Pink Martini

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 · 0 comments

Last night The Cleveland Orchestra performed with Pink Martini to a sold-out crowd at Severance Hall. View a slideshow of photos from the evening below!

Listen to Dee Perry's interview with Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes that aired on WCPN 90.3 FM's Around Noon, or read The Plain Dealer's review of the performance.

"If the United Nations had a house band in 1962, hopefully we'd be that band." - Thomas Lauderdale, bandleader/pianist

Miami Residency Review

Saturday, March 27, 2010 · 0 comments

South Florida Classical Review

Fliter’s Chopin sparks Cleveland Orchestra’s Miami season finale
by David Fleshler
March 27, 2010

The young Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter gave a flowing, sweeping performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 Friday night, as the Cleveland Orchestra entered the last weekend of its Miami season.

Fliter is a musical aristocrat. While some pianists are so intent on selling the music or themselves that they distort phrases and exaggerate dynamics, she played Chopin in a natural unhurried style that recalled Rubinstein. Her Chopin was neither banging nor precious. Her technique was fluent and assured, and she did nothing to draw attention to it or any difficulties in the music. In the second movement, the swift notes that ornament the melody were played with unusual grace and refinement. But she didn’t short the work’s drama, and the ripping passages of the last movement came off with fire and grandiose power.

The orchestra performed at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall, under the direction of the pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy. They opened with Alexander Glazunov’s Nocturne in F Major, an excerpt from his orchestration of Chopin piano works into a suite called Chopiana, now a popular work for ballet companies. It wasn’t particularly interesting on its own, however, coming off as vague and soft, without the percussive quality of the piano, but it was, at least, very short.

Having labored through not particularly interesting Glazunov and served as a pianist’s backup band, the Cleveland Orchestra was finally able, in the second half, to open up and show what it could do, in a suite from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet.

Ashkenazy, who has recorded the work with the Royal Philharmonic, emphasized the surging, dramatic side of the suite, although his control of dynamics was exquisitely sensitive, always leaving the orchestra with reserves of power. The work can come off as a sort of orchestral display piece, with its virtuoso demands on strings and solo turns in winds and brass. But with the Cleveland Orchestra on stage, there was nothing wrong with appreciating some virtuosity, especially when the music was at this high a level.

Violins ripped through the extremely fast writing in The Fight section with a crisp brilliance. Oboe and flute solos were phrased with grace and emotional warmth. And in Juliet’s Death and Juliet’s Funeral, Ashkenazy showed a mastery of control, as he balanced strings and the orchestra’s weighty brass section in climaxes that were powerful without ever becoming raucous.

The program contained inserts announcing next year’s Miami program, and it is an ultra-conservative lineup even by the orchestra’s cautious Miami standards. Among the works will be the Schumann Piano Concerto with soloist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Augustin Hadelich and the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 with Horacio Gutierrez.

Other major works are the Dvorak Symphony No. 7, Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben and the Haydn Symphony No. 96. The 20th century is represented by Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Ravel’s Bolero. Music director Franz Welser-Möst will lead only one of the three two-concert programs, with one being led by Giancarlo Guerrero, music director of the Nashville Symphony, and the other – which includes the Dvorak symphony - by the Czech conductor Jiří Bĕlohlávek, chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Miami Residency - Arsht Center Concert


The Cleveland Orchestra performed a concert on Friday, March 26, with guest conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy at the Arsht Center in Miami. During the first half of the concert, Ingrid Fliter joined the Orchestra for Chopin's Second Piano Concerto.

Following intermission, Judy Drucker was honored by Cleveland Orchestra Executive Director Gary Hanson from the stage. Ms. Drucker first presented The Cleveland Orchestra in Miami exactly 25 years ago. Gary remarked on her legacy of building audiences in Miami for decades. After the concert, Judy received a framed program from that first concert in 1985.

Ingrid Fliter received roses from Clara, a young pianist from Boynton Beach

Photos: John VanBeekum

Mentoring Students in Miami

Friday, March 26, 2010 · 0 comments

Cleveland Orchestra Musicians Richard Weiss (below) and Joshua Smith (right) were at the Frost School of Music of the University of Miami this afternoon working with students on technique. Richard heard orchestral excerpts in Professor Ross Harbaugh's studio, and Josh led a masterclass for more than a dozen flutists. Many of the students will be attending Cleveland Orchestra concerts this weekend at the Arsht Center.

Music @ MOCA


Last night, four arts organizations collaborated to present a concert at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Miami. Nine Musicians of The Cleveland Orchestra and eleven members of the New World Symphony performed a program of 20th and 21st century music, including pieces by two University of Miami Frost School of Music composition students.

Amidst exhibitions of Ceal Floyer’s minimal constructions and Cory Arcangel’s multimedia art, Bonnie Clearwater, Executive Director and Chief Curator of MOCA, welcomed the audience of more than 200 people. Students composers Valentin Bogdan and Liza Seigido spoke to the audience about their pieces during the performance.

Spotlight On Cleveland Orchestra Music Study Groups with Rose Breckenridge


The Cleveland Orchestra presents Music Study Groups at six Greater Cleveland locations in partnership with several community organizations — Cuyahoga County Public Library (four branches), Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church — as part of the Orchestra’s Community Music Initiative.

Dr. Rose Breckenridge teaches these classes for adults, in tandem with the Orchestra’s subscription concerts at Severance Hall. We recently spoke with Rose about her experiences teaching the Music Study Groups, and what participants take away at the end of the season.

What do you enjoy most about teaching Music Study Groups?
I’ve always loved to teach – I have a passion for classical music and I love sharing that with the amazing people who come to learn more about the music that The Cleveland Orchestra performs. When we’re talking about a complicated theme or an hour-long symphonic work it’s so exciting to see the lights come on when someone understands something for the first time.

I try to inspire the students to become even more interested in classical music and help them learn that it’s not just background music. There’s always something going on and they can follow it and understand it in new ways. The thrill of inspiring students to dig deeper is very exciting for me. People in the classes give me feedback, and I’m proud that over the past 15 years we’ve worked to improve the program every year.

Another part of my job that I love is presenting some of the Concert Previews that the Orchestra offers – for free – an hour before each Cleveland Orchestra subscription concert at Severance Hall. These previews offer a wonderful lineup of speakers including music historians, composers, artists, and others who provide insight into each concert’s program. It’s always a pleasure to participate.

What do participants take away from the classes?
I think for many people it’s a very meaningful experience. It’s not about Rose teaching in the classroom – it’s about people who have a love for classical music coming together to share that and learn more. It’s also a place to meet people who share similar interests.

Students have a varying degree of interest in classical music, and I try to inspire them to appreciate it more and also to learn more about The Cleveland Orchestra and all that it does. Many people start out in the Music Study Groups as students and later want to get more involved in the organization in other ways. I can recall many students who have gone on to volunteer for the Orchestra as ushers, store volunteers, and on the Women’s Committee.

Are Music Study Groups for advanced listeners or beginners?
Students of these classes are people who both love the music and also want to learn more about what’s going on in the music. We have both experienced music lovers who have studied music their entire lives and people who are new to classical music and don’t read a note of music. During class we go into depth about the composers, the lives they lived, and the historical context. I do my best to be a good storyteller and frame my presentations so that everyone can learn.

Talk about a part of the Music Study Groups about which you’re very proud.
For 20 years we’ve partnered with the Cleveland Sight Center to reach members of Northeast Ohio’s visually impaired community, who receive special services in the Music Study Groups with the support of the Cleveland Sight Center and the Orchestra’s Cull Endowment. We’re very proud that this outreach is part of the Music Study Groups.

Listen to an excerpt from a recent Music Study Group class during which Rose spoke about Richard Strauss’s tone poem Thus Spake Zarathustra (audio courtesy of Second Story Productions).

Music Study Groups are held each fall, winter, and spring at six partner locations in Greater Cleveland: Cuyahoga County Public Library (Beachwood, Brecksville, Fairview Park, and Orange Branches), Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Cleveland Heights.

Participants each receive a Listening Guide – a booklet with program notes, musical themes from featured compositions, and detailed information about the works that the Orchestra is performing at Severance Hall throughout the season. For more information, call Education and Community Programs at 216-231-7353, email, or download the brochure.

Violinist visits East Cleveland classrooms


When does the roll of a die have something to do with classical music?

Violinist Emma Shook used a brightly colored die to engage third graders during a recent visit to two classrooms at Mayfair Elementary School in East Cleveland. Shook visited the classrooms of D’Angela Cooper and Miriam Livingston as a teaching artist for Learning Through Music, a Cleveland Orchestra program that uses orchestral music to strengthen student learning in general subject areas like science, math, language arts and social studies.

Shook’s theme was interdependence. (Part II, ecosystems, she reserved for the next set of visits.) The Juilliard School graduate tackled the word by showing students how all of the parts of a violin work together. Using an unvarnished model from Cleveland Violins, she assembled the parts before their eyes.

In a little “air violin” demo where Shook pretended to play on the strings without a bow, she made her point that you can’t make sound without both the bow and the strings working together.

Shook, a member of The Cleveland Orchestra since 2001, divided students into two groups – composers and audience – explaining how they are interdependent in a performance setting. The “composers” called out letters of their choice (A through G only, of course) to create a melody and then voted to determine whether the melody should be happy or sad (major or minor), fast or slow, loud or soft. After a little practice, Shook then assumed the role of the performer, responsible for interpreting the melody of the classroom “composers” and bringing their music to life.

And about that die?

Shook made a list of the elements of music – melody, harmony, rhythm, tempo, dynamics, articulation. She assigned each a number, one through six. Then students took turns throwing the die. (Shook didn’t have to ask twice for volunteers from these kids.)

When someone rolled, say, a three (rhythm), Shook went back to the music that she had played at the beginning of the session and removed the element of rhythm, playing each note for the same amount of time.

Without any rhythmic variety, the music was a little boring, right? Yes, the students agreed. With each example Shook played, they had more ways to see and hear that all of the elements of music are interdependent.

Shook, who is a stepmother to three children, had a relaxed rapport with the kids. Her performance of a snappy Scott Joplin rag got these students clapping along.

The West Virginia native offered a little non-academic advice, too.

“Anybody here play Hangman?” she asked. “OK, next time you play, use the word rhythm. It gets them every time!”

When Shook returns to the two Mayfair classrooms next month, she’ll expand the idea of interdependence into how orchestras are like ecosystems in nature.

All in all, musicians from The Cleveland Orchestra will make 150 classroom visits to partner schools this year as part of the Learning Through Music program.

Photo of Cleveland Orchestra violinist Emma Shook by The Cleveland Orchestra Education Department

Thousands of students enjoy Education Concerts in Miami

Thursday, March 25, 2010 · 0 comments

A few thousand students attended Cleveland Orchestra Education concerts at the Adrienne Arsht Center today in Miami.

See a slideshow here.

Read more, from the Arsht Center's Point of View week in review below.


It was a perfect South Florida spring morning today as 77 buses from 73 Miami-Dade County Public Schools began to arrive at the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall. At no charge, some 3,500 elementary school students came to hear the extraordinary Cleveland Orchestra perform one of its wildly popular programs based on the lives and music of the great composers. Today it was two performances of Classical Kids Live!’s Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, a tale of Vivaldi, Venice and violins, and winner of over a dozen awards for outstanding music education productions.

Miami-Dade County Elementary School students arrive at the Adrienne Arsht Center for The Cleveland Orchestra school concert.

Students take their seats and get ready for the show!

The students had prepared for this special day in their classrooms, with the help of CDs, study guides, and student newspapers created for this occasion. And the hall was already buzzing with anticipation as the kids took their seats throughout the main floor and tiers. Even before the show began they were enthralled by the spectacle of the theater itself, as teachers pointed out the state-of-the-art acoustical dome, doors, and panels. And lots of questions were asked about the paintings on stage that set the scene for the story with lovely depictions of Venice’s most famous sights.

Adrienne Arsht Center staff welcome students to the Knight Concert Hall.

As the Cleveland players entered the stage, the kids cheered, and as the lights went down, professional actors took their places to begin the musical tale of Katarina, a young violinist, who is sent to study music at the great Pieta orphanage in seventeenth century Venice, where she is taught by the famous music director and composer Antonio Vivaldi. As the story unfolded Katarina searched for clues to her own past and to a vanishing Stradivarius violin, while the orchestra played more than 20 excerpts of Vivaldi’s most popular and important works including The Four Seasons, the Violin Concerto in A Minor, and more.

When the mystery was solved and the music came to an end, the young audience burst into applause and jumped to their feet. For many of them, this outing to the Adrienne Arsht Center served as their introduction to live orchestra music – an experience they will never forget.

Photos by Manny Hernandez for the Arsht Center.

Sharing the Love of Music

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 · 0 comments

Cleveland Orchestra violinist Isabel Trautwein initiated contact with Miami's Community Partnership for Homeless to arrange a chamber performance this afternoon at the Chapman Center in downtown Miami. Just blocks away from the Adrienne Arsht Center, where the Orchestra performs, the Chapman Center is a 402-bed center has facilities for single and family residents and and includes a worship center, a vocational training center, childcare facilities, and a full medical facility.

Isabel and violinists Miho Hashizume and Kathleen Collins, and cellist Paul Kushious volunteered their time to share their love of music at the homeless shelter. More than 25 children who are staying at the Chapman Center attended the performance, and were also able to interact with the musicians with questions. After a Mozart string quartet performance, Paul played a solo piece by Bach, Miho and her husband played a duo violin Irish jig, while their nine-year-old daughter danced for the kids. Then they asked all the children to get up and dance, which brought a lot of smiles to everyone.

To help the homeless in Miami click here.

Horns at Frost

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 · 0 comments

Jesse McCormick teaching a student at the University of Miami

Cleveland Orchestra musicians Richard King and Jesse McCormick began their class for Frost School of Music students performing together, and then started a dialogue about studying, practicing, and auditioning. Richard talked about the importance of preparation and being able to know you have truly done your best. Jesse spoke about his tactics for mentally and physically getting ready for auditions, including learning everything he could about the particular halls where the auditions were held.

Many of the students study other subjects in addition to music, however, they were prepared to perform professional audition excerpts for their peers. They also listened to praise, comments, and advice from Richard and Jesse.

After the first student performed, Richard said she was fabulous and brave, and gave her some tips. He recommended that she utilize real articulation, to be very precise. He also talked about descending from higher to lower registers, and asked her to lock in right on the pitch.

Jesse added that she had nice long phrases, and that she could work on creating a larger sound with the feeling of greater support.

The class continued with another performance, and comments were again offered to help the student re-approach the excerpts incorporating the advice. Following that, all the students were able to ask questions in the class setting, and also to meet Rich and Jesse personally.

Audition Workshop at Frost School of Music in Miami


Professor Tim Conner welcomed Cleveland Orchestra musicians Jeffrey Rathbun, Shachar Israel, and Saeran St. Christopher to hear 8 students at the University of Miami practice audition excerpts. The students are playing several orchestral excerpts and the Orchestra musicians are giving them comments and criticism about them, along with helpful hints on auditioning. The comments include information about intonation, color, phrasing, emphasis, versatility, rhythm, and more.

Shachar told French horn student Stan Spinola that he could approach the excerpts more like a soloist - to let his personality come through, and not be too safe. Saeran recommended more listening to performances and recordings to develop a strong sense of the different styles of composers. She said that in Mozart, you need to pay careful attention to repeated phrases, in order to make each one interesting. Jeff coached Stan that the breathing should not interrupt the flow of the music.

This is a unique experience for students to play the music they would in a professional audition for an orchestra, and to receive real time feedback about how they can improve. The students are well prepared, and eager to demonstrate their willingness to take the comments and enhance their performances.

Sold-out performance in Ft. Myers

Monday, March 22, 2010 · 0 comments

Just minutes ago, Barbara B. Mann welcomed The Cleveland Orchestra to the stage in Ft. Myers, Florida, for a performance including music by Chopin, Glazunov, and Prokofiev. Vladimir Ashkenazy is conducting, and Ingrid Fliter is performing Chopin's Second Piano Concerto. Tomorrow begins the third week of the 2010 Miami Residency.

Reblog: Joffrey Ballet Plans Reality Show


Chicago's Joffrey Ballet, which will give two performances with The Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival over Labor Day weekend, is gearing up for a new reality show, tentatively titled "First Position." Read more.

The Joffrey Ballet performed Kettentanz (photo by Herbert Migdoll) at Blossom last summer.

New Music Emerges From Elkhart's Instrument Past (NPR)

Friday, March 19, 2010 · 0 comments

An employee cleans sections of a trumpet at Conn-Selmer's Vincent Bach division in Elkhart, Ind. The company produces a well-known brand of trumpets and trombones.

from NPR
March 11, 2010

If there's one place where "strike up the band" has meant more than making music, it's in Elkhart, Ind. Although the boom times are long past, instrument manufacturing has been a part of the city's economy for more than a century.

Elkhart was once home to 60 instrument manufacturers. But the musical instrument industry has changed drastically — affected by imports, consolidations and reduced school budgets for music.

Today, only three major companies remain in Elkhart: Conn-Selmer, E.K. Blessing and Gemeinhardt Flutes. These companies are struggling to survive in a city with one of the country's highest unemployment rates.

A Band Instrument Capital

The band room where students practice at Concord High School in Elkhart is not far from the school's gym where President Obama held a town hall meeting last year to pitch his economic stimulus package.

Many of the shiny trumpets, trombones, clarinets and other instruments the students play were made in town. That musical tradition once made Elkhart the "Band Instrument Capital of the World."

"Elkhart may no longer be the world leader, but it's still the band instrument capital of the U.S.," says John Stoner, chief executive officer of Conn-Selmer.

Conn-Selmer's Vincent Bach division in Elkhart produces one of the best-known brands of trumpets and trombones. Nearly 1,000 people work at Conn-Selmer — and more than half of them do so in Elkhart. Stoner says Conn-Selmer has survived the turmoil of this latest recession by cutting salaries, shutting down plants for a day and laying some people off.

"Because of the skill sets required to manufacture an instrument — as far as the labor and handiwork — we needed to keep as many people employed as we possibly could because trying to retrain people when the economy does come out of it is a very expensive proposition," Stoner says.

Conn-Selmer makes more than 50,000 instruments a year. At the Elkhart plants, workers turn flat sheets of brass into a trumpet bell, pull the holes up in the metal for flutes and build a variety of other instruments.

Student and intermediate instruments, including a flute designed by flutist James Galway, make up the bulk of sales and account for most jobs. Conn-Selmer also makes more expensive and higher-quality professional instruments. Before the instruments are shipped to dealers, testers play them to make sure they're in tiptop shape.

The Impact Of Imports

Elkhart instrument makers face some of the same challenges with imports that other types of American manufacturers encounter. An influx of instruments manufactured in countries like China, where the labor force is paid $1 per hour or less, has forced Elkhart companies to change their ways by sending production overseas to countries with less expensive labor costs or by closing down altogether. Tight state budgets have also had an effect on school music programs.

Daniel Books places a rim around a trumpet bell at the E. K. Blessing division of Powell Flutes factory in Elkhart. The company plans to use federal stimulus funds to move to a new building and hire more employees.

Daniel Books places a rim around a trumpet bell at the E. K. Blessing division of Powell Flutes factory in Elkhart. The company plans to use federal stimulus funds to move to a new building and hire more employees.

At Concord High School, music director Gay Burton says even in a music-minded community like Elkhart, there's always the chance that music programs might have to be scaled back because of budget cuts.

"When the cuts are so deep, you just can imagine it's going to affect everything in the school," she says.

Another Elkhart instrument maker, E.K. Blessing, has been an Indiana mainstay since 1906. A small cadre of 20 employees, mostly part-timers, works at the plant.

Massachusetts-based Powell Flutes bought E.K. Blessing last year, lured in part by Elkhart's pool of workers already skilled in the art of making musical instruments. Last week, the company caused quite a stir in a town that's seen record unemployment figures. It announced plans to add 22 new full-time jobs by 2012 with an expectation of many more to come.

A Commitment To Making Instruments In The U.S.

Blessing's general manager, Steve Rorie, says what's garnered the most attention is Blessing's decision to forgo importing musical instruments — a practice that most U.S. instrument manufacturers, including its Elkhart competitors, engage in. Blessing says it will no longer produce its instruments in other countries.

"We've committed to Elkhart again and we've committed to American manufacturing and that certainly seems to strike an emotional chord with so many, many people," Rorie says.

County and state tax credits and $2.6 million in federal stimulus money will help E.K. Blessing move into a new facility. The company is adding professional high-end instruments to its line to appeal to an export market that its parent company has already established.

Rorie says there's already been an increase in orders. There's also a hiring sign on the company door, and he expects that as the recession recedes more band directors will look to buy better-quality instruments.

"Will that be enough to truly say Elkhart is back as clearly the leader in instrument manufacturing? That's a difficult one to predict," Rorie says.

Even so, as E.K. Blessing plans to toot more of its own horns, the company and Elkhart's other musical instrument manufacturers say they are committed in their efforts to regain bigger shares of the market.

by Cheryl Corley

Decision-making 101

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 · 0 comments

Schoolchildren often hear about making good decisions, but it’s rare for them to have the chance to learn this skill from a professional musician. Cleveland Orchestra clarinetist Robert Woolfrey recently presented a Learning Through Music program to fourth graders at H. Barbara Booker School on Cleveland’s west side about how he makes decisions when learning a piece of music.

The students discovered that his process is not much different from how they might make decisions in everyday life.

Woolfrey showed the steps he takes: identify the problem, gather information, list and consider options, choose and implement a solution. The students were very excited to help Woolfrey “learn” a piece and then hear their recommendations incorporated into his final performance. (Behind the scenes, what they didn’t know was that his lesson was guided by Ohio academic content standards.)

In May, Woolfrey will visit William Cullen Bryant School, also on Cleveland’s west side, to present his program one more time.

Learning Through Music is a collaborative partnership program with Cleveland-area elementary schools, linking music to the K-5 curriculum to support learning in language arts, math, science and social studies. Eleven Cleveland Orchestra members participate in the program by visiting classrooms throughout the school year.

One such musician, cellist Bryan Dumm, recently talked to kindergarten students at William Cullen Bryant School about how music can depict things found in nature. He introduced the children to classics inspired by the animal world, such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee” and Saint-Saëns’ “The Swan,” among others.

During the 2009-2010 season, musicians will present 150 classroom-based programs in Learning Through Music partner schools.

Photo by The Cleveland Orchestra Education Department

Meet the Mimes

Saturday, March 13, 2010 · 0 comments

On Sunday, March 14, at 2 p.m., the Magic Cirle Mime Company joins The Cleveland Orchestra for a Family Concert. The mimes will enact a story about Mozart, while Mozart's music is performed by the Orchestra. The musicians are part of the story, too! The mimes appeared on WKYC this morning, so check out the video to see what they REALLY look like and how they create programs with orchestras.

Panorámicos to perform two chamber concerts

Friday, March 12, 2010 · 0 comments

Panorámicos, a chamber ensemble including Cleveland Orchestra first assistant principal viola Lynne Ramsey, will perform two chamber concerts in the coming weeks featuring Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs with soprano Sandra Simon and Cleveland Orchestra principal percussionist Richard Weiner.

The program, titled “Old Wine, New Bottles,” will include world premiere performances of pieces by Paul Ferguson and Michael Cohen, Vincent Persichetti’s Serenade for Flute and Harp, and Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs, with soprano Sandra Simon and Cleveland Orchestra principal percussionist Richard Weiner.

The ensemble will perform at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, March 14, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, and at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, March 21, at Historic St. Peter’s Church. Tickets for both performances are available at the door.

Panorámicos is a prizewinning mixed chamber ensemble whose innovative programs feature commissions and collaborations with composers from the worlds of theatre, jazz, contemporary classical and world music.

The ensemble’s new recording, Reflections, is available for purchase at the Cleveland Orchestra Store. The recording features performances with Cleveland Orchestra musicians Ralph Curry (cello) and Richard King (horn).

Community Music Initiative: Sixteen Year-Old Makes Cleveland Orchestra Debut

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 · 0 comments

Margret Erlendsdottir, a member of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra made her Cleveland Orchestra debut today during a Cleveland Orchestra/Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra "Side By Side" concert attended by 1,400 high school students from 14 schools in Northeast Ohio.

Supported by her parents, teachers, and the entire upper school from Hawken School in Gates Mills, Miss Erlendsdottir debuted with the first movement of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto. The Principal Keyboardist of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Miss Erlendsdottir also participates in the orchestra in the violin section.

Three Cleveland television stations - WKYC, WEWS, and FOX 8 came to film the special event. Read details here.

Orchestra violist visits Head Start students


March is Music in Our Schools Month, but musicians in The Cleveland Orchestra visit area schools throughout the school year.

On March 2, Cleveland Orchestra violist Lisa Boyko visited a Head Start classroom at the Early Learning Center at Arbor Park (affiliated with Catholic Charities of Cleveland) as part of the PNC Grow Up Great “Musical Neighborhoods” project. The violist played her instrument for the preschoolers and let them see – and touch—the instrument, close up.

Through PNC’s Grow Up Great program, The Cleveland Orchestra helps preschool teachers in local Head Start programs integrate music into the curriculum, so that orchestral music becomes an everyday part of young children’s lives.

The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and PlayhouseSquare are also collaborating in the Grow Up Great program, now in its first year.

Photo of Cleveland Orchestra violist Lisa Boyko by the Education Department of The Cleveland Orchestra

Joela Jones remembers Porgy and Bess in Ohio Magazine


Revisiting a Classic

Cleveland Orchestra principal keyboardist Joela Jones reminisces about recording ‘Porgy and Bess.’

By Linda Feagler

Just as “Porgy and Bess” broke new ground when it debuted 75 years ago, so, too, did the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus’ interpretation of Gershwin’s masterpiece leave its audience dazzled after it was recorded in 1975: For not only was it the first time the complete opera was produced in stereo, but the three-disc compilation also had the distinction of being the first opera recording ever made by the Cleveland Orchestra.

To Joela Jones, a then-recent graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music who’d been appointed the orchestra’s principal keyboardist a scant three years before, playing such an instrumental part in the landmark recording is an experience she’ll treasure forever.

“Maybe its because I’m an American,” Jones muses, “ but I’m very proud that this magnificent piece was written by an American and performed so beautifully by an American orchestra and conducted by Lorin Maazel, an American conductor.”

Unlike his predecessors, who focused on European symphonies, says Jones, Maazel was a versatile artist who also embraced the operatic.

“He approached ‘Porgy and Bess’ the way he would a work by Wagner or Puccini,” she explains. “Maazel gave it tremendous vitality and value, elevating it to where it should be.

“I think,” Jones adds, “that comes across in our playing.”

Indeed, Maazel and producer Michael Woolcock left no detail to chance. And that included crafting the honky-tonk sound they decided was a key component of the overture (listen below), in which Jones tickles the ivories as Jasbo Brown.

The duo prowled the corridors and back rooms of Cleveland’s Masonic Hall –– where the recording would be made –– in search of a badly out-of-tune piano that would provide the noteworthy ambiance they were searching for. They found one, and had it moved to the stage, next to the 9-foot concert grand, which Jones would also play.

As was the practice before recording sessions commenced, a piano tuner was called in to check the concert grand.

“When Maazel came in several hours later,” Jones recalls, “he just about died.”

For the piano tuner had done his work well –– on both pianos: The honky-tonk sound was gone.

There was only one thing to do.

“They paid him,” Jones says, “to untune it.”

To hear the recording, visit Ohio Magazine.

Orchestra joins national food drive

Friday, March 5, 2010 · 0 comments

In response to the growing need in our community, The Cleveland Orchestra will collect food items to be donated to the Cleveland Foodbank at several c0ncerts during the month of March.

Audience members are invited to bring non-perishable food items to Severance Hall on March 9, 14, 18, and 20. Donated items can be brought beginning two hours in advance of the concerts on these dates.

The food drive is part of "Orchestras Feeding America," the second national food drive by America's symphony orchestras. The Orchestra's collection last year netted nearly 1,000 pounds of food locally, all of which was donated to the Cleveland Foodbank.

We will collect non-perishable food items at the following Severance Hall performances:

Tuesday March 9 at 12:00 p.m.
High School Concert

Sunday, March 14 at 2:00 p.m.
Family Concert

Sunday, March 14 at 7:00 p.m.
Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra/Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus Concert

Thursday, March 18 at 8:00 p.m.
Cleveland Orchestra Concert

Saturday, March 20 at 8:00 p.m.
Cleveland Orchestra Concert

Food donations may be dropped off beginning two hours in advance of the events listed above.

Please put donated items in prominently marked Orchestras Feeding America collection bins located in Severance Hall lobby areas. Thank you for your contribution.

What to Donate
Boxed Dry Soup
Boxed Rice
Powdered/Canned Milk
Boxed Macaroni and Cheeses
Peanut Butter
Canned Beans
Canned Fruit and Vegetables
Canned Tuna
Canned Meats
Canned Stew
Canned Soup
Boxed Pasta
Boxed Cereal
Boxed or Bottled Fruit Juices/Sip-sized Juices

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Opera at Severance Hall - Reviews are in!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010 · 0 comments

Last night, The Cleveland Orchestra, Music Director Franz Welser-Most, and an international cast of singers performed Mozart's opera Cosi fan tutte at Severance Hall.

WCLV's Jerome Crossley called the production a "beautifully sung, intelligently conducted production."

Zachary Lewis of The Plain Dealer commented, "just as the characters in Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte" engage in mischief but ultimately remain true, so, too, has the orchestra under music director Franz Welser-Most mounted a luminous production balancing interpretive liberties and fidelity to the score's essential nature."

Read his full review at, or a review from Kelly Ferjutz of Cool Cleveland.

Saturday night's concert is sold out, but a few tickets are still available for the remaining performances on Thursday, March 4, and Monday, March 8.

Ingrid Fliter on Chopin


Chopin is not the typical so-called Romantic composer: He never shouts. He tells you a very deep, personal story. It’s like a friend who tells you a very big secret in your ear.”

I recently caught up with the articulate, energetic Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter, fresh off a flight from Europe. Concert dates in Montreal, Washington D.C., and Seattle lead up to her performances with The Cleveland Orchestra on tour this month in Ft. Myers, Florida, and at its Miami Residency performances March 26 and 27 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.

Fliter spoke with feeling about performing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with The Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy. Following are excerpts from the phone conversation.

On performing with Vladimir Ashkenazy:

You performed the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 at The Cleveland Orchestra’s Blossom Festival last summer. How do you expect it may be different to perform it this time, with Vladimir Ashkenazy – a conductor who is also well known as a pianist and knows the repertoire from the point of view of a soloist?

I have in my thoughts the fact that he could come down and play the piano better than me! So it’s quite a demanding situation, no doubt, for me, and very inspiring in any case. I haven’t met Ashkenazy yet, but I know from some people who knew him that he is a very generous man and a kind character – but besides that, music, I think, comes out from his body and from his soul.

The Chopin Concerto needs a very special combination between the conductor and performer. You need to breathe together. You cannot really predict in rehearsal where and when are you going to make a rubato or wait for this phrase to end. It’s something that has to become a natural way of talking and breathing.

You need that kind of communication with a conductor, so this is a very big advantage, the fact that he is a pianist and has played this concerto himself all his life. He knows exactly what is going on, and he knows every single note, where it is going.

On rubato in Chopin’s music

Rubato, the give and take in tempo that makes Chopin’s music so distinctive, requires something special from the performer -- an extra flexibility.

When we are talking, we don’t say everything in the same way or everything with the same speed. You give certain accents to certain words that we consider more important in the phrase. You bring your intensity down at certain moments of the phrasing that need less interest.

Chopin talks to us from his human experience. Rubato comes naturally out of that idea he had – to give himself, his experience of life, to us. That’s what I try to do when I play his music, I try to enter into his world and tell it to the public.

On her relationship to Chopin, who this year is being celebrated on the 200th anniversary of his birth:

Would you say Chopin is a composer whose music has always come naturally to you?

I grew up listening to Chopin’s music since I was a young child; my father played Chopin and we had many recordings of Arthur Rubinstein playing in our house. It was part of my everyday life, Chopin, so definitely that became part of my blood.

I am thankful to have discovered Chopin at a young age, because even if it is difficult for a young child to understand Chopin, or the depth of it at a young age, Chopin develops so many aspects for the interpreter.

He had a very deep relationship with the piano, because he was a composer that basically composed for the piano. He developed a new way of playing the piano with his music, and a different physical relationship with the piano.

On Chopin’s revolution of piano technique

Physically, it’s a different experience to play his music than to play other composers’ music?

Yes. No doubt – starting with the position of the hands, which are slightly different when you play his music. They are slightly more open so you can embrace the keyboard in a more elastic way. He used to play like that, and some of his students used to talk about that, and his revolution to the piano technique.

The pedal is not used anymore in the classical way; Chopin uses it to give color. Listening to singers is very important [in playing Chopin], because it’s all about inflection and color. That is what singers are mostly interested in. It’s not mainly how you do it but how you detail the phrase.

If it’s about death or disappointment, the color has to change. OR, if you are singing something about life or love, the color changes. The world that you create in the imagination is very important in Chopin’s music. It’s like telling a story – you change the character.

On performing with The Cleveland Orchestra:

When I played the Chopin Second Concerto with the Orchestra, I recall the feeling of flying, thanks to them – flying into another dimension. That’s actually what I always try to achieve when I play Chopin’s music, because it’s supposed to give you the possibility to go to Paradise or even to be taken to the deepest sorrows.

You are venturing into another dimension when you play Chopin’s music. With this orchestra I felt that previously, and I hope we can reproduce that next time we play together.

Is there something special that you’re looking forward to in Miami, when you’re not performing?

A place that is green, and a place that has some water – that’s my main interest. Besides discovering the beauty of a city itself, if it has some natural attractions I am even happier. Our activities are shut in a room and you are sitting in a room all day long, so I try to find a balance and find some fresh air, have a walk. That has become incredibly important to me.

Interviewed by Elaine Guregian

Opening Night!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 · 0 comments

Franz Welser-Möst, The Cleveland Orchestra, and an international cast will perform the first of four performances of Mozart's Così fan tutte tonight at Severance Hall.

On Sunday, Franz spoke about the opera for an audience at Reinberger Chamber Hall. To learn about Franz's perspective on the opera, see the video.