Cleveland Orchestra gives U.S. Premiere Thursday-Saturday at Severance HallThe Cleveland Orchestra is back from Salzburg and Lucerne, and this weekend the musicians will give their hometown a souvenir in the U.S. premiere of George Benjamin's Duet for Piano and Orchestra. The piece was commissioned by the pharmaceutical giant Roche - for performance by the Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Mšst (pictured), with Pierre Laurent-Aimard as soloist - during the Lucerne Festival, where Benjamin was composer in residence this year. Cleveland gets to hear the same performers play the new music months before New York; Carnegie Hall audiences will have to wait until February 2009, when our orchestra stops there on a short tour. Here's what the composer told his publisher, Faber Music, about the duet: "I have attempted to cross the divide between the soloist and the orchestra by finding compatible areas between them, specifically by dividing the piano into a few distinct registers with timbral equivalents in the orchestra. At the same time the piano remains an alien figure in the orchestral landscape and often treads an independent path through instrumental textures that can seem intentionally oblivious of it. The orchestra employed is somewhat reduced, above all by the absence of violins. A certain prominence is given to the piano's nearest relatives in tuned percussion and, especially, the harp." Also on the program is Bruckner's Symphony No. 7. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Ave. Tickets: $31-$110. Call 216.231.1111.
THE BEAUTY OF DAMAGE
Case Western Reserve University professor Henry Adams said Christopher Pekoc's art studio was like "Frankenstein's laboratory, where corpses are sewn together into strange half-human creatures." This makes immediate sense to anyone who has seen the torn, re-stitched, scratched and varnished works that Pekoc makes. Poet and chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Dana Gioia has described his pieces as "beautiful and unsettling." Cleveland filmmaker Tom Ball's documentary in progress about Pekoc, The Beauty of Damage, will be shown at 6 p.m. today at the Lecture Hall of the Cleveland Museum of Art. A discussion with Pekoc and the film's producers follows the film. Cleveland Museum of Art is at 11150 East Blvd. Free. Call 216.421.7340.
CityMusic Cleveland is busier than ever in its fifth season, performing its first program in half a dozen locations around the region. Guest conductor Danail Rachev, who conducted CityMusic last year, is back to lead a program of works by Strauss, Haydn and Brahms. Violinist Kyung Sun Lee and cellist Edward Arron will be soloist in Brahms' Double Concerto. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Elyria First United Methodist Church, 312 Third St., Elyria (call 440.322.6622); 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Rocky River United Methodist Church, 19414 Detroit Rd., Rocky River (440.331.7676); 8 p.m. Friday at St. Noel Church, 35200 Chardon Rd., Willoughby Hills (440.946.0887); 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus, 3649 E. 65th St. in Slavic Village (216.341.9091); and 7 p.m. Sunday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 12700 Pearl Rd., Strongsville (440.238.5555). All performances are free.
Director Clyde Simon has a thing for Sam Shepard plays. He was introduced to the American playwright's work - specifically the play Buried Child - in 1996 while in the MFA program at Kent State University, when he played Tilden in a production there. He's been a fan of Shepard's language and perspective on America ever since. This week he's directing Buried Child, his fifth Shepard production since opening convergence-continuum theater. This time Tilden is played by Cliff Bailey, who was in the KSU theater program with Simon. The play is "quintessential Shepard," Simon says, partly for the acting style. "He wrote for transformational acting, the idea that from moment to moment your character can change [into] what actors may feel is a different character, but is the same character onstage. I also really like his language and the way he looks below the surface at American myths and rituals. A lot of his characters don't know what their situation is. I think a lot of us feel that way." Opens at 8 p.m. Friday. Performances continue through October 25 at the Liminis Theatre, 2438 Scranton Rd. Tickets: $12-$15. Call 216.687.0074 or visit www.convergence-continuum.org.
RATS FOR SALE
A few of the rats that you've seen around St. Clair-Superior are already spoken for by their sponsors, but the rest of them go on sale after sniffing around the neighborhood streets for most of the past year. St. Clair Superior Development Corporation will auction the fiberglass rats - painted by well-known Northeast Ohio artists - at a gala event from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday in the ballroom at Park Lane Villa (10510 Park Lane, University Circle). There's also an auction of original art by the same crew that customized the rats. Among those who provided art for the event are Cleveland Scene art critic Douglas Max Utter and musician/artist Scott Pickering (Flat Can Co., etc.). Tickets: $90-$125. Call 216.881.0644 or go to www.stclairsuperior.org.
VERLEZZA DANCE / UP IS DOWN
People of all ages and abilities can dance, and Sabatino Verlezza shapes modern choreography with that in mind. This week, his company - which includes four members of the Verlezza family - presents Up Is Down, a concert that explores a range of music and dance styles that's as diverse as the city. There are two world premieres, including "The Secret Story" choreographed by Sabatino Verlezza and Barbara Allegra Verlezza; it's a dramatic exploration of the detention and internment of 100,000 Italian Americans during World War II, set to music by John Corigliano. Also new is Verlezza's "The Golden Mean," which uses a contemporary blend of traditional music of different faiths to explore tolerance and inclusion. His son Sabatino Alexander Verlezza has two works on the program too: a hip-hop-style quartet called Blank Canvas and "Moments of Balance," which debuted last spring at the community event In Concert With Ludlow. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Tri-C East Performing Arts Center, 4250 Richmond Rd., Highland Hills. Tickets: $10-$15. Call 216.314.0900.
ARTS COLLINWOOD ASSEMBLAGE
ArtsCollinwood plans to take the level of arts activity in North Collinwood up a notch with the creation of the Arts Collinwood Community Arts Center, which will be a home for arts-related classes, clubs, activities and performances for both kids and adults. That sort of thing costs money, though, so they're throwing a party. But Assemblage isn't one of those events where you show up, eat, bid on auction items and leave. Invited artists will work with guests to create a mural-sized assemblage that will decorate the new community art center. Works by the same artists will also be offered for sale. Also for sale will be kits that include materials you can use to make something of your own. The party is at Arts Collinwood Gallery and the adjoining Café Marika, at East 156th Street and Waterloo Road. Music is by Moko Bovo, finger food by a bevy of great local restaurants. Tickets: $75 and $125. Call 216.692.9500.
JOAN KWUON RECITAL
Violinist Joan Kwuon is new to the Cleveland Institute of Music faculty, but not exactly new to the school, having studied there before her career as soloist took off. More recently she's been teaching at Juilliard. Back at CIM, she kicks off the Mixon Hall Masters Series with pianist Teddy Robie, giving a recital of works by Mozart, George Enescu, Franz Schubert and Andre Previn. The idea is to show off the new recital hall with some of the finest talent in the world, while the audience decides whether to look at the performers or stare out the 40-foot window at the garden behind the stage. The performance is at 4 p.m. Sunday. CIM is at 11021 East Blvd. Tickets: $40. Call 216.791.5000, ext. 411.
The second production in Matt Greenfield's Oddy Fest series brings together three short plays. The first, Modern Problems, by Steve Maistros, is a series of 11 comedic monologues that puts odd content in a mundane context - a discussion of pirate hat pictures, for example, presented in an accountant's PowerPoint presentation. The two remaining plays are both by Greenfield: Dubait sets a debate between presidential candidates in playfully acrobatic language, while Coffee, Tea, Tepid Interlocutor takes a character called "Young Man" and develops him through the addition of a second "Young Man" and, enigmatically, some Styrofoam cups. It's at 8 p.m. at the Centrum Theatre, 2781 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights. Tickets: $10. Call 216.926.8641.