Tag Archives: University Circle

This Weekend – Cleveland Fests from East to West!

Another week is almost done – what are you doing this weekend?

If you don’t have plans, a slate of festivals have you covered from the east to westsides.  Get out this weekend (bring a water bottle – it’s going to be hot) and experience the unique art and entertainment our community has to offer:

23rd Annual Parade the Circle takes place this Saturday in University Circle

Parade the Circle and Party in the Square

Parade the Circle returns this Saturday, June 9th from 11am-4pm (the parade itself starts at noon).  For more than 20 years, the Cleveland Museum of Art has been bringing this free signature summer event to Greater Cleveland – it’s one of my favorite things about June in Cleveland.

At the start of each summer, University Circle fills with color, music, and art for all ages. International and national guest artists join Greater Cleveland artists, families, schools, and community groups in a spectacular display of bright costumes, giant puppets, stilt-dancers, handmade masks, and colorful floats.

The 2012 parade route – themed around Branches Become Roots - will begin and end at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, moving in a clockwise direction along Wade Oval Drive and East Blvd. The parade will end by turning onto Wade Oval.  In addition to the Parade, University Circle Inc. hosts Circle Village, filling Wade Oval with activities, entertainment, and food.

Download the Parade Program here.  A parking map is also available and free valet bicycle parking will be provided by the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op in front of the Cleveland Institute of Art from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Parade the Circle guests can take a free shuttle back and forth to Discover Gordon Square Arts District Day

For the third year, Parade the Circle guests can also hop over to the westside for Discover Gordon Square Arts District Day.  University Circle and Gordon Square Arts District will provide a FREE shuttle service to and from Parade the Circle and Gordon Square.

Round-trip shuttles will be available all day with the Eastside shuttle picking up at East Blvd. and Bellflower every hour between 10:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. and the Westside shuttle picking up at the corner of West 65th and Detroit every half-hour between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

At Gordon Square Day, you can enjoy free classic cartoons at Capitol Theatre, live performances at CPT’s and Near West Theatre’s outdoor stages, art galleries, pop-up shops and food and drinks.  For more information, visit www.gordonsquare.org.

WMC Fest runs all weekend long – starting Friday with an evening of bands

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest

If you can’t wait for Saturday, the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest starts tomorrow (Friday, June 8) and runs through Sunday.

The Weapons of Mass Creation Fest is heralded as the premier art, design, and music event in the Midwest. Now in its third year, 1,000+ attendees will descend on Cleveland to enjoy 20 inspiring speakers, 20 artists and designers, and almost 30 bands.

Part conference, part concert, part art show, and part festival, WMC Fest’s grassroots movement strives to educate, inspire, create and celebrate.

Get inspired by 20 speakers, 20 artists, almost 30 bands and the rest of the Weapons of Mass Creation community

Friday’s schedule revolves around a pre-fest mixer with music at Saigon Plaza.

Bands will continue to play there on Saturday and Sunday, while speakers take the stage noon to 7 both days at Reinberger Auditorium.

The speakers include a fantastic mix of Cleveland talent like Julia Kuo and CLE Clothing Co’s Mike Kubinski, as well as creative professionals and designers from across the country and our neighbor to the north.

WMC Fest’s Art & Design Show will take place at the iLTHY Workshop. Admission is free for the art show, while one-day tickets and weekend passes are available to purchase for the bands and presentations.

You can purchase single-day or weekend passes for the speakers and music. The art show at iLTHY Workshop is free.

So what are you waiting for? Cleveland is opening its doors this weekend to our neighborhoods, shops, and galleries and celebrating our thriving creative community. Whether it’s east, west, or both sides, hope to see you out and about!

Note: Graphics/photos of WMC Fest from wmcfest.com; Discover GSAD Day image from discover.gordonsquare.org. Parade the Circle photos are mine from a couple of years ago.

All I Want for Cleve-Mas, Part 4: Fighting Cabin Fever

Have you entered the Clue Into Cleveland giveaway for a Dolce Gusto Piccolo coffee machine? Only a few days left to enter here!

From ice skating in University Circle, to the Zoo, Metroparks and Progressive Field, there are plenty of ways to get outside and fight cabin fever this holiday season.

Cleveland winters get a bum rap. Although I know I’ll complain about it when we’re in the throws of February dealing with endless snow, during this time of year I’m not quite ready to hunker down indoors.

In fact, with my holiday shopping and errands nearly done, it’s time to enjoy the season, throw on my coat and head outside in the brisk December winds for some of these festivities:

The Frozen Diamond FaceOff is just one of the new features at this year's Indians Snow Days.

Cleveland Indians Snow Days

Cleveland Indians Snow Days was one of my favorite parts about last year’s winter (here’s last year’s recap). So as soon as tickets went on sale for this year’s return of Snow Days to Progressive Field, I bought mine.

I think it’s a perfect example of Cleveland’s ingenuity — transforming Progressive Field, which would sit mostly empty during the off-season, into a unique and fun wonderland.

Back again this year are The Batterhorn Snow Tubing hill (loved launching down the slick hills last year!) and the Frozen Mile ice skating track (the first non-symmetrical ice skating path in the U.S.).

The Cleveland Indians also added The Frozen Diamond, a regulation-sized ice skating rink covering home plate and stretching down the first base line. On January 15, The Frozen Diamond will host Ohio’s first-ever outdoor college hockey match when Ohio State and the University of Michigan play each other in The Frozen Diamond FaceOff.

I grew up watching the Philadelphia Flyers and hearing stories of the legendary Broad Street Bullies, so hockey’s been in my blood since I was a kid. I’ve never been to an outdoor game, so I bought the Snow Days Bundle Package, which gets you tickets to the January 15 game and a good-any-day combo pass for snow tubing and ice skating fun between now and the end of Snow Days on Jan. 16.

Thrillseekers can shoot down the Cleveland Metroparks' Tobogganing Chutes throughout the winter.

Take a Hike in the Cleveland Metroparks

Cleveland’s “Emerald Necklace” glimmers even more brightly this time of year with plenty of winter recreation opportunities.

Top of my list to try this season is tobogganing at the Chalet in Strongsville’s Mill Stream Run Reservation. If I thought snow tubing down the Indians’ Batterhorn was fast, I don’t know what to expect from the Chalet’s 1,000-foot ice chutes. And when the thrills get too much, I can head indoors and enjoy the warmth of their fireplaces.

For those who like to get some exercise while enjoying the great outdoors, the Cleveland Metroparks are also hosting a series of Holiday Hikes. The next two will explore CanalWay Center on Dec. 22 and Bacci Park on Dec. 29, both in the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation starting at 1pm.

Other upcoming hikes include this Saturday’s Candlelit Hike and Caroling through South Chagrin’s Look About Lodge, as well as this Sunday’s Winter Blues Hike with Naturalist Kelly McGinnis along Deer Lick Cave Trail.

The Cleveland Metroparks Calendar of Events lists the dates and locations for all of their programs.  And before you take a hike, check out these two Metroparks articles to learn a bit about winter birdwatching and the animals living under winter’s blanket.

During December Days, the Cleveland Zoo is offering discounted admission and plenty of holiday activities.

Cleveland Zoo December Days

I love visting the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and after October I love it even more because I can save $3 when I want to visit my favorite exhibit: the tigers, bears and wolves in the Northern Trek.

Starting this coming Monday, Dec. 19 and running until Dec. 30, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is hosting December Days at the Zoo. Admission is discounted even further to $7 for adults, $4 for children 2-11.

In addition to all of the exhibits, the Zoo is hosting a number of festive activities during December Days. From cookie decorating and holiday crafts in the Welcome Plaza’s Exhibit Hall to live music and visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, it’s another low-cost way to spend the holidays with your family, especially if you have children.

Wade Oval lights up with lanterns from the Cleveland Museum of Art and festive trees and gingerbread houses at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

Find Yourself (and the Holidays) in University Circle

My final favorite winter spot is the eastside’s University Circle. From more ice skating to winter lights and holiday treats, there are plenty of things to enjoy in the museum neighborhood.

The Cleveland Botanical Garden WinterShow boasts gingerbread houses made by professionals, amateurs and local families. Other festival highlights include the beautiful WinterShow Tree, holiday plants, trees decorated in the themes of children’s tales and fables, and Christmas cacti. It runs through Dec. 31st.

After the Botanical Garden, head over to the Cleveland Museum of Art for their Winter Lights Lantern Displays. Even though I missed the Procession of Lights during Holiday CircleFest, the Environment of Lights installation in Wade Oval is on view through this Sunday, Dec. 18.  The 5 indoor lantern displays will continue inside of the Museum of Art until January 16.

And for those who haven’t gotten their fill of ice skating at Progressive Field or in the Metroparks, there’s always the Rink at Wade Oval Circle. It’s free if you bring your own skates, $3 for skate rentals.

***

As the season wraps up, I have to remind myself to relax and go out and enjoy these seasonal festivities. I hope you also find some free time this holiday – whether it’s enjoying the outdoors at one of these events or inside with a warming hot chocolate or glass of wine.

Check out Parts 1-3 of All I Want for Cleve-Mas 2011:

Pictures from universitycircle.org, cleveland.indians.mlb.com, clemetzoo.com, clemetparks.com and clevelandart.org.

Cleveland Orchestra: East Meets West with Bartok, Hosokawa and Takemitsu

 

This past weekend's Cleveland Orchestra concert was an artfully chosen pairing of pieces by Hungarian composer Bela Bartok and Japanese composers Toru Takemitsu and Toshio Hosokawa. (photo of Severance Hall from flickr.com/photos/clevelandorchestra)

Lately I’ve been trying to discover more about the Cleveland blogging community. One of the blogs I’ve enjoyed reading is Cleveland Food and Brews, which focuses on how it’s not just wine that can complement a good meal, but also a nice well-crafted beer.  When there’s a particularly complementary pairing of food and drink, it raises the meal to another level.

Now you’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with the Cleveland Orchestra. Like the similarities and differences of fine food and drink playing off one another, this weekend’s concert at the Cleveland Orchestra expertly paired the styles of three composers for a musically enlightened program. With two pieces by Hungarian composer Bela Bartok and a piece each by Japanese composers Toru Takemitsu and Toshio Hosokawa, Conductor Franz Welser-Most and the Orchestra contrasted the influences of Eastern and Western styles against one another. However, as musicologist Peter Laki wrote in the program notes, there has been a long speculation about the similarities and kinship between the Hungarian and Japanese languages – making for an interesting evening.

The evening started with Woven Dreams, a composition by Hosokawa. Hosokawa is actually the first currently living composer I’ve seen performed at Severance, and the performance of Woven Dreams over the weekend was its U.S. premiere (with the world premiere happening over the summer at the Lucerne Festival by the Cleveland Orchestra). This piece actually surprised me as both Scott’s and my favorite of the evening.  Inspired by a dream Hosokawa once had about being a child in his mother’s womb, it had an almost imperceptible  beginning – very quietly building from a long B-flat tone. The waves of gradual, dissonant sound were mysterious – almost subtlely ominous at moments. The other thing I enjoyed was how the percussionists contributed so many sounds that filled in the background of the piece – jumping throughout between a wide assortment of instruments.

The other piece written by a Japanese composer was Garden Rain by Takemitsu. Scott and I had last seen a piece by Takemitsu at the October Fridays@7 concert when the Orchestra performed Dream/Window. That composition was inspired by the Buddhist garden Saiho-ji. Hailing from a country where gardens had been developed as a supreme artform, Takemitsu often focused on them in his work. Garden Rain was a short piece – running just under 10 minutes – for two brass quintets. Interestingly, Takemitsu was often influenced by Western literature and philosophy such as Finnegan’s Wake and Water and Dreams, influences which can be seen in Garden Rain. While I typically don’t think of exclusively brass pieces as serene, there was something very soft to it.  The staging of the musicians was also interesting – with the two quintets seated far upstage and a large void between them and Welser-Most.

Acclaimed French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard performed Bartok's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Cleveland Orchestra this weekend. (photo from harrisonparrott.com, credit Felix Broede and DG)

These pieces were alternated with two pieces by Bela Bartok – his Piano Concerto No. 2 and Music for Stringed Instruments, Percussion and Celesta. Bartok was a Hungarian composer in the early-to-mid 1900s, deeply inspired by the folk music of his culture and his Russian contemporary Igor Stravinsky. Both of these inspirations were evident in the two pieces performed at this weekend’s concerts.

Although Scott found he had a problem with the cohesion of the overall Piano Concerto No. 2, I enjoyed its three movements and how the piano solo played into the other instruments. I particularly liked the third movement – which had sections structured like Hungarian folksongs and a finale that ended in a decisive and abrupt moment.

The first time the piece was performed by the Cleveland Orchestra, Bartok himself was the piano soloist. At this weekend’s concert, Piano Concerto No. 2 was performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Aimard is a French pianist, acclaimed as one of today’s most important, skilled in both contemporary and classic music. He first performed with the Cleveland Orchestra in 1996 and has frequently returned to play in Severance as an artist-in-residence and going on tour throughout Europe and the U.S.  As someone who had not seen Aimard perform before, I realized moments into the piece why he is revered. He was clearly skilled but notably gracious and modest even during the audience’s applause – sharing the praise with Welser-Most and the rest of the Orchestra. It’s a welcome trait in a soloist.

The second Bartok piece, Music for Stringed Instruments, Percussion and Celesta, was an interesting four movements that alternated between slow-fast-slow-fast rhythms. My favorite part – similar to Concerto No. 2 – was the last movement. It was lively at moments coupled with a certain precision and crispness to the notes. Because of this, there was an almost animated dance to Welser-Most’s conducting as he led two choirs of musicians seated in opposition of one another. The contrasts of the two sets of musicians, as well as the alternation between the first, second, third and fourth movements’ tempos, struck me as reminiscent of the evening’s pairings – different yet connected to one another. As it worked for the entire concert, these alternating musical personalities worked in Music for Strings.

After this weekend’s performances, the Orchestra is off to Indiana for its Indiana University Residency, then Miami for its residency at the Adrienne Arsht Center. With additional stops in Chicago, Michigan, and Carnegie Hall, the Orchestra returns to its home in Severance Hall on February 11th.  Whether it’s here or there, the Orchestra is bringing artfully chosen concerts like Bartok, Takemitsu and Hosokawa to its all of its audiences.

Cleveland Orchestra 411:

The Cleveland Museum of Art's Armor Court

My most recent trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art was for October's Sketch Crawl in the Armor Court. (photo by ADHicken)

It would be impossible for me to write just one post about the Cleveland Museum of Art and successfully cover all of its exhibitions and collections.  Sure, there are volumes of books dedicated to this city treasure which are capable of doing it justice.  However, if I tried fitting the entirety of the internationally celebrated museum in one entry, it’d be too long for even me to read. 

Similarly, it’s just as difficult to see all of the Art Museum in only one visit. While I’ve been there a few times since moving to Cleveland, I still haven’t explored everything. My most recent visit was in October when the monthly Cleveland Sketch Crawl met in the Museum’s Armor Court

This section of the Museum has always been one of my favorite parts of the recently reopened 1916 gallery. When we came to the city in 2008, the Museum was about halfway through its massive ongoing renovation. The first time we visited the Museum was to see the temporary exhibit Arms and Armor from Imperial Austria. It was an excellent teaser for the re-unveiling of the Museum’s renowned Armor Court which happened later that year.  

The Armor Court features European arms and armor from 1400 – 1700 and includes helmets, weaponry of the blade, arrow and gun variety, and even full body armor for man and horse. Many of the pieces were acquired in 1916, when the Museum’s first director Frederic Allen Whiting persuaded John Long Severance to buy and donate a collection of armor from a collector in Boston. 

Sketch of a helmet and detailing from the State Guard of Elector Christian I of Saxony, 1560-1591 (sketch by ADHicken)

Since then it’s been a hit among visitors — especially children and those who typically have to be dragged to see art — for its glimpse into an exciting (and violent) part of history. In recent decades, curators discovered that some of the pieces original to the exhibit were fakes made of mismatched parts. These have since been replaced with authentic armor. The now fully genuine collection is housed in a beautiful, light-filled, enclosed courtyard.  With the 2008 reopening, the Armor Court was returned to how it looked in 1998, when it last underwent a top-to-bottom renovation.

When I visited for the Cleveland Sketch Crawl, I spent some time walking around the gallery trying to figure out what I wanted to draw during my short stay. While I was there, I enjoyed tracing the evolution of armor from Medieval to Renaissance times.

In the Middle Ages, there were mail tunics, or hauberks, that provided lighter-weight, more-flexible protection than their iron predecessors. Made of thousands of metal rings linked together, mail armor was coupled with helmets and shields for additional security.

Because of the challenges presented by longbows, crossbows and eventually firearms, plate armor became the new necessity in the Renaissance. These full suits of armor were made of hundreds of steel plates joined together to fit their owner specifically. This allowed for full protection, but also continued to offer the flexibility needed to fight. Other aspects of the body armor made shields unnecessary by deflecting attacks with angled surfaces. These surfaces also became a blank canvas for detailed designs and etchings such as a family’s coat of arms or illustrations of a warrior’s skill and style.  

A trip to the Armor Court allows you to view this evolution, as well as the weapons that inspired them.  For Medieval armor, there are examples of mail shirts from the 1400s in Europe and helmets from places like Italy. Likewise, there are full-body and partial suits of plated armor from the Renaissance, such as the centerpiece of the Museum’s Armor Court: the Field Armor for Man and Horse. One of the most memorable sights of the room, it’s a life-size model of a man and horse both decked out in full gear. The suit is from North Italy with gilding, leather and velvet etched with the Arms of the Vols-Colonna Family. It’s a magnificent site that can stop first-time visitors in their tracks.

Sketch of Armor for Man and Horse with the Arms of the Vols-Colonna Family, about 1575 (sketch by ADHicken)

Hung on the walls of the Court is my other favorite highlight of the room – the Dido and Aeneas tapestries. These 8 tapestries tell the tragic love story of Dido and Aeneas in The Aeneid, Virgil’s ancient Roman epic poem and the subject of my Latin studies in my junior year of high school. In addition to having a soft spot in my heart for the story (I loved translating Latin), it’s also portrayed on a beautiful, dynamic and very large scale.   

The tapestries were designed and woven in the 1600s by the Roman painter Giovanni Francesco Romanelli and Michel Wauters’ tapestry workshop, respectively.  They were donated in 1915 and are a permanent installation to the Museum. However, their constant exposure to light has caused the original colors to irreversibly fade, something that has prompted the Museum’s rotation of textiles to improve preservation.

The Sketch Crawl group spent over two hours in just this one room.  Fortunately, because admission to the Cleveland Museum of Arts‘ collections is free, you can take as many trips as you’d like to explore it – something I’m a long way from finishing on my list of Cleveland places I’d like to fully ‘clue into.’  Recognized as one of a few institutions still allowing no-cost access to 40,000+ objects spanning 6,000 years of achievement in the arts, the Museum fulfills its mission of being not just one of the world’s most distinguished comprehensive art museums but also one of Northeast Ohio’s principal civic and cultural institutions.

For a student of the arts, the Museum is also an excellent muse as you can freely explore the architecture and non-special-collection works up close and personal. As the building project continues through 2013, there will be even more sources of inspiration. However, if you plan on sketching at the Cleveland Art Museum, there are a few guidelines to protect the works there. The museum only allows pencil for sketching. You are not permitted to bring in pens, ink of any kind, paints, pastels or charcoal for obvious reasons.  Read the full gallery policies before you go.

The next Cleveland Sketch Crawl will be Jan. 8 at the Mounted Police station. (photo of mounted police from coolhistoryofcleveland.blog.com)

Numerous other options for sketching abound in Cleveland, as I continue to experience via the Cleveland Sketch Crawl. The next Crawl is this coming Saturday, Jan.  8th, 10am – noon. We’ll be venturing to the Cleveland Mounted Police station on the near eastside of Downtown. Check out the Cleveland Sketch Crawl blog for more information, including a link to where the station is located (since Google Maps will give you the wrong location if you try looking for it).

 

Cleveland Museum of Art 411:

Fridays@7 Kick the Weekend Off Right with the Cleveland Orchestra

Severance Hall transforms for the Fridays@7 series - the perfect way to unwind at the end of the work week

When I was in college and prone to going out to all hours of the night, I’d look forward to Friday like many students because it meant the weekend (and its subsequent parties) had arrived. Of course, how I kicked off the weekend back then was a lot different than how I like to start it now.  From Polka Happy Hour to a movie at The Capitol, there are plenty of better ways to jumpstart the weekend besides my former gallivanting. And now there’s a new addition to my slate of options: the Fridays@7 series at the Cleveland Orchestra

With an early start time, the Fridays@7 series provides a full evening of music and pre- and post-concert celebrations. The doors to Severance Hall open up at 5pm for a pre-party of drinks, food and entertainment.  Then at 7, the Orchestra presents a concert without intermission, and an afterparty of artists selected by percussionist Jamey Haddad rounds out the unique evening. In addition to being an entertaining way to escape the stresses of the work week, the Fridays@7 series provides much more than an evening’s worth of geographically and stylistically diverse music.

Cleveland's Passport Project performs during the Fridays@7 pre-concert party

This past Friday was the opening concert in the 2010-2011 Fridays@7 series. Scott and I headed over to Severance Hall after a long week of work, happy to get our weekend started a little early. As we walked into Severance’s lobby, we were welcomed by the drum beats of Cleveland’s own Passport Project who kicked off the evening with the pre-party. Passport Project is a local world music and dance ensemble  who strives to build community and encourage diversity by designing lectures, interactive performances and concerts.  Besides the beats they provided, an aspect of their concert I enjoyed was encouraging guests to introduce themselves to at least 2 people they didn’t know.  While I sometimes shy away from networking exercises, it was a relaxed enough environment where this flowed very comfortably. It also helped that the bar was open, where guests could purchase libations and light food before the main event.

As 7 o’clock arrived, the crowd moved into the main hall of Severance.  As Conductor Franz Welser-Most took the stage, you could already tell this would be different than some of the other concerts I had been to.  Instead of the traditional suit and tails, Welser-Most and each musician were dressed in semi-formal black. The concert itself featured a dual performance –  Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu’s Dream/Window and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (often referred to as Eroica/The Heroic). 

Even the Cleveland Orchestra loosens their ties for the Fridays@7 series - not donning the traditional suit and tails.

The two pieces the Orchestra performed definitely had their share of differences in style. Takemitsu’s Dream/Window was a modern interpretation of the Japanese Buddhist garden Saiho-ji as if being viewed in a dream and through a window. The overlapping harmonies and sometimes twisting, incoherent manner of the music had a unique and haunting effect as the piece mirrored the different perspectives of the garden.  Beethoven’s Eroica - composed in the early 1800s - took some of its inspiration from Beethoven’s admiration of Napoleon as a heroic leader.

However, although Eroica is more traditional than the modern 1985 Dream/Window, it wasn’t originally as well-received as it is today.  In addition to the original inspiration of Napoleon, there was also a deeply personal exploration in the basis of the piece as it was written around the time Beethoven publicly acknowledged his deafness. Instead of allowing the knowledge of his deafness to debilitate him, it is said his work on Eroica could have saved his life. The end result was 4 movements of dynamic, tumultuous and sometimes irreverent sound that shed new significance with each listen. Subsequently, the decision to perform Dream/Window and Eroica with their different styles, but similar impact, was a very deft one on the part of the Orchestra.

After the Orchestra, Nation Beat performed to a packed house in Severance Hall's Grand Foyer

In addition to a night of challenging music, the concert was yet another opportunity to observe how the Orchestra’s performances are a level of art completely separate from the pieces themselves. This was the first time I haven’t sat in the lower level of Severance.  While I enjoy being close because it establishes an almost personal connection with the musicians, sitting in the upstairs Dress Circle allowed us to see how the entire ‘machine’ flows together.  As Welser-Most led the musicians, you could see the instant reverberations of his movements spread from the strings back to the timpani and percussion sections. From the great restraint he exhibited in tiny flicks of his hands, to dramatic gestures or gentle, sweeping motions, the musicians played as if they were a perfect extension of Welser-Most. It reminded me of why I could see the Cleveland Orchestra perform almost anything and still be amazed simply by the beauty of them playing.

The evening was perfectly bookended by Nation Beat, a fusion group of Brazilian and southern U.S. styles.  As we made our way from our seats to the Grand Foyer, you could hear the afterparty had already begun.  Although Nation Beat heralds from New York, their music is a mix of Brazilian maracatu drumming, New Orleans second line rhythms, Appalachian-inspired bluegrass music, funk, rock, and country-blues. They provided an energizing performance where all of these styles flowed together seamlessly and guests had a chance to get up and dance.  Connecting the performance back to Cleveland, Nation Beat brought up musicians and singers from the Cleveland Institute of Music to join in on a piece they had practiced earlier that day when Nation Beat visited CIM.

Nation Beat invited students from the Cleveland Institute of Music to perform with them

The Fridays@7 series continues throughout the year with The Heroic Mahler on Dec. 3, A Hero’s Life on Jan. 14, Romantic Rachmaninoff on April 1, and Eighth Blackbird on May 27. This season not only features invigorating performances of musically diverse pieces, but also includes a Cleveland premiere and a conductor’s Cleveland Orchestra debut.

The entire Fridays@7 series is included as a subscription, or you can purchase individual tickets if there are a couple concerts in particular you’re interested in.  Personally, I’m very excited for the May 27 performance, which will feature Welser-Most as conductor and Joshua Smith on flute in Pulitzer Prize-winning Jennifer Higdon’s concerto.  It’s a much more enjoyable way to unwind than my revelries in years past.

 

Fridays@7 411:

The Cleveland Orchestra and Bruckner's Eighth Symphony

The Cleveland Orchestra musicians prepare for Bruckner's Symphony No. 8 as one of the cameras zoom in for a shot.

 

In my very first blog post, I referenced the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the most iconic symbols of Cleveland. And it’s no wonder. As 52 Weeks of Cleveland recently put it, it’s a diamond dazzling in the blue-collar-rock-and-roll grit that makes this city great, sticking out ‘not like a sore thumb but as the building that is unmistakably Cleveland.’   

However, on the other side of the musical spectrum, there’s another landmark in Cleveland that’s both a must-see and a must-hear — The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall.  Last Wednesday, Scott and I had the chance to attend the Orchestra’s performance of Anton Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony for a series of dvd recordings. The night definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite Cleveland experiences.   

Outside of Severance Hall (photo from clevelandorchestra.com)

 

Severance Hall, the winter home of the Cleveland Orchestra, has been described as ‘a temple to music’ and America’s most beautiful concert hall.  The detailing of the hall’s interior reminds me of a Faberge Egg and the acoustics are world-renowned.  From the day Severance Hall opened in 1931 through its renovations and reopening in 2000, it has helped shape The Cleveland Orchestra into one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world.  In concerts at Severance Hall, each summer as part of Cleveland’s Blossom Festival, in residencies from Miami to Vienna, and on tour around the world, The Cleveland Orchestra sets the standard for artistic excellence, imaginative programming, and community engagement.   

Franz Welser-Möst just completed his eighth year as the Orchestra’s Music Director - a long-term commitment which extends to the Orchestra’s centennial season in 2018.   Under his leadership, The Cleveland Orchestra has not only developed Community Music Initiatives in Cleveland, but has carried the city’s name across the world with ongoing residencies in Miami, at Vienna’s famed Musikverein hall and Switzerland’s Lucerne Festival.  Next year, they’ll also launch a biennial residency at New York’s Lincoln Center Festival, featuring The Cleveland Orchestra in Vienna State Opera productions.   

In addition to making an impact through live performances in Cleveland and abroad, Welser-Möst has promoted the Orchestra’s legacy through a series of DVD and CD recordings.  Last week’s recording of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony was the latest installment in this endeavor.  In total, the Orchestra has recorded four Bruckner symphonies in historic, architecturally significant and acoustically acclaimed concert venues: Symphony No. 5 in Austria’s Abbey of St. Florian, Symphonies No. 7 and 8 in Severance Hall, and Symphony No. 9 in Vienna’s Musikverein. Hailing from the Austrian town of Linz - the same hometown as Bruckner, Welser-Möst developed an early love for the 19th century composer which clearly shows through his astute understanding and beautiful execution of Bruckner’s works.   

Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst (photo from clevelandorchestrablog.com)

 

Bruckner’s works are not always the favorite of musicians - often misunderstood due to the effect his manic need for revisions had on his compositions.  However, Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra is helping the public rediscover the beauty of these pieces by sharing the discoveries they’ve made themselves while performing. As Welser-Möst explained before the concert, Symphony No. 8 has an interesting backstory that lends itself to a deeper appreciation.  Written between 1884 and 1887, the original composition was initially criticized by Hermann Levi, a court conductor that Bruckner respected. Because of this, Bruckner spent years making substantial cuts and changes which have been considered concessions to others’ expectations and arguably weakened the piece.    

Welser-Möst cited an example of these revisions which can be found in the first movement. Towards the end of the movement, the symphony transitions into a section that represents the ticking down of one’s life.  In the original version, there was a dynamic section that signified a fighting back against the inevitabilty of death.  However, this section ended up being removed in the revised version, with the first movement instead just winding down softly. The original version of Symphony No. 8 remained unperformed until 1954 and was not published until 1972 by Leopold Nowak. It’s the longer – and arguably richer – Nowak version that The Cleveland Orchestra performed for the DVD recording.   

Audience members who arrived early had the opportunity to sit in on a concert preview.  During the preview, Dee Perry of WCPN’s Around Noon interviewed Welser-Möst and William Cosel, the Producer-Director of the DVD recording. This was a very interesting conversation, shedding more light on Bruckner’s personality as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the actual recording.    

Welser-Möst spoke about how Bruckner’s musical genius suffered from his insecurities and second-guessing.  He additionally remarked on Bruckner as a composer with one leg in the traditional, religious-inspired style of his century and the other leg in the more contemporary influences of the next generation.  Both Welser-Möst and Cosel shared a glimpse into how they prepared for the recording. Welser-Möst discussed the evolution of The Orchestra’s performance and how certain musicians admitted that it wasn’t until they performed the symphony in a particular space in Austria that they finally ‘got’ Bruckner’s style.  Cosel spoke to the months of research needed to prepare the recording, in addition to introducing the various camera crew hidden throughout the Hall.   

Norton Memorial Organ at Severance Hall

 

Bookending the interview were two performances by Joela Jones, the principal keyboardist of The Cleveland Orchestra.  Jones performed Prelude in F major and Variations on ‘America’, both by Charles Ives.  Both pieces were performed on Severance Hall’s Norton Memorial Organ. which was built specifically for the Hall by renowned organ builder Ernest M. Skinner in 1930. Welser-Möst noted that Ives was an outcast among his colleagues – much like Bruckner was during his time. This idea of outcast could be seen in his Variations on ‘America’ which took a slightly wry look at the patriotic anthem and twisted it in unexpected ways that both challenged the listener and respected the source material.  It was a nice contrast to the Bruckner piece.   

If Producer-Director Cosel’s past experience is any indication, the recording of Symphony No. 8 will be well worth the purchase. However, nothing compares to sitting in Severance Hall and not just listening to but closely watching the musicians. It always amazes me to see how artfully they interpret a composition.  And the live performance brings a certain level of drama that isn’t always seen in a recording.     

An unexpected highlight of my evening was seeing a minor incident arise when a string on Assistant Concertmaster Yoko Moore’s violin snapped. [Editor's Note: see correction in comments section below. It was actually Concertmaster Preucil's string who broke fixed by Moore - makes more sense in retrospect.]  In past performances, Moore has consistently been one of my favorite musicians to watch as she brings a laser focus and intensity to her performance. However, this focus was moreso evident when she had to restring and retune her instrument in the middle of a movement. I’ve never played the violin and Scott has explained to me that this happens frequently with it; regardless, I was still on the edge of my seat as it unfolded.  She impeccably restrung the violin and, in a moment of silent communication that can only come from a strong relationship with a colleague, seamlessly switched instruments with Concertmaster William Preucil who finished the retuning process.  It only took them moments, but the intense thrill of witnessing this play out while the symphony roared around them was remarkable.   

Two days after last week’s recordings, The Cleveland Orchestra set off on their summer tour of Europe. They return on August 30 after nine concerts in six cities. While they’re gone, concerts at Blossom Music Festival continue including Disney in Concert, Canadian Brass Ensemble, and The Joffrey Ballet.  And at the end of September, the Orchestra returns to start the 2010-2011 season. Subscriptions and tickets are available to experience the talents of Welser-Möst and the musicians, and I definitely recommend it.   

Cleveland Orchestra 411:   

 About the Orchestra and Severance Hall
Season and Tickets
Cleveland Orchestra Blog
Cleveland Orchestra on Facebook
@CleveOrchestra

A Weekend Trifecta of CLE Arts, Eats and Roller Derby

 
… A look back at last weekend’s Parade the Circle, BRRG and Chef Jam 2010 …
 

The Sold-Out Chef Jam 2010 on Sunday night demonstrated the thriving partnership between Cleveland's restaurant and music communities.

 

One of my goals when I started this blog was to highlight a variety of the places and events that can be found in Cleveland.  And I hope that I’ve made some progress in doing so.  I truly believe that whatever your interests, Cleveland offers a number of great opportunities to meet those needs throughout the year.   
 
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to demonstrate this notion of a versatile Cleveland by seeing if I could fill one weekend with activities that would appeal to different tastes.  Last weekend I was able to find and attend 3 Cleveland events that would interest fans of arts & culture, sports, local food and music: University Circle’s Parade the Circle, the Burning River Roller Girls’ semifinals, and Chef Jam 2010. 

    

PARADE THE CIRCLE   

Colorful balloon arches introduced each section of Parade the Circle.

 

The floats and costumes found throughout the Parade were full of intricate and creative designs.

 

My weekend started early Saturday morning when I sleepily dragged myself out of bed to head over to Cleveland’s Eastside for Parade the Circle.   

In addition to floats, costumed stilt-walkers and musicians made their way down East Boulevard.

 

I knew that I’d need to gather my strength for a long day, so I first stopped by The Inn on Coventry for breakfast.  The Inn on Coventry, which will celebrate its 29th anniversary this July, is a mom-and-mom community restaurant with three generations of home-style cooks.  It’s been named one of the best breakfasts in Cleveland, and my first time there did not disappoint as they balanced a creative and delicious breakfast menu with the laidback atmosphere and value you’d find at a family-run restaurant.  I ordered a short-stack of their Crunchberry Pancakes and was very pleased with the result — two huge pancakes with granola and blueberry mixed in. Other pancakes on the menu include lemon ricotta, pumpkin and reese’s pancakes.  Not a fan of pancakes?  Their selection of egg specialities had me looking forward to my next visit so that I can try out their Swedish Eggs.   

Hawken School Community's Op and Pop and Things that Go Round! float.

 

I walked off  my hearty breakfast on my way down to Wade Oval for Parade the Circle.  Parade the Circle – often heralded as Cleveland’s signature summer event - is held yearly in University Circle’s Wade Oval by the Cleveland Museum of Art and University Circle, Inc.  At noon, a parade of floats, puppets, stilt-walkers, dancers, and musicians weaved its way down East Boulevard and Wade Oval Drive.  The creativity and intricacy found in the floats and costumes aptly demonstrated the dedication and talent of our local arts groups, community organizations and schools. Another highlight of the parade was how a number of the displays were themed around the environment — incorporating the idea of conservation not just in what the floats presented but also how they were constructed.  For instance, Sawson Alhaddad and Friends’ Phoenix-themed float was a giant phoenix bird constructed entirely of discarded medical supplies.    

After the parade, Circle Village was open in Wade Oval until 4pm for an afternoon of interactive displays, live music, and local food.   

Circle Village featured activities sponsored by local organizations.

 

Among other things, the 32+ activities promoted:    

  • the arts – the Famicos Foundation invited children to paint one of three canvas murals with an image from their neighborhood;
  • science – the Cleveland Museum of Natural History celebrated their 90th anniversary with hands-on science crafts;
  • healthier lifestyles – the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Center had families create a Dream Catcher and provided educational information and a nursing staff to answer questions about sleep habits

Parade the Circle has always proven to be a unique event that does an excellent job in promoting community involvement and an awareness of the arts in Cleveland - and this year was no different.     

    

BURNING RIVER ROLLER GIRLS’ SEMIFINALS   

The jammer for the Hellbombers (left) speeds towards the pack as the Hard Knockers look on from the bench.

 

After spending the day out in the heat, it was nice to head over to the airconditioned Wolstein Center for the Burning River Roller Girls‘ semifinals bout.  The BRRG are Cleveland’s first all-female, skater-owned, flat-track derby league.  Saturday night’s two matches pitted the Cleveland Steamers against the Rolling Pin-Ups and the Hellbombers against the Hard Knockers to determine who would be heading to the fourth season finals in July.   

The Cleveland Steamers and Rolling Pin-Ups line up as a jam is about to start.

 

First up were the Cleveland Steamers and the Rolling Pin-Ups.  Going into the match, the Cleveland Steamers were 2-1 for the season – their only defeat at the hands of the Hellbombers in Bout 1. And with the very first jam of Saturday’s match, they seemed to be on the road to another victory.  During the first jam, the Steamers immediately scored 10 points after the Rolling Pin-Ups’ jammer got penalized and was out of the jam.  However, the Pin-Ups – who were 1-2 for the season – staged an early comeback when they racked up 13 points in two jams, bringing the score to 18-15.  By the end of the first half, the score was 28-19 with the Rolling Pin-Ups in the lead.  During the second half, the Rolling Pin-Ups sealed their victory as the unstoppable Punk’d Pixie scored another 9 points on the half’s 1st jam and brought the score to 37-19.  With each jam, the Steamers continued to fall further behind.  Although they worked very hard and ended up with 35 points by the end of the match, the Steamers were no match for the Pin-Ups on Saturday as the score ended 57-35 with the Pin-Ups headed for the Hazard Cup in July.   

Aaron Bonk of HeyBonk.com thrilled the crowd between the 2 BRRG matches.

 

The second match pitted the undefeated Hellbombers against the Hard Knockers who were 0-3 for the season.  Although the Hard Knockers were the first to score - earning 4 points in the first jam, the Hellbombers’ brutal and nimble offense helped them take a decisive lead in the second jam.  Captain Erin Gargiulo from the Hellbombers scored an incredible 14 points in one jam.  The Hellbombers demonstrated that they were dedicated to victory as their jammers swiftly pushed through the pack jam after jam bringing the score to 17-59 by halftime in favor of the Hellbombers.  In the second half, the Hard Knockers tried to rally together in hopes of a victory.  And when the Hard Knockers earned lead jammer three jams in a row, it seemed as if they were making good progress. However, by the end of the match, the Hellbombers defeated the Hard Knockers 117 to 43.  Although it will be the undefeated Hellbombers in next month’s finals, the Hard Knockers deserve praise for their fortitude on Saturday night as they continued to battle hard despite the Hellbombers’ insurmountable lead.   

With these two exciting matches, as well as the thrilling juggling antics of Aaron Bonk of Hey Bonk! fame, the Burning River Roller Girls’ semifinals were an incredible way to end my Saturday.  And considering how close the Rolling Pin-Ups and Hellbombers’ last match was in May, both teams will have their work cut out for them as they prepare for the finals on July 10th.   

    

CHEF JAM 2010   

In addition to 26 local chefs, Chef Jam featured performances by The Rare Birds (pictured), Melange, Evil Eye, Cream of the Crop and guest Todd Rundgren.

 

The staff from Melange serving their George Thoroughgood-inspired ribs, wings and dill pickle popcorn.

 

After Saturday’s marathon of activities, I took it easy on Sunday until that evening’s sold-out Chef Jam.   Chef Jam 2010 was held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to benefit Cleveland Food Rocks and the Rock Hall‘s education programs and promote the city’s talented restaurant industry.      

Featuring 26 of the best chefs in the city, a selection of local bands, and a performance by Todd Rundgren, Chef Jam 2010 satisfied the epicurean in all who attended.   

Scott tries Melange's incredibly tender Watermelon 'Bad to the Bone' Ribs.

 

The Rock Hall buzzed with the sounds of the 1000 attendees who flocked from table to table sampling dishes themed around a different musician. Understanding how theatricality often goes hand-in-hand with great rock-and-roll, a number of the chefs and restaurants’ staffs also dressed the part for their particular theme.  In addition to the Happy Dog - who put together another hot dog masterpiece with their ‘Aint’ Nothing but a Hound’ dogs, my other favorites included Melange’s selection inspired by George Thoroughgood and the Destroyers and Bistro on Lincoln Park’s Allman Brothers dessert. Melange cooked up a tender Watermelon ‘Bad to the Bone’ Ribs, Effervescent Chicken Wings, and an incredible Dill Pickle Popcorn. And Bistro on Lincoln Park featured a grilled ‘Eat a Peach’ peaches with cracked black pepper ice cream.    

The crowd packed the lobby of the Rock Hall to see Cream of the Crop and Todd Lundgren play.

 

As with any good recipe, you need more than just one ingredient to make it a success.  And the live performances coupled with the setting of the Rock Hall were the perfect complement to the featured chefs.  In addition to complimentary tours of the Rock Hall and its exhibits, guests were treated to performances by local bands and the legendary Todd Rundgren.   Melange’s Melange and Happy Dog’s Evil Eye opened up the show.  After that, The Rare Birds performed for the Greenhouse Tavern closing their set out with one of my favorites, She’s Smokin Hot.  Cream of the Crop closed the night with a guest performance by Todd Rundgren. When Steve Schimoler – owner/chef of Crop and founder of Cleveland Food Rocks – was interviewed by The Plain Dealer, he noted how Rundgren performed for free in support of the Rock Hall and Cleveland’s food scene - both of which he’s a fan.  And with the quality of the dishes and performances featured at Chef Jam, it’s no wonder.   

    

*****   

Although it ended up being a couple of whirlwind days, Parade the Circle, the BRRG and Chef Jam were the perfect examples of not just the variety but also the quality of events that can be found in Cleveland any weekend.   

    

Parade the Circle 411:
Event page
Hosted by:
University Circle, Inc. and
Cleveland Museum of Art    

    

Burning River Roller Girls 411:  
Upcoming Bouts
BRRG Teams
‘What is Roller Derby?’ Video
@BurningRiver   

    

Chef Jam 2010 411:
Event Page
Hosted by:
Cleveland Food Rocks and
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame   

Local Composers Connect with the Greater Cleveland Flute Society

More information about the GCFS can be found at www.gcfs.org

 

As mentioned in my last post about the Great Lakes Theatre Festival, one of the things I love about Cleveland is the quality of the performing arts that can be found here.   

However, the city also demonstrates excellence in other areas besides theatre.  It not only hosts the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra, but is also home to a number of smaller music societies that provide the community with the opportunity to participate in and experience exquisite performances.  

One of these organizations is the Greater Cleveland Flute Society. Established in 1997, the GCFS works toward furthering an interest in flute music within the local community.   

They achieve this by hosting both performance and educational opportunities including masterclasses and flute chamber ensemble concerts. In addition to local activities, they’ve performed at the Northeast Ohio Flute Association Festival last fall as well as the Chicago Flute Festival.   

One of the Greater Cleveland Flute Society’s most popular local events is the Cleveland Composers Connection Concert, which took place this year on April 25. This particular concert focuses on composers who are local to the Cleveland area.  Starting in the Fall, composers can submit flute compositions to be performed at a concert the following Spring.  This gives both the composers and the GCFS the opportunity to showcase selected compositions to an audience of flutists and flute enthusiasts.  

This year’s event took place at Judson Manor on E 107th St around University Circle.  It featured two programs that showcased works by 8 composers of varying styles and backgrounds. Since the composers were local to Cleveland, they were able to attend the concert, discuss their compositions, and in the case of one composer perform part of it as well.  While I personally don’t have a strong background in flute music, I studied piano for a number of years and really enjoy discovering new music and composers. Subsequently, this was a very exciting opportunity to listen to the composers explain the thought-process behind their pieces.  

Spanish Nights performers with Composer Victoria Belfiglio (from www.gcfs.org)

 

The concert opened and closed with two pieces by Victoria Belfiglio: Processional for Flutes and Spanish Nights. A resident of Shaker Heights, Belfiglio was previously featured in the 2006 Cleveland Composers Connection.  Her Processional was a pleasing piece for a small ceremony such as a wedding or graduation and was written for a flute choir of 2 standard flutes, an alto and a bass flute. It was the first time I had ever listened to a bass flute, so that was a new experience in and of itself.  Her Spanish Nights composition, on the other hand, was written to convey the energy of a hot Spanish night and featured a multitude of other instruments in addition to the flute - including guitars, castanets, tambourine and maracas.  

Loris Chobanian performed Chobanian's Vivo with Bryan Kennard (who later presented his compositions Two Fugues). (from www.gcfs.org)

 

Spanish Nights wasn’t the only piece to incorporate instruments besides the flute. A few of the other pieces I found particularly enjoyable also used guitar and piano as a complement. Among these were pieces by Loris Chobanian and Stephen Griebling.  

A professor of composition and guitar and a composer-in-resident at Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory, Loris Chobanian performed the guitar portions of his two compositions Nocturne and Vivo.  Originally, the accompanying flute arrangements were written for the cello. One thing that Chobanian noted about converting the cello portions to flute was accounting for the flutist’s necessity to breathe.  After a few attempts at working it into the composition, he recounted how he decided to just let the individual flutist determine that for themselves.  

Bonnie Svetlik and Madeline Levitz performed Stephen Griebling's Episode on Lake Erie (from www.gcfs.org)

 

Stephen Griebling‘s composition, on the other hand, featured the piano in addition to the flute.  Griebling’s composition was titled Episode on Lake Erie.  A fan of cross-disciplinary art, I found the story behind his piece the most interesting.  The composition was based off a painting that conveyed a ship being tossed around during a tumultuous storm.  With this in mind, listening to how the piano and flute worked together to convey the waves’ movements was one of the concert’s highlights.  Griebling’s background was also interesting. Coming from a family of composers who were named Ohio Musical Family of the Year in 1974, he has a long history of writing music starting at age 17.  However, he has also demonstrated creativity in other fields, holding four patents and recently retiring from the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company where he worked as a tire development engineer.

Cathy Spicer, Lisa Heinrich, and Kimberly Speiran performed William Rayer's Dance Suite (from www.gcfs.org)

 

The Cleveland Composers Connection also featured the world premiere of Dance Suite – a piece by William Rayer.   Rayer, who is a retired music teacher and performs regularly with the Lorain Community Orchestra, first wrote the suite as a study of technique.  However, in working on the movements, they developed into a beautiful piece for a flute trio. The three movements – Dance Mystique, Pavanne and Dance Macabre - were each written to bring a different sound to the suite.   The first movement balanced being both reflective and energetic.  The second movement featured the first flute in a cadenza-like movement, with the second and third flutes supporting with a quiet and plaintive sound.  Finally, Rayer equated the third movement to a chase. Written in a fugal style, it starts out as the most energetic, but at the very end becomes somber and reflective hinting at earlier movements before the chase restarts. My favorite part about the premiere of Dance Suite was that you could see how the performers worked hard and collaborated with the composer to successfully ensure the first impression the piece made conveyed Rayer’s intention.  

Other compositions that were featured included Christopher Lee’s beautifully lilting Skywriting, David Kulma’s contrasting Waxing Rhapsodic and Waxing Fantastic, Bryan Kennard’s aptly titled Two Fugues: DeaFuga and Fyoog, and a moving remembrance of Amy Barlowe’s father in Hebraique Elegie.  

Currently, the Greater Cleveland Flute Society is in the planning stages for next year’s programs.  In September, they’ll host their kickoff meeting and picnic for the new season. Other official events that will follow are the ‘Just Us’ Concert – which is open to the public and features members of the GCFS performing - as well as the call for submissions for next year’s Composers Connection Concert. Outside of these events, members will frequently perform throughout the area playing at local churches such as Lakewood Congregational Church and Shaker Heights’ First Unitarian. More information about upcoming and past events, including photos, can be found on the Greater Cleveland Flute Society’s Facebook page.  

The GCFS is an excellent example of local talent looking to enrich the community through its educational and performance efforts.  And by featuring compositions by Cleveland composers, the Greater Cleveland Flute Society has definitely achieved its mission.  

Greater Cleveland Flute Society 411:
Cleveland Composers Connection Concert
GCFS Facebook Page
How to Join
Photo Gallery of Previous Events