The Best Classical Music Events in Cleveland This Week, Including the Cleveland Orchestra's Star-Spangled Spectacular

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ChamberFest Cleveland ends its ten-pack of performances with a program in a spectacular venue. On Wednesday, July 1 at 7:00 pm, “Stars and Stripes” features the Echo Saxophone Quartet, organist Todd Wilson, and two small ensembles in a program of American music including Terry Riley’s Tread on the Trail, Charles Ives’s irreverent organ variations on “America,” Ned Rorem’s Winter Pages for the unusual combo of clarinet (Frank Cohen), bassoon (Fernando Traba), violin (Yura Lee), cello (Julie Albers), and piano (Anna Polonsky), and finally, Antonín Dvorak’s String Quintet No. 3, written in Spillville, Iowa and premired in Boston during the Czech composer’s sojourn in America. The venue is the Blackstone Pipe Organ Residence in Bratenahl (a mansion designed by Richard Fleischmann to house the instrument of 7,400 pipes), and the festivities include a closing night picnic on the lawn (or inside in case of rain), food and drink provided. There may be some tickets left. Check here.

The Kent/Blossom Festival faculty concerts open on Wednesday, July 1 at 7:30 pm in Ludwig Recital Hall on the Kent State campus with a wildly varied performance by Kulas guest artist Jeff Nelsen. The Canadian-born French hornist spent eight years touring with Canadian Brass, played the full run of two Broadway shows, performed with Slavic Soul Party, held positions in major symphony orchestras, and now teaches at Indiana University. He’s given TEDx talks on the subject of “fearless performance,” and he’s recently taken up magic. Don’t be surprised if his Kent recital — joined by his wife, mezzo-soprano Nina Nelsen, and pianist Elizabeth DeMio — includes a bit of everything. The repertoire ranges from Gershwin to Bach, Brahms and Saint-Saëns and on to Bernstein, Keith Bissell & Ryan O’Connell. Tickets here.

The Cleveland Orchestra is in a patriotic mood this week, with four Independence Day concerts scheduled both in town and at Blossom. On Wednesday, July 1, the Orchestra’s “Star-Spangled Spectacular” kicks off on Mall B in downtown Cleveland (displaced this year by the Public Square makeover.) Baritone Nathan Gunn joins conductor Thomas Wilkins and the Orchestra in a crowd-pleasing playlist including show tunes, Copland’s “Old American Songs” and that other old American standard, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (written to celebrate the first of Napoleon’s defeats — the victors are celebrating his last one at Waterloo this year). That free concert starts at 9:00 pm and will be carried live on IdeaStream’s stations and web feeds. On Thursday, July 2 at 8:00 pm, the Orchestra’s Blossom Festival Opening Concert takes Gunn and the ensemble to Cuyahoga Falls for a similar program under the stars (repeated on Friday, July 3 at 8:00 pm). Then on Independence Day itself, Loras John Chissell will lead the Blossom Festival Band and xylophonist Harold Summey in “A Salute to America.” Tickets for July 2, 3 & 4 can be ordered here (attendees 18 and under are eligible for free lawn passes with the purchase of an adult ticket.)

Oberlin’s Baroque Performance Institute has scheduled its big faculty/student performance on Friday, July 3 in the Root Room of the Carnegie Building on the Oberlin campus. BPI is engaged in an intensive, two-week study of the struggle between French and Italian styles of music that raged in the 1690s in Europe, and you can year these skirmishes played out in music by Corelli, Purcell, Lully and the less-well-known Benedikt Anton Aufschnaiter. The BPI student baroque orchestra will also be on hand. Tickets are $10 at the door.

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