Russian Flamenco, the Cleveland Orchestra and More of the Best Classical Music Events in the Next Two Weeks


Here’s a two-week list of interesting classical music events (there’s not a lot happening the week of Thanksgiving!)

The Cleveland Orchestra is back in town after an extended European tour (rave reviews!) and its latest Miami Residency. Before the Christmas decorations go up in Severance Hall, the Orchestra will be playing two sets of concerts that feature the premieres of new works commissioned for two of its players. On Thursday, November 19 at 7:30 pm (repeated on Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm), music director laureate Christoph von Dohnányi will make his annual return to the podium to lead the first performance of Richard Sortomme’s Concerto for Two Violas, commissioned to honor principal violist Robert Vernon on his impending retirement after 40 years with the ensemble (his stand partner Lynne Ramsey will be soloist No. 2). Also on the program: the overture to Bedřich Smetana’s opera The Bartered Bride, and Franz Schubert’s mammoth Symphony No. 9. (PS: the Sortomme piece is based on themes from one of Smetana’s string quartets.)

On Thanksgiving Day weekend, the honored soloist will be English hornist Robert Walters in a concerto written for him by British-born composer Bernard Rands. French conductor Lionel Bringuier will fill out the program with music by his countrymen: Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and Hector Berlioz’s opium dream-inspired Symphonie fantastique. Those performances are on Friday and Saturday, November 27 and 28 at 8:00 pm, and Sunday, November 29 at 3:00 pm. You can reserve tickets online.

New music at Survival Kit! The Syndicate for the New Arts takes over the art gallery at the West 78th St. Studios on Friday, November 29 at 9:00 pm for a concert of “Rust Belt Compositions” performed by Zoë Sorrell, flute, Carlyn Kessler, cello, Caitlin Mehrtens, harp, Ben Rempel, vibraphone, Austin Lewellen, bass, John Burnett, viola & electronics, Joshua Rosner, guitar & Dale Rothenberg, amplified prepared piano. The playlist includes Theo Chandler’s Caeneus, John Sokol’s 3 thin-slices, Jeffrey Mumford’s Echoes from within Brightening Fabric (1st movement), Jessie Downs’ Noticing and Truth-Telling: a musical sermon after Mary Hammond, Sivan Silver-Swartz’s Untitled V for 4-20 pitched, sustaining instruments, Judy Jackson’s Strip Tease and Mental Games, John Burnett’s Isospin, and Joshua Rosner’s and yet another. The organizers suggest a $10 donation at the door.

Russian Flamenco? Russian guitarist Grisha Goryachev is next up on the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society’s International Series, and, yes, he plays Flamenco like a native Spaniard. He’ll play an hour-long set on Saturday, November 21 at 7:30 pm at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights. Come early for a 7:05 pm Flamenco demonstration by the Fairmount Center Spanish Dancers. Order tickets online here.

The new music ensemble called No Exit will play the third performance of its current program at Spaces Gallery on Saturday, November 21 at 8:00 pm. The free concert will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of French avant-garde composer Erik Satie with selections from his music. Also on the menu: Krzysztof Penderecki’s String Trio, Kaija Saariaho’s Sept Papillons, Nicholas Underhill’s The Beach at Times End, Justin Henry Rubin’s Fantasie for Piano Quartet and works by Ryan Gallagher.

For once, the Devil wins. The next performance on the Arts Renaissance Tremont Series at Pilgrim Church on Sunday, November 22 at 3:00 pm will feature Igor Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat, the grim but entertaining little tale of a fiddle-playing soldier who falls into the hands of Old Nick. Robert Hawkes narrates the story with an all-star group of Cleveland Orchestra musicians and friends including Katherine Bormann, violin, Amitai Vardi, clarinet, Jonathan Sherwin, bassoon, Jack Sutte, trumpet, Rick Stout, trombone, Donald Miller, percussion, and Mark Atherton, bass. ART will appreciate your donation for this event.

Also on Sunday, November 29 but at 8:00 pm, Brett Mitchell will lead the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra in the first of three concerts this season. This one includes Leonard Bernstein’s not-so-often-played Jeremiah Symphony, Robert Schumann’s Rhine River-inspired Symphony No. 3, and American composer Kevin Puts’s River’s Rush (another river-based piece, this one commissioned by the Saint Louis Symphony, which plays in a city that sits at the confluence of two great rivers). You’ll need tickets from the Severance Hall box office.

Check out a complete two-week calendar of classical music events here.

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