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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Legendary Lutist Paul O'Dette at Plymouth Church and the Rest of the Classical Music to Catch This Week in Cleveland

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2019 at 10:33 AM

  • Eastman School of Music

Here are events both large and small for your calendars this week, ranging from the excitement of a full symphony orchestra to the intimacy of a solo lute.

How to live long and prosper? Take up orchestral conducting, like the spry, 91-year-old Herbert Blomstedt, who guest conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in Beethoven’s “Pastoral” and Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” symphonies at Severance Hall on Thursday, February 21 at 7:30 pm, and Friday and Saturday, February 22 and 23 at 8:00 pm. Tickets here.

There are two duet performances to choose from on Friday, February 22. At 7:00 pm, No Exit members Cara Tweed, violin, and Nick Diodore, cello, will bring music by Joseph Hallman, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Kaija Saariaho to Appletree Books on Cedar at Fairmount. At 8:00 pm, the Gruca White Ensemble (classical guitarist Robert Gruca and flutist Linda White) will play music by Bartók, Robert Beaser, Patrick Roux, Atanas Ourkouzounov, Stevie Wonder, and Chick Corea, as well as their own improvisations, at the Bop Stop. No Exit is free, but you’ll need to reserve tickets online for Gruca White.

That solo lute concert we mentioned earlier features the renowned Paul O’Dette, and takes place on Saturday, February 23 at 7:30 pm on the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society series at Plymouth Church. O’Dette — who usually sells out the house — will play Renaissance music by Vieux Gautier, Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger, Nicolas Vallet, Robert Johnson, and Daniel Bachelar on a 10-course instrument made by Ray Nurse. Better reserve early here.

And speaking of lutes, Ron Andrico will bring his instrument as well as his voice to a free concert at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Cleveland on Sunday, February 24 at 3:00 pm, when he joins his Mignarda partner Donna Stewart and guest artists Malina Rauschenfels and José Gotera in vocal and instrumental music by William Byrd. The program includes songs, motets, and the entire Mass for Four Voices performed in authentic 16th-century style. A freewill offering will be received.

Soprano Amelia D’Arcy and pianist Hyunsoon Whang will investigate “Late Romanticism in Transition” in their free recital on the Rocky River Chamber Music Society series on Monday, February 25 at 7:30 pm at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church. The program includes Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs as well as selections by Charles Ives, Samuel Barber, George Gershwin, André Previn, and Francis Poulenc.

Monday the 25th is a busy night. Two other interesting performances bring the faculty woodwind quintets of Kent State and the University of Akron head-to-head — in different venues — at 7:30 pm. Kent’s Black Squirrel Wind Quintet will join pianist Jerry Wong for music by Mozart, Robert Muczynski, and Carl Nielsen in Ludwig Recital Hall. Meanwhile the UofA’s Solaris Quintet has American music by Gunther Schuller, Vincent Persichetti, George Gershwin, Paul Valjean, Valerie Coleman, and Scott Joplin in mind for its program in Guzzetta Recital Hall. Both performances are free (the Kent recital will be streamed).

Check out details of these and other events on our Concert Listings page.

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Cleveland Blockchain Company Votem Abruptly Closes, All Employees Fired

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2019 at 8:35 AM


One of Cleveland's largest blockchain start-ups abruptly closed last week due to a lack of funding. Employees at Votem, a company making innovations in online voting platforms, did not receive their most recent paychecks and were told on Friday that everyone was fired, effective immediately.

CEO Pete Martin told employees in an internal email that their jobs might not be permanently gone — he's attempting to raise additional money — but word from (former) employees is that there's not much confidence he will.

In late 2018, Votem acquired the California-based online voting company Everyone Counts. The roughly fifty employees based in California and around the world lost their jobs Friday as well. Cleveland's ~20 employees are based in Tower City's Start Mart, home of Flash Starts LLC, the early-stage start-up accelerator.

Votem had looked to be picking up momentum in the blockchain-voting space. Martin boasted of the company's "blue-chip" public and private sector clients, including the United Nations and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And in 2017, Votem processed nearly 1.9 million votes as part of the Rock Hall's fan voting for that year's inductions. At the time, it was considered the largest successful application of a blockchain voting platform.

"Votem authenticated each voter’s identity, provided a chain of custody, and proved itself fast, secure, auditable, and convenient," wrote Alex Tapscott, who studied the Rock Hall voting process for the Blockchain Research Institute.

The company was also the first in Ohio to attempt an initial coin offering (ICO), the crypto version of an initial public offering. Pete Martin told Crain's that despite the unregulated and opportunistic nature of ICOs, he was "as compliant as anyone could possibly be." He said that by 2025, Votem's goal was to have logged 1 billion votes in elections internationally.

Bernie Moreno, the local auto dealer and Blockland creator, is a small investor in the company. He said he owns less than a five-percent stake, and that Votem "hit a cash crunch that they were unable to get out of."  He characterized crunches of this sort as being typical for start-up companies.

"It’s very unfortunate," Moreno told Scene. "They have a great business model that I believe can help restore confidence in voting ... and save governments much-needed money."

One local entrepreneur who preferred to remain anonymous because of their connections with Votem told Scene that the company's fate was "exactly what [they] expected," and that it was a bad look for both Cleveland and the Blockland initiative.

They admitted that while local entrepreneurs sympathize with the employees losing their jobs, many of them are probably greeting the Votem news with pleasure — "What's the German word? Schadenfreude?" — because it validates many of their doubts and warnings about the hype over Blockland and blockchain start-ups generally. 

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Here's the Schedule for the Lakeland Jazz Festival

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 4:19 PM

Courtesy of Wadsworth Productions - RALPH MOORE
  • Ralph Moore
  • Courtesy of Wadsworth Productions
Founded by retired professor and former music department Chair Charles M. Frank, the Lakeland Jazz Festival is now in its 47th year. It's left quite a mark over the decades too. More than 30,000 middle and high school musicians from throughout the state have participated in the annual event during its 47 years.

This year’s event takes place on March 15, 16 and 17 at the Dr. Wayne L. Rodehorst Performing Arts Center (D-Building) at Lakeland Community College.

Continue reading »

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Cleveland Orchestra's 2019 Summer Blossom Schedule is Here

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 3:39 PM

  • Photo by Roger Mastroianni
Get your picnic baskets and wine bottles ready, the Cleveland Orchestra has finally announced its 2019 Blossom summer concert series schedule. Running June 29 through Labor Day Weekend, the orchestra is set to play 20 shows at the music center's outdoor shed.

Adding to the previously announced Harry Potter and Star Wars bookend programs are a slew of diverse concerts covering everything from popular classical works to the Beach Boys.

Highlights include:
-(July 3-4) Salute to America
Once again the Blossom Festival Band plays all the classic patriotic tunes while fireworks later burst in the distance.

- (July 5-6) Rhapsody in Blue
George Gershwin's seminal jazz-meets-classical work "Rhapsody in Blue" is a crowd favorite for a reason — it's incredible. The lineup for the concert also includes the equally well-known and amazing "Suite from The Firebird" by Igor Stravinsky and the especially bombastic "1812 Overture" by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

- (July 27) Elgar's Enigma Variations
No, you're not supposed to exactly understand Edward Elgar's "Enigma Variations," but the piece's beauty will move you all the same. The program also includes the dynamite "Cello Concerto No.1" by Camille Saint-Saens.

- (July 28) Aretha: Queen of Soul
This show pays tribute to the queen herself, with crowd-favorite Capathia Jenkins singing the best of Aretha Franklin's tunes.

-(Aug. 11) Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds
Making their Cleveland Orchestra debuts are Beach Boys, Al Jardine, Blondie Chaplin and Brian Wilson himself. The crew, along with the orchestra is set to play the seminal classic rock album Pet Sounds in its entirety.

See the whole lineup right here.

Individual tickets for the season go on sale to the general public in April, but you can find lawn ticket books on sale here. The orchestra is also continuing its lawn seating policy of kids under 18 in for free with a paying adult.  

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Cedar Point Gets Mysterious New Attraction Called 'Forbidden Frontier' This May

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 1:40 PM

click image Last year's big new attraction at Cedar Point was the Steel Vengeance. - PHOTO BY ZACH ZELMAN
  • Photo by Zach Zelman
  • Last year's big new attraction at Cedar Point was the Steel Vengeance.
Cedar Point is set to open a mysterious new attraction, The Forbidden Frontier, in late May.

"Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island is an experiential attraction," Cedar Point Director of Communications Tony Clark wrote cryptically in a press release. "Some of it tangible, some intangible. It’s a story that begins with you."

The island attraction, which is replacing Dinosaurs Alive!, has "loose connections to Frontier Town"and is sadly not a new terrifying roller coaster but includes activities such as digging for treasure, farming, puzzles and embarking on secret missions.

Cedar Point announced Forbidden Frontier last October via Twitter and included a Wild West-style photo (see below).

The attraction is included in park admission starting May 25, although Opening Day is May 11. Hours will be 11 a.m., an hour after the park opens, to 7 p.m. daily until Sept. 2.

More information about the attraction, including a map of the frontier, are set to be revealed here.

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City Dogs Cleveland Moves to New Location This Week

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 1:25 PM

  • Photo by Alana Whelan
City Dogs Cleveland is getting a new home this week, closing its offices today and tomorrow as workers ferry dogs and gear to their fresh digs on the near west side.

Moving from its current spot on West 7th St., the city kennel is expanding to a state-of-the-art facility that meets 'green' standards and can house 150 dogs (and up to 200 animals in emergencies).

A grand opening for the kennel at West 93rd and Detroit is yet to be scheduled but will be announced soon.

Before then, City Dogs is asking anyone looking to adopt a dog to schedule an appointment by calling 216-664-3476 or emailing citydogs@city.cleveland.oh.us

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Armond Budish Responds to Raid: It Was a 'Political Attack' a 'Public Stunt'

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 12:15 PM

Agents from the FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation raided the downtown offices of Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish last week.

According to a search warrant obtained by cleveland.com, they were seeking evidence of corrupt activity, extortion, civil rights violations and other crimes, most of them relating to operations at the Cuyahoga County Jail, where eight inmates died between June and December, 2018.

The agents left County HQ Thursday, after several hours of rooting around Budish’s office, with five boxes of material, two computer hard drives, an envelope of miscellaneous items and Budish’s cell phone in hand, according to a County spokeswoman. Budish provided agents with his cell phone’s password.

In an interview with cleveland.com later that evening, and in a follow-up internal memo and video to county employees (above), Budish characterized the raid as a politically motivated stunt.

From the cleveland.com interview: “I’ve worked my entire life to build a reputation for integrity and honesty, and I will be damned if I will let a political attack destroy that.”

From the county video: “I have done nothing criminal and nothing that merits this kind of treatment, so for them to come in and do a public stunt like they did yesterday is beyond terrible.”

Stunt. Public stunt. Political stunt. Political attack.

Cleveland.com editor Chris Quinn noted on WCPN Friday that the County Executive rarely uses this sort of forceful language. One thing the language does is discount the legitimacy of the broader investigation, which began in the county’s IT department and expanded after revelations about the jail. It also begs the question: If the raid was indeed a political attack, who was orchestrating it. And why?

Cleveland.com’s Peter Krouse, in a front-page PD story Sunday, hinted at one possible explanation.

“Budish believes the search was politically motivated to sully his good name,” Krouse wrote. “[Attorney General Dave] Yost is a Republican and Budish is a Democrat represented by former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach, who ran against Yost last year.”

So the political attack was orchestrated by Dave Yost?

To what end, though? To cross swords with Dettelbach again? To get a trophy for the GOP? To sully Budish’s good name? That all seems … weird.

If a coordinated political attack did occur, it much more likely sprang from Budish’s own party, members of which stand to gain if Budish were to be removed.

But claiming that the raid was a “political attack” is just kind of a standard defense that, without elaboration or evidence, doesn’t mean much. Budish was already providing subpoenaed material, and had asked for an extension. What he seems to be objecting to is the public nature of the raid — the theatricality of it — because it reminds people of the 2008 Cuyahoga County raids. It makes him look like a criminal.

This is why Budish will not stand by and let his name be sullied. “The work we are doing is too important to let anything stand in the way of it,” he told employees.

Budish of course maintains that he has done nothing criminal, “nothing that merits” the raid. And yet, it was Budish who went to MetroHealth CEO Akram Boutros the day after a County Council meeting in May 2018 and asked for the removal of the jail’s nursing director, Gary Brack, because Brack spoke out about medical conditions at the facility. It was Budish who ruthlessly pursued consolidation and cost-cutting at the jail, which cleveland.com reporters identified as the central cause of the jail’s dismal conditions.

Budish is intimately involved in the scandal. That’s what’ll sully his “good name,” if anything does. Former jail director Ken Mills has already been indicted for various crimes, and Chris Quinn himself said that if there are emails which show Budish knew about jail conditions and did nothing, it would be “very bad.”

Whether or not Budish approves of the raid’s publicity, investigators had every right to collect his emails and other materials. Whether or not he thinks he has committed crimes, others will determine if he’s a crook.

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