by Alice Koeninger
As we celebrate its 50th anniversary, it’s fun to look back on highlights from Blossom Music Center’s illustrious list of performances. In its inaugural season in 1968, Vladimir Ashkenazy made his first appearance with The Cleveland Orchestra as a pianist. The newly-formed Blossom Festival Chorus performed Carmina Burana on August 25, to great acclaim. This year, they will perform that same work on the same date, exactly 50 years later.
Blossom’s second year brought performances by such artists as Alicia de Larrocha, Victor Borge, José Feliciano, Duke Ellington, Maria Alba, Hank Thompson, Dionne Warwick, André Kostelanetz with Marian Anderson, and Peter Nero. The first Fourth of July concert also took place in 1969, conducted by Meredith Willson, composer of The Music Man. That same year saw the official record for the largest crowd ever at Blossom: 24,364 people came out to hear Blood, Sweat & Tears. That record was “unofficially” broken in 1973 when Pink Floyd attracted an estimated 32,000 people to Blossom’s green slopes.
Leonard Bernstein conducted Mahler’s Second Symphony –– his only appearance with The Cleveland Orchestra –– in 1970. While governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter visited Blossom in 1974 as the guest of Ohio governor John Gilligan. In 1984, Big Bird made a guest appearance, and in 1985, Christoph von Dohnányi presented a fully-staged production of The Magic Flute. [Read more…]