IN THIS EDITION:
. A plethora of performances to choose from, some multiple
. Almanac: celebrating the lives and careers of Alice Mary Smith, Linda Martinez, Walter Aschaffenburg, Maurice André, Heinz Holliger, and Gustav Mahler
HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND:
On Friday at 7:30, the Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival: The American Dream continues with a Cleveland Orchestra concert led by Franz Welser-Möst featuring works by Scott Joplin, Julia Perry, William Grant Still, Bernard Herrmann, Raven Chacon and Edgar Varèse, CityMusic Cleveland plays the first of three concerts with cellist Edward Arron at 7:30 at St. Noel in Willoughby Hills (repeated Saturday at 7:30 at St. Stanislaus and Sunday at 3 at Lakewood Congregational, and Cleveland Composers Guild presents opera scenes with Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Steven Smith, conducting, at Baldwin Wallace.
On Saturday at 4, Canton Symphony Chorus features Dvořák’s Te Deum at St. Paul’s Lutheran in Massillon, and at 7:30, The Cleveland Orchestra gives the third and final performance of Puccini’s Girl of the Golden West at Severance (pictured. Read our review here).
Sunday’s agenda is crowded! The American Dream Festival focuses on Black Composers with a 2pm concert at Karamu House, Tuesday Musical presents its 2023 Scholarship Winners at the U. of Akron at 2:30, Heights Arts offers Close Encounters with mostly Cleveland Orchestra Musicians at Apple-Presser Funhouse at 3, and Domenico Boyagian leads Suburban Symphony in Beachwood at 3:30.
New Paragraph: Holy Trinity Lutheran, Akron, features guest organist Bruce Neswick in a hymn festival at 4, pianist Caroline Oltmanns gives a birthday recital (hers) at the Church of the Western Reserve at 4, the same hour that Cleveland Repertory Orchestra led by Matthew Salvaggio joins cellist Ellie Glorioso in Chagrin Falls in a program of music by Anna Clyne and Sibelius in Chagrin Falls. At 5pm, Sunday’s musical offerings conclude with a concert by Samuel Gordon and Singers Companye Chamber Choir with VoxMix in Akron,
Visit the Clevelandclassical.com Concert Listings page for details including addresses of venues and information about even more concerts in Northeast Ohio.
by Jarrett Hoffman
Born on May 19, 1839, Alice Mary Smith became the first British woman known to have composed a symphony. The first of her two contributions to that genre, in the key of c minor, was written at age 24 and premiered by the Musical Society of London in 1863. Listen here to a recording by conductor Howard Shelley and the London Mozart Players, and here for the beautifully lyrical Andante for Clarinet and Orchestra, where the orchestra is joined by soloist Angela Malsbury.
Pianist and composer Linda Martinez only lived to the age of 29 — she took her own life on May 19, 2005 — but in that time she carved out a unique career in film, television, and popular music.
Born in Whittier in Los Angeles County, she graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in composition in 1998, and that same year became keyboardist for the Keenan Ivory Wayans Show. The talk show was short-lived, but it led to further opportunities for Martinez, including a collaboration with girl group Destiny’s Child (best known today for launching the solo career of Beyoncé). Martinez toured with them and wrote music for some of their high-profile live performances, including at the 2001 Grammy Awards.
After winning the 2003 National Turner Classic Movies Young Film Composers’ Competition, Martinez wrote a score for the 1925 silent film The Rag Man. Take in the opening three minutes of the movie and the uniquely styled, beautiful score here.
By Mike Telin
It’s always interesting to scroll through the list of musicians born on any single day and see who catches your attention. Although I found today’s list to be a bit sparse, aside from singers Joe Cocker and Cher, one name particularly caught my eye. On May 20, 1927, composer and teacher Walter Aschaffenberg was born in Essen, Germany in 1927.
After immigrating to the United States with his family at age 11 — he became a naturalized American citizen in 1944 — Aschaffenburg served in the U.S. Army counter-intelligence corps during World War II.
He began composing at an early age and would go on to study with Herbert Elwell at Oberlin College, Bernard Rogers at Eastman, and later with Luigi Dallapiccola in Florence, Italy. During his career, Aschaffenburg was the recipient of two Guggenheim fellowships as well as awards from the Fromm Foundation and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 1980 he was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize for Music. He joined the theory and composition faculty at Oberlin in 1952, a position he held For 35 years.
In her Cleveland Arts Prize tribute, Wilma Salisbury wrote, “Aschaffenburg, a meticulous composer whose technically challenging music often required a long gestation period, combined 12-tone technique with diatonic melodies and consonant harmonies.”
His expansive catalog includes the short opera Libertatem Apellant (1976), based on correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and an Oboe Concerto (1986) which longtime Philadelphia Orchestra principal John de Lancie called “the most impressive contemporary work for the oboe.” The piece was recorded by James Caldwell and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and by Elizaveta Zuyeva and the Russian State Philharmonic Capella. His Ozymandias and Three Dances for Orchestra received performances by The Cleveland Orchestra — the first under the direction of Leopold Stokowski, the second under James Levine.
But as Salisbury noted, his most frequently performed piece is a fanfare he wrote for Blossom Music Center. “The brief composition was one of two winners in a competition sponsored by the Junior League of Akron. Cleveland Arts Prize winner Donald Erb (1966) and Special Citation winner Louis Lane (1971) selected Aschaffenburg’s fanfare from more than 200 entries by 158 American composers. The festive piece was recorded by the Cleveland Orchestra brass, premiered June 23, 1970, and repeated on orchestra concerts at Blossom for the next two decades.”
by Daniel Hathaway
On May 21 we’ll raise a virtual glass to celebrate two European soloists born on that day: French trumpeter Maurice André who greeted the world in 1933 in Alès in the Cévennes, and Swiss oboist Heinz Holliger, who followed him six years later in Langenthal.
André espoused the piccolo trumpet, a small, modern instrument invented to allow players to negotiate the high trumpet parts favored by Baroque composers. Since then, the period instrument movement has spawned players who have mastered the art of playing clarino parts — like Steven Marquardt, who recently joined Amanda Forsythe and Apollo’s Fire in a wonderful performance of J.S. Bach’s cantata Jauchzet Gott.
Watch a video of André performing Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s concerto in E-flat in Madrid in 1986.
For listeners who have grown up with the French school of oboe playing represented locally by the late John Mack of The Cleveland Orchestra, Holliger’s European sound takes a bit of getting used to. Watch a video here where he performs several works with the Swiss Chamber Soloists in Geneva in 2021.
Holliger was also a composer who studied with Pierre Boulez. Listen along with the scrolling score to his Studie II from 1981 performed by Tamás Bartók. Judging from the comments, both the piece and Bartók’s playing made a strong impression.
Finally, backtracking two days, composer and conductor Gustav Mahler died on May 19, 1911. No better way to remember him than to cue up the Adagietto from his Fifth Symphony, a piece that haunts Visconti’s film, Death in Venice (based on a Thomas Mann novella in which the composer appears in the guise of a famous author). The performance has to be one of the many led over the years by Leonard Bernstein, whose tempos grew steadily slower as he delved deeper into its depths.