Cleveland Orchestra Offers Tesla Orchestra Performance for Students After October 6 Concert



By Mike Telin

The Cleveland Orchestra will take you to Rome this weekend without needing a plane ticket or a passport. Franz Welser-Möst is your tour guide, and the itinerary includes the Fountains, Pines, and Festivals of Rome as represented in the spectacular tone poems of Ottorino Respighi, with performances from Thursday through Sunday.

Following the Thursday concert, student attendees can join another excursion — this time into the magic of musical lightning. A Student Appreciation Night on the front terrace of Severance Hall will feature the Cleveland Orchestra brass trio “Factory Seconds.” Jack Sutte, trumpet, Jesse McCormick, horn, and Richard Stout, trombone, performing with the Tesla Orchestra, created by Sears think[box] at Case Western Reserve University.

The Tesla Orchestra is made up coils which utilize custom electronic hardware and software to convert MIDI-encoded music into pulses which are emitted from the coils. “The musicians each have a microphone attached to their instruments, which translates the sounds they are producing into electric signals,” as Jim Sector, the Orchestra’s Assistant Director for Loyalty Marketing explained during a telephone conversation.

“The sparks are modulating at the frequencies that the instruments are producing at the same time. It’s as if the musicians are playing their instrument and the Tesla Coil at the same time. It produces a sound that resembles that of a vintage video game,” Sector said. “This may be a cliché, but you really have to see it to believe it.” Click here to see for yourself.

The reception is for members of the Orchestra’s Frequent Fan Card, Student Ambassador, and Student Advantage programs, which are part of the Center for Future Audiences. Will older concert goers be turned away from the festivities? “The reception is for students, but we’re not going to kick anyone out,” Sector said with a chuckle.

Launched in 2010, the Center for Future Audiences was established to fund programs to develop new generations of audiences for Cleveland Orchestra concerts with the goal of creating one of the youngest audiences of any symphony orchestra in the country. “The popularity of the programs have exploded, and we’re very happy about that,” Sector said. “We now have about 20,000 students attending concerts at Severance, and about the same number of under-eighteens are attending concerts at Blossom. Over the course of a year we have about 40,000 people attending concerts who are under the age of 25, which amounts to about 20% of our audience on any given night.”

Sector is pleased that students of all academic disciplines are taking profit of the programs. “We do have a high concentration from CIM, Oberlin and BW, and many students are pursuing all sorts of majors. We have a high number of medical students who attend regularly, and the same is true of law students. We’re very proud of these programs. Student discounting is nothing new, but the increase in the frequency of attendance is really bringing the Orchestra into the students’ lives in a way that goes beyond just saying that we have lowered the price of student tickets.” Read the rest of the article at

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