George Frideric Handel’s famous oratorio Messiah
was first performed in Dublin at Eastertime, and European audiences still expect to hear the work in the spring every year. In America, Messiah has become a Christmas standard, and The Cleveland Orchestra will usher in the season on Thursday, December 3 at 7:30 pm, and Friday and Saturday, December 4 and 5 at 8:00 pm in Severance Hall with a performance by the Cleveland Orchestra Chamber Choir and a reduced Cleveland Orchestra, led by chorus master Robert Porco. There’s a great cast of soloists — Yulia Van Doren, soprano, Jennifer Johnson, mezzo-soprano, John Tessier, tenor and John Relyea, bass — and the chorus should be honed to a fine edge. Tickets are available online.
Stella! Tennessee Williams’s famous play A Streetcar Named Desire
has been turned into an opera by composer André Previn and librettist Philip Littell. It’s the next production by Cleveland Opera Theater (formerly Opera Per Tutti) to hit the boards at Masonic Auditorium Performing Arts Center on Friday, December 4 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, December 6 at 3:00 pm. Scott Skiba directs, the Cleveland Opera Theater Orchestra will be conducted by Domenico Boyagian, and the cast includes Andrea Anelli as Blanche, Benjamin Czarnota as Stanley, Rebecca Freshwater as Stella & Timothy Culver as “Mitch.” If you liked the play, you should love the opera. Tickets are available online.
The professional chamber choir Quire Cleveland
takes a new look at Christmas Carols every year. The seventh edition of “Carols for Quire from the Old & New Worlds” will feature old and new versions of Christmas songs dating from the early 15th to the late 20th century, sung in English, French, German, Spanish, Finnish, Latvian & Latin. There are three performances in downtown Cleveland: the first on Friday, December 4 at 7:30 at Trinity Cathedral, the other two at Historic St. Peter’s Church on Saturday, December 5 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, December 6 at 4:00 pm. Founder Ross W. Duffin conducts. Tickets are available online.
Did you know that the Oberlin Conservatory
is the oldest music school in the country? It turns 150 this year, and among the celebratory events is a two-day marathon of piano music featuring 83 performers, including 70 conservatory piano majors, ten current piano faculty, and three retired members of the faculty (Joseph Schwartz, Sanford Margolis & Frances Walker Slocum) playing a total of 700 minutes of great piano music, spread over 10 recitals in two days. Performances take off like trains on Saturday and Sunday, December 5 & 6 at 1:30 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:30 pm & 8:00 pm in Warner Concert Hall. It won’t cost you a cent!
Former Cleveland Orchestra assistant conductor James Feddeck
is now a jet-setting artist who spends his time doing guest gigs with some of the world’s finest orchestras — but he’s also a fine organist, pianist, and oboist. He’ll demonstrate his keyboard skills on the McMyler Organ in Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Sunday, December 6 at 2:00 pm in music by J.S. Bach, François Couperin, Felix Mendelssohn, Samuel Barber, Jehan Alain, and Charles-Marie Widor (including the famous Toccata from Widor’s fifth symphony). The last time he played at the museum, the hall was packed and they ran out of programs. Better get there early (and it’s free!)
The Violins of Hope Project
continues with a concert by the Cavani String Quartet in Kulas Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music on Friday, December 4 at 8:00 pm (music associated with Holocaust musicians) and a concert by the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra commemorating the Women’s Orchestra at Auschwitz on Sunday, December 6 at 3:00 pm in Kangesser Hall at The Park Synagogue, 3300 Mayfield Rd. in Cleveland Heights. Friday’s concert will be preceded at 7:15 by talks by Israeli composer Oded Zehavi, Israel Institute Schusterman Visiting Artist, and Holocaust survivor Jacqueline Mendels Birn. Sunday’s performance features a reminiscence by the Cleveland Jewish Federation’s Hedy Milgrom. WCLV’s Robert Conrad narrates both performances, and the concerts are free, no tickets required.
Check out a complete two-week calendar of classical music events here.