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Risky Business 

The art museum bets you'll love a bunch of music you've never heard of

Getting pumped for Huun Huur Tu's big concert at the art museum on Friday? Get your tickets yet for Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar's show here next year?

Almost everybody loves the idea of the Cleveland Museum of Art's Viva! & Gala Performing Arts Series, but how many of us will actually be rushing to see Jordi Savall's "Music Dialogues From Orient and Occident" this Sunday?

You can imagine Massoud Saidpour's occasional frustration. As the museum's director of performing arts, music, and film, he's the guy responsible for hand-picking these concerts by people you've never heard of. "The music may be incredibly unusual, but it's so accessible," he says. "Take a risk. Even if you hate it, you've at least had the experience."

Viva! & Gala really is a wonderful thing for those into sounds slightly more daring than, say, Maroon 5. This year's season, which runs through May, includes performances by an Irish chamber choir, a seven-piece Malian group, a Balkan brass band, and Huun Huur Tu, a quartet of mustachioed guys who play old-school Siberian folk songs on the khomus, doshpuluur, and other instruments we can't pronounce.

"They're household names in their own country, but how do you tell people in Cleveland this is an incredible experience?" says Saidpour. "But I love that. Because when people discover this, they're like Wow! It makes my night when I see people coming out of the theater with a sparkle in their eyes."

The challenge is getting butts in seats. Once you're there, Saidpour all but guarantees you'll like what you hear. "We comb the world for the cream of the crop. These are masters at their music." Feeling risky? The Tuvan music starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the museum's Gartner Auditorium.


Kent rockers Eclyptic will play their final show at JB's in their hometown on Saturday. After an eight-year run, during which the jammy quartet won top honors at 2005's High School Rock Off and toured regionally, the guys are splitting up. Two members will join Kent garage rockers Goodnight; the other two are pursuing degrees in forensic psychology and biophysics. Saturday's farewell show should be a marathon blowout, packed with songs from the pair of EPs and two albums they've released since 2005. The concert starts at 9 p.m.

YEAH YEAH YEAH: The Rubber City BeatleFest will test your tolerance for how many times you can hear "I Want to Hold Your Hand" before your own hand turns into a fist. Four Beatles tribute bands will perform at the Akron Civic Theatre on Saturday, which any Beatlemaniac worth his goo goo g'joob knows is the day before John Lennon's 71st birthday. The ReBeats, Revolution Pie, Liverpool Lads, and the Nowhere Men will all play sets. Jim Bonfanti, who was in the Choir and the Raspberries, will be there too. A bunch of local guys who've written, photographed, and spun records by the Beatles will share their stories — plus new footage from the Fab Four's 1964 concert at Public Auditorium. It all starts at 6:45 p.m. Tickets range from $12 to $25.

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More by Michael Gallucci

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