By Mike Telin

Severance-Hall-Summer“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. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

3-Finalists

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 the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

PAND-LogoPAND — 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 the rest of this entry »

by J.D. Goddard

TLK2

The Ohio Light Opera premiere of The Little King. (Photo by Matt Dilyard)

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. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

AFatLECApollo’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. Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

SalieriFor 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 the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

Stephen HoughThe 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. Read the rest of this entry »

Tony-Yike-Yang-Oberlin-Cooper-Finals-(Mastroianni)

Tony Yike Yang with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra (Photo: Roger Mastroianni)

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.

By Daniel Hautzinger

Silverman@Beachland2Tracy 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 the rest of this entry »

by Kelly Ferjutz, Special to ClevelandClassical

MFL1-(Matt-Dilyard)

“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.) Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

L-R: Sae Yoon Chon, Zitong Wang, Tony Yike Yang

L-R: Sae Yoon Chon, Zitong Wang, Tony Yike Yang

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 the rest of this entry »

L-R: Sae Yoon Chon, Zitong Wang, Tony Yike Yang

L-R: Finalists Sae Yoon Chon, Zitong Wang and Tony Yike Yang

Oberlin – July 24. Late on Wednesday evening from the stage of Oberlin Conservatory’s Warner Concert Hall, WCLV’s Robert Conrad announced the judges’ choice of the top six prizes in the Oberlin Cooper Piano Competition. The decisions followed yesterday’s recital round.

Sixth prize winner is Min Jun Lee (15, Seoul, South Korea). Fifth place winner and audience prize winner is Evren Ozel (15, Minneapolis, Minnesota). Fourth place winner is Gyu Tae Ha (17, Uijeonbu, South Korea). Each contestant wins a cash prize of $1,000. Ozel takes home an additional $500.

The finalists, who will play concertos with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra in Severance Hall on Friday evening, July 25 at 8:00 pm are:

Sae Yoon Chon (18, Seoul, South Korea). Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73. Zitong Wang (15, Inner Mongolia, China). Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26. Tony Yike Yang (15, Toronto, Canada. Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23.

Friday evening’s concert will be broadcast live on WCLV, 104.9 FM and audio streamed on wclv.com. Following the performance, the winners of the first ($10,000), second ($6,000) and third ($3,000) prizes will be announced.

By Daniel Hautzinger

Stephen Hough 2Interviewing 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. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway with Daniel Hautzinger & Mike Telin

Oberlin-Cooper-2014-LogoThe 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 the rest of this entry »

Oberlin-Cooper-2014-LogoOberlin – July 23. Following the concerto round last evening, the judges announced the six finalists in the 2014 Cooper International Competition who will advance to the Recital Round on Wednesday evening, July 23 at 7:00 pm in Warner Concert Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Following the program, the judges will announce the three contestants who will play concertos with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra on Friday evening at Severance Hall. The performance will be carried live on WCLV, 104.9 FM and wclv.com, and a video stream will be available here.

Here is the Recital Finals program for Wednesday evening (performance order to be announced):

Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

GOMYO-Karen“A Taste of Spain” at Blossom on Saturday July 19 featured The Cleveland Orchestra and guest conductor Bramwell Tovey in Iberian-inspired music by two Frenchmen and one authentic Spaniard who went into self-exile in Argentina after Franco won the Spanish civil war. Sunny as the music was, the weather in Cuyahoga Falls was damp and chilly: in his jovial remarks at the beginning of the second half, Tovey welcomed the audience to what indeed felt like a Spanish winter.

Tovey’s own selections from the two suites that Georges Bizet’s friends fashioned from the music from Carmen opened the program with familiar scene-setting tunes and arias sans singers. The March of the Toréadors; Prélude and Aragonaise; Intermezzo; Dragons d’Alcala; Habanera and Danse Bohème were all treated to colorful, characterful performances, with splendid solo work by oboist Jeffrey Rathbun, flutist Marisela Seger, and wonderful section solos from the bassoons. If the percussion got a bit frisky in the last selection, that only added to the excitement. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

MITCHELL-BrettLast Sunday evening was meant to mark the historic return of the 90-year-old, Polish-born conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski to Blossom after a hiatus of thirty-two years. It was historic alright, but for another reason. Skrowaczewski, who first conducted The Cleveland Orchestra in 1958 at George Szell’s invitation, was sidelined by an illness and assistant conductor Brett Mitchell was tapped late in the week to replace him. Mitchell did himself proud leading scores by Weber, Mozart and Shostakovich on a night that will no doubt be inscribed in the annals of Assistant Conductors’ Big Opportunities.

Summer concerts don’t generally come with abundant rehearsals, so Mitchell and the orchestra probably had very little time together to scope out this repertory. The big mountain to scale was Shostakovitch’s fifth symphony, a work Skrowaczewski had conducted in his Cleveland Orchestra debut more than five decades earlier (when spies from the then Minneapolis Symphony were in the audience on the lookout for a new music director). Under the circumstances, the results Mitchell and the orchestra achieved on Sunday were amazing. Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

MITCHELL-BrettCleveland Orchestra assistant conductor Brett Mitchell has had an eventful summer. He just got married and moved into a new house, and last weekend he made his debut at the Blossom Music Center, stepping in for Stanislaw Skrowaczewski to conduct The Cleveland Orchestra (TCO) after Skrowaczewski cancelled shortly before the concert because of illness. And on July 26, Mitchell returns to Blossom for what he thought would be his debut there, conducting the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra in a prelude concert at 7:00.

That concert will be followed at 8:00 by John Storgårds conducting TCO in Beethoven’s Fidelio Overture and Liszt’s First Piano Concerto with Stephen Hough. Finally, the jam-packed night will end with the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra, who are students at the Kent/Blossom Music Festival, and TCO in a side-by-side performance of Sibelius’s Second Symphony led by Storgårds.

Things have come full circle for Mitchell, whose first time working with TCO “was back in the summer of 2009, when they hired me to be a cover conductor for a couple of their guest conductors at Blossom,” he said last week over the phone while on the way to lunch in between rehearsals. So a debut at Blossom is fitting. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hautzinger

Overhead

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 the rest of this entry »

By J.D. Goddard

Kosower&OhAn 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. Read the rest of this entry »

Oberlin – July 22

Oberlin-Cooper-2014-LogoThe 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:

1:30 PM
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

7:00 PM
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

 

By Daniel Hautzinger

Project-Trio-Instrumental-CDIt’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.

Despite the hodgepodge of styles on Instrumental, many of the tracks share a pleasing effervescence. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin, Daniel Hautzinger & Daniel Hathaway

Photo: Mathias Reed Visuals

Photo: Mathias Reed Visuals

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. You were able to come when you wanted and leave when you needed to without interrupting things. But they did need to be faster at the bar.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

SkrowaczeswkiNote: 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 the orchestra’s assistant conductor, Brett Mitchell. We spoke to Maestro Skrowaczewski on the Wednesday before his Blossom concert and are reprinting the concert preview as a feature.

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 the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

SILVERMAN-Tracy“It’s all about staying in touch with contemporary culture,” the multifaceted electric violinist Tracy Silverman said during a recent telephone conversation from his Nashville studio. On Monday, July 21 at 8:00 pm at the Beachland Ballroom, Silverman will perform a solo concert on his six-string electric violin featuring music by Santana, George Gershwin, Stevie Wonder, John Adams, J.S. Bach, Jimi Hendrix, Terry Riley, Nico Muhly and Kenji Bunch as well as his own compositions.

Musically speaking, Tracy Silverman defies musical boundaries. A graduate of the Juilliard School and former first violinist of the Turtle Island String Quartet, Silverman has been a champion of the 6-string electric violin since 1980.

“One of the things I’m focused on is the advancement of the instrument and part of my mission is to develop new repertoire for the instrument.” Silverman’s mission seems to be paying off. Read the rest of this entry »

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