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by Daniel Hathaway
Recitals 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 »
by Carlyn Kessler, special contributor
The Cleveland Institute of Music will present its second “Celebration of Community” on Friday, March 28 at 8:00 pm in Severance Hall, when CIM president Joel Smirnoff will lead the CIM Orchestra and vocalists, the Cleveland School of the Arts (CSA) Chorus and Instrumentalists, the Singers’ Club of Cleveland, and the Antioch Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir in Beethoven’s monumental Symphony No. 9.
The concert features soloists Catheryne Shuman, soprano, Samantha Gosard, mezzo-soprano, CIM faculty member Vinson Cole, tenor, and Brian Johnson, baritone.
The concert is a public manifestation of CIM’s commitment to the Cleveland community. “Culture is the spontaneous emanation of community interaction,” Joel Smirnoff said in a recent conversation. “There is no culture without community.”
by Mike Telin
Composer, singer, director/choreographer and creator of new opera, music-theater works, films and installations, Meredith Monk is a pioneer in what is now called extended vocal technique and interdisciplinary performance. Over the last five decades, she has been hailed as “a magician of the voice” and “one of America’s coolest composers.”
On Friday, February 21 beginning at 8:00 pm the legendary Meredith Monk brings her unique brand of artistry to the Cleveland Institute of Music as part of the Mixon Hall Masters Series. The concert features Monk’s Songs from the Hill, Volcano Songs, and Music for Voice and Piano (1972-2006) including Gotham Lullaby, Travelling, Madwoman’s Vision, Choosing Companions and The Tale.
During her celebrated career, Monk has received numerous honors including the MacArthur “Genius” Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships, three Obies and two Bessie awards. She holds honorary Doctorates from Bard College, the University of the Arts, The Juilliard School, the San Francisco Art Institute and the Boston Conservatory. In 2012 she was named Musical America’s Composer of the Year and one of NPR’s 50 Great Voices and received New Music USA’s 2013 Founders Award, a 2011 Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts and a 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award. Read the rest of this entry »
by Carlyn Kessler, special contributor
On February 25, the experimental spectacle “360 Degrees of Sight + Sound: The Planetarium Project” will be presented at 9:00 pm and 9:45 pm at the Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. This unique project, currently in its second season, combines the talents of students from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Cleveland Institute of Art, who collaborated to produce animated films with musical scores, which audience members will experience in a 3D format in the museum’s state-of-the-art planetarium.
“This is not commonly done,” remarked Steve Kohn, electronic music professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM), who served as the musical supervisor on the project. “This is very special.” Indeed, the event creatively conjoins the three institutions in a colorful display of the interactive arts mecca that the community has become. As Kohn went on to say, “University Circle is a cultural jewel.”
In a recent conversation, Keith Fitch, head of CIM’s composition department, shed light on the original conception of the project. Read the rest of this entry »
by Daniel Hathaway
Professional organists carry the skill of improvisation around as an essential item in their tool belts because, like tailors, they routinely have to customize the musical fabric of church services. French organists especially have honed their abilities to the point where they can craft whole symphonies on demand, often on amusingly inappropriate tunes submitted by presenters or audience members — like college fight songs.
Pianists don’t often do this kind of thing in public, which made Venezuelan-born pianist Gabriela Montero’s appearance on the Mixon Masters Series at the Cleveland Institute of Music on January 23 such a remarkable event. On a series devoted this year to the composer / performer, Montero dedicated the second half of her program to six masterful and stylistically varied improvisations on themes or concepts suggested by audience members (she ended up playing seven). Read the rest of this entry »
by Daniel Hathaway
Give a baby a toy piano and she’ll almost inevitably attack its keyboard with a fist. Not Gabriela Montero. When the Venezuelan-born pianist was seven months old, she used her fingers to caress the keys of the gift her grandmother had just given her.
That auspicious beginning led to piano lessons and, when she was eight, her concerto debut with José Antonio Abreu’s original National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, when she played Haydn’s D Major Concerto.
Montero will visit Cleveland to perform on the Mixon Hall Masters Series at the Cleveland Institute of Music on Thursday, January 23 at 8:00 pm, when she will play Brahms’s Three Intermezzos, op. 117, Schumann’s Fantasy in C, op. 17, and a series of classical improvisations on themes suggested by the audience. The concert is part of this season’s “Return of the Composer Virtuoso” series.
A talent for improvisation was among Montero’s earliest self discoveries. The pianist, who was not available for an interview, has written, “I have been improvising since my hands first touched the keyboard, but for many years I kept this aspect of my playing secret. Read the rest of this entry »
by Mike Telin
In the end, the point of learning a piece of music is to perform it for an audience. “The audience is part of the chamber music equation – and we need the audience because, in a way, they are the other member of the group,” says Cavani String Quartet violinist and Cleveland Institute of Music faculty member Annie Fullard.
On Friday at 8:00 pm in Mixon Hall, Fullard will be joined by her Cavani colleagues Mari Sato, violin, Kirsten Docter, viola and Merry Peckham, cello, for the opening concert of CIM’s 2013 Winter Chamber Music Festival. The concert, titled “Influences and Inspirations I,” features Bartók’s Quartet No. 2, Op. 17, Mozart’s Quartet in A, K. 464 & Debussy’s Quartet in g, Op. 10.
Fullard says that end-of-semester chamber music marathons were part of CIM when the Cavanis became the school’s quartet-in-residence in 1988, and with the creation of CIM’s Intensive Quartet Seminar the following year, even more performances were added to the school’s already robust end-of-semester concert schedule. Read the rest of this entry »
by Robert Rollin
Saturday evening’s staged presentation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Cleveland Institute of Music was excellent. The interesting, well-paced, and well-sung production scintillated. Despite seating a large audience, Kulas Hall has definite limitations. With no true curtain, other than a rear stage scrim, the hall restricted elaborate sets and scene changes. The production combined limited costuming with some elements of modern dress, and utilized the hall itself for some dramatic entrances and exits. Imaginative lighting helped rescue the constrained theatrical setting. The clever device of putting the spoken parts in English helped keep things moving. Arias and ensembles, on the other hand, came forth in their original German.
Tamino, a foreign prince tries to fight a menacing dragon, but faints after loosing all his arrows. Three ladies appear and save him by killing the dragon with their spears. Read the rest of this entry »
by Daniel Hathaway
CIM Opera Theater director David Bamberger has chosen Mozart’s The Magic Flute for its fall production in Kulas Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music, which runs from Wednesday, November 6 through Saturday, November 9, with a 7:30 pm curtain time each night. The production is double-cast (Wednesday-Friday and Thursday-Saturday) and will be sung in the original German with English supertitles.
Weighed down by enough symbolism to give Dan Brown material for a thick new book, Flute also calls for a stratospheric (and scary) soprano to play the Queen of the Night, a basso profundo to play Sarastro and a charismatic baritone to play the birdcatcher, Papageno. We reached David Bamberger by telephone last week to talk about the production. He began by musing about the character of the evil sorcerer, Sarastro.
David Bamberger: I have a big problem with Sarastro. I know that Shaw said his music sounds the way God ought to sound, but everything he actually says, if you go by the words rather than the tunes, is actually untrue. Or inept. Read the rest of this entry »
by Daniel Hathaway
Composer and flutist Robert Dick got energized about contemporary music at Yale in the early 1970s, where he was part of a small group of students who worked in a classic electronic studio even before the birth of the synthesizer.
Dick left school after undergraduate and graduate studies with a big vision. “I thought I would have the possibility of a huge international solo career playing new music. I really thought that the best music in the best performances would win the day and overcome the reluctance of people to listen to things that were unfamiliar to them,” Dick told us in a telephone conversation.
“The size of everything turned not to be what I dreamed. Music that really asks something of the listener is challenging, and the mass audience is not willing to take that challenge. The person who actually loves the experience of really listening to music is rare.”
Dick attributes the demise of active listening to changes in education. “In the 1970s, music was stripped out of the public school curriculum all over the country, which is probably the single root cause of why things are the way they are today.” Read the rest of this entry »
by Daniel Hathaway
Moving in a new direction this season, the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Mixon Masters Series is celebrating composers who are also skilled performers. Russian-born pianist and composer Lera Auerbach played the first “Return of the Composer/Virtuoso” concert on Tuesday, September 17, offering a good-sized audience her 24 Preludes for Piano, op. 41, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an exhibition.
Auerbach, who grew up in the Ural mountains on the borders of Siberia, then trained at Juilliard, is an artistic polymath. She writes poetry and prose, paints, and composes prolifically. Prolifically and obsessively, judging from her three sets of 24 preludes, first for piano, subsequently for violin and piano and cello and piano. She couldn’t get that project out of her mind.
Auerbach prefaced her performance of the solo piano preludes with her own description of the pieces, which last about 45 minutes. They are “throwaway ideas” of “fragile beauty” that “disappear quickly”. She liked the idea of arranging a series of evanescent miniatures into a grand form — a plan she also followed with the other two sets. Read the rest of this entry »
by Daniel Hathaway
“An entire evening of Hugo Wolf songs might strike fear in the hearts of an audience,” says CIM voice professor and baritone Dean Southern. So Southern has chosen to present the songs of Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch in a multimedia context for his faculty recital in Mixon Hall on Wednesday, October 2 at 8:00 pm.
The multimedia idea arose while Southern was teaching opera at the Frost School of the University of Miami and watched a designer from New York put together the projections for a production he was directing. “It speaks to a creative side I enjoy exploring and gives a different angle on the music,” Southern told us by phone from Macomb, IL, where he was rehearsing with pianist Jeffrey Brown at Western Illinois University.
The recital, presented with the assistance of Brown and soprano Susan Williams of the University of Alabama, will place Wolf’s “Italian” songs in the context of his 19-year affair with Melanie Köchert, ironically the wife of Wolf’s patron, who was the official Viennese Court Jeweler. “We’ll present these songs as if this were the kind of life they wanted to have together.” Projections of song translations, photographs and translations of Wolf’s surviving letters to Köchert (she burned many of them) will be woven into the program as well as three of Wolf’s early piano works. Read the rest of this entry »
by Mike Telin
The Cleveland Institute of Music will take a different approach to its Mixon Masters Series this season. “Return of the Composer/Virtuoso” will bring performing composers to the Mixon stage in 2013-2014, beginning with Russian-born composer-pianist Lera Auerbach on Tuesday, September 17 at 8:00 pm. Auerbach will perform her 24 Preludes and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on her Cleveland debut recital.
The preludes are personally important to her. “I have always loved cycles of 24 preludes”, Auerbach said in a telephone conversation from Berlin. “I have studied and played many of them like Chopin, Scriabin and of course Bach. I always knew that one day I would be writing my own 24 preludes but I didn’t anticipate what would happen. I had such a great time writing the piece. It gave me a canvas to explore — there are so many possibilities. It was such a fantastic journey to take that when I finished writing the 24 preludes for piano I just couldn’t stop! I couldn’t believe it was over and there were no more preludes to write.”
As it turned out, Auerbach didn’t quit after those 24 but immediately began writing another two dozen for violin and piano. “But after I finished those I was still hungry for more so I decided to keep on going and I wrote 24 for cello and piano.” Read the rest of this entry »
by Daniel Hathaway & Mike Telin
Even before the Labor Day weekend, many of Northeast Ohio’s universities, colleges and conservatories were already up and running. Because students have only just moved in, concerts at the beginning of the term usually feature faculty recitals and performances by visiting ensembles, and there are several of them scheduled for the early days of September.
The first faculty event at the Oberlin Conservatory this fall will feature violist Michael Strauss (left) and his colleagues Alexa Still, flute, and pianists Monique Duphil and James Howsmon in Dmitri Shostakovich’s Viola Sonata, op. 147, Maurice Duruflé’s 1928 Prélude, Récitatif, et Variations for Flute, Viola, and Piano, Op. 3, and Paul Hindemith’s Viola Sonata, op. 11, no. 4, in a free concert in Kulas Recital Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory on Saturday, September 7 at 8.
“The staff discussed who would perform the first recital of the semester”, Strauss told us by phone. “I said, yeah, I can do that. I’m sure that many of the faculty would have been fine with the slot, it’s just that no one had made the move.”
Now in his second year as associate professor of viola and chamber music, Strauss admits that opening with Shostakovich’s last work is a little risky. “It’s quite a dark piece and it is a big test in keeping your wits about you. I started looking at music that would fit and I thought of going heavy and then lightening up.” Read the rest of this entry »
by Mike Telin
On Thursday, May 23rd beginning at 8:00 pm in CIM’s Mixon Hall, Classical Guitar Weekend kicks off its 2013 edition with a recital by Jason Vieaux that features the music of Paganini, Piazzolla, Ponce, and Sor. Vieaux, who heads the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Guitar department and serves on the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, will be joined by hi CIM colleagues violinist Jinjoo Cho, violist Jeffrey Irvine, and cellist Melissa Kraut.
On Friday, May 24 beginning at 9:00 am, also in Mixon Hall, Vieaux will lead a master class via Distance Learning. Guitar students from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Royal Danish Academy of Music will perform on and off site via CIM’s innovative Distance Learning audio/video hook up and be coached by Jesper Sivebak, head of the RDAM guitar department.
Since winning the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Competition at the age of nineteen, Jason Vieaux has earned a reputation for putting his expressive gifts and virtuosity at the service of a remarkably wide range of music. Read the rest of this entry »
By Mike Telin
For the past six seasons the Cleveland Chamber Music Society has sponsored an outreach program that brings concerts to Cleveland area elementary school students. The program is designed to “stimulate interest in classical music, encourage aspiring musicians to share their enthusiasm, and develop chamber music lovers from childhood.” These concerts are presented by a young string quartet whose members are participants in the Intensive Quartet Seminar at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
In addition to presenting concerts in schools the selected quartet is invited to perform a concert on the CCMS series. For the second season, The Omer Quartet, Mason Yu and Erica Tursi, violins, Joseph LoCicero, viola, and Alexander Cox, cello, has been the chosen group and on Sunday, May 5th beginning at 7:00 pm in First Unitarian Church of Cleveland the young award-winning quartet will perform a concert featuring Mendelssohn’s Quartet in a, op. 13, and Janáček’s Quartet No. 1, “Kreutzer Sonata”. A Pre-concert interview with Costa Petridis begins at 6:15 pm. Read the rest of this entry »
by Timothy Robson
Just before the beginning of soprano Christine Brewer’s recital at the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Mixon Hall Masters Series on Thursday, March 7, a CIM staff member stepped onto the stage and announced that Ms. Brewer was happy to be in Cleveland, but that she was “a bit under the weather.” Indeed, Ms. Brewer, one of the leading dramatic sopranos in the world today, seemed to be fighting some sort of respiratory bug. But even on an off night, Christine Brewer is more interesting than most singers at their best; her all- (or at least mostly-) American recital, with the brilliant assistance of pianist Craig Terry, proved to be an enjoyable evening.
The overarching theme of the recital was that of memories of home and the desire of people to return home. Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 was a daring choice to start the concert, even if Ms. Brewer had been in top form. The music is technically challenging, requiring a very wide vocal range, both lyric and dramatic singing, as well as several pianissimo “floated” high notes. Barber’s 1947 fifteen-minute cantata, written for another great American soprano, Eleanor Steber, is based on a nostalgic excerpt by American writer James Agee. Barber’s music reflects the moods of the text, with rocking lullabies and excited memories of the author’s home town.
Whether by choice or indisposition, Ms. Brewer dropped several of the high notes down an octave, and at the end of the work, as Barber’s music draws to a conclusion setting the text “but will not, no, will not, not now, not ever” dramatically, then the final words “but will not ever tell me who I am” high and soft, Ms. Brewer ignored the composer’s dynamics and sang the whole passage in a fierce fortissimo, as if making a statement of independence. If one is going to ignore a composer’s instructions, it must be done with conviction. Ms. Brewer’s interpretation was unexpected and jarring for one familiar with the work, but effective in and of itself. Mr. Terry captured the general flavor of Barber’s orchestrations in the piano reduction with wide dynamic range and rhythmic flexibility.
Alan Smith’s cycle Letters from George to Evelyn sets excerpts of letters from a newlywed husband separated from his wife by military service in World War II Europe. They are vivid love letters, in which George describes his surroundings while stationed in England, France and Germany. The fourth song, set in staccato repeated notes, is a setting of the telegram from the United States Adjutant General informing Evelyn that George has been killed in combat. The epilogue sets in dreamlike music George’s profession of love to Evelyn, with the closing words, “Gotta run now baby. Love, George.”
Smith’s music, harmonically conservative and declamatory, with occasional flights of lyricism, reflects the emotions of the letters, although it is not particularly memorable by itself. The cycle is something of a signature piece for Ms. Brewer (she performed it several years ago at Baldwin Wallace University) and the emotional depth that she brought to the music and words was the high point of this recital. She held the audience’s rapt attention throughout.
The second half of the recital was devoted to popular songs from roughly the World War II era, 1939-45. In spoken remarks, Ms. Brewer, noting that Mr. Terry had helped choose the selections (“Blame him if you don’t like them”), said that they were all songs that George and Evelyn might have heard on the radio at the time of their letters. The theme of memories of home was woven through the eleven songs. The songs ranged from Richard Rodgers’s “With a Song in My Heart” to Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’” to “The White Cliffs of Dover,” made famous by British singer Vera Lynn in 1942 and one of the most famous World War II songs.
Ms. Brewer did not treat the songs as jazz, in the manner of a previous famous American dramatic soprano, Eileen Farrell; rather, she took them more as art songs, using her full soprano range. Mr. Terry’s accompaniments were extraordinary, played as if he was improvising on the spot, with total attention to the mood of each song. One can’t help thinking that in some past life, prior to being the chosen accompanist to Met divas, he must have had a side job as pianist in a cocktail bar.
Ms. Brewer saved the best for last: as an encore she sang one of her favorites, “Mira” from the 1961 musical Carnival, with music and lyrics by Bob Merrill. The character sings of the small town that she came from, where “everyone knows my name.” As a homegrown American diva with roots in the Midwest, but having performed to acclaim all over the world, Ms. Brewer’s performance was especially touching. Her phrasing of the line “Can you imagine that?” had the sense of wonder that must come from achieving once-unexpected fame and celebrity. At least one listener in Mixon Hall had a tear in his eye at the end.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com March 10, 2013
Click here for a printable version of this article.
by Timothy Robson
The historical frame around Francis Poulenc’s 1957 opera Dialogues des Carmelites is the French revolution, and the historically-based story revolves around a convent of Carmelite nuns near Paris during the Reign of Terror who were rounded up and executed at the guillotine for their religious beliefs.
The real subject of the opera is, however, the faith journey of one young nun, Blanche de la Force, daughter of a French aristocrat, who joins the convent to escape the real world. Her doubts cause her to abandon her sister nuns, yet she is redeemed at the end of the opera when she returns to join them in their final sacrifice.
The Cleveland Institute of Music opera department presented four performances (two performances each with double casting of the principals) from February 27-March 2, in Kulas Hall at CIM. David Bamberger was the stage director, and Harry Davidson was the guest conductor of the CIM orchestra. This report is based on the Thursday evening performance. Read the rest of this entry »
by Mike Telin
“I just love doing recitals. I love the opportunity to share stories, and you really get to be a story teller when you do a recital,” American soprano Christine Brewer told us by telephone from Minneapolis, where she was performing the role of Sister Aloysius in the world premiere of Douglas Cuomo’s opera Doubt at the Minnesota Opera. “I do a lot of recitals and I’m always trying to find something that is interesting to me and I hope will be moving and thought-provoking for the audience as well.” On Thursday, March 7 at 8:00 pm in Mixon Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Christine Brewer and pianist Craig Terry will perform songs based on the theme of being away from home.
“We’re really excited about doing this program. I know Craig from Lyric Opera of Chicago. We’ve done several recitals together and about a year ago he suggested the idea. The recital begins with Barber’s Knoxville Summer of 1915, to set the tone about the comfort one gets from being at home and being surrounded by people who are loving and protective. Brewer, who hails from Grand Tower, Illinois, a Mississippi River town, says “I grew up in a setting kind of like that. We really did gather at my grandparents’ house and lay on quilts in the yard and heard our parents chatting on the porch. You never really knew what they were talking about, but there was a comfort about the whole setting.” Read the rest of this entry »
by Mike Telin
Francis Poulenc’s 1956 Dialogues of the Carmelites will be the next production of the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Opera Theater, opening on Wednesday, February 27 and running through Saturday, March 2, with stage direction by David Bamberger. Harry Davidson conducts the CIM orchestra. Following Poulenc’s wishes, the libretto will be sung in the language the audience understands, but with English supertitles added. The opera is double-cast for Wednesday-Friday and Thursday-Saturday performances.
Dialogues of the Carmelites tells the true story of an order of Carmelite nuns during the French Revolution whose monastery is seized and its members executed. The plot centers around the spiritual journey of Blanche de la Force, the daughter of a wealthy nobleman. “What I think is particularly interesting is that the events are completely historical,” says CIM Opera Theater director David Bamberger. “The famous last scene where the nuns are guillotined and their voices drop out one at a time is exactly what happened.” He adds that while the character of Blanche de la Force and her family are invented, with a quick Google search you can read the story of the Carmelites and the Reign of Terror. Read the rest of this entry »
by J.D. Goddard
On Thursday evening November 8 I attended the second of four performances of Cimarosa’s opera buffa, Il matrimonio segreto (The Secret Marriage) at the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Kulas Hall. There were two casts: Wednesday / Friday and Thursday / Saturday. Director David Bamberger and conductor Harry Davidson handily crafted a charming performance showcasing the multi-talented vocal and instrumental students who inhabit the halls and practice rooms of CIM. Sets and lighting by Dave Brooks, costumes, wigs and makeup by Allison Garrigan and English supertitles by Jana Mosby and Paul Zweifel wonderfully enhanced the stage tableau and visually amplified the opera’s innate buffastyle with formidable simplicity.
In 1792, Emperor Leopold II commissioned Domenico Cimarosa to write his opera Il matrimonio segreto on a libretto by Giovanni Bertati based on the play The Clandestine/Secret Marriage (1766) by George Colman and David Garrick. The opera was premiered in Vienna in 1792, two months after the death of Mozart. Love triangles and romantic chicanery in 18th century Italy permeate this two-act opera, which unfurls slowly in the first act and becomes more frolicsome in the second. Read the rest of this entry »
by Nicholas Jones
If we imagine a concert as a layered Viennnese dessert, Midori’s offering at CIM Monday evening might be called Ludwig à l’avant-garde: three rich layers of Beethoven separated by thin, piquant fillings of Webern and Crumb (I will resist the pun on the latter).
Midori included Cleveland as she celebrates her 30th year of concert performing with an extended set of tours featuring recitals of solo Bach, concertos of Brahms, Beethoven, and Hindemith, and recital programs around the US and Europe.
Collaborating with the excellent Turkish pianist Özgür Aydin, Midori played with stunning control. With her impeccable bowing, she manages to move instantly between tumult and serenity, creating a powerful sense of contrast — essential for Beethoven. Her long lyric lines were particularly moving, the notes perfectly clear in themselves and yet tied together with utter grace. Read the rest of this entry »
by James Flood, Daniel Hathaway & Mike Telin
The twelfth annual Classical Guitar Weekend was distinguished by four outstanding concerts by Pavel Steidl, Gaëlle Solal, SoloDuo and Jason Vieaux with soprano Jung Eun Oh; three excellent and informative lectures by luthier Bernhard Kresse, guitarist Jonathan Fitzgerald and record producer Alan Bise; and record audiences showed up for performances, talks and master classes over a three-day span from June 1-3 at the Cleveland Institute of Music. For the first time, Classical Guitar Weekend took on the air of a real festival chock full of delights for guitar enthusiasts as well as for music lovers in general, for which artistic director Armin Kelly deserves an up-front round of applause.
Recital by Pavel Steidl
Pavel Steidl chose his Friday evening program with a particular instrument in mind: a reproduction of a nineteenth century Stauffer instrument made by Bernhard Kresse. In an interview, Kresse contrasted it to the modern guitar as “the difference between a limousine and a sports car with the same engine”. Indeed, Steidl took us on a brisk and thrilling road trip through music by Johann Kaspar Mertz, Niccolò Paganini, J.S. Bach, Fernando Sor and Zani de Ferranti, showing us how well the smaller, peppier instrument responded in the areas of color, speed, articulation and ornamentation.
Pavel Steidl is an animated performer who uses his hands, his feet and his facial expressions as well as the guitar to put the essence of the music across. The Mertz pieces featured colorful harmonies, toccata-like gestures, lyrical stretches and cheerful, humorous moments that Steidl played brilliantly and footnoted with his body motions. Read the rest of this entry »
by Daniel Hathaway
Margaret Brouwer’s Path at Sunrise, Masses of Flowers, was premiered by the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra under Robert L. Cronquist on Sunday, April 11 during its 75th anniversary concert at Severance Hall. The piece was made possible by a Commissioning Music USA award from Meet the Composer. Margaret Brouwer retired in 2008 from her position as professor of composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music. We spoke with her by phone at her home in Cleveland.
Daniel Hathaway: I assume you’ve had a bit more time to compose since you retired from teaching.
Margaret Brouwer: I have! It’s been wonderful and it’s lucky because I’ve had several big commissions and it’s been terrific to be able to just concentrate on that without trying to fit it in amongst many other things”.
DH: You just had a premiere in Dallas in January.
MB: I did — with the Dallas Symphony. It went beautifully. It really did. It was just a terrific experience. Got terrific reviews, and you know, there was actually a lot of press before the concert and some radio coverage. And you know there’s a new music group there called Voices of Change — they’ve been around for a long time, probably 20, 35 years — they piggybacked on the Dallas Symphony bringing me down there and so the Dallas Symphony played the concert premiere on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then they scheduled a concert on Sunday where they did several of my chamber pieces.
DH: Fabulous. They should have given you the key to the city for the weekend.
MB: I know! It was terrific and they were wonderful. A lot of people in that group are members of the Dallas Symphony, so it’s a very high-level group, and they gave two wonderful performances of several chamber pieces in addition to the new concerto for viola and orchestra. It was hard to get back and just get to work again.
Read the rest of this entry »
Carl Topilow will conduct the CIM Orchestra and Miami timba band Tiempo Libre in Ricardo Lorenz’s ‘Rumba Sinfónica’ on Saturday, October 24 at 8:30 in Severance Hall as part of the CIM Women’s Committee’s annual benefit. Tiempo Libre plays a set of their own after intermission. We reached composer Ricardo Lorenz and pianist and Tiempo Libre music director Jorge Gomez by conference call to talk about the genesis of a work for symphony orchestra and Cuban band.
Daniel Hathaway: I wanted to talk a little bit about the performance next Saturday at Severance Hall. How did this project get started in the first place?
Ricardo Lorenz (left): Well, it was a cosmic meeting in of all places, Bloomington, Indiana.
DH: At Indiana University?
Ricardo: Yes. I was teaching there for a couple of years and Jorge came to do master classes. What really caught my imagination is when I saw him doing rumba with music students. I had this idea running in my head, but it had to be put together with somebody like Jorge who brings together his classical background and his jazz and Cuban background.