Augustin Hadelich performs Lalo's Symphonie espagnole this Sunday at the Blossom Festival with The Cleveland Orchestra. See his inspiring story about how he won an international competition after a terrible tragedy. He will sign his new recording, Flying Solo, for fans this weekend at Blossom - the first time it is available.
Click above to view a slideshow of images from The Cleveland Orchestra's performances with The Joffrey Ballet last weekend!
Photos: Cleveland Orchestra Media Relations
This week has been full of activity as the production crew readies Blossom Music Center for The Cleveland Orchestra’s performances with The Joffrey Ballet on August 22 and 23. The Orchestra’s production manager, Romanina Campea, took a few minutes today to explain a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes to put together this kind of production.
Blossom was built mainly for the purpose of presenting musical concerts rather than opera or dance. What kinds of accommodations backstage are you making for the dancers that you don’t usually need to do for an Orchestra concert?
Together with The Joffrey Ballet, we’ve gone through careful preparation and brainstorming to provide the necessary accommodations for the dancers. In the backstage area of Blossom, we’ve transformed the largest prep room into a room full of makeshift dressing spaces for each dancer, ensuring that each dancer will have adequate space and privacy.
Each of the 38 dancers requires 30” of dressing space and a 24”x30” mirror with lights so that they can apply their makeup. In addition, we have to closely monitor the temperature of the room to ensure it stays within the norms specified by AGMA [the American Guild of Musical Artists, the labor union that dancers belong to] – 72 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. We have also turned off our air conditioning unit providing air conditioning to the stage to maintain the right temperature for rehearsals and performances.
Besides that, we’ve provided space and appropriate equipment and workspace for the Joffrey’s wardrobe staff, including washers, dryers, steamers, irons, sewing machines, and a place to store wardrobe trunks.
You’re bringing in a “sprung floor” from Cincinnati Ballet, to give the dancers the give and the springiness they need to avoid injuries, and the dancers are bringing their own Marley floor, the performance layer that goes on top. What’s different about their own Marley floor—why aren’t they using the Cincinnati Ballet’s?
While the sprung floor provides the resiliency needed to prevent injuries such as shin splints and ligament injuries, the Marley is a nonskid surface that provides resistance or the appropriate friction needed for a certain type of dance. As in the case of the Joffrey, a dance company chooses to use their own Marley for a number of reasons. First, the dancers develop a familiarity with a particular floor surface. Another reason is that in order to achieve the look he wants, the lighting director bases his decisions on the specific color of the Marley, so it is important to have consistency.
What kind of preparations are you making to transform the stage at Blossom into a safe performance space for the dancers?
Ballet companies require what’s called a “spotting light” for all performances and technical rehearsals. The spotting light is placed at the centerline of the stage, and hung in rail position at the rear of the house. The light is used to attain a constant orientation of the dancer's head and eyes, to the extent possible, in order to enhance the dancer's control and prevent dizziness. Additional spotting lights are also placed along the downstage side of the dance floor so the dancers have a point of reference on where they are from the center of the dance floor.
We’ve also made preparations for the dancers backstage, including quick change booths, laying out Marley for warm-up and safety backstage, and running lights to provide adequate lighting.
We’re excited to have the Joffrey Ballet here, and we hope they feel at home at Blossom this weekend!
-- Romanina Campea, production manager, The Cleveland Orchestra
WKSU 89.7 FM listeners today got a behind-the-scenes insight into all the preparations that have gone into bringing the Joffrey Ballet to Blossom to perform with The Cleveland Orchestra.
Click here to listen to the story from WKSU's Vivian Goodman.
The Joffrey Ballet performs with The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom August 22 and 23.
An Early Childhood and the Arts conference on Monday, Aug. 17 made possible by grants from the PNC Foundation drew nearly 200 people to Severance Hall eager to learn how to use art, music, and drama to build critical school readiness skills. Participants heard a speaker from Sesame Workshop, picked up early childhood arts education materials from a wide array of local providers, and even met Elmo. (Yes, THAT Elmo.)
The morning session closed with a spirited “Yee, hah!” as the participants in Reinberger Chamber Hall rose to their feet for a three-part simultaneous chorus of “She’ll Be Comin ‘Round the Mountain,” “This Train is Bound for Glory,” and “When the Saints Go Marching In,” led with gusto from the podium by well-known music therapist Dr. Deforia Lane, an advisor to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Ms. Lane was modeling an activity that might be done with children in the Toddler Rock program at the Rock Hall.
“Phenomenal!” said Cassandra Thompson as she left Reinberger Hall. Thompson is involved in family child care for young children, and liked the cross-curriculum ideas she heard on Monday morning. The suggestions she heard also would work well across a range of ages, she said.
Wanda Owens, a retired early education teacher who is involved with the Cleveland Association of Black Storytellers, said she appreciated how the presenters recognized “the importance of oral language development to help kids read, write, and compute.”
Opening the program, Paul Clark, the regional president of PNC Bank, presented a video highlighting PNC’s Grow Up Great: Our Kids and the Arts - A Great Early Start program, an initiative that in Cleveland will infuse Head Start programs with arts education for young children, through $2 million in grants to The Cleveland Orchestra, PlayhouseSquare, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. The grants are leveraging the experience of the four institutions and creating new programs in preschool teacher training and arts activities designed to reach more children in the metropolitan area.
Monday’s program was the first collaboration among the four institutions to bring early childhood education resources to local educators. Additional programming will launch in September through the arts partners and local Head Start sites. And as National City becomes integrated into PNC, other elements of Grow Up Great will be introduced in Greater Cleveland and throughout the National City footprint, including rollout of the volunteerism program and volunteer opportunities at early education centers, additional grants, availability of the Happy, Healthy, Ready for School kits in National City bank branches, and increased awareness of early childhood education and PNC’s programs in support of it.
Participants on Monday heard keynote speaker Bonnie Lash Freeman, Director of Training/Special Projects at the National Center for Family Literacy in Kentucky, as well as Sesame Workshop speaker Jeanette Betancourt, Vice President for Outreach and Educational Practices. In addition, those who attended could collect informational materials on educational programs at the The Music Settlement, WVIZ/PBS ideastream, Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory, and Cuyahoga County Public Library as well as the PNC arts partner institutions.
In the afternoon, Grow Up Great Partner Head Start teachers participated in hands-on workshops with their arts partner leaders in spaces throughout Severance Hall.
The Cleveland Orchestra’s Grow Up Great program revolves around the establishment of “Musical Neighborhoods.” Musicians and staff will be working with preschool educators at four Head Start sites – Arbor Park and Quadrangle Head Starts, managed by Catholic Charities, and Head Start classrooms in Tremont Montessori and Robert Jamison schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
As the PNC Grow Up Great collaboration moves forward, PNC will evaluate activities and outcomes at participating Head Start sites, observing which arts experiences are being made available and with what impact. A goal for the program is to engage not only the Head Start teachers but to engage parents as well in using the arts to support important skill building, so that parents take an increasingly active part in the arts with their children, said Maria Townsend, who will be doing evaluations for PNC. Evaluator Susie Chase said that their findings will be used to help support good practices in the programs.
For more information on The Cleveland Orchestra’s participation in PNC’s Grow Up Great program: Our Kids and the Arts - A Great Early Start, contact Education & Community Programs Director Joan Katz Napoli at email@example.com
Additional information about PNC Grow Up Great and resources for parents and educators can be found at www.pncgrowupgreat.com.
You’re conducting ballet for the first time at Blossom on August 22-23. How is this challenge different from conducting symphonic concerts, and what are you doing to prepare?
What an audience might not know about ballet is that the orchestra accompanies the dancing much as it accompanies singers in an opera. As a conductor, I have to be sensitive to the dancers, understanding their needs with their movement. Sometimes I may have to push things a little faster for them to be more comfortable, and sometimes I may need to give them more time for, let’s say, a leap. The biggest difference between ballet conducting and opera conducting is the orchestra’s ability engage in that sensitivity. In opera, the orchestra can hear the singers, so they can gauge for themselves what is needed, and it helps me as a conductor quite a bit. In ballet, the orchestra cannot see what the dancers are doing, so the responsibility is totally on me to make things right.
On the other hand, the dancers (like singers) also have to listen to the orchestra and be sensitive to us as well. This is what makes the performance like chamber music, both sides working together and feeding off of each other. The dancers really do listen to the music; not just the notes or the beats, but how we play the notes. So all the phrasing and nuance that we put into the music as musicians will influence the dancers. And when everything is just right, the results are truly magical, for the eyes and for the ears.
To prepare for all of this, aside from learning the music as I normally would, I spent some time in Chicago with the dancers, watching their rehearsals and working with their pianist (they usually work with a pianist as opposed to using recording). This gives me a better idea of what I will need to do during the performances, and what I will relay to the orchestra in rehearsals.
Have you seen The Joffrey Ballet perform before, and what are your impressions of them as a company?
These performances will be the first time I will see this company perform live, but I had the pleasure of seeing them rehearse this program in Chicago. This is a world-class company in every sense. Aside from their abilities as dancers, they are incredibly professional, and their love of their art comes through in their performance. This is a demanding program for them, and so their level of preparation attests to their professionalism and abilities, and the audience is in for an incredible evening.
Can you comment about the Adagietto from Mahler 5. What is it that makes this such a Cleveland Orchestra signature piece, and what makes it so special?
There is a wonderful tradition of Mahler with The Cleveland Orchestra. So many great conductors have led the orchestra through Mahler's works ─ even Leonard Bernstein in his one and only appearance with The Cleveland Orchestra. There is a great understanding of the composer and it really comes through in every performance that I’ve heard with them, so it’s really a thrill for me to be able to work with them on this piece.
This particular movement is special in that it was Mahler’s declaration of love for Alma Schindler, at that time his wife-to-be. Instead of sending her a letter, he sent her this movement, which she immediately understood. I think any listener will be able to understand Mahler’s intentions when they hear this movement. Although the entire Symphony is scored for a very large orchestra, this movement is only for the string section (including harp).
Do you have any personal thoughts about the musical Carousel and Christopher Wheeldon’s choreography for Carousel (A Dance)?
Much of my musical experience before I came to Cleveland was in musical theater, whether conducting or playing (violin) in the orchestra, so Carousel is no stranger to me. I have performed it many times, and it is one of my favorite stage works. This performance mainly utilizes “The Carousel Waltz,” and the choreography wonderfully portrays the joy and abandon expressed by the music. We also get a small glimpse of the relationship between Billy and Julie in a pas de deux set to the music of “Soliloquy” and “If I Loved You.” The finale is spectacular, with the entire company like a carousel, and it will be a wonderful ending to the evening.
UPDATE: Rick got to meet another Star Trek idol at Blossom - George Takei
Richard Solis, a member of the Cleveland Orchestra’s horn section, owns up to his weakness for all things Star Trek.
Cleveland Orchestra musician Richard Solis with Leonard Nimoy at a Cleveland Orchestra performance of Beethoven 9 in
When I was growing up in
Compared to today’s technological wizardry, the show was visually rather lame, and some of the stories were pretty silly, but the overlying concept of a future where people were treated equally and compassionately, planet ecologies were respected, and discourse was favored over war, was hugely appealing to me. I watched the reruns over and over again.
Since then, my wife and I have watched every episode of every Star Trek show and spinoff that came along, in addition to every movie that was produced. When
I’m really looking forward to working with (and hopefully meeting) George Takei. The people who took part in that wonderful universe are slowly leaving us and we should cherish every opportunity to honor them.
Guest narrator George Takei will join The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom for a Sci-Fi Spectacular on Sunday, August 16, at 7 p.m. For tickets, visit clevelandorchestra.com
Pianist David Fray joins The Cleveland Orchestra in an all-Mozart program this Saturday night at Blossom, performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25. Mr. Fray will be signing CDs and chatting with fans following the concert. The concert also includes Mozart's Symphonies Nos. 40 and 41.
Click the video above to view a preview of Sing, Swing & Think, a new documentary film by Bruno Monsaingeon about Mr. Fray, which includes live footage from the audio recording sessions of the Bach concertos BWV 1055,1056 and 1058, part of a new recording just released by EMI Classics.
Jane Startzman is the director of the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival, running on weekends through Aug. 15 in Akron parks. She was a dancer in Akron’s Ohio Ballet, co-founded by artistic director Heinz Poll and lighting designer Tom Skelton.
As The Cleveland Orchestra prepares to perform with The Joffrey Ballet at the Blossom Festival August 22 and 23, Jane remembers when the Joffrey Ballet performed Kettentanz (on this summer's programs) and other dances with The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom in the 1970s.
I remember that this was a big moment for all of us young dancers in the Ohio Ballet. Heinz Poll and Tom Skelton were very close friends with Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino (the choreographer of Kettentanz), and Ohio Ballet was being modeled after the Joffrey Ballet and later compared to it, and described in national press as a "mini-Joffrey." Tom lit many of their ballets in those days. We were all amazed at the virtuoso technique displayed by the Joffrey dancers, as well as their youthful and exuberant energy. They didn't dance like other "ballet companies." As I recall, they were one of the first contemporary ballet companies in the U.S. They were so energetic and large with their dancing that the stage always seemed to look too small for them. This was a signature element that inspired Ohio Ballet -- also the eclectic nature of their repertory.
In those days, we (Ohio Ballet) were a young and very poor company, so toe shoes, being so expensive, were rationed to company members. I remember Tom Skelton bringing us a big box of the Joffrey dancer's "reject" toe shoes the day they came in to town. "Reject" meant mostly unused, but not quite right for the dancer for some reason. We were in heaven, trying to pick out shoes that fit and at the same time had a "famous Joffrey dancer name" written on the bottom!
Photo: Dancer Allison Walsh performs in Kettentanz. Photo by Herbert Migdoll.
For more information about The Cleveland Orchestra's performances with The Joffrey Ballet at Blossom on August 22 and 23, visit clevelandorchestra.com.
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