by Kelly Ferjutz, Special to ClevelandClassical

HALLS-Matthew2Mother Nature was apparently clued in – and ready – for the Saturday evening concert by the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Center on August 9. During the first half of the program, the birds and the frogs and the crickets started warming up. By the time the Orchestra took the stage for Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, the sounds of nature were ready! And then came Supermoon! It really was spectacular. Those music lovers on the lawn had a better glimpse of it, perhaps, but once we were out in the parking lot, there it was in all its huge, luminous splendor. The weather was simply perfect for enjoying the moon and the music!

Of course, that’s because the Orchestra, with guest conductor Matthew Halls, was luminous enough in itself to have lit up the skies like daylight. The evening’s program – and homage to Mozart — began with the overture to his opera Idomeneo. Mr. Halls drew lovely sounds from the musicians in front of him with his decisive movements and graceful hand motions. Read the rest of this entry »

by Robert Rollin

HALLS-MatthewOn Saturday evening, August 9, the Blossom Festival presented an exemplary Cleveland Orchestra Mozart concert under the gifted young British conductor, Matthew Halls, making his debut with the group. The Oxford-educated musician first became known as a keyboard player and conductor of early music. Since then he has come to prominence as Director of the Oregon Bach Festival and through appearances with major professional orchestras and opera companies in Europe, Australia, and North America.

The entire concert was a delight, thanks to the orchestra’s wonderful talent and to Halls’s remarkably colorful dynamics and sensitive control of tempi. Notwithstanding his youthfulness, Halls showed mature and outstanding interpretive skills, lending grace and beauty to the entire concert. Read the rest of this entry »

by James Flood

WEISS-OrionFriday 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 the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Adams-John-LutherTwo 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. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Quire-St-Peters-Elaine-SiegelQuire 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. Read the rest of this entry »

by Nicholas Jones

MA-Yo-YoYo 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. One of the cellos that Yo Yo Ma regularly plays is the Davidov Stradivarius on which du Pré also performed. Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

Fourth-WallThere’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. Read the rest of this entry »

By Guytano Parks

kaufman-richard-by-eric-stonerA near–capacity crowd filled the pavilion and lawn at Blossom Music Center on Sunday evening when The Cleveland Orchestra presented Hollywood Under The Stars.  Conducted by Richard Kaufman, in his 24th year as principal pops conductor with Orange County’s Pacific Symphony, the concert  included music by some of the most respected and revered film composers of our time.

“Hooray for Hollywood” appropriately opened the program in an invigorating and colorful arrangement by John Williams. Kaufman’s direct, no–nonsense conducting served this syncopated and accented score well, for toe–tapping and hum–along music. Read the rest of this entry »

By Mike Telin

KallorTuesday Musical marks the return of their popular FUZE! Series on Tuesday, August 12, at 7:00 pm at Steinway Piano Gallery in Boston Heights. The concert, titled The Composers Voice, features pianist/composer Gregg Kallor and cellist Dave Eggar.

Tuesday Musical’s choice to present Gregg Kallor on the FUZE! Series is a bit ironic given that his performances and his music are a fusion of classical, jazz and improvisation. But finding commonality between seemingly dissimilar things is a natural part of who Kallor is. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Koh-Laredo-2x4-CDFor Two x Four, her ninth recording on the Cedile Chicago label (formerly The Chicago Classical Recording Foundation), Chicago native and Oberlin College grad Jennifer Koh joins Jaime Laredo, her former mentor at Curtis (now on the faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music) in four works for two solo violins and string orchestra.

The orchestra is the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble, conducted by Vinay Parameswaran. Two of the pieces, Anna Clyne’s Prince of Clouds and David Ludwig’s Seasons Lost were specially commissioned for this recording project and completed in 2012.

The album begins with a vigorous performance of perhaps the most famous double violin concerto of them all, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto in d, BWV 1043. Laredo takes the first solo part, but the two violinists are so sensitive to each other’s tone and style that it’s often difficult to tell who’s who. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Terrace

The Cleveland Orchestra’s new concert series, Summers@Severance, offers a one-hour-or-so performance by the orchestra on three Friday evenings at 7:00 pm, bracketed by a party with drinks and small plates served on the Front Terrace. The concept seems to have caught on quickly, and judging from the number of audience members snapping cell phone pictures of the Severance Hall interior, brought many first-time listeners to hear the Orchestra on opening night, August 1. Read the rest of this entry »

By Mike Telin

yang_yike_webLast weekend, fifteen year-old Tony Yike Yang from Toronto played Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto at Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Jahja Ling on his way to winning the Thomas and Evon Cooper International Piano Competition. As first-prize winner, Yang was awarded $10,000 and a full four-year scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. We spoke to him recently about his experience in the competition, his life as a young pianist, and his aspirations for the future.

Mike Telin: First, congratulations on winning the Cooper. What was it like to play with The Cleveland Orchestra?

Tony Yike Yang: It was so much fun. Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

Otto-Peter-180x200“Honestly, I’ve only heard this piece played very badly,” Cleveland Orchestra first associate concertmaster Peter Otto said of Haydn’s first violin concerto. Otto will perform the work with The Cleveland Orchestra under Jeffrey Kahane at Blossom Music Center on August 10. “Most often, a very old-fashioned, heavily edited version is played, even by people today. I have the critical edition, so there are a lot of different notes and different rhythms. Playing it from the bare bones text makes it sound like a completely different piece.”

So if you’ve heard this concerto before and dismissed it (“the first movement is often played by ten year-olds,” Otto said), the Blossom concert might be a good time for a reappraisal. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Khristenko-Fantasies-CDUkrainian-born pianist Stanislav Khristenko won the most recent Cleveland International Piano Competition in 2013, sealing his victory with a magisterial performance of Brahms’s first concerto with The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall.

Khristenko’s new recording on the Steinway & Sons label — a venture launched in October of 2010 — captures him in a different musical mood, but one that still expresses itself partly through the music of Brahms. Fantasies, recorded in February of this year, concludes with the Fantasien, op. 116, a set of capriccios and intermezzos that distill a lifetime of Brahms’s harmonic and rhythmic innovations into seven relatively small works. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

BROUWER-CD-ShatteredOn her latest recording, Shattered, released on the Naxos Label, composer Margaret Brouwer has compiled four beautifully constructed and emotionally captivating compositions. Each work reflects her personal and continuing musical journey to come to terms with the first decade of the turbulent twenty-first century. However what makes Shattered so appealing is that you do not need to know of Brouwer’s inner conflicts in order to immerse yourself in her alluring music. She has a talent for taking the simplest melody and through her expansive array of compositional techniques, develop it into a polished musical gem. And even when employing a twelve-tone row, Brouwer never ventures into the realm of compositional gimmickry. Every note she writes has musical purpose.

Margaret Brouwer’s immense prowess as a composer is in full evidence in her Quintet for Clarinet in A and String Quartet (2005), which is masterfully performed by the Maia String Quartet – Tricia Park and Zoran Jakovic, violins, Elizabeth Oakes, viola, Hannah Holman, cello and clarinetist Daniel Silver. In her informative liner notes, Brouwer describes the work as “a musical experiment to see whether the overlaying of different cultural influences can add to and enhance each other.” For example, during the opening movement she inventively layers musical quotes from Christian hymns with an imitation of the Muslim Call to Prayer. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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