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PreViews & Features

Iron Composer returns to Baldwin Wallace: a conversation with director Joe Drew

by Mike Telin

Joe-Drew-2On Friday, September 4 at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory, the creativity of five composers will be tested when they have five hours to write a brand new piece of music in order to win the coveted titled of Iron Composer. Competition director Joe Drew said that this years contestants are all accomplished composers and college-level teachers whose musical styles are quite varied. “We try to select as diverse a group as possible. We are putting on a show, and it wouldn’t work if we had a group of composers who all write in similar styles, or who would all have a similar response to the stimulus of the challenge.”

What is that challenge? On Friday at 9:00 am in the Chamber Hall, the five finalists will be assigned an instrumentation and a secret musical ingredient that must be incorporated into their work. Past challenges have paired piano trio with a Monet painting, pipe organ with 19th-century music boxes, and brass trio with audience participation. After five hours, the composers must submit a score and parts for their finished piece. Their work will be performed and judged during a free public concert at 8 pm in Gamble Auditorium. Following the performance, prizes will be awarded, and the title of Iron Composer will be bestowed.

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Cleveland Orchestra: conductor Nicholas McGegan talks about his two concerts this weekend

by Mike Telin

McGegan-Nicholas-kbd“It’s always a great treat for me to come to Cleveland,” conductor Nicholas McGegan said enthusiastically by telephone from San Francisco. “I love Blossom and Severance Hall, and The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the great orchestras in the world. Plus, I’m conducting repertoire that I love.” On Friday, August 21 at 7:00 pm as part of the Summers@Severance series, McGegan will lead the Orchestra in works by Haydn, Handel, and Schubert. Then on Saturday, August 22 at 8:00 pm at Blossom Music Center, he will return to the podium for a concert featuring music by J.S. Bach, Haydn, J.C. Bach, and Mozart.

One piece is common to both programs: Haydn’s C-Major Cello Concerto, and McGegan looks forward to renewing his friendship with the soloist, TCO principal cello Mark Kosower. “I’ve known him since he was a teenager, so it will all be great fun.”

The Haydn concerto is both old and new: it was presumed lost until the score was discovered by Oldřich Pulkert in the Prague National Museum in 1961. “People knew it existed, because the first couple of bars are in one of Haydn’s own catalogues,” McGegan said, “and that’s all we knew until the 1960s. It’s one of the great musical discoveries of our time, and a masterpiece at that. It’s a wonderful foil for the D-Major concerto. The C- Major is a really outgoing piece, whereas the D-Major is more intimate.” [Read More…]

Cleveland Orchestra settles in for August Concerts at Severance and Blossom

by Daniel Hathaway

TCO@BlossomTen concerts of varied repertoire are in store for Cleveland Orchestra audiences both at Blossom and at Severance Hall during the rest of the summer season, which extends through the weekend of September 5 & 6, thanks to the late date of Labor Day this year.

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski will revisit the site of his American debut in 1958 when he returns to conduct the Orchestra in Dmitri Shostakovich’s fifth symphony on the Summers@Severance series on Friday, August 7 at 7:00 pm. Skrowaczewski knew the composer personally, and led the Paris premiere of the fifth. He talked about his career and his history with The Cleveland Orchestra in an interview last summer.

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson will team up with guest conductor Gustavo Gimeno at Blossom on Saturday, August 8 at 8:00 pm for Beethoven’s noble fifth piano concerto, nicknamed “The Emperor,” prefaced by the Leonore Overture No. 3, the third of Beethoven’s four attempts to write an overture for his only opera, later revised and renamed Fidelio. A third noble work, Antonín Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, will round out the evening. [Read More…]

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