Tom Welsh is assistant director for music at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Here are his highlights from the series at the Museum last season.

Thanks for letting me indulge in some delightful recollections of our last season, it was another exciting and diverse year of music. Here are a handful of personal highlights, in chronological order:

Garth Knox performing solo and duo (with cellist Lauren Radnofsky) on viola and viola d’amore, blending very old with very new – from Marin Marais to Salvatore Sciarrino. [8 November 2009 @ Plymouth Church of Shaker Square]

NYC-based composer/sound artist Marina Rosenfeld led her Sheer Frost Orchestra, an ensemble of 15 floor-bound electric guitars, as part of the CIA student exhibition in the museum and the special event called “After Hours” (and the electro-duo Eats Tapes were great, too.) [13 November 2009 @ CMA]

On the heels of the successful debut of his opera “A House in Bali,” about Colin McPhee, composer/performer Evan Ziporyn brought his Gamelan Galak Tika to town for a fascinating east-meets-west program. [8 January 2010 @ Cleveland Museum of Natural History]

Under the title “Masters of Persian Music,” tar player Hossein Alizadeh and kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor performed duo improvisations that were both stunning and transcendent. [20 February 2010 @ Hannah Theater]

Newly renovated Gartner Auditorium reopened in style, with the incomparably classy and witty Max Raabe and his Palast Orchester. The appeal of their note-perfect renditions of songs from the 30s and 40s was impossible to resist. [28 February 2010 @ CMA]

Iconoclast-virtuoso (NB: now there’s a rare hyphenation) Frederic Rzewski performed his own monumental solo piano piece “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!” and the effects were visceral. [19 March 2010 @ CMA]

John Zorn cut a wide swath on his wild and long-overdue Cleveland debut with his Masada Sextet, an all-star ensemble indeed. Humbling to see audiences traveling from far and wide for this one, including a family who flew up from Houston for the event – the power of music! [26 March 2010 @ CMA]

The great Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen presented what was for me the single finest start-to-finish (sic) concert experience of the year: solo Dutilleux, Bach, Saariaho, and then accompanied by I Cellisti for ensemble cello pieces by Lieberson, Liszt, more Saariaho and others. [27 April 2010 @ CMA]

The “Opening Nights Festival” celebrating the renovation of Gartner was a sprawling affair with too many highlights to name, but on this particular night, the wildly mixed program had a particular frisson: heartrending, operatic, cataclysmic. Which is to say: Baby Dee, the Opera Cleveland Chorus, and members of the Cleveland Orchestra playing a supercharged version of Louis Andriessen’s “Workers Union.” [14 April 2010 @ CMA]

More “Opening Nights Festival” highlights: the School of the Arts R. Nathaniel Dett Choir, conducted by Dr. William Woods, is always a joy to hear. Their performance in Gartner was no exception, but their absolutely stunning version of the spiritual “In Bright Mansions” brought everyone to their feet and to tears in equal measure. [16 April 2010 @ CMA]

Sure it’s difficult to describe music with words, but what Stephen Scott’s Bowed Piano Ensemble does inside a grand piano defies explanation altogether. His Cleveland debut, including live video projection to show ten musicians working harmoniously inside one piano, was mesmerizing. [22 April 2010 @ CMA]

A final “Opening Nights Festival” recollection: two conceptions of trio music – jazz pianist Michael King from Oberlin, and violinist Joel Smirnoff, president of CIM – would be hard to top. Except maybe they were, when the Heights High Barbershoppers ran away with the show. [28 April 2010 @ CMA]

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