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The Cleveland Orchestra: Summer at Severance and Blossom

The Cleveland Orchestra:  Summer at Severance and Blossom

Roy Berko

Cleveland has garnered another honor.  Based on its international survey, an international concert finder, has declared The Cleveland Orchestra the world’s favorite orchestra.  This comes along with previous recognitions of the orchestra being one of the finest, if not the finest in the world.

Clevelanders can take advantage of hearing this musical source of pride at two venues this summer.  Since 1968, the group’s summer home has been Blossom, the gorgeous scenic wonderland situated in Cuyahoga Falls.  It is about 25 miles south of downtown Cleveland.

For those who want an even closer venue, Friday Night Summers @ Severance are now available.   From 5:30 to 6:30 PM, socializing on the complex’s open air terrace,  complete with a cash bar, takes place.  This is followed at 7 PM by a concert inside the hall.  After the concert, music, drinks and face time with new and old friends takes place back on the terrace.

Based on the large and excited crowd at the August 1st event, these come-as-you-are events are turning out to be a popular experience.

The opening night’s program consisted of an hour-and-a-half concert beginning with Maurice Ravel’s “Pavane For a Dead Princess,” followed by Ravel’s “Piano Concerto in G major,” and  Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances, Opus 45.”  Though it appeared that the orchestra and guest conductor, Johannes Debus, didn’t seem to always be musically talking to each other, and wunderkind British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor seemed not to be totally in sync with Debus, the capacity crowd gave the concert a standing ovation.

The August 15 concert, “The Beethoven Experience,” will include “Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus, Opus 43,” “Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, Opus 60,”  and “Fantasia in C minor (‘Choral Fantasy’), Opus 80” for piano, chorus, and orchestra.  Orion Weiss will be at the piano, Jahja Ling will conduct, and Robert Porco will direct the Blossom Festival Chorus.

August 29’s “Franz and Brahms,” will be conducted by Franz Welser-Möst.  Featured pieces are:  Jörg Widmann’s “Lied [Song] (for orchestra), Widmann’s “Flute en suite (for flûte and orchestra),” and Johannes Brahms “Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Opus 68.”

Future offerings by the Orchestra include “At the Movies,” the showing of classic films with live accompaniment.  The October 28 @ 7:30 PM offering features Todd Wilson at the Hall’s mighty Norton memorial organ playing “Phantom of the Opera.  December 11 @ 7:30 PM will find the Orchestra, under the baton of Brett Mitchell, allowing the audience to experience, “Disney Fantasia.”  On February 13 @ 8 PM, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” will be shown with Brett Mitchell conducting the Orchestra as they play Bernard Herrmann’s legendary score.

The Blossom Music Festival continues through August 31 climaxing with a “European Festivals Tour Send-Off Concert” featuring works by Widmann and Brahms.  Other highlights include an appearance by Yo-Yo Ma on August 16, “Carmina Burana” on August 23 and “A Beatles Tribute” on August 24.

There is still one gourmet matinee offering.  The “Divine Dvorâk” event will be held on August 27 from noon to 2 PM.

The July 20 Blossom concert, which included the works of Carl Maria Von Weber’s “Overture to Der Freischütz,” Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat major, K595,” and Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Opus 47.” It was a fine evening of music, coupling excellent conducting with marvelous musicianship on the part of the Orchestra.  Piano soloist Francesco Piemontesi’s rendition of the Mozart composition was met with such applause that, contrary to tradition, he played an encore in the midst of the concert.

For information and tickets to orchestra offerings go on-line to