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by Daniel Hathaway


The Cleveland Orchestra’s new concert series, Summers@Severance, offers a one-hour-or-so performance by the orchestra on three Friday evenings at 7:00 pm, bracketed by a party with drinks and small plates served on the Front Terrace. The concept seems to have caught on quickly, and judging from the number of audience members snapping cell phone pictures of the Severance Hall interior, brought many first-time listeners to hear the Orchestra on opening night, August 1. 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

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 Daniel Hathaway

CCS-at-BW-WellerNearly a quarter-century ago, composer-conductor Edwin London founded the Cleveland Chamber Symphony at Cleveland State University. With the directive of performing “music of our time that dares to explore”, CCS developed a reputation and a dedicated following for offering professional performances and recordings of new works, and, along the way, copped an impressive list of awards including a Grammy.

After London retired, a series of hosting, leadership and funding vicissitudes left the organization essentially homeless but doggedly determined to keep itself alive through new relationships with the Cleveland Music School Settlement and Baldwin Wallace University. Its “Meet the Composers” and “New and Emerging Composers” series have continued on an annual basis, and last season CCS teamed with Verb Ballets for performances at Cleveland Public Theater.

The Verb Ballets relationship will be renewed on Thursday, June 13 at 7:30 pm in Gamble Auditorium at Baldwin Wallace, when music director Steven Smith will conduct the premiere of James A. Hirt’s Chromatophores, Clint Needham’s Urban Sprawl, and Michael Leese’s Harp, Percussion and Strings. Also on the program is Smith’s own String Quartet. Smith talked about some of the repertory by phone from his home in Richmond, VA, where he serves as music director of the Richmond Symphony. Read the rest of this entry »

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Daniel Hathaway
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