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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

K_B-Weiss-coachingAnn Yeh wouldn’t be applying to graduate school for cello performance if it weren’t for Kent/Blossom Music Festival (KBMF). Now in her second year at the festival and entering her senior year at Vanderbilt University studying with Felix Wang, Yeh said that after “the incredible experience I had last time I thought that maybe I could make it as a musician.”

Such career-changing influence is what every educational festival and its faculty hope to achieve. And KBMF students find this festival particularly effective. “My experience so far has been extremely enjoyable and productive,” enthused violinist Gabe Napoli, currently studying at Northwestern University. “My peers are all amazingly talented and it’s so much fun to make music with them. The instructors are both inspiring role models and great coaches. It’s a privilege to learn from them.” Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

Robinson-KeithLearning and putting together Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is a scramble against time. The piece features complicated rhythms (sometimes notated without time signatures), infinitely long phrases, and complicated layering of parts. György Ligeti’s Horn Trio and Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony are similarly difficult works. But students at Kent/Blossom Music Festival (KBMF) are assigned to learn them in two weeks for performance.

“Two weeks is just enough time,” said Keith Robinson, artistic coordinator of Kent/Blossom, professor of cello at Kent State and KBMF, and cellist in the Miami String Quartet, who gave a recital as part of the festival. “You want something that will challenge them for two whole weeks.” 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 »

Pianist Jiayan Sun will play Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Chagrin Falls Studio Orchestra, Stephen A. Eva conducting, on February 14 and 15 at Chagrin Valley Little Theater. Mike Telin spoke with Cleveland International Piano Competition finalist Jiayan Sun last summer in a video interview the day before he played the concerto at Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra under Stefan Sanderling (August 9, 2013)

by Mike Telin

CAC-Logo-SquareSince 2007, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) has invested more than $97 million in 237 local organizations presenting arts and cultural activities in Cuyahoga County. On Monday, November 18 at the Jennings Center for Older Adults, CAC’s Board of Trustees announced that it would invest $1,891,902 in grants in 139 arts and culture organizations in Cuyahoga County next year through its 2014 Project Support grant program. CAC’s Project Support program funds Cuyahoga County-based projects that promote public access and encourage the breadth of arts and cultural programming in the community.

I want to congratulate each of the organizations Cuyahoga Arts & Culture is funding in 2014, and we look forward to partnering with them in the coming months to benefit the community,” said Karen Gahl-Mills, CAC’s executive director. Approved by Cuyahoga County voters in 2006, CAC’s vision for its first ten years of public funding for arts and culture is to help build stronger, more resilient organizations, create vibrant and energetic neighborhoods infused with culture, and establish Cuyahoga County as a hub of creative activity and a destination for artists. “On behalf of all county residents, CAC is funding more arts and culture programs for more people in more places than ever before,” Gahl-Mills added.

The diversity of groups and projects that were approved for funding at Monday’s meeting is impressive, a true showcase of the cultural richness and diversity of Cuyahoga County. Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Telin speaks with Cleveland International Piano Competition finalist Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev the day after he played Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto at Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra under Stefan Sanderling (August 10, 2013).

Mike Telin speaks with Cleveland International Piano Competition finalist François Dumont the day after he played Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto at Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra under Stefan Sanderling (August 10, 2013).

Mike Telin speaks with Cleveland International Piano Competition finalist Stanislav Khristenko the day before he plays Brahms’s First Piano Concerto at Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra under Stefan Sanderling (August 9, 2013).

Mike Telin speaks with Cleveland International Piano Competition finalist Jiayan Sun the day before he plays Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto at Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra under Stefan Sanderling (August 9, 2013)

Francois-ArsenyMike Telin talks with two of the four Cleveland International Piano Competition finalists. François Dumont (28, France) and Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev (20, Russia) will perform Tchaikovsky’s first concerto and Rachmaninoff’s second concerto with Stefan Sanderling and The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall on Friday evening, August 9, 2013.

Alan Bise of Azica Records and CIPC audio engineer takes us on a backstage tour of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium, giving us an idea of what the contestants do prior to their performances and meeting the people responsible for projections, streaming and live broadcasts and CD and DVD production.

Russian pianist Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev, 20, talks with’s Mike Telin about choosing his required contemporary piece for the Cleveland International Piano Competition, and how his love of jazz prompted him to pick Kapustin’s Concert Etudes (August 4, 2013)

Continuing our following of four contestants in the Cleveland International Piano Competition, Mike Telin of speaks with Polish pianist Julia Kociuban, 21, following her second round performance on August 4, 2013.

Continuing our following of four contestants in the Cleveland International Piano Competition, Mike Telin of speaks with Russian pianist Konstantin Shamray, 28, following his second round performance on August 4, 2013.

Continuing our following of four contestants in the Cleveland International Piano Competition, Mike Telin of speaks with Chinese pianist Qi Xu, 18, following his second round performance on August 4, 2013.

Continuing our following of four contestants in the Cleveland International Piano Competition, Mike Telin of speaks with U.S. pianist Ben Kim, 30, the day before his second round performance on August 4, 2013.

by Mike Telin

CIPC-ButterflyThe 2013 Cleveland International Piano Competition officially kicks off on Tuesday, July 30 with a 6pm opening ceremony in Gartner Auditorium of the Cleveland Museum of Art. After the performance of a Mozart concerto by 2011 winner Alexander Schimpf and CityMusic Cleveland, piano fans will meet and greet this year’s 28 contestants in person for the first time.

CIPC has kindly arranged for ClevelandClassical to follow some of the contestants during the competition, and four pianists have graciously agreed to be interviewed by Mike Telin from time to time. Our initial conversations were conducted the last week in June and the first week in July via Skype video, when we got to know more about the personalities of four of these interesting and engaging musicians, who range in age from 18 to 30. Each spoke about how they began playing and talked about their personal interests and activities. Many thanks to the competition and the four contestants for making these conversations possible. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Hoopes3As the oldest award of its kind in the United States, the Cleveland Arts Prize was established to “support and encourage artists, and to promote public awareness of artistic creativity in Northeast Ohio through the work of Arts Prize recipients.” Each year prizes are awarded to “creative artists whose original work has made Northeast Ohio a more exciting place to live…” On June 27 the 2013 Cleveland Arts Prize winners were honored at a ceremony held at the Cleveland Museum of Art. This year’s winner of the Emerging Artist Award (music and dance) was 19-year old violinist Chad Hoopes.

Hoopes first burst onto the international music scene after winning the Young Artists Division of the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition. Since that time he has gone on to perform with many of the world’s distinguished orchestras. During the 2011-12 season, Hoopes served as Artist-in-Residence for Classical Minnesota Public Radio during which he played concerts throughout the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area as well as participating in and leading educational activities at local schools. This past spring Hoopes graduated from University School as well as completing his studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Young Artist Program.

A truly engaging and thoughtful conversationalist, Chad Hoopes recently spoke to us by telephone from Staunton, Virginia where he was serving as Artist-in-Residence at the Heifetz International Music Institute. During the conversation he spoke about the important role his family plays in keeping him grounded, how winning the Cleveland Arts Prize will help to further his career and how he feels obliged and honored to be an ambassador for the city of Cleveland as well as for classical music. We began by asking him what his duties are as Artist-in-Residence. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Part One:

Hailed as “the real thing, a player with a virtuoso’s technique, a deeply expressive musicianship, and a probing imagination” by the American Record Guide, classical guitarist Colin Davin is quickly emerging as one of today’s most dynamic young artists. His recent recital appearances include Alice Tully Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (on historic instruments from the museum’s collection), New York Philharmonic Ensembles at Merkin Hall, and venues in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Austin, and Cleveland. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

CAC-Settlement1Last week Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) released new data demonstrating that public funding for arts and culture is having a positive impact on the residents of Cuyahoga County. The Report focuses on CAC’s work in strengthening community in Cuyahoga County, by Enriching community, Enhancing education and Contributing to our local economy. (A PDF of the Report to the Community is available here).

Each year CAC publishes a report that helps to show the public how their investment is being spent, and that it’s a good investment,” says CAC’s executive director, Karen Gahl-Mills. “But what I take away from this particular report, is that [not only do] we have great statistics but now that we’ve been [funding organizations] since 2006, we also have some great stories to tell.” One story that is highlighted in the report is the Cleveland Music Settlement’s Jazz at the Settlement (JAMS) program.

Music Settlement President and CEO Charles Lawrence says that when CAC dollars first started coming to the Settlement, he had just joined the organization and was looking at ways to inject new energy into the school’s department of music. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

WhileTCO Fleck symphony orchestras here and abroad have been gazing deeply into their navels to find ways to fill their seats and pay their bills, The Cleveland Orchestra has unleashed a powerful set of initiatives that are already bearing fruit in increased attendance and revenue.

Last week, almost at the same time as the head of Universal Music’s classical division was preaching a “change or be doomed” message to the Association of British Orchestras, the Musical Arts Association released an impressive report on its first half of season ticket sales demonstrating that a number of the new plans it announced at the launching of the Center for Future Audiences in October of 2010 have already taken hold.

During November and December of 2012, 51,184 people attended performances (92% of capacity), an increase of 38% over the previous year. During that same period, the Orchestra took in $2.8 million in ticket sales (a 47% increase over 2011) and increased its Holiday Festival sales by 16% to a record total of $1,177,271. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway & Mike Telin

AF Sacrum CDThere should be a musical equivalent of the “locavore” movement to tag those who prefer to buy and listen locally. Here are some CDs by Northeast Ohio groups or, in one case, an ensemble that sang a memorable concert earlier this Fall at Oberlin, which are well worth considering for your eleventh-hour shopping lists.

Apollo’s Fire: Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas Vespers. As much of a liturgist as she is a music director, Jeannette Sorrell enjoys placing musical selections within a ritual structure. In Sacrum Mysterium, the floor plan is a 13th century Vespers preserved in the Sprouston MS in Glasgow attributed to St. Kentigern, the city’s patron — but before, during and after, the program takes detours to explore wonderful Scottish and Gaelic carols, lullabies, folk music and other tunes ranging from medieval chant to 18th century jigs and reels, creating an irresistible mix of Celtic-inspired music. Apollo’s Fire’s excellent collaborators are Sylvain Bergeron and his Montréal-based Ensemble La Nef, who are well-known for putting together their own programs seamlessly uniting period art and folk music (whose borders are remarkably porous). (Read a full review here). —DH Read the rest of this entry »

 by Mike Telin

When theMastersOfBandoneon-CD 13th Annual Latin Grammy Awards are held on November 15 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Alan Bise and Bruce Egre of Cleveland’s Azica records will be anxiously awaiting the results of their nomination in two categories for their recent release, Masters of Bandoneon. The disc itself has been nominated for Best Tango Album, and one of its tracks, Stringago by Carlos Franzetti, played by the Cuartetango String Quartet, has been nominated for Best Classical Contemporary Composition (listen to two of the tracks here). These nominations bring a relationship that began as a chance meeting between violinist and Cuartetango founder Leonardo Suarez Paz and Alan Bise to a fitting conclusion — at least for this recording project.

I first met Leonardo after the performance of Romance de Tango that he created for the Cleveland Museum of Art’s VIVA! & Gala series in 2009,” Bise told me over coffee. That performance featured Paz’s award-winning string quartet Cuartetango, as well as eight dancers. Bise said that he struck up a conversation with Paz, one thing led to another, and soon they were working together on the recording project. The project also took Bise on his first visit to Buenos Aires, a trip that he calls life-changing. “First, the musical life in the city is intoxicating, and Tango is the national soundtrack of Argentina that plays 24/7.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Daniel Hathaway
founder & editor
Mike Telin
executive editor
Jarrett Hoffman
assistant to the editors

James Flood
J.D. Goddard
Jarrett Hoffman
Nicholas Jones
Timothy Robson
Robert & Gwyneth Rollin
Alexandra Vago
Tom Wachunas