With over 600 classical music events to choose from between now and the end of December, it's a challenge to tease out a short list of not-to-be-missed performances. Here's a rundown of some interesting events for the fall.
After beginning its Severance Hall season with an eclectic mix of repertoire — and a particularly intriguing pair of programs of music by Olivier Messiaen, Richard Strauss and Giuseppi Verdi led by Franz Welser-Möst the weekend of Oct. 8 — The Cleveland Orchestra will return from its 12-concert European tour for three attractive programs under guest conductors in November. Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos will solo in Dimitri Shostakovich's first concerto the weekend of Nov. 6 under the direction of Gianandrea Noseda. Music director laureate Christoph von Dohnányi will return to lead Richard Sortomme's two-viola concerto featuring soon-to-retire principal violist Robert Vernon and his standmate Lynne Ramsey on the weekend of Nov. 19 (the work is based on themes from Smetana's string quartet "From My Life"). And the orchestra's solo English hornist Robert Walters will play the first performances of a concerto written for him by Bernard Rands on the weekend of Nov. 27, with Lionel Bringuier also conducting Claude Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, that famous musical portrait of an artist's opium dream.
Before all of that happens, Welser-Möst and the orchestra will launch the four-month-long Violins of Hope project, simultaneously inaugurating the new Maltz Center for the Performing Arts at CWRU with a concert on Sept. 27 (that performance is sold out, but you can watch a simulcast on WVIZ Ideastream or listen along on WCLV 104.9 FM). A staggering schedule of concerts, lectures, exhibitions and educational activities surrounding the Maltz Museum's exhibit of 19 violins that survived the Holocaust is detailed at violinsofhopecleveland.org, but two performances of special interest will be a visit to Severance Hall by the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta on Nov. 17 and a Park Synagogue concert on Dec. 6 by the Cleveland Women's Orchestra led by Robert Cronquist commemorating the women's orchestra at Auschwitz.
Opera is in demand but has been in short supply in Cleveland, but two companies are busy filling that gap. Opera Circle Cleveland will produce Bedich Smetana's The Bartered Bride at the Bohemian National Hall on Oct. 25, and Cleveland Opera Theater will mount the Ohio premiere of André Previn and Philip Littell's A Streetcar Named Desire, based on the Tennessee Williams play, on Dec. 4 and 6 at the Masonic Temple Performing Arts Center in Midtown.
Early music is becoming a Cleveland specialty. Minneapolis' brilliant Rose Ensemble will visit the Helen D. Schubert Concert Series at St. John's Cathedral on Sept. 30 for a program called Slavic Wonders: Feasts and Saints in Early Russia, Poland, and Bohemia.
Contrapunctus Cleveland will revisit the choral music for the 1727 coronation of King George II, including George Frederic Handel's Coronation Anthems, at Mary Queen of Peace Church on Oct. 25.
Les Délices will treat you to French baroque music from "The Age of Indulgence" on Nov. 7 and 8, first at Survival Kit in the 78th Street Studios, then in Herr Chapel at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights.
Quire Cleveland will explore the art of the canon from the 13th century "Sumer is icumen in" to Benjamin Britten's 20th century opera Peter Grimes at St. John's Cathedral on Nov. 7.
Apollo's Fire, just back from a series of European triumphs, will present four shows this fall, including a October Venetian orchestral extravaganza and two Christmas shows ("Sacrum Mysterium, a Celtic Christmas," and "Michael Praetorius: Christmas Vespers"). Among them will be a stunning one-man performance by singer-storyteller Benjamin Bagby, who will bring the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf to life on three evenings beginning on Nov. 13.
Standing concert series have big plans for the fall. Here are a few standouts. Violinist Christian Tetzlaff will visit the Oberlin Artist Recital Series in Finney Chapel on Oct. 30.
The Cleveland Museum of Art will present the Calder Quartet in works for string quartet by Daniel Bjarnason, Benjamin Britten and Ludwig van Beethoven at Transformer Station on Nov. 16 and former Cleveland Orchestra assistant conductor James Feddeck in an organ recital featuring music by J.S. Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Samuel Barber, Jehan Alain and Charles-Marie Widor in Gartner Auditorium on Dec. 6.
Cuarteto Quiroga, the string quartet in residence at the Royal Palace in Madrid, where they play a stunning set of decorated Stradivarius instruments, will play in the Rocky River Chamber Music Series at the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Society on Nov. 16 (with a repeat performance at Stull Recital Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory on Nov. 18).
The Cleveland Classical Guitar Society will bring Croatian guitarist Ana Vidovi to town on Oct. 24, followed by Russian flamenco virtuoso Grisha Goryachev on Nov. 21. Both performances will take place at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights.
And the third performance on the Cleveland Chamber Music Society series, also at Plymouth, will feature the Jupiter Quartet on Dec. 1, in conjunction with the Cleveland Institute of Music's winter chamber music festival. They'll play quartets by Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven, plus Henri Dutilleux's Ainsi la nuit. (Before that, you can hear London's Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble on Oct. 6, and the Barcelona-based Cuarteto Casals on Oct. 27.)
We've had to leave many interesting performances off this list, including events scheduled outside Greater Cleveland. Check the Concert Listings page at ClevelandClassical.com for a complete schedule.