by Daniel Hathaway
50-foot-long string instruments; traditional music from the Republic of Kyrgyz, Ireland’s “Wild West,” and the Balkans; dialogues between deep flamenco song and Iranian classical music; Egyptian classical music of the golden age; an a cappella sound track to a silent film about Joan of Arc; two prominent string quartets, an organ recital, and a multifaceted violinist — that list gives just a quick rundown on the variety of concerts the Cleveland Museum of Art has planned for its 2015-2016 Performing Arts Series, both in Gartner Auditorium at the museum and at its near-West Side gallery, Transformer Station.
In a conversation with ClevelandClassical.com, Tom Welsh, director of CMA’s Performing Arts series, described the season’s offerings as “broad” and representing “a full expanse of human activity,” adding that the audiences for the series can look forward to experiencing types of music “that might not yet have made their ways into your life.”
Composer Ellen Fullman plays what she calls the “Long String Instrument.” A set of wires 50 feet or more in length, tuned in “just” or untempered intonation and set in motion by her rosin-coated fingers, will be installed at Transformer Station for Fullman’s triptych of concerts with guest cellist Theresa Wong on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, September 24, 25, and 26 at 7:30 pm. As much a choreographic as a musical experience, Fullman’s unusual instrument has been described as “a mechanical cobweb, and Fullman was the spider not the fly.”
Many of us would be hard-pressed to find the Republic of Kyrgyz on a world map (the former Soviet state is surrounded by Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan). Besides providing entertainment, traditional Kyrgyz music underlined social and moral value and its musicians were highly regarded as cultural leaders. Musician and composer Nurlanbek Nyshanov has dedicated himself to keeping its traditions alive, and his ensemble Ustatshakirt Plus, incorporating wood flute (choor), bowed two-string instrument (kyl kiyak), three-string apricot-wood instrument (komuz), and jaw harp, will play both traditional and newly-composed music in Gartner Auditorium on Sunday, October 4 at 2:00 pm.
The story of one of the oldest surviving Sephardic Haggadahs (the ritual book used for Passover seders), created in Barcelona around 1350, is the subject of a multimedia work for accordion, piano, and video by composer and performer Merima Ključo to be heard in Gartner Auditorium on Wednesday, October 28 at 7:30 pm. “The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book” chronicles the journey of the manuscript from medieval Spain to 20th century Bosnia. Hidden during World War II, the book was restored by Sarajevo’s National Museum after the 1992-1995 War. The program, to be introduced by author Geraldine Brooks, will feature guest pianist Seth Knopp.
The California-based Calder Quartet (Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook, violins, Jonathan Moerschel, viola, and Eric Byers, cello) will return to the Transformer Station series for two concerts this season, on Monday, November 16 and Thursday, March 31, both at 7:30, programs to be announced.
Also returning to the Museum’s series will be James Feddeck, former assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra, this time once again in his alter ego as organist — one of the four areas he pursued as a student at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Feddeck will play a free recital on the Holtkamp organ in Gartner Auditorium on Sunday, December 6 at 2:00 pm, including works by J.S. Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Samuel Barber, Jehan Alain, and Charles-Marie Widor. Fans of the McMyler Organ can also hear the instrument in a free recital by CIM students of Todd Wilson on February 14 at 2:00 pm.
The JACK Quartet (Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violins, John Pickford Richards, viola, and Kevin McFarland, cello), who almost exclusively play contemporary music, will spend two nights in Cleveland in March. On Tuesday, March 1 at 7:30, the venue will be Transformer Station and the program will be Georg Friedrich Haas’s String Quartet No. 3 “in iij. Noct.,” which takes its name from part of the three-night medieval service for Holy Week, an all-night ritual marking Christ’s suffering and death, when candles were extinguished as daylight approached. The piece has to be played from memory because it’s performed in total darkness. New Yorker critic Alex Ross has written, “The performers, who are positioned in the corners of the room, seem to map the space with tones, like bats using echolocation to navigate a lightless cave.” The JACK’s second performance, on Wednesday, March 2 at 7:30 pm in Gartner Auditorium, will feature the world premiere of a new quartet by Turkish-born avant-garde composer Cenk Ergün.
“Dervish” sounds like the name of a Sufi dance troupe. It’s actually the moniker of the ensemble that’s been described as “the preeminent band in Ireland’s Wild West.” Vocalist Cathy Jordan, fiddler Tom Morrow, flutist Liam Kelly, and accordionist Shane Mitchell will perform traditional Irish music in Gartner Auditorium on Friday, March 11 at 7:30 pm in a program featuring high-energy tunes, charming lyrics of life and love, and inspiring songs and melodies from the Gaelic tradition.
Cante jondo, “deep flamenco song” performed by Sevillian cantaora Rosario La Tremendita, and Persian art music featuring Iranian classical musician Mohammad Motamedi will create a unique dialogue between “passionate outpourings of the heart” and “inward mystical philosophies” in a program entitled “Qasida” in Gartner Auditorium on Wednesday, March 16 at 7:30 pm.
Moldovan-Austrian violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja will fill Transformer Station with an eclectic mix of classical and folk music on Sunday, April 3 at 7:30 pm, a pairing she successfully explored on her first concert as Artistic Partner of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra last season. Kopatchinskaja’s repertoire runs the gamut from baroque and classical-period works to the Second Viennese School and works by contemporary composers — including herself — and she frequently performs on gut strings.
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent film, La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, has attracted multiple improvisers and composers over the intervening decades. The latest is the work of the British early music group The Orlando Consort, who in 2015 assembled a score of mostly French music from the time of Joan of Arc, which also included the English Agincourt Carol. Singers Donald Greig, Charles Daniels, Angus Smith, Robert Harre-Jones, and Mark Dobell will perform their score live during a screening on Wednesday, April 6 at 7:30 pm in Gartner Auditorium.
Fans of CMA’s Ohio City Stages summer series will be happy to know that Fanfare Ciocärlia, the Balkan gypsy brass band from the village of Zece Prajini in northeastern Romania that debuted in Cleveland in 2013, has been invited back for a show in Gartner Auditorium on Wednesday, April 13 at 7:30 pm. The Museum notes that “audiences responded to their fierce Balkan funk by turning concerts into parties.”
Oud virtuoso Tarek Abdallah and percussionist and riqq player Edel Shams El Din will explore the Egyptian classical music suite of the latter part of the nineteenth century, considered the golden age of the tradition, on Wednesday, April 27 at 7:30 pm in Gartner Auditorium. Both musicians are from Alexandria, and both lived for a number of years in France, but they only met in 2013, sparking a unique partnership that has produced contemporary takes on traditional Egyptian classical forms.
Japanese composer and multi-instrumentalist Otomo Yoshihide will bring the CMA Performing Arts season to a conclusion on Monday, May 9 at 7:30 pm at Transformer Station. The leader of the ‘90s experimental rock group Ground Zero, Otomo has experimented with free improvisation, noise, minimalism, and texture, and his Cleveland solo appearance may find him playing guitar, turntables, and electronics.
In addition to the events scheduled for Gartner Auditorium and Transformer Station, CMA’s Music in the Galleries will feature free, hour-long performances by students in the CIM-CWRU Joint Music Program at 6:00 pm on the first Wednesday of every month from October through May.
Tickets and further information are available here.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com September 8, 2015.
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