Previews & Features
Oberlin Cooper Piano Competition: ten advance to today's concerto round
Oberlin – July 22. The Oberlin Cooper International Piano Competition has announced the ten contestants who have advanced to today’s concerto round. The two sessions begin at 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm and will be streamed live from Warner Concert Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory. ClevelandClassical will attend and report on both sessions. The six pianists who will advance to the recital round on Wednesday evening will be announced following the second concerto round. Here is Tuesday’s schedule:
SAE YOON CHON with Elena Zyl: Beethoven Concerto No. 5
MIN JUN LEE with Elena Zyl: Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2
NICOLA LOSITA with Colette Valentine: Chopin Concerto No. 1
ZITONG WANG with Elena Zyl: Prokofiev Concerto No. 3
ALLISON TO with Colette Valentine: Chopin Concerto No. 1
EVREN OZEL with Colette Valentine: Chopin Concerto No. 2
RACHEL BREEN with Elena Zyl: Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3
YOULAN JI with Xin Li: Beethoven Concerto No. 2
GYU TAE HA with Elena Zyl: Chopin Concerto No. 1
TONY YIKE YANG with Colette Valentine: Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1
Feature: Cleveland Orchestra — an interview with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
by Daniel Hathaway
Note: Last Sunday, July 20, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski was scheduled to conduct The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom. He cancelled due to illness late in the week and was replaced by Brett Mitchell. Because our interview with Skrowaczewski took place only last Wednesday, we are reprinting the interview as a feature in this week's edition.
In 1957, Polish conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski was one of the local hosts for The Cleveland Orchestra’s first European tour — an event which established the ensemble’s international reputation. It was also an important moment for Skrowaczewski, whose first meeting with George Szell in Warsaw launched his own career in the United States.
“It was just after I won first prize in Rome,” Skrowaczewski said in a telephone conversation from his home in the Minneapolis suburb of Wayzata. “That was important in Europe because it was the first international competition after the war, so it had a certain value. Szell knew it, and he knew a little of my composition, Symphony for Strings, which he thought was very well written. He asked if I would mind to play it with his orchestra in Cleveland next year. The arrangements were very simple.” >>read on
Young pianists gather in Oberlin for Cooper International Piano Competition
By Daniel Hathaway and Daniel Hautzinger
The idea of playing finger-tangling pieces on the piano in front of distinguished piano professors and performers for a prize would have most people curled up in a corner asking for mercy, but not fifteen year-old Evelyn Mo.
“The competitions are actually one of my favorite parts of playing piano,” she said over the phone. “I think that they make the whole thing more rewarding and worthwhile, and it’s an exhilarating experience while you’re playing. I just take a few deep breaths, go through the pieces in my mind, relax, and play.”
Mo will join 28 other thirteen to eighteen year-old pianists in Oberlin for the Thomas and Evon Cooper International Piano Competition, with participants hailing from nine countries. The competition runs from July 17-26, with cash prizes awarded to the top six competitors. The final round features the top three competitors performing a concerto with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall on July 25. Those three participants also receive a full scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory. >>read on
Report from the Road:
Amherst Early Music Festival, New London, CT
by Nicholas Jones
If you worry about the future of serious music in America – as many of us do – you might try attending one of the dozens of summer festivals around the country. If you like listening to great music in a relaxed setting – and especially if you enjoy playing it as well — you may find your worries lifted and your ears delighted.
I just returned from a week at the Amherst Early Music Festival at Connecticut College, where a couple of hundred participants met to play across the vast range of early music, from 13th-century chant to 18th-century opera. On this tree-lined campus perched above Long Island Sound, we performed for each other and for our teachers, surviving the anxieties of the stage and enjoying the applause of our colleagues. >>read on
Kent/Blossom Music Festival: Conversations with Students
By Daniel Hautzinger
Ann Yeh wouldn’t be applying to graduate school for cello performance if it weren’t for Kent/Blossom Music Festival (KBMF). Now in her second year at the festival and entering her senior year at Vanderbilt University studying with Felix Wang, Yeh said that after “the incredible experience I had last time I thought that maybe I could make it as a musician.”
Such career-changing influence is what every educational festival and its faculty hope to achieve. And KBMF students find this festival particularly effective. “My experience so far has been extremely enjoyable and productive,” enthused violinist Gabe Napoli, currently studying at Northwestern University. “My peers are all amazingly talented and it’s so much fun to make music with them. The instructors are both inspiring role models and great coaches. It’s a privilege to learn from them.” >>read on
Kent/Blossom Music Festival Culminates in Side-by-Side Concert with The Cleveland Orchestra
by Daniel Hautzinger
Learning and putting together Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is a scramble against time. The piece features complicated rhythms (sometimes notated without time signatures), infinitely long phrases, and complicated layering of parts. György Ligeti’s Horn Trio and Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony are similarly difficult works. But students at Kent/Blossom Music Festival (KBMF) are assigned to learn them in two weeks for performance.
“Two weeks is just enough time,” said Keith Robinson, artistic coordinator of Kent/Blossom, professor of cello at Kent State and KBMF, and cellist in the Miami String Quartet, who gave a recital as part of the festival. “You want something that will challenge them for two whole weeks.”
“From our standpoint it’s very important that the students develop their own musicianship and mold their own performances,” said Charles Latshaw, director of the festival. “So to a large extent, we set them loose on the pieces. >>read on
Kent/Blossom Faculty Recital: Mark Kosower and Jee-Won Oh (July 16)
by J.D. Goddard
An evening of Brahms at any venue, with any combination of instruments, is always a deeply moving experience for those who love Romantic music. And so it was Wednesday evening, July 16 at Kent State’s Ludwig Recital Hall when Cleveland Orchestra principal cello Mark Kosower and pianist Jee-Won Oh presented three Brahms sonatas as part of the Kent/Blossom Music Festival Faculty Recital Series. This was an evening of deep emotion as these two excellent performers fused their exceptional talents into an exquisite program.
Kosower and Oh began the program with the First Cello Sonata in e minor, op. 38. The opening Allegro non troppo was filled with deep, pensive motifs intermingled with beautifully lyric lines replete with melodious thirds and sixths. >>read on
CD Review: Project Trio — Instrumental
By Daniel Hautzinger
It’s not easy to be unique. In music especially, it seems like every good band name has already been taken, every genre tried (witch house anyone?), and every ensemble “sound” already stamped by someone else. Even so, I don’t know of another group like PROJECT Trio, which consists of a cellist, double bassist, and beat-boxing flutist, all classically trained, who play jazz, classical, Latin, and a combination of those and other genres.
But idiosyncratic instrumentation and style don’t remove an artist from other influences. Instrumental, PROJECT Trio’s latest recording for their label Harmonyville Records, contains buoyant and groove-based songs that often seem to reference other artists or genres, but played on flute, cello, and bass. >>read on.
Three-way Discussion — Bach and Beer with Steuart Pincombe at BottleHouse Brewery (July 15)
by Mike Telin, Daniel Hautzinger & Daniel Hathaway
On Tuesday, July 15, we went to the BottleHouse Brewery in Cleveland Heights to hear Steuart Pincombe’s program “Bach and Beer,” which presented outstanding performances of Bach’s first three cello suites in the welcoming atmosphere of a neighborhood tavern. The experience inspired a conversation between Mike Telin, Daniel Hautzinger and Daniel Hathaway, both about the evening and the increasingly popular movement of performing classical music in alternative venues, especially neighborhood gathering places.
Mike Telin: “For the BottleHouse Brewery’s first time hosting this type of event, I think the space worked pretty well. The stage area was great and I loved the way they set up chairs around it, so that if you did want to have more of a traditional concert experience you could. >>read on
Cleveland Orchestra Sci-Fi Spectacular at Blossom (July 13)
by Guytano Parks
Science Fiction proved to be a winning theme this past Sunday evening as throngs of avid and enthusiastic fans of the genre packed the Blossom Music Center pavilion and filled the lawn to hear The Cleveland Orchestra’s Sci–Fi Spectacular. Jack Everly, one of North America’s leading symphonic pops conductors, was at the helm on this occasion, with none other than George Takei as narrator, beloved for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the acclaimed television and film series Star Trek. Soprano Kristen Plumley and members of the Blossom Festival Chorus joined the Orchestra in music by John Williams, John Barry, Michael Giacchino and Bernard Herrmann.
John Williams’s rousing “Main Title” from Star Wars opened the program. Everly conducted with authority, yet he also communicated his ideas with subtle tilts of the head and dance-like motions. The orchestra responded to every gesture with polish and pizzazz. >>read on
Successful debuts by Asher Fisch and Isabelle Faust highlight Cleveland Orchestra Blossom concert (July 12)
By Timothy Robson
On paper the program announced for the Cleveland Orchestra’s concert at Blossom on Sunday, July 12, did not look like anything special. It was composed of three repertoire standards: Wagner’s overture to The Flying Dutchman; Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, op. 64; and Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7 in A major, op. 92. But the evening’s two guest artists, Israeli conductor Asher Fisch and German violinist Isabelle Faust, both making their Cleveland Orchestra debuts, took a fresh look at these works, and delivered performances rich in detail and clarity of sound.
Richard Wagner composed the libretto and score to The Flying Dutchman (Der fliegender Holländer) from 1841-1843 while he and his wife Minna were living in Paris, having fled Wagner’s debtors in Riga, Russia (now Latvia). Wagner composed the opera in one long act, without intermission, although he later revised the work slightly to create three acts, bowing to audience expectations. >>read on
Credo Faculty Recital in memory of Stephen Clapp (July 11)
by Daniel Hautzinger
Constructing memorial concerts is a tricky affair. They have to strike a balance between mourning and celebration, incorporating personal stories and meaningful pieces without becoming maudlin. On July 11 in Oberlin Conservatory’s Warner Concert Hall, the faculty of Credo Music successfully navigated these pitfalls for a moving tribute to their friend and fellow faculty member, violinist Stephen Clapp.
Oberlin, under the auspices of Credo, was the perfect venue to honor Clapp’s memory. He graduated from the conservatory in 1961, returned to teach there from 1978-1994, founded the Oberlin Trio, was acting dean of the conservatory in 1985, and was presented with an honorary doctorate in 2011. He served on the faculty of Credo Music from its genesis, fifteen years ago. Beyond Oberlin, Clapp taught at Juilliard from 1987-2007, as well as serving as its dean from 1994-2007. >>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.
CD Review: Ravel — Intimate Masterpieces with Yolanda Kondonassis (Oberlin Music)
by Daniel Hathaway
What does an artist want you to experience when you listen to her CD? Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis is very clear about that in the liner notes for her latest recording. She wants you to be transported to “somewhere you’ve never been, but of which you might have dreamed.”
That somewhere is the special world of Maurice Ravel, charmingly miniaturized in the Oberlin Music release, Ravel: Intimate Masterpieces, a world Kondonassis first discovered through an LP of his music as a child in Oklahoma.
Joined by her fellow Oberlin Conservatory faculty members Alexa Still, flute and Richard Hawkins, clarinet; Oberlin alumni Ellie Dehn, soprano and Spencer Myer, piano; and Oberlin’s most recent ensemble in residence, the Jupiter String Quartet, Kondonassis explores four of Ravel’s exotic chamber works in performances vividly captured by recording engineer Paul Eachus. >>read on
Kent/Blossom Music Festival: Jung-Min Amy Lee (July 9)
By Daniel Hautzinger
Dances are usually joyous, but on July 9 at Kent State University’s Ludwig Recital Hall violinist Jung-Min Amy Lee gave a recital that explored the somber side of the dance in repertoire ranging from Bach to Esa-Pekka Salonen.
In reality, the “dances” concerned are so inventive and stylized that the only vestige of the ballroom is the forms and a certain attention to rhythm. Lee began with Bach’s Partita No. 2 in d, a collection of five Baroque dance forms. Of these, the jauntiest is the “Gigue,” in which Lee brought out a strong pulse, allowing skittering notes to fall into larger, more comprehensible grouping. >>read on
Link to a follow-up article about ChamberFest Cleveland
ClevelandClassical's Young Writer Fellow, Daniel Hautzinger, has wrapped up ChamberFest Cleveland's third season in an article for the national website of the Music Critics Association of North America. Read his piece, "Cleveland ChamberFest in 3rd year has convivial vibe" on Classical Voice North America.
Daniel Hathaway, founder & editor
Mike Telin, executive editor
young writer fellow
Robert & Gwyneth Rollin