Arts » Arts Features

Fall Guide: Orchestral Manoevres

Screw the economy, let's hear some music



Economic strife weighs heavily in the nonprofit world, but Northeast Ohio's classical, jazz and world-music scenes are not taking it lying down. The region's orchestras and concert series just keep putting out great music. Some — with great new venues, new leadership and new programs — are charging energetically into the future.

APOLLO'S FIRE, 216.320.0012

Music director Jeannette Sorrell continues to explore the baroque era with a couple of programs designed to charm. First comes Gloria (Oct. 1-4), named for Vivaldi's "Gloria" in D major, written for the orphan girls of the Ospedale di la Pieta in Venice, where the composer was choirmaster. Instead of orphans, Sorrell presents it with the children's chorus Apollo's Musettes. Also on the program: Highlights from the Bach B Minor Mass. Apollo's schedule continues with a new version of a program Sorrell presented in 2005, Mediterranean Nights (Oct. 29-Nov. 5), which explores the rustic side of the baroque era in Spain and Italy.


Accessibility is not just a buzzword in City Music Cleveland's programming. Performances are held in venues all over Northeast Ohio, with free admission and childcare. Conductor David Alan Miller opens the season October 14-18 with a program that touches three musical periods, featuring the world premiere of Christos Hatzis' "Redemption," Mozart's Serenade in D (which has the Pacifica Quartet cast as "soloist") and Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream Suite.


Still in residence at Baldwin Wallace College, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony has a new partnership with the Cleveland Music School Settlement, where the ensemble gives the first of its free concerts October 25. The program opens with the world premier of Jing Jing Luo's "Lagrimas Y Voces," with flutist Sean Gabriel as soloist. Also on the program are CCS artistic director Steven Smith's String Quartet and Frank Wiley's "For Alexander Calder."


In 1920, Cleveland was the fifth largest city in the U.S., and Swiss-born composer Ernest Bloch became the Cleveland Institute of Music's first director. C.I.M. celebrates Bloch's life and work in a series of concerts this year, beginning Sunday, September 20, with a 2 p.m. panel discussion and 4 p.m. faculty recital featuring the Cleveland Orchestra Piano Trio in three Bloch compositions (see the Get Out! section). The salute continues with a faculty recital by violinist Carol Ruzicka accompanied by pianist Cara Chowning (Nov. 1), a concert by the CIM Chamber Orchestra (Nov. 4), and an all-Bloch program featuring faculty and guest artists at Temple-Tifereth Israel (Nov. 8). Otherwise, CIM's calendar is packed as usual. Soprano Dawn Upshaw opens the Mixon Masters series (Oct. 4), Tiempo Libre gives a benefit performance featuring a concerto commissioned for them (Oct. 24), the CIM New Music ensemble performs at MOCA (Nov. 11) and the Cavani Quartet repeats its complete cycle of Beethoven string quartets at Mixon Hall (starting Sept. 27).


Flush with good news, the CJO begins the season with a new music director Sean Jones. Most recently, the Warren native was principal trumpeter for Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. The 31-year-old virtuoso says he's happy to come back to Northeast Ohio and re-join a group that helped nurture him. The band also has a new downtown home. Beginning December 5 with a concert built to show off Jones' trumpet skills, CJO performs this year at the newly renovated Hanna Theatre at PlayhouseSquare, a state-of-the-art hall with bar service in the same room as the stage.

VIVA AND GALA, 216.421.7340

The Cleveland Museum of Art continues touring local neighborhoods as well as the world this fall, before moving back into the renovated Gartner Auditorium early in 2010. For the next few months, at venues around the city, the museum presents a spectacular range of world music and movement, from traditional Dominican sonero Puerto Plata (Oct. 6) and the gravity-defying Shaolin Warriors (Nov. 4) to Celtic violist Garth Knox (Nov. 8) and the rhythmically charged Flamenco guitar ensemble the Juan Carmona Septet (Nov. 14).


The Cleveland Orchestra opens its season with a one-night-only benefit performance (Sept. 26) featuring Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. But the most intriguing news of the ensemble's new season is a new Friday music series that starts early and continues with a party offering food, drinks and world music programmed by percussionist Jamey Haddad. The first Friday Nights at Seven program (Oct. 9) includes Welser-Möst conducting a double dose of Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 with Mitsuko Uchida as soloist, and the ever-popular Symphony No. 5. World-beat percussionist Cyro Baptista and his band Beat the Donkey play the afterparty. Other fall highlights include November 19-21 performances by the much-in-demand cellist Alisa Weilerstein, who recently joined CIM's faculty. She's soloist in Dvorák's Cello Concerto on a program that also includes the world premiere of Julian Anderson's "Fantasias" and Richard Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra." And you don't have to be Irish to love rocking fiddler Eileen Ivers, whose group Immigrant Soul performs with the orchestra Dec. 16-17.


Superstars and diversity are a given in Oberlin's Artist Recital series. It opens with the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra, which champions black and Latino musicians (Sept. 20). You can add the words "famous alumni" as the series continues with opera star Denyce Graves (class of '85, Oct. 11) and violinist Jennifer Koh (class of '97, Oct. 29).

CLEVELAND POPS, 216.765.7677

Carl Topilow takes the spotlight as both the Cleveland Pops' conductor and clarinetist in a salute to Benny Goodman and other stars of the Big Band era (Oct. 30). The season-opening concert at Severance Hall also features Jack Schantz on trumpet, Paul Ferguson on trombone and George Judy on drums.

OPERA CLEVELAND, 216.575.0903

Mozart's Don Giovanni has been staged in every imaginable way, and Opera Cleveland's final production of the 2009 season (and its only one this fall) continues this tradition by mixing period costumes and an abstract, modern set (Oct. 30-Nov. 7).

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