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by Daniel Hathaway

Octavio-Más-Arocas_#4818833There’ll be a festive fanfare when Spanish-born conductor Octavio Más-Arocas conducts his first concert with the Baldwin Wallace Symphony Orchestra on Friday, September 26, but that new piece by Kevin C. Thompson is only the first of several curtain-raisers BW’s new orchestral maestro has planned in a continuing series he calls “The Symphony Orchestra Fanfare Project.”

Más-Arocas comes to Berea with an impressive dossier, including conducting posts at Interlochen Arts Academy and the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music. Among his other credits, he has served as assistant to Kurt Masur with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. In a telephone conversation, he told us that he’s looking forward to working with his new musicians. “Baldwin Wallace has a very good group of students, very talented and hard-workers. This is an exciting period at the University with many changes. It’s the right moment to be here.”

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by Daniel Hathaway

RYAN-JonathanAmerican organist Jonathan Ryan will open this season’s organ series on the E.M. Skinner instrument in Youngstown’s Stambaugh Auditorium on Sunday, September 28 at 4:00 pm.

Ryan, who is currently assistant music director at Christ Episcopal Church in Greenwich, Connecticut, began his professional studies with Todd Wilson at the Cleveland Institute of Music before moving on to graduate studies at Eastman.

We spoke to the organist as he was preparing for his recital on the Late Summer Organ Festival at the Fraumünster in Zürich. Ryan, whose lineage is partially Swiss, was asked to perform a program totally devoted to American music, something one rarely comes across, especially in Europe. “I’m enjoying that challenge,” he said in a telephone conversation as he listed his repertory choices, which included music by the late Chicago composer Leo Sowerby, Dudley Buck (“his Last Rose of Summer, which turns out to be a well-known tune in Europe”) and five of Calvin Hampton’s Dances. “I had to learn some new repertoire for Zürich,” he noted

Ryan’s choices for Switzerland were also made with the Fraumünster organs in mind. “Stambaugh is an entirely different style of instrument,” he said, which led him to some interesting decisions. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Calder-QuartetAs their first “official” duty as Quartet-in-Residence at the Oberlin Conservatory, The Calder Quartet will present the inaugural concert of the 2014-15 Oberlin Artist Recital Series in Finney Chapel on Tuesday, September 30 beginning at 8:00 pm. The quartet will perform works by Adès, Janáček and Schubert.

The Calders, Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook, violins, Jonathan Moerschel, viola and Eric Byers, cello, will open the program with a work by one of the group’s favorite composers, Thomas Adès’s Arcadiana (1994) “We’ve been playing his music for a long time as well as working with him for seven years,” violinist Andrew Bulbrook said during a telephone conversation. “In fact we’re currently in the midst of editing a recording of his Piano Quintet, with Tom as the pianist. His quartet, The Four Quarters, which will be a world premiere recording, is also on the CD. Additionally, we have re-recorded Arcadiani from our first CD for this release. It’s a nice culmination of everything that we as a quartet have been working on with him.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Vieaux-Jason“This week’s concert is going to be really great,” classical guitarist Jason Vieaux exclaimed during a recent telephone conversation. On Saturday, September 27, beginning at 7:30 pm in Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society will begin its International Series. And in keeping with tradition, the series will kick off with a free Showcase Concert.

Francois Fowler (Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University) will open the program with two of his own compositions, Meditation (2010) and Wavelength Sonata (2013). Robert Gruca will continue the program with music from the baroque era with David Russell’s arrangement of Jean-Baptiste Loeillet’s Suite No. 1. Jason Vieaux, (Cleveland and Curtis Institutes of Music) will conclude the evening with music by Metheny, Jobim, Tarrega and Merlin.

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by Daniel Hathaway

Setzer-PhilipWe took advantage of a last-minute opportunity to chat on the phone with violinist Philip Setzer of the Han-Setzer-Finckel Trio on the morning before the ensemble’s performance on the Cleveland Chamber Music Society series on Tuesday, September 23 at 7:30 pm at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights.

Setzer, a Cleveland native (both of whose parents played in The Cleveland Orchestra, and who also is a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet), had just emerged from serving for seventeen days on the jury of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (won by long-time Cleveland Institute of Music student Jinjoo Cho) and had spent Monday evening coaching members of Sharon Robinson’s Intensive Piano Trio Program at the Institute.

Daniel Hathaway: Women seem to have been the big winners in the recent Indianapolis Competition.

Philip Setzer: You know, that’s just the way it worked out this year — there were five Korean women and one American woman. It’s all done on a point system. We don’t discuss things among the jury. The level was generally high, but there were a lot of young, gifted Korean women. It’s extraordinary what’s coming out of the teaching program there. Read the rest of this entry »

Montage

by Jarrett Hoffman

A live gerbil as compositional material—it’s the most recent suggestion for a “secret musical ingredient” on the Iron Composer competition’s Facebook page, and contest director Joe Drew, for one, is open to it. “People say stuff, and they think it’s too crazy, but I could see a scenario where that would work,” said Drew over telephone as we talked about the upcoming 8th installment of Iron Composer, a project of Analog Arts. The competition will take place September 26 and will culminate in a free public concert at 8:00 that evening at the Great Lakes Science Center on Erieside Avenue in downtown Cleveland. Emceed by Mark Satola of WCLV, the concert will also be broadcast live on the station (104.9 FM) and on wclv.com.

If you’re not familiar with Iron Composer, the Iron Chef-inspired composing contest unveils an instrumentation and a secret ingredient in the morning, then gives five composers just five hours to craft compositions around those specifications. After receiving thirty minutes of rehearsal each, the pieces are performed that same night and judged based on a set of criteria including their use of the secret ingredient and their originality. This year’s winner will come away with $500 in cash as well as a $500 commission by Blue Water Chamber Orchestra for a new work to be performed during their 2014-15 season.

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by Daniel Hathaway

WuHan-Setzer-FinckelThe famous piano trio with no name of its own, consisting of pianist Wu Han, violinist Philip Setzer and cellist David Finckel, will launch the sixty-fifth season of the Cleveland Chamber Music Society at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights on Tuesday, September 23 at 7:30. The program will include Beethoven’s Trio in G, op. 1, no. 2, Shostakovich’s Trio No. 2 in e, op. 67 & Mendelssohn’s Trio in c, op. 66. A 6:30 pm pre-concert lecture will feature WCLV’s Robert Conrad in a talk entitled “Not Your Father’s Radio Station.”

Interesting relationships connect the three performers. Wu Han and David Finckel are husband and wife as well as partners who run the Music from Menlo chamber music series in California and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. And until the end of the 2012-2013 season, Finckel and Philip Setzer had played together in the Emerson String Quartet since 1976. Finckel has since set out on his own to pursue other projects, among them, continuing to perform with the Lincoln Center group, which will bring him back to Cleveland for a concert on the CCMS Series on January 13. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Adams-John-LutherThis weekend the Cleveland Museum of Art Performing Arts series will begin its new season with two events featuring the music of 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams.

On Saturday, September 20 beginning at 7:00 pm in Historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ohio City, The Alaskan-based composer will discuss Veils and Vesper, two distinct but related electronic soundscapes that create an immersive listening experience over a period of six hours. The evening includes a “sneak preview” of the work followed by a meet-and-greet reception. The event is free and all are welcome. Audiences can experience Veils and Vesper on Fridays and Saturdays from 12:00 noon to 6:00pm beginning on Friday, September 26. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

SuterFormer Washington Cathedral organist Erik Wm. Suter will play a recital on the Holtkamp organ in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights on Saturday, September 20 at 5:00 pm. The big question is whether he’ll fly himself to Cleveland.

When Suter was growing up in Chicago, two things fascinated him, and the first one wasn’t music. “I took my first airplane ride when I was three,” he said in a recent telephone conversation. “For better or worse, they let me come up to the cockpit and I was hooked. I really wanted to be a pilot — who doesn’t when he’s a kid!”

The organ came later. “My dad was a Lutheran pastor, so I was exposed to organ playing every week. I found the instrument more technically fascinating than musical — I’m drawn to complexity — and originally I was more interested in building organs than in playing them. Then I started taking lessons at the age of 13 and fell in love with the repertoire.”

Suter revisited his interest in organ building while studying organ performance at Oberlin with Haskell Thompson from 1991-1995, where he came into contact with Oberlin’s organ technician. “Hal Gobert hired me for a few summers at his shop in Toronto. I think it makes you a better organist if you fully understand what goes on inside.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Bombardment-Fort-McHenryTwo hundred years to the day from the eventful night in Chesapeake Bay when the Baltimore lawyer Francis Scott Key watched the British Royal Navy’s bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 and penned the poem that begins, “O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,” the Akron Symphony will mark the birth of the United State’s eventual National Anthem with a program of music by Dudley Buck, Beethoven, Charles Ives and Michael Gandolfi on Saturday, September 13 at 8:00 in E.J. Thomas Hall at the University of Akron.

Though Quire Cleveland pointed up some of the history of The Star-Spangled Banner in its “American Choral Gems” programs last April (treating the audiences to all four verses of Key’s expressive poetry), hardly anyone gives the anthem a second thought after standing for its ritual performance at the beginning of sporting events. As Akron Symphony music director Christopher Wilkins admitted in a telephone conversation, “it had never occurred to me to get all that excited about The Star-Spangled Banner other than just having regretted some of its militaristic words and the fact that the tune was written by an Englishman, anyway.”

That all changed when Wilkins talked with composer Michael Gandolfi, who was involved in writing his Chesapeake, Summer of 1814. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Zierer-PianoWhen Oberlin faculty violinist Marilyn McDonald and pianist David Breitman play Beethoven sonatas in the Conservatory’s Kulas Recital Hall on Saturday, September 13 at 4:30 pm, they’ll be joined by the latest addition to Oberlin’s impressive collection of historic keyboard instruments. An Anton Zierer fortepiano built in Vienna in 1829 came to live in Oberlin last summer and has kept Robert Murphy, the conservatory’s curator of fortepianos, busy getting it settled into a new environment.

Murphy began working with his mentor, 1963 Oberlin graduate Edward Swenson, in his Trumansburg, NY restoration shop when he was 14, and has logged “close to a hundred” historical restorations or work on historical replicas. “At any one time,” Murphy recalled, “Swenson might have had a Graf fortepiano next to a Steinway next to a Baldwin upright, with a virginal off in the corner, and he was working on all of them at the same time.”

Sometimes benign neglect works in the favor of technicians who are charged with restoring historic instruments. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

BOGNAR-ZsoltUnder its music director Carlton Woods, Blue Water Chamber Orchestra will play two “firsts” in its season opener at the Breen Center in Ohio City on Saturday, September 6 at 7:30 pm. Not premieres, mind you, but rather the Number One entries in Ludwig van Beethoven’s opus list in the categories of symphonies and piano concertos.

It’s also turning out to be something of a first for Cleveland pianist Zsolt Bognár, who will be the soloist in Beethoven’s First Concerto. Though he has performed in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Munich, Brussels, Vienna, and in Tokyo, he hasn’t really appeared all that much in Northeast Ohio. “I think this is my first, full public performance in Cleveland since 2007 when I played my master’s graduation recital,” he told me in a telephone conversation. That performance took place at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied for over a decade with Sergei Babayan. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

CityMusic-Schubert-RehearsalCityMusic Cleveland will present four programs during 2014-2015 in multiple venues around metropolitan Cleveland, three of them conducted by the chamber orchestra’s artistic director and composer Avner Dorman, one by CWRU’s Peter Bennett.

Dorman will be featured as a composer in concerts from October 15 through October 19, when his Saxophone Concerto will be played by Timothy McAllister in performances in Lakewood, Cleveland, Willoughby Hills and University Heights, along with Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”) and Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 (“Farewell”).

The late Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez’s Misa Criolla (1964) will be at the center of the second series of concerts. Incorporating South American folk instruments, the piece will be sung by the choir of Sagrada Familia Church on Cleveland’s west side in performances in Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Willoughby Hills and Lakewood from December 3-7 conducted by Peter Bennett. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

ZENATY-IvanRecitals and chamber music concerts by faculty members at Northeast Ohio conservatories, colleges and universities add to the rich menu of classical music in the region. Usually free, these events begin coming onto the calendar in September. Here’s a quick look at the first performances of the fall.

Oberlin Conservatory faculty members David Bowlin, Gregory Fulkerson and Marilyn McDonald, violins, Peter Slowik and Michael Strauss, violas, Darrett Adkins and Catharina Meints, cellos, and Monique Duphil, piano, will play Mozart’s String Quintet in c minor, K. 406, and Brahms’s Piano Quintet in f minor, op. 34 in Kulas Recital Hall at the Conservatory on Thursday, September 4 at 8:00. The free concert will be streamed via Oberlin’s “Listen Live” service. Read the rest of this entry »

Antonov-AvgusteBulgarian-born pianist Avguste Antonov, now based in Dallas, who specializes in the performance of works by living composers, will present a concert at Youngstown’s Holy Apostles Church (formerly Ss. Peter and Paul) on Sunday, August 31 at 4:00 pm, and a noonday recital at the Youngstown’s Butler Institute of American Art (Beecher Court) on Wednesday, September 3.

Repertory from Antonov’s new CD on the New York Hartshorn Recordings label will be featured on his August 31 recital. Youngstown composers account for three-fifths of that project, including professor emeritus Robert Rollin’s Blue Fantasy, Richard Zacharias’s Romance for piano solo, and Samantha Hogan’s Cumulus Humilis for piano solo. Other composers are Matthew Saunders and Sy Brandon. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

JoshFranzThis Friday evening at Severance Hall and Sunday evening at Blossom, music director Franz Welser-Möst will give audiences a taste of the repertory The Cleveland Orchestra will play in thirteen concerts in seven European cities between September 7 and September 22.

On Friday, August 29 at 7:00 pm, to end the new Summers at Severance series, Welser-Möst will lead Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 and Jörg Widmann’s Lied and Flûte en suite with principal flute Joshua Smith as soloist (pictured above). The flute concerto was written for Smith, who premiered it at Severance Hall in 2011, and will play it six times during the September tour.

On Sunday, August 31 at 7:00 pm in the Orchestra’s Blossom European Tour Send-Off, Welser-Möst will conduct two more Brahms symphonies, Nos. 3 and 4, and another work by Widmann, the concert overture entitled Con brio.

At home, The Cleveland Orchestra and up to 2,400 patrons at a time enjoy the visual and acoustic splendor of Severance Hall, opened in 1931 and renovated in 2000. On the tour, the Orchestra will play in some of the world’s other great concert halls. Here’s an overview of where the music will be heard. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Western Reserve Chorale: Mozart's Requiem at CSU, March, 2014

Western Reserve Chorale: Mozart’s Requiem at CSU, March, 2014

For its twenty-third season, the Western Reserve Chorale, a group of amateur and professional singers under the direction of David Gilson, has scheduled three programs which include an Ohio premiere and the second edition of “For Love of Shakespeare.” The ensemble rehearses on Tuesday evenings at Grace Lutheran Church in Cleveland Heights beginning in September, and welcomes new singers (contact Joanne Poderis at 216.791.0061).

The season will begin with a holiday concert on Sunday, December 7 at 7:00 pm at Grace Lutheran featuring the late British composer Geoffrey Bush’s Christmas Cantata as well as seasonal favorites. 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 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 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 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 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 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 Hough 2Interviewing Stephen Hough is a daunting task. Besides being one of the most successful, talented, and intelligent pianists of his generation, he composes, is a visiting professor at Juilliard and the Royal Academy of Music, writes wide-ranging regular blog posts for The Telegraph and articles for other publications, has published a book, The Bible as Prayer, writes poetry, and has given a solo exhibition of his paintings in London. Where do you even start?

Luckily Hough is an amiable, disarming conversationalist, exuding the air of a well-mannered English gentleman. (At one point, he enthused over a hat store in Chicago, recommending it as “a wonderful place, well worth seeing.”) He is extraordinarily genial, both in the sense of being friendly and displaying genius. And he is an engaging musician, who will perform Liszt’s First Piano Concerto with John Storgårds conducting The Cleveland Orchestra on July 26 at Blossom Music Center. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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James Flood
J.D. Goddard
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Nicholas Jones
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