Thanksgiving Marathon on WCLV

Thursday, November 24, 2011 · 0 comments

Tune in live today at 104.9 or to hear The Cleveland Orchestra marathon. Happy Thanksgiving!

Mini-Doc on Cuyahoga Arts and Culture Airs Nov. 18

Friday, November 18, 2011 · 0 comments

Did you know that through its cigarette tax, Cuyahoga County has become (after the states of New York and Minnesota) the third-largest public funder of the arts in the nation?

Artistic Choice: Preserving a Legacy in Cleveland, a 16-minute mini-documentary, airs nationally on PBS tonight, Nov. 18, immediately following Women Who Rock at 9:00 – 10:30 p.m.
For more, read filmmaker Thomas Ball’s insightful blog post on the topic.

The main title of the mini-doc features a charcoal drawing triptych by Laurence Channing, who recently received an arts fellowship funded by the cigarette tax.

Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Nov. 20 at Severance Hall

Thursday, November 17, 2011 · 0 comments

James Feddeck conducts the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra on Sunday, November 20, 2011, at 3 p.m. at Severance Hall in a program of Brahms, Bach, and Dvořák. Visit for details.

Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra: Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders

By Elaine Guregian

When Alisa Weilerstein won the MacArthur Foundation Grant (better known as the “genius grant”) this fall, members of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra could take special pride. After all, from 1992-94, the cellist sat among them as a member of one of the nation’s premier youth orchestras affiliated with a major orchestra. Weilerstein, now a seasoned international performer who returns in May 2012 to solo with The Cleveland Orchestra, represents one segment of COYO alums—those who made a career of music. But when old friends, recent stand partners, and former music directors flocked back to Cleveland in May, 2011 for an Alumni Concert and reunion weekend celebrating the 25th season of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, it became clear that COYO builds even more than musicianship.

Sixty former members of the Youth Orchestra – including five members of the ensemble in its inaugural season -- came from as far as Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Reunited, they remembered the hard work and the superb concerts -- not to mention the friendships and a few comical memories of getting lost in Severance Hall. And they spoke of what a tremendous difference COYO made in shaping their lives.

Bass player Laura Preslan joined COYO in its inaugural season, 1986, and played through 1990. Today she lives in Seattle, WA where she is a sales and marketing executive for Microsoft.

“My first lessons in leadership came from watching Dr. [Jahja] Ling on the podium,’’ Preslan says, noting that when they played the Mozart Oboe Concerto, she once miscounted and came in early, guns blazing, with a loud entrance. The musicians in the orchestra burst out laughing, and she was mortified, but Ling stopped them. “She’s right,’’ he said. “If you’re going to make a mistake, make it loud. I’d rather have you come in, in the wrong place than not come in at all.’’

Robert Davis, now the band director at the Cleveland School of the Arts, played in the Youth Orchestra from 1992-97. He remembers the late Cleveland Orchestra principal oboe and COYO coach John Mack saying, “To the front!’’ Today, Davis urges his students to play with passion when they have a solo role.

“[The coaches] were tough; even though we were kids, they still expected a certain amount of excellence and I try to do that with my kids [at CSA]. I’m like, ‘I don’t care if you’re kids and you live in the inner city; we’re going to work and do our best with what we have,’’’ Davis says.

While most of COYO’s members live in Northeast Ohio, a few come from much further away to participate. Violinist Jeffrey Zehngut, who recently joined The Cleveland Orchestra, commuted from State College, PA each Saturday. He said, “COYO taught me that sacrifice is worthwhile in order to achieve a goal. My parents drove four hours each way to give my siblings and me the opportunity to play in a world-class youth orchestra and be coached by the best orchestral musicians. We sacrificed our weekends for the chance to play great music with other kids our age.’’

A conductor from the Cleveland Orchestra staff serves as COYO’s music director. Following Jahja Ling, conductors have been Gareth Morrell Steven Smith, James Gaffigan, Jayce Ogren, and current director James Feddeck. Over the years, Cleveland Orchestra guest conductors and guest artists including Pierre Boulez, Sir Andrew Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Yo-Yo Ma, Kurt Masur, Gil Shaham, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Cleveland Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Möst have worked with COYO musicians.

Founding music director Jahja Ling proudly notes COYO’s lasting impact on individual lives and the musical world: Alumnus Johnny Lee, a violinist, is now a member of The Los Angeles Philharmonic. Two COYO alumni have been members of the San Diego Symphony, where Ling is music director, and Jeffrey Zehngut’s recent hiring brings the number of Cleveland Orchestra members with COYO backgrounds to four. (Alexandra Preucil, violin; Lyle Steelman, trumpet; and Eliesha Nelson, viola are the others.)

By soaking up The Cleveland Orchestra approach, COYO alumni go on to serve as ambassadors of the Cleveland Orchestra’s musical style. Ling notes, “There are only a few orchestras in the world which carry on a tradition of the musical style and integrity as vividly as The Cleveland Orchestra, and our musicians are willing and capable to pass on this tradition to the young musicians of COYO. From my many professional encounters with COYO alumni who are now scattered around the country, I can say they possess a spirit of music-making which is special and distinguished.’’ Alumni perform in orchestras of all sizes across the country.

In addition to Alisa Weilerstein, violinist Caroline Goulding (2004-07), a winner of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, is quickly making a place for herself, even as she finishes her undergraduate degree. Pianist Orion Weiss (1996-97), who has received the Gilmore Young Artist Award, is another rising young artist.

Leading and Working Together

It’s clear that COYO musicians learn to set high standards of excellence. And yet, Jayce Ogren, music director of COYO from 2006-09, says that one of the most rewarding aspects of leading COYO was developing a family atmosphere. Taking the orchestra on tour to the Boston area fulfilled his dream of bonding the young musicians offstage, so they would connect onstage. “We had four great concerts in the Boston area, the kids played their hearts out, and I really had the sense that we’d gotten to that place where the kids loved being together. Their sense of enjoying each other and being a community made the music even more special,” he said.

Normally, the students each pay an annual fee to belong to COYO (limited financial assistance is available). The organization is supported by a substantial grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation and by gifts from other donors. In addition, the George Gund Foundation and Christine Gitlin Miles provide endowment support. Tours like the one to Boston require additional fundraising, and reap lasting rewards. Sarah Baldessari says that playing harp in COYO for the Boston tour was the highlight of her high school career. The Kenyon College student was excited to play Don Juan at Harvard, learn about Boston history, and speak to members of the Boston Pops. Through COYO, she met other musicians in high school who took music as seriously as she did.

Former music director Steven Smith says his former students impress him by the range of
talents they have, not just in music but the other pursuits that they have undertaken and the success that they’ve had in their lives—regardless of whether they’re pursuing a career in music. Musician, doctor, engineer, scientist, artist: whatever comes next, COYO alumni are ahead of the game.

James Feddeck conducts the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra on Sunday, November 20, 2011, at 3 p.m. at Severance Hall in a program of Brahms, Bach, and Dvořák. Visit

Baroque recital by Orchestra trumpeters


The Cleveland Orchestra is performing Baroque programs with guest conductor Ton Koopman at Severance Hall this weekend, and three members of the trumpet section are playing a Baroque recital at Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory as well. Michael Miller, Lyle Steelman, and Jack Sutte, trumpeters with The Cleveland Orchestra, will perform solos, duos, and trios from the Baroque period with organist Barbara MacGregor and timpanist Josh Ryan on Sunday, November 20, at 2 p.m. The program includes works by Albinoni, J.S. Bach, Buxtehude, Croft, Stubley, and Telemann. The recital is at Gamble Auditorium of the Kulas Musical Arts Building, Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory, 96 Front Street, Berea. Admission is free.
For more information contact Craig Reynolds, 440-826-8070, or creynold@bw-edu.

An Austrian Gift for The Cleveland Orchestra

Saturday, November 5, 2011 · 0 comments

At the conclusion of a Cleveland Orchestra rehearsal at the Musikverein, Music Director FranzWelser-Möst invited Vienna State Opera Director of Archives Dr. Peter Poltun to the stage.  Dr. Poltun presented a gift to the Orchestra.  He revealed a first edition score of Beethoven’s Overture to Fidelio and spoke about the ties of Franz and The Cleveland Orchestra to Vienna.  He was clearly thrilled to hear the Clevelanders again on this biennial visit.

New Video Recording Announced

Friday, November 4, 2011 · 0 comments

Franz Welser-Möst and Gary Hanson
At a press conference in Vienna this morning, Cleveland Orchestra Executive Director Gary Hanson and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst announced an upcoming video recording of performances of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 at the Abbey of St. Florian near Linz, Austria in August, 2012, for future release on DVD.  The Cleveland Orchestra gratefully acknowledges both Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich, the Upper Austrian bank, and Clasart production company for their generous support of the DVD release. 

Dr. Ludwig Scharinger and Franz Welser-Möst
Dr. Ludwig Scharinger, CEO of Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich, commented, “We are proud to support Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra in their deep commitment to recording Bruckner’s masterpiece symphonies and sharing them with the world.”  As one of the largest corporate contributors to The Cleveland Orchestra, Raiffeisenlandsbank Oberösterreich has sponsored Cleveland Orchestra performances in both Austria and Germany, and supports the 2011 Cleveland Orchestra Residency at the Muskverein in Vienna.  In addition, Raiffeisenlandsbank Oberösterreich has organized Cleveland Orchestra performances at the Brucknerhaus in Linz as well as at the Abbey of St. Florian, the church where Bruckner is entombed.  The bank is committed to enriching Austria’s culture through the arts.

Dr. Scharinger and Gary Hanson signing the Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich's contract of support 

European Tour Reviews

Thursday, November 3, 2011 · 0 comments

First Assistant Principal Viola Lynne Ramsey, Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, and violist Mark Jackobs receiving applause at the Musikverein in Vienna

The Cleveland Orchestra is on tour in Europe, performing concerts in Madrid, Valencia, Paris, Luxembourg, Linz, and Vienna.  Here's a sampling of quotes from the latest Austrian reviews, with links to the originals online.

About a Musikverein performance of Strauss's Metamorphosen, the Salzburger Nachrichten said, "the melancholy and unworldliness exuded from the strings from Cleveland with wonderful sophistication and flair for Welser-Möst's desired balance of solo strings in a dense network, with delicate enamel."

Kleine Zeitung noted that the long list of sponsors and individuals in the program supporting the tour underscores the enormous financial effort of executing an international orchestra tour. 

Die Presse remarked,”Franz Welser-Möst has succeeded in building the finest Cleveland string culture.”

In a side-by-side review of The Cleveland Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic titled, Magic of ease, elegance of discipline, Der Standard called Cleveland's performance of the Mozart Mass in C Minor at the Musikverein, "a stunning balance of elements," and went on to say, "Chief conductor Franz Welser-Möst organized the relationships between the brilliant Vienna Singverein and the highly competent orchestra, with the concise-cool strings could develop, especially in the quieter passages with a silvery metallic presence."


Cleveland Orchestra and Team NEO in Cologne

Sunday, October 30, 2011 · 0 comments

Team NEO CEO Thomas Waltermire (right) and Jonas Taeger, Cleveland Plus Europe
Ohio's Team Northeast Ohio (Team NEO) is hosting companies in Cologne, Germany this weekend at networking receptions and business presentations surrounding a Cleveland Orchestra performance at the Cologne Philharmonie.  Team NEO, an international business development consulting firm operating as Cleveland Plus Europe, is hosting meetings with 14 companies and industries from across Europe.  Representatives from Amsterdam, Belgium, and Germany attended a pre-concert reception welcomed by Team NEO CEO Thomas Waltermire.  Cleveland Orchestra General Manager Gary Ginstling and Assistant Conductor James Feddeck spoke to the guests about the Orchestra's role as Ohio's most important cultural ambassador and the music on the program.  Violinist Isabel Trautwein, a native German speaker, also greeted guests.

“The Cleveland Orchestra is proud to call Northeast Ohio home and to carry our city’s name around the world,” said Gary Hanson, Executive Director for the Cleveland Orchestra. “We’re pleased to partner with Team NEO to help tell European business leaders about our region’s great assets.”

Team NEO capitalized on the Orchestra’s appearance in Switzerland last year.  “We were able to meet with a dozen companies and industry associations, resulting in four direct investment opportunities for Northeast Ohio,” said Mr. Waltermire. “We anticipate similar results from the response to this visit.” 

European Tour - Ovations and Encores

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 · 0 comments

Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra at the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, Spain
The Cleveland Orchestra is on a 21-day tour in Europe that will ultimately conclude in a residency at Vienna's Musikverein.  Music Director Franz Welser-Möst and the musicians have performed to sold-out concert halls in Madrid, Valencia, and Paris.  The varied programs have included music by Mendelssohn, Weber, Adams, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky.  

Madrid's critic announced in the first review, "It is the art of perfection, pure and simple."  In Paris, the audience applauded in unison, demanding an encore, and were rewarded with Wagner's Prelude to Act III of Die Meistersinger.  The Salle Pleyel fans cheered and yelled out Bravos as Franz and the musicians faced them for the final time.

Cleveland's Plain Dealer newspaper journalist Zachary Lewis has been reporting daily from the tour.  Here are the first tour reviews from Madrid:

October 22, 2011

The Art of Precision
By J. Á. Vela del Campo

During intermission, the news that ETA had announced the end of its armed struggle spread around the concert hall.  Euphoric feelings got hold of many audience members.  The last piece on the program was Boléro by the Basque-French composer Ravel; it seemed as though it had been intended as a reaction to what was going on outside, a hypnotic reflection of affectionate feelings for the Basque country.  And in fact, it sounded fabulous—with those weapons that Welser-Möst handles so scrupulously:  precision, rhythmic control, a certain highly effective minimalism.  All that, plus the assurance of having an orchestra like the Cleveland at his command:  compact, secure, even luminous.

The Cleveland Orchestra made its Spanish debut at Madrid’s Teatro de la Zarzuela in 1957, under the direction of George Szell, a legend among conductors.  Since its founding in 1918, the orchestra has had only seven music directors.  Welser-Möst has served since 2002.  The orchestra loves him and identifies with his criteria—as does the Vienna Philharmonic, which also appreciates him, having given him the responsibility of conducting the New Year’s Concert at the Musikverein and supported his appointment as musical director of the Staatsoper.  He’s a conductor much appreciated by the instrumentalists—let everyone take note.

Welser-Möst was restrained in Mendelssohn, dominating in Stravinsky and brilliant in Ravel.  His gestures are sober, his movements a bit mechanical; his image ranges from timid to robot-like, from subtle to introverted.  The analytic part takes precedence over the expressive.  The artistic results are overwhelmingly effective.  It is the art of perfection, pure and simple.  No excessive emphases, no special effects, none of those ‟strokes of genius” that are so often arbitrary.  He even smiled in the Ravel, completely won over by the work’s rhythmic and timbral richness.  All sections of the orchestra responded homogeneously and with great class.

October 25, 2011

Warm and Brilliant
Rosa Solà

After Sunday’s performance, we can safely say that the charge of interpretive dullness that has been frequently associated with the name of Franz Welser-Möst cannot be upheld—far from it.  One could even surmise that he went well out of his way to counteract that perception.  Not so much in his gestures, of course, which were extremely restrained (though highly effective and precise), but rather in the color and character he gave the scores.  The overture to Euryanthe had a splendid brilliance from the very first note; in this reading one could divine the profoundly Germanic roots of Wagner’s Mastersingers.  As if by coincidence, the third-act prelude of that opera was given as an encore at the end of the concert.  After the Weber overture we heard the Doctor Atomic Symphony by the American composer John Adams.  Based on the opera of the same name, premiered in 2005, the work treats of the first secret testing of the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos in 1945.  The score is more vertiginous than panic-inducing, more melancholy than terrifying.  John Adams’s language is accessible, expressive and unites many different elements.  The difficulties of the music, however, are considerable; yet they were resolved with great dexterity by all sections and soloists of the incomparable Cleveland Orchestra.  The percussion maintained the necessary tension, while the long notes sustained by the brass lent the music a solemn and almost organ-like naturalness.  The work’s subject matter, moreover, was a very sensitive one for everybody, given the recent tragedy of Fukushima.

Then Welser-Möst conducted a Tchaikovsky Fourth whose tempi were much faster than usual, with strongly emphasized contrasts.  So much so that the fatalistic tone of the work almost disappeared in a sea of limpid atmospheres.  Much attention was paid to the internal voices and to the implacable logic of the symphonic development.  The famous Fate motif sounded at times like a fanfare, yet without ever becoming unnatural.  The pizzicato of the scherzo had wings and magic.  The American musicians launched into the finale like crazy at a truly risky tempo, yet they did not play a single wrong note.  Nor was there a single boring moment or a single rigid phrase.  In one word:  the Austrian conductor seems to have blood in his veins.  A lot of it.

Franz Welser-Möst honored by European Academy of Yuste

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 · 0 comments

The European Academy of Yuste has honored Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, recognizing his induction as an Academician of the Academy.  Academy Director Antonio Ventura Díaz welcomed him during a special ceremony at the Royal Monastery of Yuste in Spain.

Antonio Ventura Díaz Díaz
Director of the European Academy of Yuste Foundation
Mr. Welser-Möst, who had recently been appointed as a new member of the Academy, was officially awarded a medal as he was named to the Johannes Kepler Chair during the Accession Ceremony.

After Franz accepted his inauguration with remarks, he was welcomed by the Ambassador of Austria in Spain, M.E. Mr. Rudolf Lennkh.

Franz and M.E. Mr. Rudolf Lennkh
The members of the Academy are recognized for their outstanding creative endeavors or research and who through their work and efforts have contributed to the promotion and development of cultural and scientific progress in Europe.

Academicians serve as an advisory body to the European Academy of Yuste Foundation. Each Academician holds a symbolic chair, each of which bears the name of a notable deceased European (i.e. Socrates, Shakespeare, Leonardo Da Vinci, Cervantes). The Academy appoints Academicians who are intellectually and culturally prestigious European personalities.  Current Academicians include Umberto Eco and Vaclav Havel, and those in memoriam include Mstislav Rostropovich.  For a complete list view the Academy's website.

The European Academy of Yuste, founded in 1992, aims to defend core values such as tolerance, peaceful coexistence among all peoples and nations, solidarity, democracy, freedom, and global peace.

 (l to r) Foundation Assesor Miguel Ángel Martín Ramos, Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Madrid Barbara-Lee Storick, Mrs. Maud Lennkh, Ambassador Lennkh, Franz, and Mr.  Díaz Díaz
After the inauguration ceremony, the Austrian delegation and Franz had a tour of the monastery.  The historic site is the final home of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who passed away there in 1558.  The tour was led by the delegate of Patrimonio Nacional (National Heritage) in Yuste, Francisco Javier Gomez Pizarro.