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By Daniel Hathaway

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The Cleveland Chamber Symphony wrapped up its six-concert NEOSonicFest on Sunday evening in Gamble Auditorium at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory with the second part of its tribute to founder Edwin London. Continuing London’s tradition of orchestral readings of scores by “Young and Emerging Composers”, music director Stephen Smith and the ensemble brought the works of four composers to life in performances bracketed with scores by what might be called the Already Emerged: long-time CSU professor and CCS collaborator Howie Smith and 20th century insurance executive and musical iconoclast Charles Ives.

Each of the four composers — chosen after an earlier reading session — was invited to come to the stage and say a few words about their very different pieces. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Mike Telin

NEEDHAM-ClintThe debut edition of NEOSonicFest will conclude much the way it began, with a concert that pays homage to Cleveland Chamber Symphony (CCS) founder Ed London. On Sunday, April 6 beginning at 7:30 pm in Baldwin Wallace University’s Gamble Auditorium, Steve Smith will lead CCS in a concert featuring Howie Smith’s Epilogue and Charles Ives Tone Roads No. 1.

The evening will also feature a program near and dear to London, the annual Young and Emerging Composers concert. In a recent conversation Smith said the program is very important because it encourages and gives young composers the opportunity to learn by hearing performances of the music they’re writing.

Clint Needham (left), composer in residence and assistant professor of music at Baldwin Wallace, and the person responsible for coordinating the concert, agrees with Smith. “As a student at BW I was also part of the Young and Emerging Composers program”, Needham told us by telephone. “It was my first professional performance and my first orchestral performance so it was a big deal to me,” adding that coordinating the concert is special to him. “It’s a weird sort of roundabout way to give back, but it’s really nice.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

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The Cleveland Chamber Symphony, long-time keepers of the new music flame in our region, nearly vanished from public view after its founder, Edwin London, retired and its residency at Cleveland State University eventually came to an end. The orchestra, made up of some of Cleveland’s finest and most adventurous free-lancers, kept a few concerts going under its current music director, Steven Smith, and found a new host in Baldwin Wallace, but the momentum of regular performances was lost.

Last weekend, CCS burst suddenly into bloom like a crocus after a long winter with the first of two concerts anchoring its promising new enterprise, NEOSonicFest on Friday, March 28 in Drinko Hall at Cleveland State. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Edmund-FitzgeraldNEOSonicFest opens on Friday, March 28 at 7:30 pm in Cleveland State University’s Drinko Hall, when Steven Smith leads the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in a program that features Ed London’s Melodrama and Federico’s Follies. The concert also includes Geoffrey Peterson’s The Edmund Fitzgerald, a concerto for piano and strings with Nicholas Underhill as soloist, and special guests Verb Ballets, Richard Dickinson, choreographer.

Geoffrey Peterson’s concerto chronicles the tragic shipwreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior in November, 1975. Its four movements are entitled “Embarkment,” “The Gales,” “Six-Fathom Shoal” (“We’re holding our own”) and “Entombment-Dirge”. The concerto makes use of several musical quotes. The first is Spanish Ladies, an English sea chantey, which appears in both the first and third movements. The second is the funeral march theme from the second movement of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, which is heard in the fourth movement of the concerto. In addition, a chime is rung 29 times during the final bars of the piece to memorialize the men who lost their lives.

Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

London-EdSince its founding in 1980 by the late composer and Cleveland State University professor Edwin London (left), the Cleveland Chamber Symphony has remained true to its core mission of performing and promoting new music that “dares to explore”. This week the Grammy Award-winning orchestra enters a new phase in its life when it takes on the role of organizer and host of NEOSonicFest, a festival of new music.

We’re very excited about it,” said Cleveland Chamber Symphony music director Steven Smith during a recent telephone conversation. “We’ve been thinking about how to keep the name and activities of CCS alive over the past several years. We thought the idea of concentrating our activities into a specific period of time would give a greater focus on what CCS does.”

NEOSonicFest opens on Friday, March 28 at 7:30 pm in Cleveland State University’s Drinko Hall, when Steven Smith leads the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in a program that features Ed London’s Melodrama and Federico’s Follies. The concert also includes Geoffrey Peterson’s The Edmund Fitzgerald, a concerto for piano and strings with Nicholas Underhill as soloist, and special guests Verb Ballets, Richard Dickinson, choreographer.

Read the rest of this entry »

by Robert Rollin

CCS-at-BW-WellerThe Cleveland Chamber Symphony conducted by Stephen Smith resumed its Verb Ballets collaboration last Thursday evening, June 13, in Baldwin Wallace University’s Gamble Auditorium. The concert, titled “Music that Dares to Explore,” presented four interesting and relatively new pieces, one of which was a world premiere. Two of the performances involved the Verb Ballets.

The most ingratiating piece was BW composer-in residence, Clint Needham’s Urban Sprawl. The only piece utilizing the full ensemble complement, Urban Sprawl is, in the words of the composer, “a funky, jazzy, kitschy, and hopefully fun ode to suburban life.” Needham got the idea for the piece when he and his wife were house hunting and viewed the insides of strange houses with crazy wallpaper, hideous paint colors, abortive do-it-yourself projects, and oddball tobacco smells. He wrote his piece visualizing the inhabitants dancing a quirky new dance he called the “Urban Sprawl.”

The raucous, yet transparently-bright textures using intervals and harmonies evoking Copland’s Americana works, proved a fertile mine for the six Verb Ballets dancers’ talents. Read the rest of this entry »

The community of Cleveland freelance musicians and advocates for new music lost a treasured colleague and friend on Friday, November 19, 2010 when harpist Jocelyn Chang passed away at the age of 59.

Jocelyn performed in many contexts with her husband, flutist and composer Michael Leese, and was a longtime member of the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. An obituary by Donald Rosenberg was published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on November 24. A memorial concert will be held in Waetjen Auditorium at Cleveland State University on Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm.

We invite Jocelyn’s many colleagues and friends to post a memory or a tribute by leaving a comment here (click on the link above). At Michael Leese’s request, memorial donations may be made to the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, c/o The Music Settlement, 11125 Magnolia Drive, Cleveland, OH 44106.

The following images were provided by Steve Eva from a photo shoot with the Chagrin Studio Orchestra at Christmas, 2008. The organizers of the memorial concert are creating a slideshow. If you would like to contribute an image, please see the comment below for details.

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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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Robert & Gwyneth Rollin
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