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By Mike Telin

FiveOne-Screw-Factory-(Frank-Lanza)

Anyone familiar with FiveOne Experimental Orchestra knows one thing: no concert will be like the last one. With their “no-boundaries” approach to music, this inventive group has a knack for creating happenings. They regularly incorporate artistic disciplines such as sculptors, filmmakers, dancers, and visual artists into their concerts. And they stand by their mission to present their concerts in unusual spaces like the Sculpture Center and the East Cleveland Township Cemetery.

On Saturday, Saturday, April 5 as part of NEOSonicFest, FiveOne Experimental Orchestra outdid themselves during their performance at The Screw Factory in Lakewood. And once again, it was a happening.

The Screw Factory is a massive complex that once served as the home of the Templar Motor Company. It later became a production facility for nuts and bolts, hence its name. Today it is home to an electrical wire manufacturer while the second and third floors serve as artists’ studios. Read the rest of this entry »

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By Daniel Hathaway

CCS-Y&EC-040614

The Cleveland Chamber Symphony wrapped up its six-concert NEOSonicFest on Sunday evening in Gamble Auditorium at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory with the second part of its tribute to founder Edwin London. Continuing London’s tradition of orchestral readings of scores by “Young and Emerging Composers”, music director Stephen Smith and the ensemble brought the works of four composers to life in performances bracketed with scores by what might be called the Already Emerged: long-time CSU professor and CCS collaborator Howie Smith and 20th century insurance executive and musical iconoclast Charles Ives.

Each of the four composers — chosen after an earlier reading session — was invited to come to the stage and say a few words about their very different pieces. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

NEEDHAM-ClintThe debut edition of NEOSonicFest will conclude much the way it began, with a concert that pays homage to Cleveland Chamber Symphony (CCS) founder Ed London. On Sunday, April 6 beginning at 7:30 pm in Baldwin Wallace University’s Gamble Auditorium, Steve Smith will lead CCS in a concert featuring Howie Smith’s Epilogue and Charles Ives Tone Roads No. 1.

The evening will also feature a program near and dear to London, the annual Young and Emerging Composers concert. In a recent conversation Smith said the program is very important because it encourages and gives young composers the opportunity to learn by hearing performances of the music they’re writing.

Clint Needham (left), composer in residence and assistant professor of music at Baldwin Wallace, and the person responsible for coordinating the concert, agrees with Smith. “As a student at BW I was also part of the Young and Emerging Composers program”, Needham told us by telephone. “It was my first professional performance and my first orchestral performance so it was a big deal to me,” adding that coordinating the concert is special to him. “It’s a weird sort of roundabout way to give back, but it’s really nice.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

CCS-032814-Bill-Nairnan

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

Screw-FactorySince performing their first concert in May of 2008, FiveOne Experimental Orchestra, a Cleveland-based music collective of composers and performers, has presented concerts with a ‘no-boundaries’ approach to music. The Orchestra’s vision is to create a diverse stream of fresh, new-perspective musical works that are a meld of genres, styles, and artistic disciplines.

FiveOne often incorporates many artistic disciplines through a variety of collaborations, including sculptors, filmmakers, dancers, and visual artists. They often perform concerts at places such as the Sculpture Center and the East Cleveland Township Cemetery as well as more traditional venues like the Cleveland Public Library.

On Saturday, Saturday, April 5th beginning at 8:30pm NEOSonicFest presents FiveOne Experimental Orchestra at The Screw Factory in Lakewood. “It’s quite a big deal for us,” musician, composer and FiveOne Artistic Director John HC Thompson said during a recent telephone conversation. “I think the Festival organizers were aware of the Experimental Orchestra’s mission to perform in unusual spaces. And knowing that, the pressure was on for me to find a cool place to play.”

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by Mike Telin

SMITH-HowieThough described as “an electrifying and versatile soloist” by the New York Times, it’s difficult to categorize virtuoso saxophonist and composer Howie Smith. As a performer, he has worked with musicians, organizations and composers as diverse as Lester Bowie, John Cage, The Cleveland Orchestra, Mark Dresser, Iron Toys, Mike Nock, Elvis Presley, Clark Terry, and the Tone Road Ramblers. As a composer, his catalogue includes works for big bands and combos, for string, wind and percussion ensembles, for electronics, and for mixed media.

On Wednesday, April 2nd beginning at 8:00 pm in Cleveland State University’s Drinko Hall, NEOSonicFest presents Howie Smith in a performance consisting of a single work, Smith’s own The Speed of Time for saxophone and nine-channel surround audio.

Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Moyer-Newberry-OrganMost listeners encounter the organ through church services, which rarely venture into avant-garde music. NEOSonicFest’s third concert on Monday, March 31 at 7:30 pm at the Church of the Covenant will offer a different view of organ music, according to recitalist Jonathan William Moyer.

If people come with a different set of expectations and open themselves to new and exciting sounds from the organ, I think it will be a very entertaining evening,” Moyer told us in a phone conversation. “And these are works that are rarely performed because there’s not often a context to do them in. Even at conventions and festivals they shy away from these stronger, more modern expressions.”

Moyer, who is assistant professor of organ at Oberlin in addition to his position as music director and organist at the Covenant, went on to describe his program in detail.

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

Edmund-FitzgeraldNEOSonicFest opens on Friday, March 28 at 7:30 pm in Cleveland State University’s Drinko Hall, when Steven Smith leads the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in a program that features Ed London’s Melodrama and Federico’s Follies. The concert also includes Geoffrey Peterson’s The Edmund Fitzgerald, a concerto for piano and strings with Nicholas Underhill as soloist, and special guests Verb Ballets, Richard Dickinson, choreographer.

Geoffrey Peterson’s concerto chronicles the tragic shipwreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior in November, 1975. Its four movements are entitled “Embarkment,” “The Gales,” “Six-Fathom Shoal” (“We’re holding our own”) and “Entombment-Dirge”. The concerto makes use of several musical quotes. The first is Spanish Ladies, an English sea chantey, which appears in both the first and third movements. The second is the funeral march theme from the second movement of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, which is heard in the fourth movement of the concerto. In addition, a chime is rung 29 times during the final bars of the piece to memorialize the men who lost their lives.

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by Mike Telin

London-EdSince its founding in 1980 by the late composer and Cleveland State University professor Edwin London (left), the Cleveland Chamber Symphony has remained true to its core mission of performing and promoting new music that “dares to explore”. This week the Grammy Award-winning orchestra enters a new phase in its life when it takes on the role of organizer and host of NEOSonicFest, a festival of new music.

We’re very excited about it,” said Cleveland Chamber Symphony music director Steven Smith during a recent telephone conversation. “We’ve been thinking about how to keep the name and activities of CCS alive over the past several years. We thought the idea of concentrating our activities into a specific period of time would give a greater focus on what CCS does.”

NEOSonicFest opens on Friday, March 28 at 7:30 pm in Cleveland State University’s Drinko Hall, when Steven Smith leads the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in a program that features Ed London’s Melodrama and Federico’s Follies. The concert also includes Geoffrey Peterson’s The Edmund Fitzgerald, a concerto for piano and strings with Nicholas Underhill as soloist, and special guests Verb Ballets, Richard Dickinson, choreographer.

Read the rest of this entry »

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