production is magnificent. I’d say perfect, but someone would be sure to quibble. But still, it must be more difficult to produce a stellar version of what is arguably the ‘world’s most popular musical’ than to do a fabulous version of something that no one has ever seen or heard until that very moment. (One can easily confirm this popularity by the number of audience members singing or humming along, under their breath, so to speak, right along with the performers.)
Director Jacob Allen studied this script for several months, while gathering ideas from his technical crew. >>read on
Cleveland Orchestra Celebrity Series to include three classic films next season
"At the Movies" is the title of a Cleveland Orchestra Celebrity Series mini-series that will feature three classic films with live music in 2014-2015.
Organist Todd Wilson will improvise a score to the 1925 horror film Phantom of the Opera on October 28 at 7:30 pm.
The Cleveland Orchestra will be featured in the live soundtrack to "Disney Fantasia: Live in Concert" on December 11 at 7:30 pm and in Bernard Hermann's score to Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 detective thriller, Vertigo on February 13 at 8. The Disney evening includes selections from Walt Disney's original Fantasia of 1940 and Disney Fantasia 2000. Brett Mitchell will conduct both evenings.
West Shore Chorale auditions August 19
The West Shore Chorale is seeking new members for its 2014-15 season. Membership is open to all singers with a strong interest in performing classical choral music. The Chorale, an 80 member chorus, will perform four concerts in October, December, March and May. Rehearsals are on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. at Rocky River Memorial Hall. Auditions will be held Tuesday evening, August 19 at the same location. To reserve an audition time, call 216-373-7773. For more information on the audition process & upcoming performances, click here.
Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra seeks principal second violinist
The Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra, Victor Liva, conductor, announces auditions for a principal second violinist for its 77th season. To schedule an appointment, email of call Lisa Wilson at 440.289.0818.
Oberlin Cooper Piano Competition: ten pianists play full concertos (July 22)
by Daniel Hathaway with Daniel Hautzinger & Mike Telin
The ten young pianists who advanced to the Concerto Round in the Oberlin Cooper Piano Competition on Tuesday ranged in age from 13-18 and hailed from five countries. The contestants played complete concertos in Warner Concert Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory with a second pianist providing the orchestral accompaniment. The performances gave a taste of what the audience can expect on Friday evening at Severance Hall when three finalists perform with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra.
The repertory included concertos by Beethoven (Nos. 2 and 5), Rachmaninoff (Nos. 2 and 3), Chopin (Nos. 1 and 2), Prokofiev (No. 3) and Tchaikovsky (No. 2). The most popular work — and the only piece the judges and audience heard more than once — was Chopin’s first concerto, which received three performances. >>read on
Tracy Silverman, electric violinist, at the Beachland Ballroom (July 21)
by Daniel Hautzinger
Tracy Silverman became one of the first adopters of the electric violin in the eighties when he built a six-string, amplified instrument of his own. He faces the challenge of pitching himself to a potentially diverse audience.
When a musician sets off on a path away from established musical conventions, he takes a great risk. Possible fans may avoid the trailblazer because of difficulty in labeling him, and innovation is often unsuccessful or distasteful to most people. Classical music listeners might shun Silverman because they assume electric means raucous, while rock aficionados might assume Silverman’s Juilliard training and work with classical composers means long pieces that they don’t like.
Yet Silverman is a talented player, with attributes and music that could appeal to fans across the spectrum, as he demonstrated on July 21 at the Beachland Ballroom in Collinwood. >>read on
John Nelson Leads the Credo Festival Orchestra and Chorus in Haydn’s The Creation (July 19)
by Daniel Hautzinger
Joy, wonderment, thanksgiving, love. These are the feelings Haydn sought to express toward the Divine in The Creation, but they apply equally well to the work itself. Haydn’s bliss and awe in the face of nature, his gratitude for the world, and the love between Adam and Eve are embodied so perfectly in music that an audience can’t help but be overwhelmed by them as well. It’s impossible to come away from a performance of The Creation without a happy heart.
This was certainly true on July 19th in Severance Hall, when John Nelson conducted the Credo Festival Orchestra and Chorus in a rousing performance of The Creation with soprano Lisette Oropesa, tenor John Tessier and bass Adam Lau. >>read on
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