Previews & Features
Heading toward European halls, The Cleveland Orchestra ends season with previews of September tour repertoire
by Daniel Hathaway
This Friday evening at Severance Hall and Sunday evening at Blossom, music director Franz Welser-Möst will give audiences a taste of the repertory The Cleveland Orchestra will play in thirteen concerts in seven European cities between September 7 and September 22.
On Friday, August 29 at 7:00 pm, to end the new Summers at Severance series, Welser-Möst will lead Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 and Jörg Widmann’s Lied and Flûte en suite with principal flute Joshua Smith as soloist (pictured above). The flute concerto was written for Smith, who premiered it at Severance Hall in 2011, and will play it six times during the September tour.
On Sunday, August 31 at 7:00 pm in the Orchestra’s Blossom European Tour Send-Off, Welser-Möst will conduct two more Brahms symphonies, Nos. 3 and 4, and another work by Widmann, the concert overture entitled Con brio.
At home, The Cleveland Orchestra and up to 2,400 patrons at a time enjoy the visual and acoustic splendor of Severance Hall, opened in 1931 and renovated in 2000. On the tour, the Orchestra will play in some of the world’s other great concert halls. Here’s an overview of where the music will be heard. >>read on
The Fourth Wall: workshop and performance at Kendal at Oberlin, August 27
by Daniel Hautzinger
There’s an old vaudeville one-liner popularly attributed to Groucho Marx that goes, “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” The mental gymnastics, upended expectation, and absurdity of the joke make it a fitting source for “Fruit Flies Like a Banana,” the title of hybrid arts ensemble The Fourth Wall’s “sprint-triathlon variety show.” They will present the show on Wednesday, August 27 at 7:15 pm in Kendal at Oberlin’s Heiser Auditorium.
Mental gymnastics: The Fourth Wall is a flute-trombone-percussion trio who combine music with texts and choreography, redefining traditional notions of a concert experience. Upended expectations: “Fruit Flies Like a Banana” features twenty pieces ranging in length and seriousness and performed in a random order in sixty minutes, so that even the ensemble can’t predict how it’s going to go. (The first part of the one-liner is appropriate in light of the time limit). And absurdity: “Sometimes a stupid idea or just a random joke becomes an important element of a piece as we create it,” said Fourth Wall trombonist C. Neil Parsons. “We jump on any idea that seems interesting.”
The show was inspired by “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” a show by the Chicago theater company The Neo-Futurists in which thirty plays are performed in an hour. It includes a wide variety of pieces, Parsons explained. >>read on
New Music Guild and YSU New Music Society to host pianist Avguste Antonov
Bulgarian-born pianist Avguste Antonov, now based in Dallas, who specializes in the performance of works by living composers, will present a concert at Youngstown’s Holy Apostles Church (formerly Ss. Peter and Paul) on Sunday, August 31 at 4:00 pm, and a noonday recital at the Youngstown’s Butler Institute of American Art (Beecher Court) on Wednesday, September 3.
Repertory from Antonov’s new CD on the New York Hartshorn Recordings label will be featured on his August 31 recital. Youngstown composers account for three-fifths of that project, including professor emeritus Robert Rollin’s Blue Fantasy, Richard Zacharias’s Romance for piano solo, and Samantha Hogan’s Cumulus Humilis for piano solo. Other composers are Matthew Saunders and Sy Brandon. >>read on
Western Reserve Chorale to present
three programs in 2014-2015
by Daniel Hathaway
Western Reserve Chorale: Mozart’s Requiem at CSU, March 2014
For its twenty-third season, the Western Reserve Chorale, a group of amateur and professional singers under the direction of David Gilson, has scheduled three programs which include an Ohio premiere and the second edition of “For Love of Shakespeare.” The ensemble rehearses on Tuesday evenings at Grace Lutheran Church in Cleveland Heights beginning in September, and welcomes new singers (contact Joanne Poderis at 216.791.0061).
The season will begin with a holiday concert on Sunday, December 7 at 7:00 pm at Grace Lutheran featuring the late British composer Geoffrey Bush’s Christmas Cantata as well as seasonal favorites.
The second program will be dedicated to a single work, Welsh composer Karl Jenkins’s The Peacemakers, an extended work for choir, youth choir and orchestra in the same vein as Jenkins’s The Armed Man: a Mass for Peace. >>read on
Cleveland Museum of Art’s Performing Arts Series opens in September with music of John Luther Adams
by Daniel Hathaway
Two sound extravaganzas by environmental composer and Pulitzer prizewinner John Luther Adams will launch the 2014-2015 Performing Arts Series of the Cleveland Museum of Art — though not at the museum.
Veils and Vesper, a cycle of electronic works composed in 2005, will begin a two-month run on Saturday, September 20 at the newly restored Historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ohio City. A slow-moving, “immersive sound installation,” Veils and Vesper lasts six hours and allows the listener to “create her own mix by moving through the space.” Visiting hours through December 1 are Wednesdays through Saturdays from Noon to 5:00 pm and Thursdays from Noon to 8:00 pm. Admission is free
Adam’s second contribution to the series is Inuksuit, a 2009 daylong site-specific work devised for nine to 99 percussionists to be dispersed over a wide outdoor area, in this case Lakeview Cemetery, and inspired by “the Stonehenge-like markers used by the Inuit and other native peoples to orient themselves in Arctic spaces.” The free performance begins at 2:00 pm on Sunday, September 21.
A third sound experience, Intonarumori: Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners, will occupy the museum’s Atrium and Gartner Auditorium from Sunday, January 11 to Friday, January 16. >>read on
Quire Cleveland announces
details of its seventh season
by Daniel Hathaway
Quire Cleveland will begin its 2014-2015 season under its founder and artistic director Ross W. Duffin with three performances of “The Flower of Flanders: Masterpieces of Renaissance Polyphony.” The concerts, which will concentrate on Franco-Flemish composers of the fifteenth and sixteenth century including Josquin, DuFay, Lassus and Ockeghem, will take place on Friday, September 26 at 7:30 pm at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, on Saturday, September 27 at 7:30 pm at Mary Queen of Peace Church in Old Brooklyn, and on Sunday, September 28 at 4:00 pm at Historic St. Peter’s Church in downtown Cleveland.
For Quire’s sixth cycle of “Carols for Quire,” the professional vocal ensemble will join an ensemble of baroque instruments in Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Messe de minuit pour noël, a midnight Christmas mass setting based on popular French Noëls, along with Duffin’s own arrangements of the traditional carols. >>read on
Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom: Classical Mystery Tour celebrates 50 years of The Beatles in America (August 24)
by Robert Rollin
On Sunday evening August 24, the Cleveland Orchestra, with guest conductor and Philadelphia Pops Orchestra director, Michael Krajewski, celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Beatles coming to America. Classical Mystery Tour, a group that transcribed and performed note for note over two dozen well-known Beatles songs, made the concert truly exciting.
The four musicians played accurate versions of many songs originally created in the studio with orchestral arrangements, but never fully played live during the original group’s performing days. Producer/arranger George Martin helped create many of these intricate works in consultation with The Beatles.
Classical Mystery Tour has appeared with over 100 orchestras in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. >>read on
CIPC holds festive reunion of the Class of ‘13 at the Cleveland Museum of Art (August 23)
by Daniel Hathaway
The laureates of most international piano competitions vanish into the ether once the medals are bestowed and prizes awarded. Not so with the Cleveland International Piano Competition, whose leadership has sought new ways to keep its prizewinners in the local public eye and ear.
On Saturday afternoon, August 23, CIPC organized a reunion of its four top winners from 2013, one year and two weeks after the final round when they played concertos in Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra. Last year they faced off as competitors, but on Sunday in Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art, they paired up collaboratively to play J.S. Bach double keyboard concertos with Apollo’s Fire and, in the second half of the 4:00 pm concert, swapped partners to play two-piano works by Mozart, Milhaud and Rachmaninoff. A gala dinner for patrons followed the performance in the museum’s Atrium. >>read on
Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom: Carmina Burana with Andrew Grams (August 23)
by Robert Rollin
On Saturday evening August 23, the Cleveland Orchestra, Blossom Festival Chorus and Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus presented an exceptional concert under talented young conductor Andrew Grams. Grams served as assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra, and as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, from 2004-2007. He has guest conducted many of the world’s great orchestras, and showed excellent ensemble control and remarkable interpretive skills all evening.
The highlight was a marvelous performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana (1936) scored for soprano, tenor, and baritone soloists, children’s choir, chorus and large orchestra, mixing words from both Latin and old German. The text comes from a significant collection of 12th century Latin and old German secular poems recorded in manuscript in an abbey near Munich, where German monks preserved it for future generations. >>read on
Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom with Jahja Ling and Yo Yo Ma (August 16)
by Nicholas Jones
Yo Yo Ma is as close as the classical world is likely to get to a rock star. On Saturday night, the near-sellout crowd at Blossom was certainly rocking as Ma took the stage, strutting like a winning prizefighter with his cello triumphantly raised above his head.
But antics gave way to artistry almost immediately as Ma took his seat and launched into the Elgar cello concerto, stamping its opening chords with a ferocity that would alternate with lyricism throughout the performance.
In 1919, Elgar's cello concerto suffered from a disastrous first performance, and for almost half a century it was barely played. A key figure in its rediscovery in the late 1960s was the charismatic young cellist Jacqueline du Pré, who reinterpreted it as a document of introspection and anxiety for a world newly tossed by war and social change. >>read on
Cleveland Orchestra: Summers @ Severance with Jahja Ling, Orion Weiss & Blossom Festival Chorus (August 15)
by James Flood
Friday marked the second installment of the Cleveland Orchestra's very new Summers @ Severence series with an all-Beethoven program under the baton of Jahja Ling. The evening included light food and drink before and after the 7:00 pm performance, with dance music piped through both the hallways and the terrace afterward to add to the more casual ambiance.
Apparently to lighten the evening, the program itself was downsized a little from the Orchestra's typical offering, placing Beethoven's modestly-sized 4th Symphony between the four-minute “Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus” and the 20-minute “Choral Fantasy” and excluding an intermission.
The opening overture boasted crisp, clean and energized 16th notes in the strings, generating a quick burst of excitement that was the perfect start for a summer evening at Severance Hall. >>read on
Daniel Hathaway, founder & editor
Mike Telin, executive editor
young writer fellow
Robert & Gwyneth Rollin