by Daniel Hathaway

Pavel-Haas-QuartetFor their second appearance on the Cleveland Chamber Music Society series at Plymouth Church on April 8, the Pavel Haas Quartet scheduled two riveting twentieth-century works, Leos Janáček’s Quartet No. 1 and Benjamin Britten’s Quartet No. 2, followed by Beethoven’s “middle period” Quartet in e, op. 59, no. 2.

Founded in 2002 in Prague, the Haas Quartet retains two of its founding members, first violinist Veronika Jarůšková and violist Pavel Nikl. In an amusing swap soon afterward, the Haas Quartet traded cellists with the Škampa Quartet, thus musically reuniting Jarůšková with her husband, Peter Jarůšek. Second violinist Marek Zwiebel joined the ensemble in 2012, becoming the fourth person to occupy that position.

Changes in personnel are worth mentioning if only to marvel at the unanimity of approach such a quartet as the Pavel Haas can maintain as players come and go. Among the ensemble’s distinguishing characteristics is a visceral intensity that can be hair-raising in aggressive music but sustains itself even in quieter passages, along with finely managed dynamics and smooth, even crescendos and diminuendos. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Rosenberg-Donald-(Sally-Brown)On March 13, Early Music America, the advocacy organization for performers, scholars, students and audiences, announced the selection of Donald Rosenberg as the next editor of Early Music America magazine. Founded in 1985 and now based in Pittsburgh, Early Music America (EMA) provides its membership with publications, advocacy, and technical support, in addition to publishing the quarterly magazine. (The term “Early music” includes Western music from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods, performed on period instruments in historically-informed styles.

“It’s an organization for the entire early music community throughout North America,” Donald Rosenberg said during a recent Skype conversation. “It serves professionals, students, amateurs and enthusiasts. It serves as the go-to place for the early music field, which is growing so rapidly these days that I think it will become even more important to more people in the future. So I’m just thrilled to be associated with the organization and to have the chance to reach out and spread the word about early music.”

“EMA now has a Young Artist Competition that will be held in Chicago in November,” Rosenberg added. “They also do programs in collaboration with festivals — for example, the Berkeley Early Music Festival in California this year. Read the rest of this entry »

by Guytano Parks

Omni-QuartetLorain County Community College’s Signature Series of 2013-14 ended on a brilliant note with a performance by the Omni Quartet on Monday evening, April 7. The quartet was established five years ago and is comprised of violinists Amy Lee and Alicia Koelz, violist Joanna Patterson Zakany and cellist Tanya Ell, all members of The Cleveland Orchestra. Their program consisted of Mendelssohn’s Quartet No. 2 in a, op. 13 and Beethoven’s Quartet No. 15 in a, op. 132.

Tanya Ell’s brief introductory commentary offered enlightening comparisons between the two works, and the musicians played excerpts to illustrate the similarities and influences, revealing Mendelssohn’s deep reverence for Beethoven and his fascination with the late a minor quartet. The title of his song Ist es wahr? (Is it true?, op. 9, no. 1) is written into the score and it forms the motif of the opening Adagio, appearing in all four movements. Similarly, Beethoven wrote the title of his song Muss es sein? (Must it be?) into the score of op, 132.

The Omni Quartet’s performance of Mendelssohn’s a minor Quartet (written during his teen years) was a model of perfection, teeming with flawless intonation, impeccable ensemble and interpretive taste and intelligence. Read the rest of this entry »

by Robert Rollin

COLTON-KendraThis past Saturday evening the Youngstown Symphony presented the season’s last classical music program with a twentieth-century musical emphasis. Soprano Kendra Colton served as guest artist for the evening in a performance of Samuel Barber’s poignant Knoxville: Summer of 1915.

American composer Samuel Barber was born in Pennsylvania to a well-to-do family. He was a prodigy who started studying composition, voice and piano at the Philadelphia Curtis Institute of Music at age fourteen. At twenty-five he won the prestigious American Prix de Rome and a Pulitzer travel abroad scholarship to study in Europe for the 1935-36 season. He later won two Pulitzer Prizes in the course of his illustrious career.

Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a southern American impressionistic musical portrait, sets a text by novelist, poet, and screenwriter, James Agee. Agee and Barber, both about the same age, suffered through the loss of their fathers around the same time, so Barber was drawn to this extended, flowery text that approaches poetic language and to its prose stream of consciousness. Read the rest of this entry »


Before the Takács Quartet’s performance on April 13, Oberlin Conservatory Dean Andrea Kalyn announced dates for the forthcoming 136th Artist Recital Series. All performances will take place in Finney Chapel. Tickets will go on sale in the summer.

Tuesday, September 30 – The Calder Quartet
Tuesday, February 10 – Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Friday, February 20 – St. Lawrence Quartet
Saturday, February 28 – Bang on a Can All-Stars
Thursday, April 2 – John Relyea, bass-baritone
Sunday, April 12 – Jennifer Koh ’97, violin
Friday, April 24 – The Cleveland Orchestra, Susanna Mälkki, conducting, with Jeremy Denk ’90, piano

ClevelandClassical is pleased to announce that Chicago native Daniel Hautzinger has been named the 2014 Young Writers Fellow. The two-month summer fellowship is designed for young writers who wish to hone their skills and prepare for careers on the new frontiers of musical journalism.

Hautzinger is completing his sophomore year at Oberlin where he is a double degree student majoring in piano performance and history. “I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity,” he said. “As an aspiring music critic, I will gain great journalistic experience through this fellowship by writing reviews and previews and conducting interviews with artists.”

Additionally, Hautzinger will participate in daily editorial meetings and strategy sessions with editors Daniel Hathaway and Mike Telin, and will interact with artists, presenters and publicists in the music industry. He will also be provided the opportunity to learn about and assist with all matters associated with the daily operations and managing of the website. Read the rest of this entry »

Isserlis-LevinAt the performance by the Pavel Haas Quartet on April 8, the Cleveland Chamber Music Society announced the seven concerts to be presented during its 65th season. All performances will begin on Tuesdays at 7:30 pm at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights.

September 23: Pianist Wu Han, violinist Philip Setzer & cellist David Finckel.

October 21: The Belcea Quartet

December 2: The Juilliard String Quartet

January 13: Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (Benjamin Beilman & Ani Kavafian, violins, Paul Neubauer & Yura Lee, violins & David Finckel, cello)

February 24: The Jerusalem Quartet

March 10: Cellist Steven Isserlis & fortepianist Robert Levin (above)

April 21: Tenor Ian Bostridge & pianist Wenwen Duh

By Mike Telin


Anyone familiar with FiveOne Experimental Orchestra knows one thing: no concert will be like the last one. With their “no-boundaries” approach to music, this inventive group has a knack for creating happenings. They regularly incorporate artistic disciplines such as sculptors, filmmakers, dancers, and visual artists into their concerts. And they stand by their mission to present their concerts in unusual spaces like the Sculpture Center and the East Cleveland Township Cemetery.

On Saturday, Saturday, April 5 as part of NEOSonicFest, FiveOne Experimental Orchestra outdid themselves during their performance at The Screw Factory in Lakewood. And once again, it was a happening.

The Screw Factory is a massive complex that once served as the home of the Templar Motor Company. It later became a production facility for nuts and bolts, hence its name. Today it is home to an electrical wire manufacturer while the second and third floors serve as artists’ studios. Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hathaway


The Cleveland Chamber Symphony wrapped up its six-concert NEOSonicFest on Sunday evening in Gamble Auditorium at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory with the second part of its tribute to founder Edwin London. Continuing London’s tradition of orchestral readings of scores by “Young and Emerging Composers”, music director Stephen Smith and the ensemble brought the works of four composers to life in performances bracketed with scores by what might be called the Already Emerged: long-time CSU professor and CCS collaborator Howie Smith and 20th century insurance executive and musical iconoclast Charles Ives.

Each of the four composers — chosen after an earlier reading session — was invited to come to the stage and say a few words about their very different pieces. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

CUCKSON-MirandaIf you don’t know violinist Miranda Cuckson, you should. Cuckson, who has firmly established herself as one of the foremost interpreters of contemporary music — especially on the east coast — presented two area concerts last week at LCCC’s Signature Series (March 31) and CMA@ Transformer Station (April 1). I heard the Transformer Station concert.

Miranda Cuckson, who admits to having accumulated quite a bit of repertoire, admirably arrived with not one, but two concerts’ worth, nine works in total and including some of the most technically and physically demanding compositions in the contemporary solo violin canon.

Although soft spoken and slight of frame, Cuckson is a commanding performer with technique to spare. She possesses a bow arm that would be the envy of many violinists. She also has an instinctive ability for making sense out of the most abstract musical structures and conveying them to the listener. Throughout the performance her intonation was impeccable and her sound rich and focused no matter what dynamic level the music required. Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hathaway

Quire-@-St-PeterRoss Duffin and the twenty voices of Quire Cleveland turned their attention to nearly three hundred years of American music on Sunday afternoon at Historic St. Peter Church in downtown Cleveland, visiting some well-known tunes in lesser-known packaging and dusting the cobwebs off some fine music that deserves to come down out of the attic and be heard once again.

Duffin led off with his own four-part arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner, probably the first time most members of the audience had heard — or even been aware of — all four of its stanzas. The arrangement was artful even if some of Francis Scott Key’s verse is overwrought (and lines like Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution challenged the normally admirable diction of the group).

The antebellum first half of the program included stern Puritan psalms from The Bay Psalm Book nicely softened and varied by Duffin’s arrangements, a set by William Billings and his circle that included the well-known round, When Jesus wept, and I am the Rose of Sharon, plus two amusing choruses about music-making, Daniel Read’s Down steers the bass, and Billings’s Modern Music. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

KeniaBrazilian vocal sensation Kenia wants to remind audiences of one thing about Friday’s Cleveland Orchestra Friday’s @ 7 post-concert: “Remember to bring your dancing shoes,” she exclaimed. “People should expect to take a little trip to Brazil and I’d love it if they would close their eyes and find themselves transported to Rio in the midst of Carnival.”

On Friday, April 11 in Severance Hall, The Cleveland Orchestra continues its popular Fridays @ 7 series. The evening begins at 6:00 pm with a Pre-Concert in Reinberger Hall featuring Classical Indian Music with Steven Gorn, bansuri bamboo flute, and Samir Chatterjee, tabla. At 7:00 pm, Giancarlo Guerrero leads the Orchestra in a performance of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Yuja Wang as soloist. Then, on to Festa Brasileira…Carnival!

“The show is all about revisiting Carnival from the 1940’s and 50’s,” Kenia told us during a recent telephone conversation. We’ll be playing some of the marches and some of the sambas from those days. It’s away from the bossa nova but something new, exciting and very upbeat.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway


Scott Metcalfe will bring 14 singers from his Blue Heron Renaissance Choir in Boston to the Helen D. Schubert Concert Series at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Cleveland on Friday evening, April 11 at 7:30 pm to sing music associated with Canterbury Cathedral in the last decade before the English Reformation.

The program will include an elaborate plainchant Kyrie (Deus creator omnium), a five-part mass by Robert Jones (Missa Spes nostra), and a votive antiphon by Robert Hunt (Stabat mater). “I’m quite sure that none of these pieces have ever been sung in Cleveland before,” Metcalfe said in a recent phone conversation.

The repertory is taken from the Peterhouse partbooks, a set of manuscript scores each containing music for a single voice part, which were probably copied around 1540 at Magdalen College, Oxford, for use at Canterbury Cathedral and now held at Peterhouse at Cambridge University.

They help fill in our knowledge of what was being sung in important English choral establishments between Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries (1536-1541) and the Protestant movement that led to huge changes in musical styles by the end of that decade — after the Church of England cut its ties to Rome. Read the rest of this entry »

By Mike Telin

WALTHER-Geraldine“I think it’s going to be a great experience playing this program, especially in Finney Chapel”, Takacs Quartet violist Geraldine Walther told us by telephone from Colorado. “It’s a gorgeous place and we love playing there.”

On Sunday, April 13 beginning at 4:00 pm. Walther and her Takács colleagues Edward Dusinberre and Károly Schrantz, violins and András Fejér, cello, will perform quartets by Shostakovich, Webern and Beethoven as part of Oberlin College’s Artist Recital Series.

The Takács were recently in the area for performances of the complete Bartók Quartet cycle, but looking at their concert schedule you discover that it’s not unusual for them to be back on the road with an equally intense program.

“Yes, we do kind of go for the gusto,” Walther said laughing. “But it’s great and we do enjoy it a lot. The string quartet repertoire is such that you can’t just let a piece sit, you’ve got to look at it again and refresh it. So it’s a constant process of revisiting pieces. Even if it’s something that we’ve played two weeks prior, we do sit down and rehearse it.” Read the rest of this entry »

By Mike Telin

On Saturday, April 12 the Akron Symphony, under the direction of Christopher Wilkins, will present its final Classic Series Concert of the season with performances of Walton’s Crown Imperial March and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. The concert, which begins at 8:00 in E.J. Thomas Hall also features The Akron Symphony Chorus, Maria Sensi Sellner, chorus director, in Rossini’s Stabat Mater.

“I’ve worked with Christopher Wilkins and the Akron Symphony in the past,” mezzo-soprano and opera sensation Elizabeth DeShong told us during a recent conversation from New York where she was performing the role of Hermina in The Metropolitan Opera’s pastiche, The Enchanted Island. “And knowing that I am occasionally in Akron, since my base is there, they asked if I would come back for the Stabat Mater and I was really happy to do so. I have sung many Rossini opera roles but this will be my first experience of singing Stabat Mater. It’s a piece that I’ve been wanting to sing and it’s wonderful to be able to do it in Akron.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

NoExitOn Friday, April 11 in SPACES, the contemporary music ensemble No Exit begins their spring concert series, three extraordinary evenings of music. In addition to SPACES, concerts will take place at Heights Arts on Saturday, April 12, and in Cleveland State University’s Drinko Hall on Monday, April 14. All performances begin at 8:00 PM. Performances include two world premieres performed by Cara Tweed, violin, James Rhodes, viola, Nicholas Diodore, cello, Sean Gabriel, flute, Nicholas Underhill, piano, and Luke Rinderknecht, percussion.

Artistic director Timothy Beyer said, “Music is perhaps inherently the most abstract medium amongst the arts. And yet, it has the ability to evoke and convey a very real visual world. There is this remarkable synergy between organized sound and what our minds do with it. It’s profound, really. A composer such as Morton Feldman has been able to sonically represent what a painter like Mark Rothko accomplished visually. So in this respect, there is, or at least can be, a very iconographical element to certain music. This is the very thing that the ensemble will be focusing on in this series of concerts.” Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Telin

CSU-BWMOCA Cleveland will launch the first edition of a new music competition on Thursday, April 10 beginning at 8:00 pm, when student composers from Cleveland State University and Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music compete for the title of “Avant-Garde Idol.” The contestants are Zach Albrecht, (BW), Joshua Fadenholz, (CSU), Nathaniel Frank, (BW), Sean Hussey, (BW), Jacob Kingzett, (CSU), James Kunselman, (BW), Aubrie Powell, (BW), Buck McDaniel, (CSU) & Neal Todten, (CSU).

The competition is the brainchild of Chris Auerbach-Brown, MOCA’s Media Program Manager, who in a recent telephone conversation said he came up with the idea while thinking of ways to present contemporary music to audiences in different contexts rather then the traditional sit and listen format. “My thought was to take a pre-existing popular television show model and apply it to a contemporary music concert, and this is what I came up with.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

MIdori-&-AydinSince making her debut at age eleven as a surprise guest soloist with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta in 1982, violinist Midori has become recognized as a master musician and a devoted and gifted educator. In addition to her many achievements as a performer, Midori is an active music educator for underserved communities. She runs several successful programs that have reached hundreds of thousands of children since the early 1990s, especially at New York public schools.

On Saturday, April 12 at 7:30 pm in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium, violinist Midori will be joined by pianist Özgür Aydin in a concert featuring  Debussy’s Sonata in g, Shostakovich’s Sonata, op. 134, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 10 in G, op. 96 & Schubert’s . The concert is part of the Museum’s Masters of the Violin Performing ArtsSeries.

Midori graciously agreed to answer questions by e-mail and discussed her activism in underserved communities, her thoughts on teaching and her collaboration with Mr. Aydin. She began by talking about her program. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Pavel-Haas-QuartetSince winning the Paolo Borciani competition in Italy in Spring 2005, the Pavel Haas Quartet has established itself as one of the great chamber ensembles of today. On Tuesday, April 8 beginning at 7:30 pm in Plymouth Church, the quartet returns to Cleveland for a performance for the Cleveland Chamber Music Society. The program includes Leos Janáček’s Quartet No. 1 “Kreutzer Sonata”, Benjamin Britten’s Quartet No. 2 in C, op. 36 & Beethoven’s Quartet in e, op. 59, no. 2. At 6:30 pm a pre-concert lecture will be given by Costa Petridis. You can read Daniel Hathaway’s discussion with Petridis here.

In addition to their Cleveland performance, the Pavel Haas Quartet’s current US tour includes stops in San Francisco, Tucson, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Toronto, Durham, Atlanta and Cincinnati. “Everything is going very nicely, but it is quite busy,” violist Pavel Nikl said by telephone from his hotel in South Bend. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

PETRIDIS-ConstantinePre-concert lectures are fixtures of many concert series, offering talks by well-known musicians or musical scholars to put audiences closer in touch with the music they’re about to hear.

The Cleveland Chamber Music Society takes a slightly broader approach to its roster of speakers, which this season includes, to be sure, two certified musicologists (CWRU’s David Rothenberg and Bard’s Peter Laki) but also a well-known program annotator (Richard Rodda), a Rabbi (Roger Klein of The Temple-Tifereth Israel), an audiophile and WCLV program host (Eric Kisch), the editor of an online journal (me) and, next Tuesday, the Curator of African Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art (Constantine Petridis).

“This is my very first talk on music ever,” Costa Petridis told us by phone from St. Louis, where he was attending a conference, “so I’m a little bit nervous, but very excited about it too.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

NEEDHAM-ClintThe debut edition of NEOSonicFest will conclude much the way it began, with a concert that pays homage to Cleveland Chamber Symphony (CCS) founder Ed London. On Sunday, April 6 beginning at 7:30 pm in Baldwin Wallace University’s Gamble Auditorium, Steve Smith will lead CCS in a concert featuring Howie Smith’s Epilogue and Charles Ives Tone Roads No. 1.

The evening will also feature a program near and dear to London, the annual Young and Emerging Composers concert. In a recent conversation Smith said the program is very important because it encourages and gives young composers the opportunity to learn by hearing performances of the music they’re writing.

Clint Needham (left), composer in residence and assistant professor of music at Baldwin Wallace, and the person responsible for coordinating the concert, agrees with Smith. “As a student at BW I was also part of the Young and Emerging Composers program”, Needham told us by telephone. “It was my first professional performance and my first orchestral performance so it was a big deal to me,” adding that coordinating the concert is special to him. “It’s a weird sort of roundabout way to give back, but it’s really nice.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Robert Rollin

YSU-PassionOn Monday evening March 31, the audience at Trinity Methodist Church in downtown Youngstown witnessed the first modern performance of Carl Philip Emanuel Bach’s Passion According to St. Luke. The piece is actually attributed to Gottfried August Homilius, a student of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Bach’s contribution was to greatly shorten and rearrange the piece by giving Homilius a list of order and key changes, moving some of the vocal parts to different ranges and eliminating the boy soprano part. It was first performed for Easter, 1775, but the manuscript was forgotten for about two hundred years thereafter.

Prior to the performance Youngstown State University Professor Randall Goldberg, who had partnered in editing the new full score with his former professor, David Melamed of Indiana University, presented a pre-concert talk about the piece. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

TCO-DohnanyiThe latest Saturday night snow massacre did little to keep patrons away from music director laureate Christoph von Dohnányi’s return to Severance Hall on March 29 and his looked-strange-on-paper program of two Schumann symphonies with The Cleveland Orchestra. As it turned out, the pairing of the two symphonies was an insightful idea and Dohnányi drew playing of both sweeping grandeur and arresting detail from the ensemble he led with such distinction from 1984-2002.

As usual, Dohnányi moved the furniture for his weekend performances, reseating the strings with second violins on stage left with cellos next to the firsts (basses behind) and violas next to the seconds, a move which subtly changed balances among the string sections, sometimes at the expense of presence from the seconds, whose tone holes were facing inward rather than toward the audience. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

GRAHAM-Susan[Note: on Friday, April 4, Ms. Graham's management announced the cancellation of her Oberlin concert and masterclass due to illness. The performance will not be rescheduled.]

Susan Graham, the vocalist Gramophone called “America’s favorite mezzo,” and pianist Bradley Moore will present recitals on Sunday, April 6 at 4:00 pm in Finney Chapel as part of Oberlin’s Artist Recital Series and on Thursday, April 10 at 7:30 pm in Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall as part of the Tuesday Musical Series.

Internationally acclaimed as an operatic singer and known for embracing a challenge, Susan Graham’s repertoire spans works from the 17th through the 21st centuries. She has earned critical accolades as well as a Grammy Award for her recording of Ives songs. Recognizing her commitment to French music, the French government awarded her the prestigious Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur.

The Oberlin and Akron performances will feature music that celebrates great women throughout history and literature, and spans from the Baroque period with Purcell’s Tell me, some pitying angel (The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation) through the 20th century with Poulenc’s song cycle, Fiançailles pour rire, and Joseph Horovitz’s Lady Macbeth. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway


The Cleveland Chamber Symphony, long-time keepers of the new music flame in our region, nearly vanished from public view after its founder, Edwin London, retired and its residency at Cleveland State University eventually came to an end. The orchestra, made up of some of Cleveland’s finest and most adventurous free-lancers, kept a few concerts going under its current music director, Steven Smith, and found a new host in Baldwin Wallace, but the momentum of regular performances was lost.

Last weekend, CCS burst suddenly into bloom like a crocus after a long winter with the first of two concerts anchoring its promising new enterprise, NEOSonicFest on Friday, March 28 in Drinko Hall at Cleveland State. Read the rest of this entry »

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