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Cleveland International Classical Guitar Festival: a conversation with luthier Joshia de Jonge

by Carlyn Kessler

DeJongeDeemed a “master guitar maker,” Canadian luthier Joshia de Jonge has gained international acclaim for her acoustically and aesthetically stunning instruments. On Saturday, May 30 from 11:30 to 12:45 pm at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Studio 113, de Jonge will lead a workshop entitled The Art of French Polishing, in which “participants will be taught through demonstrations and hands-on exercises how to apply shellac finish to wood surfaces using traditional French polish technique.” This event is open to the public and free of charge. De Jonge graciously agreed to an interview via e-mail, and her responses were enlightening.

Carlyn Kessler: When and why did you begin building guitars?

Joshia de Jonge: I grew up surrounded by guitar building, as my father, Sergei de Jonge, is a guitar maker. I spent much of my childhood playing in his shop with sawdust and scraps of exotic woods. In 1992, at the age of thirteen, I began my first guitar. My younger brother, Sagen, was starting to build one, and, not wanting him to do anything that I hadn’t, I decided to build one as well.

CK: How long does it take to build a guitar?    

JJ: Five to eight weeks, depending on how complicated the guitar is.

CK: What inspires you when you are about to embark on your next design?

JJ: When starting a new guitar, it’s often the person I am building it for that I draw my inspiration from. When building a “show guitar” (one I will travel to various festivals with), I like to experiment a little and try something I haven’t done before. A lot of my inspiration has come from my travels and from meeting so many luthiers. Of course, my father has been the root of my inspiration, but my siblings and husband have also been a part of it. It’s hard to give a specific answer to this question because it comes from so many places.

CK: You have traveled extensively! What have you noticed about different cultural responses to your instruments?

JJ: I don’t know that I have really noticed different responses in a cultural way. Many of the festivals I attend have many people from different backgrounds and cultures, so it’s hard to attach the difference so much to the location I’m in as it is to the individual.

CK: How many guitars do you build in a year?

JJ: Around six or seven.

CK: Are your sons interested in building guitars like you were as a child?

JJ: They’ve shown some interest; my eldest has started a small ukulele-sized instrument. It’s too soon to tell if they will actually get into it.

CK: Are there any guitars you have built that you felt particularly attached to?

JJ: I suppose I am attached to every one of my guitars in a sense — but I’m also always happy to see them go as it frees up space both mentally and physically.

CK: How many guitars have you built?

JJ: I am currently working on my 80th.

CK: How does it feel to hear your instruments being performed?

JJ: It makes me a little nervous, almost as if I’m the one onstage, but it’s also very fulfilling and exciting.

CK: Do you play guitar or any other instrument?

JJ: No, or very little, just enough to try and test my guitars. I see my role as producing the instrument, and I enjoy hearing others do the playing.

Published on ClevelandClassical.com May 26, 2015.

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Cleveland International Classical Guitar Festival: Kondonassis and Vieaux “Together Again” (May 28)

by Mike Telin

Kondonassis-VieauxOn their debut recording Together, celebrated harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and Grammy Award-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux take listeners on a beautiful sonic journey that will mesmerizes from the first note to the last. On Thursday, May 28 at 8:00 pm in Mixon Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Kondonassis and Vieaux will perform all of the music from the album in a recital presented as a part of the 2015 Cleveland International Classical Guitar Festival. The program will also include Antônio Carlos Jobim’s A Felicidade (arranged for solo guitar) and Carlos Salzedo’s Chanson dans la nuit, for solo harp. CIM student performances will take place in the Pogue Lobby from 7:00 to 7:45 pm.

Recorded at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music’s Clonick Hall, Together was released in January of 2015 on the Azica Records, produced by Alan Bise with recording engineering by Bruce Egre. In their liner notes Kondonassis and Vieaux write: “We named this disc Together because the harp and the guitar share so many musical, physical, logistical and acoustical similarities. There are times when our sounds are so interwoven that it’s difficult to tell which of us is playing. That kind of collaborative fusion is incredibly rewarding — not to mention just plain fun.” [Read More…]

The Cleveland Orchestra presents Strauss’s Daphne: a conversation with mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby

by Mike Telin

MAULTSBY-NancyOn Wednesday, May 27 at 7:30 pm, and Saturday, May 30 at 8:00 pm at Severance Hall, Franz Welser-Möst will lead The Cleveland Orchestra and a cast of internationally-renowned singers in a new production of Richard Strauss’s one-act opera, Daphne. Strauss described the opera as a “bucolic tragedy” which tells the story of a young woman who must choose between the love of men and her love for nature. The cast will include soprano Regine Hangler as Daphne, tenor Andreas Schager as Apollo, tenor Norbert Ernst as Leukippos, bass Ain Anger as Peneios and mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby as Gaea, the mother of Daphne.

Speaking from her dressing room at Severance Hall, the very friendly Nancy Maultsby said that she’s having a good time performing the role of Gaea. “This is my first time with this role, so I’m a newbie, but I’m having a lot of fun with it,” Maultsby said. “The role is very earthy.” [Read More…]

Severance Hall to be transformed into a landscape of nature: The Cleveland Orchestra presents Strauss’s Daphne May 27 and 30 — Part Two of Three

by Mike Telin

Daphne-stage-design-illustration-in-Severance-Hall,-courtesy-of-James-Darrah-and-Mac-Moc-Design“Severance Hall is going to be turned into a picturesque landscape of nature,” said Julie Kim, director of operations for The Cleveland Orchestra, during a telephone conversation. The outdoors will be brought inside when Franz Welser-Möst leads a cast of internationally-renowned singers in a new production of Richard Strauss’s one-act opera, Daphne, on Wednesday, May 27 at 7:30 pm, and Saturday, May 30 at 8:00 pm.

In part one of this article, Emily MacDonald, who along with her husband, Cameron Jaye Mock, created the scenic, lighting, and projection design for the production, talked about the process they used in making stage director James Darrah’s vision for the opera sets a reality. In part two of this article, Julie Kim describes the role her department played in bringing the design team’s vision to reality.

Kim said that everything started with Darrah’s vision for bringing outdoors inside. “His creative team of set, lighting and projection designers would send us drawings, models and renderings to give us an idea of exactly what it is that they wanted us to build. At first it was all about engaging everyone who would need to be involved in order to build the production — finding the lighting people, the vendors, the painters, the hair and wig stylists, the make-up artists, a props manager, and someone to do the stage management.” [Read More…]

CIPC names Young Artist Winners

Cleveland — May 21

Pierre-with-Winners

Paul Schenly, chairman of the Jury, announced the winners of the Cleveland International Piano Competition’s Young Artist Competition following the final round on Thursday evening with Gerhardt Zimmermann and the Canton Symphony Orchestra in Gartner Auditorium of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

First Prize, Senior Division ($25,000):  Yuanfan Yang, 18, U.K. (right in photo, with executive director Pierre van der Westhuizen). Second Prize, Senior Division ($10,000):  Jiacheng Xiong, 18, China. Third Prize, Senior Division ($5,000): Chaeyoung Park, 17, South Korea. First Prize, Junior Division ($10,000): Jae Hong Park, 15, South Korea (left in photo). Second Prize, Junior Division ($5,000): Leonid Nediak, 12, Canada. Third Prize, Junior Division ($2,500): Elliot Wuu, 15, USA. Mozart Prize ($500): Eiliot Wuu. Bach Prize ($500): William Yang, 13, USA. Audience Prize ($1,500): Leonid Nediak. (Photo: Jon Theobald.)

Severance Hall to be transformed into a landscape of nature: The Cleveland Orchestra presents Strauss’s Daphne May 27 and 30 — Part One of Three

by Mike Telin

Daphne Stage rendering courtesy of The Cleveland Orchestra“Severance Hall is going to be turned into a picturesque landscape of nature,” said Julie Kim, director of operations for The Cleveland Orchestra, during a telephone conversation. The outdoors will be brought inside when Franz Welser-Möst leads a cast of internationally-renowned singers in a new production of Richard Strauss’s one-act opera, Daphne, on Wednesday, May 27 at 7:30 pm, and Saturday, May 30 at 8:00 pm.

Strauss described the opera as a “bucolic tragedy” which tells the story of a young woman who must choose between the love of men and her love for nature. The cast will include soprano Regine Hangler as Daphne, tenor Andreas Schager as Apollo, tenor Norbert Ernst as Leukippos, bass Ain Anger as Peneios and mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby as Gaea. The opera will be sung in German with English supertitles and will be presented without intermission. (Running time is approximately 95 minutes).

Kim said was important to create a natural environment inside Severance Hall because it evokes the theme of the opera. The task of the design team was “to do it in a simple way that aligns with stage director James Darrah’s esthetic of using simple elements to create something beautiful.” [Read More…]

Burning River Brass to give free concert on Arts Renaissance Tremont Series

by Daniel Hathaway

Burning-River-Brass-New“It’s a minor miracle,” said Burning River Brass artistic director Heather Zweifel. “Burning River Brass is giving a concert that’s not a Christmas gig!” That’s going to take place on Wednesday, May 27 at 7:00 pm at Pilgrim Church in Tremont as a special, bonus concert on the Arts Renaissance Tremont series. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

In the last few years, BRB has come to be a reliable harbinger of the holiday season with a series of performances throughout Northeast Ohio, but the twenty-year old brass ensemble started out playing during all seasons of the year. Then its members, originally area freelancers, began landing permanent or temporary jobs in prestigious orchestras in the USA and Canada, making it difficult for the group to come together on a regular basis — except during the holidays. [Read More…]