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by Daniel Hautzinger

MLK1In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 20, The Cleveland Orchestra honored Dr. King’s calls for universal brotherhood by hosting its annual Community Open House featuring various Cleveland performing arts groups.

Severance Hall provided warmth throughout the snowy day, with various performances and activities scheduled. The Bogomolny-Kozerefski Grand Foyer was transformed into a dance floor with flashing lights and an emcee for a fun diversion between performances. Downstairs, in the Smith Lobby, guests were invited to view a display about the life of Dr. King.

Performances began at 12:15 with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus. Directed by Lisa Wong, the enthusiastic high school-age singers demonstrated balance and musical maturity well beyond their years. Read the rest of this entry »


by Guytano Parks

MITCHELL-BrettIt was a beautiful, clear and crisp autumn afternoon this past Sunday in University Circle. Brett Mitchell, newly appointed music director of The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra, conducted equally clear and crisp performances by COYO in a program at Severance Hall which featured the orchestral sections individually and collectively in works by Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Kilar and Mussorgsky.

A bright and chipper Festive Overture by Shostakovich opened the concert, revealing Mitchell to be a conductor full of charismatic energy and excitement as his enthusiasm prodded the musicians to exciting heights through sharp and precise gestures. Playfully tossing melodies back and forth between sections with effective variances of tone color and character, the music joyfully galloped toward its spirited conclusion.

The winds and strings were featured in the next two works: Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments and Kilar’s Orawa for strings. In the cubist-like Stravinsky piece — a complex mosaic-like network whose elements combine, conflict and interlock — the players are extremely vulnerable as every detail of articulation, phrasing, dynamics and balance are exposed due to the absence of the cushioning sound of strings. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

MITCHELL-BrettThe 2013-14 season marks Brett Mitchell’s first year as assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra. And on Sunday, November 3 at 3:00 pm, Mitchell will make his Severance Hall debut as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (COYO) in a concert featuring the music of Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Kilar and Mussorgsky.

In addition to his position in Cleveland, Brett Mitchell is currently in his fourth season as music director of Michigan’s Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra. Prior to Cleveland, Mitchell served as assistant conductor of the Houston Symphony from 2007 to 2011.

Additionally, he has led an impressive list of orchestras including the London Philharmonic and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, as well as the orchestras of Baltimore, Memphis, Oregon, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Rochester, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Washington D.C.’s National Symphony Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Northwest Mahler Festival Orchestra.

Mitchell says that working with young people has always been part of his career and a part that he enjoys enormously. “I love working with kids,” the Seattle native says enthusiastically during our relaxed conversation in his Severance Hall office. “They’re so eager and have such great energy, and are so open and so giving.” He adds that, technically speaking, his first music directorship was with the North Sound Youth Symphony in Bellingham, Washington. “I was halfway through my senior year of undergraduate school when they asked me to fill in for the remainder of that season.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Guytano Parks

MOSES-HannahOver 1,300 students have been members of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra during the past twenty-seven seasons, representing a remarkable group of talented young people. For some, their interest in music has carried them forward into careers as educators and performers. For others, music continues as an important part of their lives and careers in business, the arts, and community service.”

So read the printed program from the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra’s final concert of the season at Severance Hall. It describes in advance the thirty-nine graduating seniors who were congratulated with individual descriptions of the next step in their musical journeys. Among them is Hannah Moses, winner of the orchestra’s 2013 concerto competition and soloist in Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor.

Miss Moses, a member of COYO since 2007, is a senior in CIM’s Young Artist Program studying with Richard Weiss of The Cleveland Orchestra. Winner of many scholarship and concerto competitions, she will continue her studies at CIM, majoring in cello performance. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Feddeck-informalOn Sunday, May 12 beginning at 7:00 pm in Severance Hall, James Feddeck conducts the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestrain his final Severance Hall appearance as the ensemble’s music director.The program includes Samuel Barber’s Overture to The School for Scandal, Karol Szymanowski’s Etude for Orchestra, and Richard Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration. The concert also features Antonín Dvořák’sCello Concerto with COYO concerto competition winner Hannah Moses.

Since his appointment in March of 2009, James Feddeck has firmly established COYO as one of the finest youth orchestras in North America. Under his direction the orchestra has consistently given performances of the quality that many cities would be happy to have in their own professional ensembles. Although there are many highlights that mark his tenure, taking his players on their first international tour to Prague, Czech Republic, and Vienna and Salzburg, Austria in June 2012 is especially noteworthy.

Always a gentleman in conversation, James Feddeck clearly has a passion for working with young musicians. And one can’t help but be drawn in by the enthusiasm, dedication — and above all, caring nature that he has for his young players. We reached him by telephone and began by asking him why he chose the repertoire that he did for the concert. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

COYO-FEDDECK-MastroianniIt is no secret that Tchaikovsky was frequently plagued with self-doubt, and while writing his Fifth Symphony the composer was also struggling to make sense out of the cards that fate had dealt him in life. On Sunday, March 10 at Severance Hall, one was never in doubt that The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (COYO) under the direction of James Feddeck was in anything but complete command of this monumental work. From the opening “fate” theme played exquisitely by the clarinets, to the finale triumphal march, the performance was electrifying.

Feddeck’s straightforward approach to the symphony was a breath of fresh air, as far too often Tchaikovsky’s passionate music suffers from over-indulgent interpretations from the podium. Throughout, Feddeck drew a full, rich sound from his musicians who played with confidence and rhythmic accuracy. The lyrical horn solo in the 2nd movement was brilliantly played by Leo Steinkerchner and bassoonist Stuart Englehart performed with aplomb during the waltz. Bravos also go out to flutist Elise Campbell, oboist Mary O’Keefe, clarinetist Alexandria Ballinger and to the entire brass section for jobs well done. In short, this was a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #5 to remember. Read the rest of this entry »

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