CityMusic Cleveland launches broader tour than usual, Wednesday, November 5CityMusic Cleveland, the orchestra that tours Northeast Ohio offering free concerts and building relationships, is aiming beyond the region this week, taking its show on tour for the first time. Executive Director Eugenia Strauss says the idea is to offer more work for the musicians. So after a performance at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Fairmount Presbyterian Church (2757 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Hts.), they're headed to Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and then to Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania.
The program - which Cleveland Heights audiences get to hear first - features Joshua Roman (pictured) as soloist in Robert Schumann's Cello Concerto in A Minor. Roman has collaborated with some of Cleveland's biggest names in music, from Cleveland Orchestra concertmaster William Preucil to his colleague, principal clarinetist Franklin Cohen, to multi-award-winning pianist Sergei Babayan. Having landed the principal cello role in the Seattle Symphony at the age of 22, and having earned his master's degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2005, he recently left orchestral section playing behind to develop a solo career, playing with orchestras and chamber groups, and crossing over to jazz and blues. Also on the CityMusic program are Mozart's Ballet Music from Idomeneo and Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 in D Major. James Gaffigan conducts. Free. Call 216.321.5800 or go to citymusiccleveland.org.
Olivier Messiaen is probably best known for his transcription of birdsongs as musical scores and for his incorporation of those sounds into his compositions. The celebrated French composer absorbed sound in just about every circumstance and poured plenty more besides birdsongs into his compositions. In 1962, when his work with birdsongs was at its peak, he traveled to Japan and incorporated elements of that country's classical music - gagaku, or "elegant" music, characterized by its use of the pentatonic scale - into a work for piano and orchestra, his Sept Ha•ka• (or Seven Haiku). The Cleveland Orchestra performs the piece this week at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Ave.) with principal keyboardist Joela Jones in the solo role. Franz Welser-Mšst conducts. Also on the program is Mozart's beloved, epic and unfinished Mass in C Minor, featuring soprano Malin Hartelius, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, tenor Rufus MŸller, baritone Christopher Feigum and the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. Performances at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets: $24-$87. Call 216.231.1111 or go to clevelandorchestra.com.
Master printmaker Karen Beckwith explores the idea of secret systems of communication in a new show of aquatints in the Loganberry Books Annex Gallery (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Hts.). After discovering the way hobos communicate with symbols that tell travelers how to find safe places to stay, Beckwith began incorporating a secret system of communication in her own work. The Authority Series opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday and continues through December 1. Free. Call 216.795.9800 or go to loganberrybooks.com.
Before the world premiere of her new work of dance theater, Unpublished Dialogues, choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett talked to Scene about how she created the work, which imagines the hours before the great English novelist and essayist Virginia Woolf committed suicide by filling her pockets with rocks and walking into a river. "I imagined her sitting down to write that [oft-quoted suicide note] to her husband and having these characters from her life visit her," she says. Taylor-Corbett says the resulting piece, which GroundWorks Dancetheater performs this weekend at Trinity Cathedral, is like a "play with bodies" (centered on a writing desk) that ends with the writer putting on her cloak and hat, picking up her cane, and walking proudly offstage. In addition to Unpublished Dialogues, the program includes the world premiere of David Shimotakahara's Polarity, which features music by Gustavo Aguilar, and the world premiere of an as-yet-untitled piece by Amy Miller, featuring a score by Alex Christie. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Trinity Cathedral is at 2230 Euclid Ave. Tickets: $15-$20. Call 216.691.3180, ext. 4, or go to notsoobvious.com.
British playwright Alan Bennett (The History Boys) wrote his first Talking Heads set of monologues for BBC TV in 1987. A decade later he wrote a second round, Talking Heads 2, featuring poignantly comic monologues depicting aspects of his characters' lives. Reuben Silver and Curt Arnold co-direct the Beck production, which focuses on two monologues from the series: "Playing Sandwiches," with Robert Hawkes as Wilfred, a middle-aged parks maintenance worker, and "Waiting for the Telegram," with Dorothy Silver as Violet, a woman living in a rest home after suffering a stroke. As Arnold says, "Through these monologues, Bennett paints extraordinary views of quite ordinary people by revealing their humor, their foibles and, ultimately, their humanity." Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays through December 7 at Beck Center's Studio Theater (17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood). Tickets: $17-$28. Call 216.521.2540 or go to beckcenter.org. GLORIA PLEVIN Gloria Plevin splits her time between Cleveland and the Chautauqua region of New York, and she's well known in both places for her realistic paintings - often landscapes and still-lifes - rendered in acrylic, watercolor and pastel. She also makes monoprints and etchings. She's showing a collection of new prints, starting with a reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at Zygote Press Gallery. Plevin has been a member of the Zygote collective for 10 years, but this is her first solo show there. She's been featured in solo shows at the Butler Institute in Youngstown and has prints in the Cleveland Museum of Art's collection. Her show at Zygote includes etchings, monoprints and linoleum-block prints. It's open through November 29. Free. Zygote Press is at 1410 E. 30th St. Regular hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, noon-4 p.m. Saturday. Call 216.621.2900 or go to zygotepress.com.
In 1959, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun was the first drama by a black woman to be produced on Broadway. The milestone - made even more significant when the play won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play that year - was just one marker on the young playwright's way in the civil-rights struggle. She lived only 35 years, but in that time she made her mark both as a protestor (she met her husband on a picket line) and writing plays like the controversial The Drinking Gourd and To Be Young, Gifted and Black. A Raisin in the Sun is a living-room drama, dealing with the family tensions that arise when chauffeur Walter Lee tries to use the $10,000 life-insurance payment he gets after his father's death to achieve a better life for his family. Lou Bellamy directs. Performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, with matinees at 3 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $43-$64. Call 216.795.7000, ext. 4, or go to clevelandplayhouse.com.
A month ago, Cleveland writer C. Allen Rearick was made co-editor of the Kettering, Ohio-based Zygote in my Coffee, a print and online magazine that has published poetry since 2004. He and the magazine had been planning a two-day reading and performance for several months when the magazine's founder, Brian Fugett, abruptly decided to close up shop in favor of book publishing. But with a little help from his friends, the show - Zygote in my City: A Tainted Cleveland Reading - will go on. In fact, it will go on for two days, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Now That's Class (11213 Detroit Ave.). Writers from Ohio and elsewhere will read from their work, and bands (the Interlopers, Hobo/Monk , Rubella and Derica) will perform. Besides Rearick, local writers include T.M. Gottl, Tom Kryss, John Dorsey, Jason Floyd Williams, Zachary Moll, Steve Goldberg, Michael D. Grover, Allison Hovater and Carmen Tracey. Free. Call 216.221.8576.
Michael Stephen Levy's photos of African-American churches capture emotion as easily as architecture. They tell stories as much as they show off color and beauty. You can see them in his fine coffee-table book Revelations (Kent State University Press, 2008), or you can see them in larger, original prints by visiting the exhibit of the same name at Josaphat Arts Hall (1433 E. 33rd St.). Scene art critic Douglas Max Utter curated this exploration of faith, fellowship and striking beauty. There's a free opening reception at 6 p.m. Friday. The exhibit continues through December 14. Call 216.881.7838 or go to josaphatartshall.com.
One of the founders of ethnomusicology, the great 20th century composer Bela Bartok, built a distinctive style by incorporating folk themes into his music, especially the music of his Hungarian homeland. This week, the Cleveland Chamber Music Society presents the Takacs Quartet, with the Hungarian string ensemble Muzsikas and singer Marta Sebestyen, in a program that explores the folk origins of Bartok's compositional style. The performance is at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Fairmount Temple Auditorium (23727 Fairmont Blvd., Beachwood). Tickets: $28-$30. Call 216.291.2777 or go to clevelandchambermusic.org.
Born to lawyer parents, Amanda Brown may have had some issues to work out when she wrote Legally Blonde, her cheeky tale of a fashion marketing student's quest to prove herself at Harvard Law School. Success has certainly come to the author, whose 2001 book was turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon the same year. Next came the Broadway show, which closed on October 19. Now comes the tour, which makes a stop at PlayhouseSquare's Palace Theatre through November 23. With a book by Heather Hach, and music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe, it was nominated for seven Tony awards - though it didn't win any. Becky Gulsvig, an ensemble member and understudy of the lead role on Broadway, plays protagonist Elle Woods on the tour. Fans of the MTV reality show Legally Blonde The Musical: The Search for Elle Woods may recognize third runner-up Rhiannon Hansen, who plays Elle's best friend, Margot, and fourth runner-up Lauren Zakrin, who is an ensemble member and understudies the role of Elle. Tickets: $10-$70. Call 216.241.6000 or go to playhousesquare.com.
The word "crossover" has been used to describe so-called classical music influenced by other forms or other forms influenced by classical. But in reality, music has been "crossing over" for centuries, as can be readily and pleasantly heard during the Baroque era, when the court and countryside often influenced each other (especially in dance music), and maybe more dramatically when explorers from the Mediterranean set sail for the New World and brought back the rhythms of South America and the Caribbean. Apollo's Fire continues its tradition of exploring world cultures through their Baroque influences with a series of performances this week. The program - dubbed Pluckfest for the abundance of plucked-string instruments - is guest-conducted by guitarist/lutenist Stephen Stubbs, with his regular collaborator Maxine Eilanders on Spanish harp and the voice of soprano Nell Snaidas. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 12, at Chagrin Falls United Methodist Church (20 S. Franklin St., Chagrin Falls); 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 13, at Fairlawn Lutheran (3415 W. Market St., Fairlawn); 8 p.m. Friday, November 14, at Rocky River Presbyterian (21750 Detroit Rd.); 8 p.m. Saturday, November 15, at St. Paul's Episcopal (2747 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Hts.; and 3 p.m. Sunday, November 16, at Josaphat Hall (1433 E. 33rd St.). Tickets: $20-$45. Call 216.320.0012 or go to apollosfire.org.