Previews & Features
CityMusic Cleveland to premiere Dan Visconti's Roots to Branches
by Mike Telin
Each season, CityMusic Cleveland dedicates one of its programs to highlighting a social issue that impacts Greater Cleveland. Past programs have addressed such topics as bullying and genocide. For this year’s project, CityMusic has chosen to explore a population of Cleveland that is invisible to many — the world of Cleveland’s refugees. CityMusic principal oboist and VP for Community Engagement Rebecca Schweigert Mayhew says the goal of the project is twofold: to increase awareness of Cleveland’s refugees, and to highlight the positive cultural and economic contributions refugees make to the city.
A highlight of the project will take place on Wednesday, March 12 in Fairmount Presbyterian Church, when CityMusic under the direction of James Feddeck presents the premiere of Dan Visconti’s percussion concerto, Roots to Branches. The work was commissioned by CityMusic especially for this project and features Grammy-winning percussionist Shane Shanahan and narrator Ali Alhaddad. The program also includes Chinary Ung’s Khse Buon for solo cello with James Jaffee as soloist, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.” Performances continue through Sunday at area churches. >>read on
Margaret Brouwer's Blue Streak Ensemble returns to Nighttown on March 13
by Mike Telin
“We’ve played at Nighttown before and I really love playing there. It’s sort of like the way chamber music was originally conceived,” composer and Blue Streak Ensemble founder Margaret Brouwer said in a recent telephone conversation. “In the days before television and Internet, people would go to each other’s homes and entertain each other with a meal and musicians would play the latest music. I think Nightttown is like that. The people are enjoying a meal and a glass of wine. I just really like it for chamber music so I look forward to performing there again.”
On Thursday, March 13 beginning at 8:00 pm at Nighttown, Brouwer and her Blue Streak Ensemble will present a concert featuring the music of J.S. Bach, Brouwer, Bond, Ravel, Debussy and Desmond.
Formed in 2011 to launch a concert series along the shores of Lake Erie, Brouwer named the ensemble after The Blue Streak, Cedar Point’s famed roller coaster. >>read on
CityMusic Cleveland to Celebrate Cleveland's Refugees in March concerts
by Donald Rosenberg
Special to ClevelandClassical
CityMusic Cleveland savors the opportunity to share classical music with listeners who may have no other access to the arts. The professional chamber orchestra does so by giving free concerts throughout Northeast Ohio.
Once a year, CityMusic devotes a program to a social issue that heightens community awareness. In recent seasons, the ensemble has explored genocide and bullying.
This year’s project, “Fleeing,” focuses on refugees who have journeyed to Cleveland to begin new lives after years of displacement and suffering. CityMusic is bringing attention to the topic through a series of concerts in March, some of which will include performances by refugees.
To celebrate refugees in Cleveland, CityMusic has commissioned a percussion concerto featuring instruments from many countries. The piece will have its world premiere at concerts March 12 through 16 at churches in Cleveland, Lakewood and Willoughby Hills led by James Feddeck, former assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. >>read on
Oberlin Opera to present Britten's Albert Herring
by Mike Telin
“I love Albert Herring because these are my people,” exclaimed Jonathon Field, director of Oberlin Opera Theater, in a recent telephone conversation. “I remember having tea with my grandfather in the little town of Leatherhead in Surrey, England. I know these people inside and out!” On Wednesday, March 12 at 8:00 pm at Hall Auditorium, Oberlin Opera Theater presents the opening night performance of Benjamin Britten's acclaimed chamber opera Albert Herring.
The opera’s lively tale is filled with comic characters ranging from dully straitlaced to scandalously mischievous. Audience members will find themselves rooting for timid Albert, the most unlikely of heroes, whose secret longing for excitement turns the town upside down. "It's about knowing you need to make a change in life, and getting that push to actually do it," Field said, adding that "Britten's operas always have an oppressed innocent. By the end, Albert sort of tells everybody off and breaks the chains that bind him."
Composed in the winter of 1946 and the spring of 1947, Britten’s three-act comic opera is set in the English village of Loxford in 1947. >>read on
Contemporary Youth Orchestra to explore music of Pixar, Disney and Marvel on March 15
by Daniel Hathaway
Those of us (of a certain age) who grew up watching the animated films (call them cartoons if you must) of the mid-twentieth century received a subliminal dose of well-crafted music that would hold up well in the concert hall — and probably turned us in a good musical direction as a result.
Now the film music of Disney, Pixar and Marvel has moved from celluloid into symphonic circles, as The Cleveland Orchestra has recently been proving in performances at Blossom. On Saturday, March 15 at 7 pm in Waetjen Auditorium at CSU, the next generation of orchestral musicians will tackle that repertory as Liza Grossman leads the Contemporary Youth Orchestra in its annual Music and Its Industry concert, "The Sound of Imagination: Music of Pixar, Disney and Marvel."
The performance will mark the seventh time that Grossman has collaborated with Case Western Reserve University musicologist Daniel Goldmark in designing and providing narrative context for its midwinter concert. >>read on
Cleveland Chamber Music Society presents the Takács Quartet in complete Bartók cycle
Following the Takács Quartet’s April 2013 performance of Bartók’s six string quartets, Classical Voice North Carolina’s headline read, "Bartók String Quartets — Takács Quartet: Genius Meets Brilliance"". On Monday, March 17 and Tuesday, March 18 beginning at 7:30 pm at Plymouth Church, the Cleveland Chamber Music Society presents the Takács Quartet, Edward Dusinberre and Károly Schrantz, violins, Geraldine Walther, viola and András Fejér, cello in performances of the six quartets by Bartók. Monday’s performance includes Quartets Nos. 1, 3, & 5 and on Tuesday, Quartets Nos. 2, 4 & 6. Beginning at 6:30 pm each evening a pre-concert lecture will be given by Cleveland Orchestra program annotator and Bard Conservatory of Music faculty member, Peter Laki.
Beginning Thursday, March 12 and continuing through Sunday, March 16, ClevelandClassical will post daily features highlighting Bartók’s music, specifically his six string quartets. Musicians, musicologists and audiences will share their thoughts about the composer’s music and his legacy to classical music.
Akron organizations announce first collaborative concert
In a press conference on March 10 at Akron's Andrew Jackson House, the Akron Symphony and Tuesday Musical announced their first joint project: a performance of Bruch's Violin Concerto by Joshua Bell and the Akron Symphony on November 7, conducted by Christopher Wilkins.
Click here for further information.
A/B Duo to visit Kent State and Oberlin
by Mike Telin
Creating your niche in today’s crowded chamber music world is not an easy task. However with talent, hard work and a bit of creative ingenuity many young chamber music ensembles are finding their place in that world and winning over skeptical presenters and audiences.
On Monday, March 10 at Kent State University and Thursday, March 13 at the Oberlin Conservatory, the bi-coastal A/B Duo, comprised of percussionist Christopher G. Jones (Rochester, NY) and flutist Meerenai Shim (Campbell, CA), will present concerts that feature a variety of fun, intense and thought-provoking new works, most of which have been written for A/B Duo. The concerts will include Matthew Joseph Payne’s Echoloquacious for flute, percussion and Gameboy/LSDJ, Ivan Trevino’s Things We Dream About for flute, bass flute, vibraphone and drums, Carolyn O’Brien’s Nocturne for contrabass flute and djembe and the premiere of Zack Browning’s Sol Moon Rocker for flute and vibraphone. >>read on
Tuesday Musical to present A Far Cry with Matt Haimovitz on March 11
by Mike Telin
Cellist Matt Haimovitz will be the featured soloist with the Boston-based chamber orchestra, A Far Cry, on the Tuesday Musical Series at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron on March 11 at 7:30 pm.
Haimovitz, who made his debut at the age of 13 with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic, and his first recording four years later with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony, first appeared on the Tuesday Musical series in 1991. A Far Cry, a self-conducted ensemble, was founded in 2007 by "The Criers," a collective of 17 young professional musicians who intended to develop an innovative, rotating leadership both on and off stage.
The Akron concert will include two works by Luigi Boccherini, his Quintet in C, subtitled "Night Music on the Streets of Madrid," and his Cello Concerto in C. Haimovitz will also be featured in the first performance of Luna Pearl Woolf's arrangement of Bloch's Prayer from Jewish Life, and the orchestra will complete the program with Elgar's Introduction and Allegro and Janáček's Idyll. >>read on
The Cleveland Orchestra has released a behind-the-scenes video of its upcoming digitally-animated opera, The Cunning Little Vixen. This production is being made specifically for Cleveland. The video showcases the production team led by Director Yuval Sharon with animation by Bill Barminski & Christopher Louie. This is the first of a four part series that will lead up to the Cleveland Orchestra performances on May 17, 20, 22 & 24.
The Cunning Little Vixen, to be conducted by Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, continues an emphasis on operatic and choral repertoire for The Cleveland Orchestra. Soprano Martina Janková will return to perform the title role. The cast also includes bass-baritone Alan Held and mezzo-sopranos Jennifer Johnson Cano and Julie Boulianne. Click here to watch the video.
Akron Symphony — Mendelssohn meets Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night's Dream (March 8)
by Daniel Hathaway
Pity any foolish composer who sets out today to write incidental music for Shakespeare's wonderful comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Mendelssohn's already been there and done that with such imagination and sensitivity that no one else need apply. (though Benjamin Britten turned the play into a successful opera). The very large audience at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron on Saturday evening had the rare treat of hearing every note of Mendelssohn's score interleaved with about two-thirds of Shakespeare's words, when Christopher Wilkins led the Akron Symphony, the Akron Symphony Shakespeare Players, the Summit Choral Society Children's Choir and Ballet Excel Ohio in an enchanted production of the Bard's masterpiece staged by Craig Joseph. >>read on
Contrapunctus debuts at Trinity with "The Life and Times of Mary, Queen of Scots" (March 2)
by Daniel Hathaway
The chamber choir formerly known as Cantores made its debut under the new name of Contrapunctus at Trinity Cathedral on Sunday afternoon, March 2, with an historically themed concert, "The Life and Times of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1542-1587."
Led by its new artistic director, English countertenor David Acres, the 19 singers expertly presented 15 exquisite church motets by English, Scottish, Spanish and Italian composers of the Renaissance, embedded into a lengthy, printed narrative of Mary's life with color images and supplemented by a few brief excerpts from her own writings delivered by actor Denise Larkin.
Performing music within its historical context with the help of images and spoken words can result in a rich experience for the listener when several streams run together to form a larger river. >>read on
A Celebration of English Opera at CIM (Feb. 27)
by Mike Telin
The Cleveland Institute of Music Opera Theatre’s most recent production, “A Celebration of English Opera,” either left you scratching your head or re-energized, depending on your sensibilities. Performed in Kulas Hall from February 26 through March 1 the “Celebration” consisted of two one-act operas, the rarely heard Ralph Vaughan Williams Riders to the Sea and the second, a staple of the Baroque opera repertoire, Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.
In his director’s notes David Bamberger pointed out that both operas center on a powerful woman and in each case, that woman self-identifies through a man – in one case a mother, in another as a lover. And in each opera the woman loses the man to rival forces that she can neither control nor totally understand. But without a doubt, the pairing of these two titles made for a fun, enjoyable and thought-provoking evening. >>read on
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