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When we at ClevelandClassical.com first discussed writing about our “standouts” of the 2009-2010 concert season, I thought it was a great idea. What could possibly be difficult about this task? However when I really began to think about the 65 concerts that I attended between September 2009 and the first week of June 2010, the simple task quickly became daunting. For me, there are so many reasons for one to enjoy, or not to enjoy a concert. These reasons accompanied by the fact that each organization and or ensemble have their own missions guiding how they choose to fill a role in Northeast Ohio’s vibrant classical music scene, too often led me to feel that I was comparing apples to oranges. Therefore I have chosen to write about my own “standouts” in two distinct sections. First, is an overview of concerts that I feel deserve a big hand of applause, and second, my own picks of complete performances by an artist or ensemble that for one reason or another are still engraved in my musical memory.

I begin by giving hearty congratulations to James Feddek and the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Liza Grossman and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, Christopher James Lees and the Akron Youth Symphony, and Joanne Erwin and the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestras. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the performances of these young musicians. They are our future performers and more importantly our future audiences. These ensembles also have a lot to say musically. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Mike Telin

Cellist David Requiro and pianist Elizabeth DeMio continue a long collaboration with a concert on Arts Renaissance Tremont’s series at Pilgrim Congregational Church on Sunday, April 18 at 3. We spoke with David in New York and Elizabeth in Cleveland.

David Requiro

Mike Telin: You studied in Cleveland and then at the University of Michigan, correct?

David Requiro: Yes, and it’s been nice to keep my ties to Cleveland. I spent four years at CIM. I loved it there. I love many things about Cleveland and CIM. I studied with Richard Aaron, and I followed him the University of Michigan as well. The chamber music program at CIM is at the highest level, and I was part of a very serious string quartet for three of my four years. I participated in some very intense quartet seminars. Even the orchestra program I thought was just top notch. So its been great to maintain those ties after leaving, partially through the recordings I’ve been doing. Nathaniel Yaffe, the engineer – producer – editor, is kind of a one-man show. He’s also a former Richard Aaron student. It’s been really nice working on these recordings at CIM, working with Liz and Nathaniel, as well as working with CIM cellists. The debut album that you have was recorded in what was then the brand new Mixon Hall. That was a fabulous experience too. We are actually going to finish up some Beethoven recording sessions right after this recital. This will be the complete works of Beethoven. We’re recording it in Harkness Chapel, and I think Harkness is very fitting for that kind of repertoire. I think it will turn out very nicely. Read the rest of this entry »

—a conversation with Mike Telin

Time for Three (photo: Journey Group)

Time for Three premiered Christ Brubeck’s new concerto for two violins, double bass and orchestra with Randall Craig Fleischer and the Youngstown Symphony on March 20. We spoke with the trio by conference call at a radio station in Harrisburg, PA to talk about Time for Three and the new concerto.

Nick: Hi Mike, this is Nick Kendall, one of the violinists.

MT: Yes, we met a couple of weeks ago right after your Oberlin concert.

NK: Yea, that’s right. We have the other guys here as well.

Ranaan Meyer: Hello this is Ranaan, nice to meet you.

MT: Nice to meet you too

Zach De Pue: hello it’s Zach

MT: Hello.

ZDP: You know I lived in Cleveland for a year, and I still have my Browns season tickets.

MT: Do you?

ZDP: Yes I do

MT: Wow you are one of the few who has bothered to keep them.

(lots of laughing) Read the rest of this entry »

—a conversation with Mike Telin

On Saturday, March 20, Randall Craig Fleischer conducted the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra and Time for Three in Chris Brubeck’s new concerto for two violins, double bass and orchestra. We talked with the composer by telephone about the new piece.

Mike Telin: You are in Ft. Meyers Florida, with the Gulf Coast Orchestra?

Chris Brubeck: Yes, they are doing the piece I wrote called Quiet Heroes. So I am around for advice, and my buddy on this project Wilfred Brimley will be narrating, and it’s a triple bonus because I get to visit my dad. It’s much better for him here than taking the chance of slipping on the ice back in Connecticut where he used to live.

MT: Yes I just read about this piece on your website, in fact you have a number of interesting orchestral projects happening.

CB: Yes, I think they are interesting. I try to do a couple every year, although almost all of my energy during the past year has been focused on the new Time for Three piece. We are at the countdown to its birth, since I started it nine months ago.

MT: Yes, this sounds like a very interesting piece. I know it was an eight-orchestra commission, but who was it that approached you about being the composer?

CB: Well, to me anyway, it is an interesting and funny story. First, I am not sure if you know that I wrote a violin concerto for Nick Kendall, who is one of the three of Time for Three. But, so much credit needs to be giving to Randall Fleischer, the music Director of the Youngstown Symphony, the Anchorage Symphony and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. I’ll tell you the whole story.
Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Since its founding in the early 1960’s, the Oberlin Collegium Musicum has become one of the most popular ensembles on campus both among conservatory and college students. Some would say that over the years it has developed something of a cult following both in its on campus and off campus performances. The Collegium has varied in character over the decades, but for the past 20 years, the group has been a 40-voice chorus conducted by Steven Plank, professor of musicology at the Oberlin Conservatory.

The Collegium will celebrate this milestone in a two-day reunion on February 19 & 20 culminating in a free performance on Saturday evening at 8 pm in Warner Concert Hall. Some sixty Collegium alumni will gather to sing a program of renaissance music, and Plank has taken advantage of this large group of singers to open and close the concert with one of the most spectacular pieces in the 16th century repertory: Thomas Tallis’ forty part motet for eight choirs of five voices each. This mammoth piece will be sung both in its Latin (‘Spem in Alium’) and English forms (‘Sing and Glorify’).

Dr. Plank has had a remarkable influence on his students over the years. Here are interviews with three alumni who will be joining the reunion chorus this weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

It was a grand night for the bassoon last evening (Saturday, January 16) when five outstanding judges and clinicians from the Meg Quigley Vivaldi Bassoon Competition and Symposium came together to perform the second of three Joint Recitals of the weekend in Warner Concert Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory.

In general, the programming of bassoon recitals is problematic. Keeping the audience musically engaged for 90 minutes is not an easy task, however these five soloists chose works ranging from the unknown to staples of the bassoon repertoire, as well as transcriptions that brought out each individual performer’s unique personality and playing style. This, in addition to some brilliant programming co-ordination from Oberlin Professor of Bassoon George Sakakeeny, proved that a bassoon recital is able to provide audiences with a musically magical listening experience. Read the rest of this entry »

By Mike Telin

The Meg Quigley Vivaldi Bassoon Competition and Symposium gets underway on Friday, January 15 at the Oberlin Conservatory. As background to the event, I reached Founders and Co-directors Kristen Wolfe Jensen and Nicolasa Kuster for phone interviews last week.

Kristin Wolfe Jensen

MQVC Co-Director Kristin Wolfe Jensen has been the bassoon professor at the University of Texas at Austin since 1995, and is also on the faculty of the International Festival Institute at Round Top, and the Eastern Music Festival, where she is Principal Bassoonist of the Eastern Philharmonic. Ms. Jensen is Principal Bassoonist with the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra and previously has toured Europe with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and served as Acting Principal Bassoonist of the Houston Grand Opera. The American Record Guide reviewer said of her solo CD Shadings, “…She has simply turned in the finest-played Bassoon recital I have ever heard… She obviously sees tone quality as the foundation for her fluent technique…It is a ravishing sound, siren-like in its attractive flair…Ms. Jensen could teach a lot about musicality to a number of famous violinists…”. Her other chamber music and solo recordings can be heard on the Cambria, Opus One, Klavier, and Centaur labels.

Mike Telin: How did the idea for this competition come about?

KWJ: Nicolasa and I were sitting in a Café in Buenos Aires at the 2001 International Double Reed Society Convention. We had been friends at Oberlin, and we were talking about how we would like to see more young women bassoonists empowered. It seemed as though the majority of bassoonists who were participating in International competitions for the bassoon were male although at least 50% of bassoon students enrolled in music schools were female; so why are female bassoon students not succeeding in International Competitions? We had to ask ourselves what was causing this to happen. I think at that time about 72% of principal bassoonists in orchestras in the United States were male, and why were the females not rising to the top? There has been some change in this in the past decade, which is good.

Read the rest of this entry »

Photograph by Roger Mastroianni

by Mike Telin

On Sunday, November 29, the Cleveland Orchestra presented the first of three events in its new ‘Musically Speaking’ series, an initiative designed to bring Severance Hall audiences closer to the music and the musicians.

The afternoons begin with a 40-minute chamber music concert in Reinberger Hall, followed by a 3:00 multimedia exploration of the orchestral work of the day (this afternoon, Dvorak’s ‘New World’ Symphony) using a narrator, actors, projected visuals and live excerpts played by the orchestra. After intermission, the work is played in its entirety, followed by a question and answer period.

The central format of the first two ‘Musically Speaking’ events  derives from the Chicago Symphony’s ‘Beyond the Score’ series, which, as in this case, is franchised to other orchestral organizations. I experienced the CSO’s version of the Dvorak afternoon at the League of American Orchestras conference in Chicago last summer, so it was interesting to be able to compare the two throughout the afternoon.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jamey Haddadby Mike Telin

Jamey Haddad is in charge of programming world music for the second half of the Cleveland Orchestra’s new five-concert series ‘Fridays @ 7.’ We caught up with Jamey in New York while playing gigs for the Rock Hall Festivities, and asked him about his thoughts on why audience building initiatives such as the Fridays @ 7 are needed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Alisa Weilersteinby Mike Telin

We spoke to Alisa Weilerstein about many things, including the dual role she will have this week when she performs the Dvorak Cello Concerto and later joins Jamey Haddad, Dylan Moffitt, Keita Ogawa and Michael Ward-Bergeman in the World Music portion of the evening on the Fridays @ 7 series on November 20. We also talked about her passion for Russian literature, her upcoming live television performance of the Elgar Concerto with Daniel Barenboim, and her work as spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

We began by asking her about her participation in Classical Music Day at the White House, and her feelings about the significance of the event that had occurred the previous day.

Read the rest of this entry »

GILBERT-AdamCiaramella, the Renaissance Wind Band, is in town this week for a masterclass and concert at Case. We reached shawm player Adam Gilbert in Los Angeles to ask about his career as a specialist in early wind instruments.

Mike Telin: What I first want to know, you are a shawm player. How does one go about becoming a shawm player?

Adam Gilbert: That’s a really good question. It’s changed in the last bunch of years, I think. I came to shawm because I was a recorder player. Long story. I played recorder as a kid because I wanted a clarinet – to be like Benny Goodman. That was pretty geeky in the first place, but then after I started playing clarinet I realized I wanted to play recorder, and that’s how I got involved in early music. And that was because I actually saw a concert of my hometown college collegium.

MT: And where was that?

AG: Columbia, South Carolina. I was thirteen, and that was the moment that I discovered Renaissance dances and was really excited by it. I went to New York to go to music school in January of 1981 and when I was there I was told, it’s great, you can study recorder, but my teacher said, I’ve got a gig for you if you can play a little bagpipes and shawm.  A lot of people of my generation got into it from playing a lot of Renaissance instruments but nowadays you see a lot more modern oboists or baroque oboists going back and playing the earlier instruments because they’ve already had that specialty of playing double reeds.

Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_7459-2As they did on Wednesday afternoon, the performers in group number 3 treated us to a special afternoon of music making.

Esther Park (USA) opened the session with a lovely set of Scarlatti sonatas K 531, K 322, and K 203, performing all three with grace, and poise. It was too bad that her performances of the Chopin Etude in C Op. 10 #3 and the Brahms Variations on a Theme of Paganini did not fare nearly as well. Ms. Parks possesses outstanding technique, however too many missed notes crept into the Chopin, and while the Brahms had many lovely moments, during some of the louder, faster variations she had a tendency to apply too much pedal, causing a blurring of the sound.

As in round one, Evgeny Brakhman (Russia) sounded and looked as though he wanted to do nothing more than play the piano. He was in total control in the Brahms Seven Fantasies Op 116, often building phrases over long periods, as well as bringing a full color palette to the performance. In Kopelmann’s  ‘Everything is foreseen and free will is given’ we saw another side of him as a performer. During the first round, Mr. Brakhmann enthralled us with his magical playing of a Mozart sonata, but he is equally at home performing a
piece that emphasizes the percussive qualities of the piano.

Read the rest of this entry »

sound_boardWednesday was one of those truly special occasions where from the very opening of the Schnittke Improvisation & Fugue you knew could settle into your seat for an afternoon of good music making. Everybody today came through with unique personalities.

Esther Park (USA) delivered a rousing performance of the Schnittke, though she also demonstrated her delicate side in a really beautiful performance of the slow movement of Beethoven’s Sonata op. 111.

Read the rest of this entry »

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