8 Classical Music Events to Put On Your Calendar This Week

click to enlarge 8 Classical Music Events to Put On Your Calendar This Week
Via Oberlin Conservatory
Both the Cleveland Institute of Music and Baldwin Wallace Conservatory open opera productions this week. CIM is up first with director David Bamberger’s modernisation of Hector Berlioz’s comic opera Béatrice et Bénédict, itself a version of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing with the tragic elements removed. Bamberger relocates the story to a college campus in the 1960s on the eve of the championship football game. While the beatnik Beatrice and the star athlete Benedict insist they have no interest in each other, their friends hatch a plan to prove otherwise. Harry Davidson conducts the CIM Orchestra, and while the arias will be sung in French with English supertitles, the dialogue will be in English. The show is double-cast, with alternating leads on Wednesday and Friday, February 24 and 26, and Thursday and Saturday, February 25 and 27. All performances begin at 7:30 pm in Kulas Hall at CIM (tickets available online.)

Opening on Thursday, BW’s The Tragedy of Carmen is also a reworking of a classic, this one a reimagining by Peter Brook of George Bizet’s famous opera. Brook pares Bizet’s four acts down to one that lasts 90 minutes, reduces the cast to four characters and the orchestra to fourteen players, and jettisons the choruses of children and cigarette girls, the smugglers, and the musical hoopla of the bull ring. If you like your opera grand, you may not care for this version of Prosper Merimee’s tragedy, but if you admire the ingenuity of Peter Brook (and that of BW’s Victoria Bussert, who’s directing the show), you’ll be thrilled. Double casts cover the six performances in the William Allman Theater at BW. Evening performances run from Thursday, February 25 through Sunday, February 28 at 7:30 pm, with 2:00 pm matinees on Saturday and Sunday, February 27 and 28. Octavio Más-Arocas conducts. Tickets can be reserved online.

Composer Margaret Brouwer, who retired a few years back from CIM, writes engaging, accessible music and has founded a group of her own to play it from time to time. The Blue Streak Ensemble (named after the Cedar Point attraction which recalls Brouwer’s childhood memories of summers on the shores of Lake Erie) will present “Down Home Classical,” an evening of American “porch music” at Dunham Tavern Museum on Thursday, February 25 at 7:30 pm. The program features Emma Shook and Kimia Ghaderi, violins, Aaron Mossburg, viola, Robert Nicholson, cello, and Luke Rinderknecht, percussion, in Brouwer’s Through the Haze and Demeter Prelude, as well as Rob Smith’s Breaking Point, Yehudi Wyner’s Brandeis Sunday, and Mark Phillips’ Porch Music. It’s still too cold for the front porch, but the Tavern’s barn is a great, semi-rustic space to hear music. Tickets can be reserved online.

Now that Franklin Cohen has retired as principal clarinet of The Cleveland Orchestra, he has the time to play concerts all over creation. He recently popped up in Indonesia to collaborate with Jahja Ling, and on Friday, February 26 at 7:00 pm, he’ll join bassist Kevin Martinez, guitarist Joshua Rosner, and drummer Anthony Taddeo for an evening of “eclectic grooves and reverberations” at Crop Kitchen in Uptown. It’s part of the “Uncorked” series presented by ChamberFest Cleveland, the brainchild of Cohen and his daughter, Diana Cohen. Admission is free. Drinks are available.

Two interesting concerts at the Oberlin Conservatory will feature works by Oberlin’s new composition professor Stephen Hartke. On Friday, February 26 in Warner Concert Hall, Timothy Weiss will lead the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble and soprano Susan Narucki in Sebastian Currier’s Vocalissimus (1991), Steven Hartke’s Blue Studio (2015), and Aaron Helgeson’s Poems of Sheer Nothingness (2012-2013). On Saturday, February 27 in Finney Chapel, Raphael Jimenez will be on the podium leading the Oberlin Orchestra, with faculty soloists Monique Duphil, piano, and Jonathan Moyer, organ, and student soprano Amber Monroe, in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in c, Op. 18 and Hartke’s Symphony No. 4. Both events are free and begin at 8pm, and if you can’t make it out to Oberlin, you can enjoy the concerts via live stream.

Once a year, the Cleveland Cello Society puts on a marathon event called “i Cellisti.” This year’s edition on Sunday, February 28 at 7:00 pm in Harkness Chapel at CWRU honors Stephen Geber, who retires this year from the Cleveland Institute of Music after 42 years on its faculty. There’s a cast of dozens. Performers include Cleveland Orchestra members Mark Kosower and Richard Weiss and their CIM students, the cellists of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Pizzicato 4 cello quartet, and guest artists Natasha Ospina Simmons, soprano, and Brett Mitchell, conductor. You’ll hear works by George Frideric Handel, Wolfgang Amadè Mozart, Arvo Pärt, Olivier Messiaen, Heitor Villa-Lobos and a CCS commissioned work by Tom Hundemer. For the grand finale, all 32 participating cellists will form a cello choir to perform an arrangement of Randall Thompson’s Alleluia. There’s a suggested donation of $20, and you can have a reserved seat for $50 (call 216.921.3480).

For details of these and other events, visit the ClevelandClassical.com Concert Listings page.
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