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by Daniel Hautzinger

CYO--060114-Rob-MullerGenuine beaming smiles are a rare sight among high school students, those supremely self-conscious paragons of effortful cool. But on June 2, dozens of delighted adolescent grins shone forth from the stage of Severance Hall, an occurrence even more remarkable for taking place in the decidedly unhip venue of a classical music concert hall. Sharing the stage with such an exciting performer as pianist, singer, and songwriter Ben Folds elicited not only unembarrassed smiles, but also head banging and exuberant playing from the young musicians of the Contemporary Youth Orchestra (CYO), directed by Liza Grossman.

The orchestra, especially the brass and percussion, were uninhibited in dynamic arrangements of Folds’s songs by Iain Grandage, Michael Pigneguy, Paul Buckmaster, Graeme Lyall, Jim Gray, and James Ledger. That freedom from restraint is often absent when young musicians perform canonical music, so hearing CYO unabashedly enjoy their parts was a joy. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

BambiThose of us (of a certain age) who grew up watching the animated films (call them cartoons if you must) of the mid-twentieth century received a subliminal dose of well-crafted music that would hold up well in the concert hall — and probably turned us in a good musical direction as a result.

Now the film music of Disney, Pixar and Marvel has moved from celluloid into symphonic circles, as The Cleveland Orchestra has recently been proving in performances at Blossom. On Saturday, March 15 at 7 pm in Waetjen Auditorium at CSU, the next generation of orchestral musicians will tackle that repertory as Liza Grossman leads the Contemporary Youth Orchestra in its annual Music and Its Industry concert, “The Sound of Imagination: Music of Pixar, Disney and Marvel.”

The performance will mark the seventh time that Grossman has collaborated with Case Western Reserve University musicologist Daniel Goldmark in designing and providing narrative context for its midwinter concert. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

GROSSMAN-LizaYes, it’s hard to believe, but this is our nineteenth season and it’s the first year that CYO is older then its members,” says Contemporary Youth Orchestra founder and music director Liza Grossman. On Saturday, December 7 beginning at 7:00 pm in Waetjen Auditorium, Cleveland State University, CYO under the direction of Liza Grossman will present a concert featuring the music of John Adams, Frank Martin, Igor Stravinsky and Astor Piazzolla featuring musical guests The Oblivion Project.

The concert also includes a special performance by twenty-six young musicians of the El Sistema University Circle program in a side-by-side performance of Brian Balmage’s Burst. Grossman says that collaborating with El Sistema began actually began a couple of years ago when the program’s founder and Cleveland Orchestra violinist Isabel Trautwein began attending CYO concerts. “I am fascinated by and in awe of her commitment to bringing this kind of education to Cleveland. She even brings her kids to CYO rehearsals in hope of inspiring them,” Grossman said. “What a wonderful opportunity for us to share and inspire the El Sistema kids and the CYO members.”

Anyone who has attended a CYO concert knows that there is always a high level of fun happening on the stage. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

COLLINS-BootsySince 2001, the Contemporary Youth Orchestra under the direction of its always-creative founder and music director Liza Grossman, have presented an end-of-season Rock the Orchestra concert. Past concerts have given CYO members the chance to work with some of the greats from the world of Rock including the likes of Graham Nash, Jon Anderson, Pat Benatar, Donnie Iris and Jefferson Starship. On Friday, May 17 in Cleveland State University’s Waetjen Auditorium, legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins joined forces with CYO in an electrifying concert titled Psychotic Bump School.

But this concert amounted to far more than a celebrated artist playing his or her beloved tunes backed up by an orchestra; this performance was all about the collaborative nature of music. Collins, the CYO, the 57-member Campus International School Bootsy Choir under the direction of Janice Fields Pohl, and his own band — Keith Cheatham, guitar, “Monster” Mike Cobb, bass, Ken “BAM” Smith, drums, Zac Adams, Candice Cheatham and Lauren Mallory, vocals — plus some cool dance steps by Patti Collins, all added up to one gigantic music-making and dancing machine. Read the rest of this entry »

by Timothy Robson

CYO-SS-031613Sometimes good ideas run amok, despite the best of intentions and excellent execution. Such was the case with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra’s “Singer / Songwriters” concert at CSU’s Waetjen Auditorium on March 16. The orchestra’s brilliantly inventive music director Liza Grossman hit on the idea of having singer/songwriters present their songs in full orchestral arrangements commissioned by the orchestra.

The performer/composers participated in a competition to have their songs chosen. There was a wealth of talent from Cleveland, Michigan, New York, Connecticut and California. And there’s the flaw: fourteen performers (some soloists, some groups) were chosen to perform two songs each. Then there was set up time and spoken commentary in between each performer. The concert was more than three hours long, and many in the audience fled long before the end, which was regrettable, because there were fine performances right through to the end of the evening. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

CYO-SSThe Contemporary Youth Orchestra (CYO) under the direction of Liza Grossman, presents My Gift is My Song on Saturday, March 16, beginning at 7:00 pm in Waetjen Auditorium at Cleveland State University. The concert features the winners of CYO’s first-ever singer/songwriter contest and is presented as part of CYO’s annual “Music and its Industry” concert.

The concept for the concert was inspired by the annual CYO Hidden Talent Show Scholarship Award Night, CYO founder and music director Liza Grossman told us by phone. “Two members’ hidden talent was that they were singer/songwriters. I was so moved by the music they had written and the lyrics were so personal and happy. The songs reflected so much about who they were. So everything spawned from that.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

The ContemporaryCYO-SS Youth Orchestra (CYO) under the direction of Liza Grossman, presents My Gift is My Song on Saturday, March 16, beginning at 7:00 pm in Waetjen Auditorium at Cleveland State University. The concert features the winners of CYO’s first-ever singer/songwriter contest and is presented as part of CYO’s annual “Music and its Industry” concert.

The concept for the concert was inspired by the annual CYO Hidden Talent Show Scholarship Award Night, CYO founder and music director Liza Grossman told us by phone. “Two members’ hidden talent was that they were singer/songwriters. I was so moved by the music they had written and the lyrics were so personal and happy. The songs reflected so much about who they were. So everything spawned from that.” Read the rest of this entry »

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

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James Flood
J.D. Goddard
Jarrett Hoffman
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Timothy Robson
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