The Orchestra's MLK Celebration Concert and 4 More Classical Music Events to Catch In the Coming Weeks


  • Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The classical scene in Northeast Ohio gradually picks up speed during January. The hard-working Cleveland Orchestra is among the early groups to check in for 2017.

Former assistant conductor James Gaffigan (not the comedian) will return to the podium at Severance Hall from Thursday, January 5 through Saturday, January 7 to lead The Cleveland Orchestra and pianist Kirill Gerstein in one of the most varied and interesting programs of the season. Bernard Hermann’s Suite from Psycho raises the curtain, followed by Arnold Schoenberg’s thorny Piano Concerto. Gerstein — equally at home in the jazz and classical worlds (he studied at the Berklee School in Boston) — returns after intermission for the original, jazz band version of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and the orchestra will top off the evening with Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. You can catch four performances: the whole menu will be served up on Thursday at 7:30 pm and Saturday at 8:00 pm, and everything but Schoenberg will be offered on Friday at 11:00 am and 7:00 pm. The evening show on Friday is a [email protected] event with food and drinks before and after. After the concert, Kirill Gerstein will be playing a solo set in the Grand Foyer (his selections will be announced from the keyboard), and Luca Mundaca will also be playing Bossa Nova in the restaurant. Tickets here.

Here’s something wildly different to take in during a weekend visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Crossing, a Philadelphia-based vocal ensemble specializing in new music, will give fifteen performances of David Lang’s Lifespan in Gallery 281 — the glass house that rises above the museum’s East Boulevard façade — from Thursday, January 5 through Sunday, January 7. Surrounding a 4-billion-year-old rock suspended from the ceiling, three vocalists will whistle and breathe, moving the rock like a pendulum, “a poetic form of wind erosion.” Intrigued? You can catch a performance on Thursday at 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, 7:45 and 8:30 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday on the hour from noon to 4:00 pm. It’s free, as is admission to the museum.

Unlike other choruses, Good Company avoids performing during the Christmas season, but pops up very early in the New Year. The semi-professional ensemble of some 20 voices will present “How Can I Keep From Singing,” a tribute to its late founding director Karen Weaver, at Lakewood Presbyterian Church on Sunday, January 8 at 4:00 pm. Interim director Michael Carney will lead Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia and music by Monteverdi, Duruflé, Britten, Chatman, Larsen, Szymko, and Tavener. There’s a freewill offering.

On Thursday, January 12 and Saturday, January 14, music director Franz Welser-Möst returns to Severance Hall with pianist Yefim Bronfman for a program that includes Jörg Widmann’s Trauermarsch for piano and orchestra and Anton Bruckner’s marathon Symphony No. 7.

To put a cap on the weekend, the Orchestra will play its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Concert on Sunday, January 15 at 7:00 pm, conducted by Thomas Wilkins and featuring cellist Thomas Mesa and the Celebration Chorus. Tickets for Thursday and Saturday and free tickets for Sunday are available from the Severance Hall box office. Tickets for the MLK concert disappear quickly, but if you can’t score a seat, you can enjoy the program of music by Peter Boyer, Kurt Carr, Antonín Dvořák, Duke Ellington, Charles Floyd, and Morton Gould, as well as traditional spirituals and gospel songs on WCPN, 90.3 FM, WCLV, 104.9 FM, or via live stream.

For details of these and many other events, visit the Concert Listings page.

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