Previews & Features
Cleveland Chamber Music Society:
fifteen minutes with violinist Philip Setzer
by Daniel Hathaway
We took advantage of a last-minute opportunity to chat on the phone with violinist Philip Setzer of the Han-Setzer-Finckel Trio on the morning before the ensemble’s performance on the Cleveland Chamber Music Society series on Tuesday, September 23 at 7:30 pm at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights.
Setzer, a Cleveland native (both of whose parents played in The Cleveland Orchestra, and who also is a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet), had just emerged from serving for seventeen days on the jury of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (won by long-time Cleveland Institute of Music student Jinjoo Cho) and had spent Monday evening coaching members of Sharon Robinson’s Intensive Piano Trio Program at the Institute.
Daniel Hathaway: Women seem to have been the big winners in the recent Indianapolis Competition.
Philip Setzer: You know, that’s just the way it worked out this year — there were five Korean women and one American woman. It’s all done on a point system. We don’t discuss things among the jury. The level was generally high, but there were a lot of young, gifted Korean women. It’s extraordinary what’s coming out of the teaching program there.
DH: Any idea why the violin is so popular in Korea? Of course the piano is as well.
PS: I have some theories of my own, but I think people are drawn to the violin. It’s considered something very beautiful to do for a young girl. I think it’s been shown that music is very good for your upbringing. In this country, unfortunately, music programs are being pushed aside in public schools because there just isn’t enough money. >>read on
Cleveland Classical Guitar Society opens season with its annual Showcase Concert September 27
by Mike Telin
“This week’s concert is going to be really great,” classical guitarist Jason Vieaux exclaimed during a recent telephone conversation. On Saturday, September 27, beginning at 7:30 pm in Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society will begin its International Series. And in keeping with tradition, the series will kick off with a free Showcase Concert.
Francois Fowler (Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University) will open the program with two of his own compositions, Meditation (2010) and Wavelength Sonata (2013). Robert Gruca will continue the program with music from the baroque era with David Russell’s arrangement of Jean-Baptiste Loeillet’s Suite No. 1. Jason Vieaux, (Cleveland and Curtis Institutes of Music) will conclude the evening with music by Metheny, Jobim, Tarrega and Merlin.
Vieaux will open his portion of the program with his own arrangement of Pat Metheny’s Always and Forever. “Melodically he is such a strong composer and his music is so adaptable to a solo guitar,” Vieaux said, adding that he does have an affinity for the legendary jazz guitarist and has recorded a CD entirely of his music. >>read on
Iron Composer competition to move to Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland for final concert September 26
by Jarrett Hoffman
A live gerbil as compositional material—it’s the most recent suggestion for a “secret musical ingredient” on the Iron Composer competition’s Facebook page, and contest director Joe Drew, for one, is open to it. “People say stuff, and they think it’s too crazy, but I could see a scenario where that would work,” said Drew over telephone as we talked about the upcoming 8th installment of Iron Composer, a project of Analog Arts. The competition will take place September 26 and will culminate in a free public concert at 8:00 that evening at the Great Lakes Science Center on Erieside Avenue in downtown Cleveland. Emceed by Mark Satola of WCLV, the concert will also be broadcast live on the station (104.9 FM) and on wclv.com.
If you’re not familiar with Iron Composer, the Iron Chef-inspired composing contest unveils an instrumentation and a secret ingredient in the morning, then gives five composers just five hours to craft compositions around those specifications. After receiving thirty minutes of rehearsal each, the pieces are performed that same night and judged based on a set of criteria including their use of the secret ingredient and their originality. This year’s winner will come away with $500 in cash as well as a $500 commission by Blue Water Chamber Orchestra for a new work to be performed during their 2014-15 season.
One big change is in store for Iron Composer this year: while Baldwin Wallace University has hosted the final concert the past five years, this year it’s moving to the Great Lakes Science Center as part of IngenuityFest, a setting which Drew hopes will open up the competition to greater experimentation. >>read on
Organist & pilot Erik Wm. Suter to play
recital at St. Paul’s, Cleveland Heights September 20
by Daniel Hathaway
Former Washington Cathedral organist Erik Wm. Suter will play a recital on the Holtkamp organ in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights on Saturday, September 20 at 5:00 pm. The big question is whether he’ll fly himself to Cleveland.
When Suter was growing up in Chicago, two things fascinated him, and the first one wasn’t music. “I took my first airplane ride when I was three,” he said in a recent telephone conversation. “For better or worse, they let me come up to the cockpit and I was hooked. I really wanted to be a pilot — who doesn’t when he’s a kid!”
The organ came later. “My dad was a Lutheran pastor, so I was exposed to organ playing every week. I found the instrument more technically fascinating than musical — I’m drawn to complexity — and originally I was more interested in building organs than in playing them. Then I started taking lessons at the age of 13 and fell in love with the repertoire.”
Suter revisited his interest in organ building while studying organ performance at Oberlin with Haskell Thompson from 1991-1995, where he came into contact with Oberlin’s organ technician. “Hal Gobert hired me for a few summers at his shop in Toronto. I think it makes you a better organist if you fully understand what goes on inside.” >>read on
by Mike Telin
Cleveland based violinist Jinjoo Cho has been named one of six contestants to be advanced to the final round of the 9th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.
Cho, who is currently in her second year of Professional Studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, will perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219, on Wednesday, September 17, with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra. On Friday, September 19, she will perform Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 with the Indianapolis Symphony. Both performances are under the direction of Joel Smirnoff.
Final rounds begin at 8:00 pm eastern time. Click here for live broadcast information. Click here for live streaming.
Cleveland Museum of Art opens its performing arts series on September 20 & 21 with works by John Luther Adams
by Mike Telin
This weekend the Cleveland Museum of Art Performing Arts Series will begin its new season with two events featuring the music of 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams.
On Saturday, September 20 beginning at 7:00 pm in Historic St. John's Episcopal Church in Ohio City, The Alaskan-based composer will discuss Veils and Vesper, two distinct but related electronic soundscapes that create an immersive listening experience over a period of six hours. The evening includes a “sneak preview” of the work followed by a meet-and-greet reception. The event is free and all are welcome. Audiences can experience Veils and Vesper on Fridays and Saturdays from 12:00 noon to 6:00pm beginning on Friday, September 26.
Adam’s music and his life are undeniably connected to the natural world. He is a recipient of the Heinz Award for his contributions to raising environmental awareness, as well as the Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University “for melding the physical and musical worlds into a unique artistic vision that transcends stylistic boundaries.”
On Sunday, September 21 beginning at 2:00 pm, percussionists from near and far will gather in Lakeview Cemetery near the Garfield Monument for a free performance of Inuksuit. >>read on
Wu Han, Philip Setzer and David Finckel
to open Chamber Society Series September 23
by Daniel Hathaway
The famous piano trio with no name of its own, consisting of pianist Wu Han, violinist Philip Setzer and cellist David Finckel, will launch the sixty-fifth season of the Cleveland Chamber Music Society at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights on Tuesday, September 23 at 7:30. The program will include Beethoven’s Trio in G, op. 1, no. 2, Shostakovich’s Trio No. 2 in e, op. 67 & Mendelssohn’s Trio in c, op. 66. A 6:30 pm pre-concert lecture will feature WCLV’s Robert Conrad in a talk entitled “Not Your Father’s Radio Station.”
Interesting relationships connect the three performers. Wu Han and David Finckel are husband and wife as well as partners who run the Music from Menlo chamber music series in California and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. And until the end of the 2012-2013 season, Finckel and Philip Setzer had played together in the Emerson String Quartet since 1976. Finckel has since set out on his own to pursue other projects, among them, continuing to perform with the Lincoln Center group, which will bring him back to Cleveland for a concert on the CCMS Series on January 13. >>read on
Organist Erik Wm. Suter at St. Paul’s Cleveland Hts. (September 20)
by Daniel Hathaway
During his tenure as organist of Washington National Cathedral, Erik Wm. Suter introduced the organ to thousands of tourists in weekly recitals, astutely planning his programs to immediately grab the attention of listeners who might never have attended an organ recital before, then moving on to show the palette of colors a large pipe organ could produce and the range of musical styles it could handle.
The good-sized audience at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights last Saturday afternoon at 5 pm certainly weren’t tourists and probably not first-timers, but Suter’s sure sense of programming, canny registration and brilliant playing were all in evidence. His program covered a lot of musical territory in just over an hour and fully explored the resources of the church’s 1952 Holtkamp organ. >>read on
Youngstown Symphony with Cliburn finalist Tomoki Sakata (September 20)
by Robert Rollin
Last Saturday night the Youngtown Symphony opened its season with an excellent concert of Romantic audience favorites. The evening’s highlight was a scintillating performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Opus 43 by the gifted Japanese pianist Tomoki Sakata. Sakata was a finalist and the youngest competitor at the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Rhapsody, among Rachmaninoff’s most popular works, utilizes as its theme the final movement of virtuoso violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini’s 24 Capriccios, Op. 1 for solo violin. Rachmaninoff composed twenty-four variations and produced an imaginative composition that groups them in three parts analogous to the three-movement structure of a piano concerto. The slower middle section quotes the medieval Dies irae theme and closes with the tuneful and beloved D-flat major section which Sakata presented powerfully and expressively. >>read on
Opera Per Tutti: Pirates of Penzance at Chagrin Valley Little Theatre (September 14)
by Daniel Hathaway
Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Savoy Operas” most often get performed by amateur theatrical companies, or, if you’re lucky, by professional musical theater troupes. Those productions can be charming and entertaining enough, but when you put such delightful works into the hands of experienced opera singer-actors and a skillful director, something quite extraordinary can happen.
Last weekend, Opera Per Tutti joined forces with the Chagrin Falls Studio Orchestra to present three performances of William Schwenck Gilbert and Arthur Seymour Sullivan’s 1879 operetta, The Pirates of Penzance, that took the work to an entirely new level. >>read on
Akron Symphony revisits 1814 at E.J. Thomas Hall (September 13)
by Daniel Hathaway
Akron Symphony music director Christopher Wilkins enjoys putting together themed programs that go well beyond what other orchestras put out to the public. On Saturday evening in E.J. Thomas Hall, with the help of Francis Scott Key, Dudley Buck, Ludwig van Beethoven, Charles Ives (via William Schuman), Michael Gandolfi, the Akron Symphony Chorus, One City Choir and Miller South Choir, Wilkins and the orchestra brought the spirit of 1814 vividly back to life through a canny choice of repertory.
The central inspiration for the program was the crafting of a poem by Baltimore lawyer Francis Scott Key, who witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry as prisoner on a British warship during a pivotal battle in the War of 1812 two centuries ago to the day. The Star-Spangled Banner, set to the tune of a British gentlemen’s dining club song, eventually became the official national anthem of the United States. >>read on