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by Mike Telin, Daniel Hautzinger & Daniel Hathaway

Photo: Mathias Reed Visuals

Photo: Mathias Reed Visuals

On Tuesday, July 15, we went to the BottleHouse Brewery in Cleveland Heights to hear Steuart Pincombe’s program “Bach and Beer,” which presented outstanding performances of Bach’s first three cello suites in the welcoming atmosphere of a neighborhood tavern. The experience inspired a conversation between Mike Telin, Daniel Hautzinger and Daniel Hathaway, both about the evening and the increasingly popular movement of performing classical music in alternative venues, especially neighborhood gathering places.

Mike Telin: “For the BottleHouse Brewery’s first time hosting this type of event, I think the space worked pretty well. The stage area was great and I loved the way they set up chairs around it, so that if you did want to have more of a traditional concert experience you could. You were able to come when you wanted and leave when you needed to without interrupting things. But they did need to be faster at the bar.” Read the rest of this entry »


by Daniel Hathaway


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

Ensemble-HD-Happy-DogWhat I think is great about NEOSonicFest is that the groups that are performing are a good balance and represent what is going on in the music scene here in Cleveland,” Ensemble HD and Cleveland Orchestra principal flutist Joshua Smith said recently by telephone. “I think people will find there is a broad spectrum of musical examples of what the term New Music means.” On Sunday, March 30 beginning at 7:30 pm in Harkness Chapel at Case Western Reserve University, Ensemble HD with special guests Verb Ballets, will feature music that represents a variety of musical styles and combinations of instruments.

Ensemble HD first gained national attention by bringing classical music to new audiences with their performances at the Happy Dog Bar on Cleveland’s near West Side (above). Led by Joshua Smith, the ensemble includes pianist Christina Dahl, associate professor of music at SUNY Stony Brook, and four of Smith’s fellow Cleveland Orchestra members: violinist Amy Lee, oboist Frank Rosenwein, cellist Charles Bernard, and violist Joanna Patterson-Zakany.

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by Mike Telin

Omni-QuartetNote: this concert was cancelled due to weather conditions and has been rescheduled with revised repertory for Tuesday, July 23 (see the concert listings for details).

We continue our coverage of the Kent/Blossom Music Festival with an enlightening conversation with violinist and faculty member Jung-Min Amy Lee. Lee joined The Cleveland Orchestra as associate concertmaster in March 2008 and has served on the Kent/Blossom Faculty since that same summer.

On Wednesday, July 10 beginning at 7:30 pm in Ludwig Recital Hall, Amy Lee (left in photo) will join her Cleveland Orchestra colleagues and Omni Quartet members violinist Alicia Koelz, violist Joanna Patterson, and cellist Tanya Ell for a performance of Bartok’s 3rd String Quartet and Kodaly’s Duo for Violin and Cello. The program also includes Ligeti’s Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano featuring Cleveland Orchestra principal horn Richard King and pianist Randall Fusco.

For Amy Lee, teaching is all about the passing down of traditions. “I think the real beauty of [teaching] is that you take the traditions from the past, preserve them and hopefully better them, and hand them down to the younger generation.” Beginning in the fall, Lee will have the opportunity to pass down musical traditions more when she becomes part of a new faculty ensemble at the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music at Kent State University. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Ensemble-HD-GroupToday, May 15, 2013 is here and so marks the official release of the highly anticipated recording Ensemble HD – Live at The Happy Dog. So much has happened since June 23, 2010 when Cleveland Orchestra principal flutist Joshua Smith and Happy Dog proprietor Sean Watterson decided to take the plunge by bringing live “classical” music to a venue more known for presenting local rock and polka bands. But what this album celebrates most is the shared vision and philosophy of creating something that would put a new face on classical music which Smith and Watterson brought to a reality.

In the album’s informative liner notes, Charles Michener insightfully writes

Yet, perhaps what ails classical music has less to do with the audience, the nature of the music or the people who play it, then it does with the places and the manner in which it is usually played.” Michener suggests, “What if one could experience Beethoven and Bartok in a setting other then a shrine-like auditorium…? What if the players arrived not in formal evening dress but as people who look and act just like the rest of us? What if you could enjoy Beethoven and Bartok in a casual public watering hole on an ordinary urban street while chatting with your companion, ordering food and drink, and even glancing occasionally at a TV monitor where an NBA or NFL game is in progress.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Gordon-Square-BannerDetails are now in place for the inaugural neighborhood residency of The Cleveland Orchestra, which will find the Orchestra and members of Severance Hall ensembles engaging the community in numerous activities ranging from performances to a soccer match in the Gordon Square Arts District on Cleveland’s West Side from May 11 through May 17.

The full Orchestra will play a free evening concert (now sold out) and a morning educational concert at St. Colman Church under assistant conductor James Feddeck. A special City Club forum will discuss the impact of arts and culture on neighborhood development.

Other performances include a variety of Cleveland Orchestra soloists and ensembles performing in Gordon Square cafés, wine bars, a health campus, galleries and food stores as well as in La Sagrada Familia Church and Cleveland Public Theatre.

Ensemble HD, made up of Cleveland Orchestra musicians, will join Classical Revolution at the Happy Dog to celebrate the release of its vinyl recording, Ensemble HD Live at the Happy Dog.

Other activities include a Capitol Theatre screening of part of the Orchestra’s Bruckner Fourth Symphony Performance at St. Florian Abbey and that neighborhood soccer game, which will involve seventeen Orchestra musicians and staff and young people from the neighborhood. Read the rest of this entry »

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