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by Mike Telin

MIdori-&-AydinSince making her debut at age eleven as a surprise guest soloist with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta in 1982, violinist Midori has become recognized as a master musician and a devoted and gifted educator. In addition to her many achievements as a performer, Midori is an active music educator for underserved communities. She runs several successful programs that have reached hundreds of thousands of children since the early 1990s, especially at New York public schools.

On Saturday, April 12 at 7:30 pm in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium, violinist Midori will be joined by pianist Özgür Aydin in a concert featuring  Debussy’s Sonata in g, Shostakovich’s Sonata, op. 134, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 10 in G, op. 96 & Schubert’s . The concert is part of the Museum’s Masters of the Violin Performing ArtsSeries.

Midori graciously agreed to answer questions by e-mail and discussed her activism in underserved communities, her thoughts on teaching and her collaboration with Mr. Aydin. She began by talking about her program. Read the rest of this entry »


by Daniel Hathaway

CHEN-RayNot quite twenty-five years old, violinist Ray Chen has left his prodigy days well behind and enjoys a burgeoning reputation as a smart, stylish young virtuoso who told this publication that his main concern is to connect with audiences.

Born in Taiwan and brought up in Australia, and having spent a local stint at the Encore School for Strings in Hudson barely a decade ago, Chen is refreshingly devoid of pretense and attitude. And as he showed a good-sized audience at the Cleveland Museum of Art on February 12, he can deliver an impressive and thoroughly engaging recital.

Chen and his pianist partner, Julio Elizalde, playing modishly from iPads, led off with a vigorous and incisive retelling of Mozart’s A-major sonata, K. 305, neatly passing off phrases and finishing each other’s sentences like old buddies. The two-movement piece, written when Mozart was barely twenty, concludes with a set of six variations on a theme in which the two musicians brought out a variety of subtle inflections. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Shaham_7091_FINAL_credit Luke Ratray.rLuke Ratray’s photograph on the cover of the program for Gil Shaham’s solo violin concert at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Thursday evening, February 6, caught the essence of the artist’s musical personality. Self-effacing and smiling, he looks down on his bow and fiddle with gently concentrated intensity but easy assurance, qualities he brought in full measure to his enthralling performances of three of Johann Sebastian Bach’s six works for violin alone.

Alone means, of course, violin without its customary baroque underpinning of bass line and harmony supplied by continuo instruments. Bach, with his uncanny way of creating multiple layers out of single melodic lines, makes you feel that nothing is missing — even when he writes virtual fugues — but a lot of the magic remains to be supplied by the performer, who is as solitary and just about as vulnerable on stage as a musician can be. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

CHEN-RayIt’s always a great pleasure to return to a place and to continue to build a relationship with the audience,” violinist Ray Chen told us during a recent telephone conversation. “That’s what I believe performing is about, it’s the connections to the audience.”

On Wednesday, February 12 beginning at 7:30 pm in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium, Ray Chen returns to Cleveland as part of CMA’s Performing Arts Series, Masters of the Violin. Pianist Julio Elizalde joins Chen in performances of Mozart’s Sonata in A, K. 305 and Sarasate’s Habanera, Playera, and Zigeunerweisen, as well as Beethoven’s Sonata No. 9, “Kreutzer.”

Born in Taiwan and raised in Australia, Ray Chen studied at the Curtis Institute of Music. Following wins at the Yehudi Menuhin (2008) and Queen Elisabeth (2009) competitions, Chen’s international career has been on a fast track forward. You can read about his accomplishments and numerous other interests on his website.

Chen, who turns 25 the beginning of March, most recently performed in Cleveland last summer, making his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom. But Cleveland also played an important role during his formative years. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

SHAHAM-Gil2Northeastern Ohio Cleveland Orchestra fans who (rather enviously) tuned in to a recent live radio broadcast from Miami experienced the artistry of violinist Gil Shaham in the Korngold concerto in a performance led by Franz Welser-Möst. Shaham is spending the midwinter months playing that work in alternation with a solo program of J.S. Bach’s solo violin music. The Cleveland Museum of Art will bring Gil Shaham to its Masters of the Violin series-within-a-series on Thursday evening, February 6 to play three of Bach’s works. We reached Shaham by telephone in Houston last week where he was preparing to play the Korngold with John Adams and the Houston Symphony.

Daniel Hathaway: We enjoyed hearing the Korngold over the radio from Miami, and considering the weather here, we really wished we’d been there in person.

Gil Shaham: I felt very lucky to be there with Franz and The Cleveland Orchestra. It’s been a few years since I’ve played the Korngold. It’s beautifully written and the composer gets really wonderful sounds from the violin and the orchestra. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

O'Connor-SQViolinist, composer and educator Mark O’Connor is not a folk musician or a jazz musician or a classical musician. Nor is he a musician specializing in any one of the multitude of musical styles he has studied. The categorization of Mark O’Connor is nearly impossible as he is his own musical genre.

On Wednesday, October 30 at 7:30 in Gartner Auditorium, Mark O’Connor returns to Cleveland with his string quartet for performances of his String Quartet No. 2 “Bluegrass,” Appalachia Waltz and String Quartet No. 3 “Old-Time.” The concert is co-presented by CIM and the Cleveland Museum of Art as part of the Mixon Hall Masters Series: Return of the Composer/Virtuoso and the CMA Performing Arts Series: Masters of the Violin. A conversation between O’Connor and CIM president Joel Smirnoff begins at 6:00 p.m.

Through his popular summer string camps and method books, O’Connor is training the next generation of musicians in the art of what he refers to as “American” string playing. And while in town he will also present master classes in string improvisation and composition as well an educational workshop at CIM. Read the rest of this entry »

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