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by Daniel Hathaway

Cho-ParnasConductor Robert L. Cronquist and the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra celebrated the ensemble’s seventy-eighth anniversary at Severance Hall on Sunday, April 28, with a charming Prokofiev symphony and a big double concerto — Brahms’s challenging workout for violin, cello and orchestra — featuring guest artists Jinjoo Cho and Cicely Parnas.

Prokofiev’s seventh symphony was written for a radio program to be broadcast by the Children’s Division of the Russian National Radio network. Its landscape is as child-friendly as an outdoor playground, fitted out with magical textures, wistful waltzes, playful themes and carnival gestures. The orchestra’s strings produced a nice, rich sound at the beginning, accompanied by dark, mysterious horns and graced by splendid clarinet solos (Pamela Elliot). Though the second movement exposed some tentative playing in the brass and percussion, the fine English hornist (Elizabeth Bishop) sensitively delivered lyrical lines in the third and spirited piano and bassoon solos (Linda Allen and Charlotte Hines) helped create a burlesquish atmosphere in the finale. Both conductor and orchestra both seemed to lose some energy as the piece went on and dynamics hovered in mezzo forte range. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Daniel Hathaway

Cho-ParnasJohannes Brahms wrote his Double Concerto for violinist Joseph Joachim and cellist Robert Haussmann in 1887 with the intention of repairing a damaged friendship with the violinist (the two had fallen out when Brahms had taken Joachim’s wife’s side in a divorce). Joachim and Haussmann had been frequent collaborators during their long careers. By contrast, on Sunday, April 28 at 3:30 pm, the “Double” will bring together two young musicians who already have established distinguished track records but have never worked together before, as violinist Jinjoo Cho and cellist Cicely Parnas join Robert L. Cronquist and the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra for the ensemble’s 78th anniversary concert at Severance Hall. We spoke to both soloists by phone to catch up on their recent activities.

Jinjoo Cho is finishing up her master’s degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studies with Jaime Laredo and plans to stay on next year for a Professional Studies Degree. Her recent big news was winning first place in the Buenos Aires Competition, which earned her a concert tour in Argentina. This summer, she will join her regular pianist HyunSoo Kim for a three-week chamber music residency at the Banff Center in Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Margaret Brouwer’s Path at Sunrise, Masses of Flowers, was premiered by the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra under Robert L. Cronquist on Sunday, April 11 during its 75th anniversary concert at Severance Hall. The piece was made possible by a Commissioning Music USA award from Meet the Composer. Margaret Brouwer retired in 2008 from her position as professor of composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music. We spoke with her by phone at her home in Cleveland.

Daniel Hathaway: I assume you’ve had a bit more time to compose since you retired from teaching.

Margaret Brouwer:  I have! It’s been wonderful and it’s lucky because I’ve had several big commissions and it’s been terrific to be able to just concentrate on that without trying to fit it in amongst many other things”.

DH: You just had a premiere in Dallas in January.

MB: I did — with the Dallas Symphony. It went beautifully. It really did. It was just a terrific experience. Got terrific reviews, and you know, there was actually a lot of press before the concert  and some radio coverage. And you know there’s a new music group there called Voices of Change — they’ve been around for a long time, probably 20, 35 years — they piggybacked on the Dallas Symphony bringing me down there and so the Dallas Symphony played the concert premiere on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then they scheduled a concert on Sunday where they did several of my chamber pieces.

DH: Fabulous. They should have given you the key to the city for the weekend.

MB: I know! It was terrific and they were wonderful. A lot of people in that group are members of the Dallas Symphony, so it’s a very high-level group, and they gave two wonderful performances of several chamber pieces in addition to the new concerto for viola and orchestra. It was hard to get back and just get to work again.
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