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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Rocky River Chamber Music Society to Feature Cimbalom Player Alexander Fedoriouk Next Monday

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2019 at 9:44 AM

  • ClevelandClassical.com
The Rocky River Chamber Music Society will explore “Chamber Music of Hungary” to begin its 61st season on Monday, October 14 at 7:30 pm at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church.

Four Cleveland Orchestra members — violinists Katherine Bormann and Emma Shook, violist Stanley Konopka, and cellist Martha Baldwin — will open the program with Bartók’s String Quartet No. 2.

The second half is all trios: Shook will join another Orchestra colleague, bassist Henry Peyrebrune, and cimbalom player Alexander Fedoriouk in traditional folk music from Hungary and Romania, and in works by Brahms and Vittorio Monti. A freewill offering will be taken.

The largest instrument in the hammered dulcimer family, as Fedoriouk explained in an interview, the cimbalom is struck with wooden hammers to create sound. One feature that distinguishes the instrument from other dulcimers is its damper pedals, an innovation of József Schunda in the 1870s.

“In the United States, people know the cimbalom only by a couple of pieces,” Fedoriouk said, noting Kodaly’s Háry János Suite. “It’s used very sparingly in classical music, but in a traditional folk scene it’s a centerpiece.”

The cimbalom is extremely versatility in that genre. “I play melody, accompaniment, bass lines — you name it,” Fedoriouk said. “If I accompany a violinist, then I can play chord progressions like on a piano, and when I close down the dampers, it sounds very percussive.”

The bulk of what Fedoriouk, Shook, and Peyrebrune will play on Monday is folk repertoire that might have influenced classical composers like Brahms, Kodály, and Bartók. “These great composers heard traditional musicians playing these fancy melodies and accompaniment patterns, and those formed the basis for some of their pieces.”

The trio will also play Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 and Monti’s Csárdás. “That’s a very famous piece by an Italian composer,” Fedoriouk said, “but I’m sure it also had some influence from Eastern European and gypsy music.” He added that programs like this one, where listeners can hear folk and classical music side by side, are very valuable. “It gives people an idea of the roots of the music — where it came from.”

Speaking of genres intermingling — over the course of his fascinating career, Fedoriouk has collaborated with some names from the jazz and rock worlds that might surprise you. He performed at Carnegie Hall with multi-instrumentalist John Cale of the Velvet Underground, and recorded in Nashville with guitarist Nigel Pulsford of alternative rock group Bush.

“Pulsford had a list of songs that he would bring to sing with Bush,” Fedoriouk said. “They would say, ‘We like this song, but maybe not for this album.’ Everyone has their own list of songs they have in the can that they didn’t record or publish, so he would do his own projects.”

Another collaboration was with Herbie Mann for his 2000 album Eastern European Roots after the jazz flutist became interested in his heritage. “He went to see where his ancestors came from and fell in love with the folk music when he was over there,” Fedoriouk said. “He came back and wanted to do a recording where he would feature some instruments from Eastern Europe.”

That’s how he found Fedoriouk. “It was very interesting to incorporate Eastern European traditional music with improvisation and jazz,” the cimbalom player said. “It was a great experience because you grow as a musician when you collaborate with people from different genres. You learn so much, they learn so much. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but sometimes you get an incredible result.”

Published on ClevelandClassical.com October 8, 2019.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Means Justify the Ends in Great Lakes Theater's Production of 'Julius Caesar'

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2019 at 12:42 PM

  • Photo by Roger Mastroianni

Friends, Northeast Ohioans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

Many avoid Shakespeare, thinking the script and language will be too complicated to follow. This is never the case with Great Lakes Theater.

When Shakespeare is produced correctly, as it is in GLT’s Julius Caesar, the characters, their intentions and the plot lines are not only easy to understand, they are also intriguing, lyrically beautiful and relevant.

William Shakespeare’s historic tragedy begins when Julius Caesar returns from a victorious battle and is heralded by the people as a hero. In this production, Julius Caesar is played by a woman. Her close friend, Mark Antony, offers her the crown of Rome, which she denies. However, the thought of seeing Caesar in power threatens Cassius, who convinces others that Caesar will destroy democracy if in power. One of those she convinces is Brutus, who, while a friend of Caesar, determines that doing what’s best for Rome means taking drastic, murderous actions.

Julius Caesar is a tale that warns of the fragility of democracy and the dangers of tyranny. It was originally performed in 1599 London, a time where the succession of the throne was in question. Because of its timely performance in relation to the political turmoil occurring in England, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, a play based in ancient Rome, is commonly thought to have been written to subtly represent the political climate of the times.

Julius Caesar continues to be produced in ways that reflect the world around us. This has been accomplished by setting the play during modern times and dressing the characters to look like our current political players. In GLT’s production of the show in 1970, some of the characters were portrayed as hippies, while in 2004, the show was dressed to represent the conflicts in Iraq.

Director Sara Bruner has gone another route. In this production, both the time and setting are vague. Russell Metheny’s set design features four cage-like, Roman-inspired columns that are backed by a sheet metal wall. The industrial design suggests a post-apocalyptic setting that is open to interpretation.

Leah Piehl’s costuming reflects this, as it is a combination of traditional Roman clothing and modern-day garb. Senators wear draped togas and boots or shiny, black dress shoes, while soldiers are adorned in Roman breast plates in addition to more modern military jackets.

All of the creative elements are beautiful, including the vibrant, colorful lighting designed by Rick Martin and the ghostly, foreboding sound design by Matthew Webb. And while these elements don’t make direct ties to today’s political happenings, Bruner’s Julius Caesar reflects back on modern times in a subtle, indirect way that doesn’t distract from the original work—through her gender-altering casting. She has placed the talented Carole Healey in the titular role and cast the wonderful M.A. Taylor as her husband.

Healey plays the character as any man would—with a striking sense of authority and egotistical tendencies. She is a self-assured force who feels at home in her powerful position. It’s refreshing that, while Caesar is played by a woman, that isn’t the defining characteristic of the character. Instead, it’s a normalization of women in politics.

This idea is further conveyed by the casting of Laura Welsh Berg as the ambitious Cassius. Laura Welsh Berg is striking with her short, burgundy hair and mastery of manipulative dialogue. So, not only do men question the role and suitability of women in leadership, but it’s also being questioned by fellow women.

Cassius gathers a group of conspirators against Caesar, including the humorous Casca, played by the delightful Alex Syiek. Other conspirators are well-played by David Anthony Smith, Marcus Martin, Mack Shirilla and Jessie Cope Miller.

Lynn Robert Berg plays the honorable Brutus. He has a strong presence on stage, with an adept ability to express both a judicial tone and feelings of self-doubt. It’s fascinating to watch this conflicted character unfold under Lynn Robert Berg’s practiced telling. Likewise, Brutus’ relationship with his doting wife, Portia, played by the emotional Jillian Kates, is quite passionate and moving.

When it comes to Shakespeare, you can trust that GLT’s classic company will deliver the Bard’s words deftly, finely translating a hundreds-year-old script to audiences using inflections of the voice, changes in posture and, of course, emotion.

This is especially true for Nick Steen as Mark Antony. Antony’s famous speech where he speaks about Caesar’s inherent goodness and riles the people of Rome against the establishment is incredibly powerful when delivered by Steen. His character is sweet and seemingly sincere, yet effectively manipulative.

One of the main themes to this play is that the means don’t always justify the ends. In GLT’s Julius Caesar, the means of the production — the apocalyptic setting, the modern Rome-inspired garb and the gender-altering casting —  certainly justify the ends, which is a fantastically rendered political tragedy.

Where: Hanna Theatre, Playhouse Square, 2067 East 14th St., Cleveland, OH 44115
When: Through Nov. 3
Tickets: $15-80, call 216.241.6000 or visit greatlakestheater.org

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Sphinx Virtuosi's 'For Justice and Peace' Concert and the Rest of the Classical Music to Catch This Week in Cleveland

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2019 at 11:21 AM

  • Sphinx Virtuosi, Photo by Nan Melville

Akron’s Tuesday Musical Association will tip a hat to local jazz and dance legends Pat Pace and Heinz Poll on Thursday, October 10 at 7:30 pm in E.J. Thomas Hall. Verb Ballets and the Chamber Music Society of Ohio will perform Pace’s Excursions and Poll’s Rococo Variations, preceded at 6:30 pm by a conversation with the creators of the program. Tickets are available online.

This weekend, The Cleveland Orchestra welcomes back its former assistant conductor Alan Gilbert (who went on to become music director of the New York Philharmonic and is now chief conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra). He shares the stage with pianist Kirill Gerstein for the Orchestra’s premiere of Thomas Adès’ Piano Concerto, and fills out the program with J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 3 and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3. Concerts take place on Friday, October 11 at 11:00 am (no Bach) and 8:00 pm, and Saturday, October 12 at 8:00 pm. Tickets here.

Seventeen-year-old Mexican piano phenom Daniela Liebman will open the free Tri-C Classical Piano Series in Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Sunday, October 13 at 2:00 pm. She first played on the series in 2016. This time around, she’ll check a big item off her bucket list as she plays all four of Chopin’s Nocturnes — plus works by Beethoven, Debussy, and Prokofiev.

Sunday afternoon’s schedule is packed. At 3:00 pm, Oberlin faculty cellist Darrett Adkins teams up with Youngstown State faculty pianist Cicilia Yudha for sonatas by Chopin and Kodály on the free Arts Renaissance Tremont series at Pilgrim UCC.

At the same hour, the Cleveland Composers Guild will present works by its members at CSU’s Drinko Hall. The menu includes music by Sebastian Birch, Margaret Brouwer, Margi Griebling-Haigh, Scott Michal, Ryan Charles Ramer, Robert Rollin, Matthew Saunders, and James Wilding. The event is free.

Then at 4:00 pm on Sunday, organist Jonathan Moyer will celebrate ten years in the Cleveland area (he splits his time between Oberlin Conservatory and the Church of the Covenant) with a free recital at The Covenant in University Circle. The program includes the premiere of his Three Pieces for Organ (Fantasie, Merry Fugue, and Passacaglia), one of his projects from a recent sabbatical in Germany.

On Sunday evening at 7:00 pm, Rocky River native Ed Caner will bring his classically trained fiddle fingers to a concert of bluegrass and beyond on the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Concert Series at the Hines Hill Conference Center in Peninsula. Marge Adler joins him on keyboard. Tickets are available online.

Monday evenings are usually nights off for classical musicians, but there are two interesting events in the books for October 14.

At 7:30 pm, the Rocky River Chamber Music Society will bring “Chamber Music of Hungary” to West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church. Cleveland Orchestra members Katherine Bormann and Emma Shook, violins, Stanley Konopka, viola, Martha Baldwin, cello, and Henry Peyrebrune, double bass, will play works by Bartók, Brahms, and Monti, and Alexander Fedoriouk will add the special sound of the cimbalom to a set of traditional tunes from Hungary and Romania. The event is free.

At 8:00 pm on Monday, Sphinx Virtuosi, eighteen of the nation’s top African American and Latinx classical soloists, will present “For Justice and Peace” in Mixon Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music. The playlist includes music by Romero, Bartók, Foley, and a selection from Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” Quartet. It’s free but seating passes are required.

For details of these and other classical concerts, see our Concert Listings page.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Electroacoustic Musician Sarah Davachi Makes Her Cleveland Debut at the Transformer Station This Weekend

Posted By on Wed, Oct 2, 2019 at 1:36 PM

  • Courtesy Cleveland Classical

While growing up in Calgary, Sarah Davachi studied the piano — until it stopped engaging her. “It didn’t feel like the instrument I wanted to use to express myself,” the electroacoustic musician said during a telephone interview. “When I got the bug to make, as opposed to just play other people’s music, I started letting go of the piano.” Then, in 2007, Davachi fortuitously took a job at Calgary’s National Music Centre, which houses a large collection of musical instruments including vintage synthesizers and organs. Davachi’s life was forever changed.

On Sunday, October 6 at 7:30 pm at Transformer Station, Sarah Davachi will make her Cleveland debut with a solo concert of electronic soundscapes. The evening is part of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Performing Arts Series. Tickets are available online.

A graduate of the University of Calgary, Davachi also holds a master’s degree in electronic music and recording media from Mills College and is currently pursuing a PhD in musicology at UCLA. Her compositions combine her interest in vintage analog synthesizers with contemporary treatment of acoustic instruments. She released her first recording, Barons Court, in 2015. Her ninth album, Pale Bloom, was released in June of this year.

Davachi noted that her live performances are quite different from what she creates for an album. “I’m not the type of artist who puts out a record and then plays that material live. That has never made sense to me. There are things you can do on a record that you can’t do live, and there are things you can do live that you can’t do on a record, so I try to take advantage of both of those. I don’t do individual tracks — it’s a single, hour-long experience.”

Although her first job at the National Music Centre was giving tours, that job sparked her interest in synthesizers as well as her fascination with pipe organs. “I remember finding synthesizers and organs about the same time when I worked at the museum. I think of the organ as an acoustic synthesizer, which it essentially is. You can create different timbres, play with harmonics, and build the sound the way that you can with a synthesizer. What’s great about organs is that they are built for specific spaces — it’s kind of like the perfect instrument because your sound-check has already been done by the organ builder and the architect.”

It was while working at the Music Centre that Davachi also became interested in electronic music. “I was listening to a lot of it, but in terms of working with, and composing with the instruments, it all kind of came together around that same time.”

Davachi recalled one of her first experiences of experimenting with one of the Centre’s vintage instruments — a Buchla modular synthesizer. “I remember putting two oscillators in tune with each other. They were from the ‘60s and the electronics at that time were not stable, so it kept drifting ever so slightly in and out of itself, creating this beautiful phasing pattern. I thought, I could just sit and listen to this for hours.”

She had a similar experience with a reed organ. “It was a pretty big one and electrically blown. I sat in front of it and just held octaves and fifths, and listened to the overtones and the subtle changes the organ and the acoustic were making on their own. It was interesting to have this slowed down — I hate to use the word psychedelic, but that’s kind of what it was.”

It goes without saying that electronic instruments have evolved considerably since their vintage counterparts were in use. And today’s vast electronic world has required Davachi to set boundaries for herself. “I have to be selective,” she said. “I also think there is something about the keyboard as an interface that translates between certain instruments. If you’re trained as a pianist you can play harpsichord, although they are very different instruments, so you have to train yourself to play harpsichord well. But I like those limitations and I like working within them. I like it that instruments have personalities. They’re little people — they have their pros and cons.”

Originally published on ClevelandClassical.com.

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Immerse Your Eyes and Ears in 'Seeing Sound' with Matthew Gallagher at H-Space This Saturday

Posted By on Wed, Oct 2, 2019 at 12:31 PM

  • Courtesy Matthew Gallagher

Installation art is arguably the most confusing avenue for the general public to follow and yet it’s one of the most exciting mediums in the world — there’s no denying its immersive qualities. Kurt Schwitters’ famous Merzbau was a major development where the viewer could finally walk into and be surrounded by the artwork. From the New York City subway grid installation in the late 1960s by pioneer Max Henry Neuhaus to Camille Norment, whose work is time-themed, sound also has eked its way into the field of installation art.

Matthew Gallagher, along with collaborators Jeff Host and Jacob Koestler, is bringing his latest project to H-Space. An artist and a musician, Gallagher is pulling together a rather daring piece. It bears noting that a musician works with sound, but isn’t necessarily a sound artist. We were already familiar with Gallagher’s sound wave paintings and his sculptural work with magnets and pigment; our intrigue was running way deep.

“I’m excited to realize this really ambitious project,” says Eli Gfell, curator of H-Space. “I think the scope and the scale of it suits the space really well and in terms of programming and exhibitions, I’m always looking for new way to activate it and new ways to push the height and the volume of the space."

Against the wall are four video monitors; the first was being edited by Koestler at the time of our visit. The following monitors revealed a burning stick, a blue flame and smoke. Gallagher, who has always upheld transparency with his work, explains, “In this first one, there’s a photographer’s butterfly clip. We (Koestler and Gallagher) wanted to use the clip because of the smoke here in the last video screen, which is carbon dioxide, but there’s no point of reference for it. We realized that it’s helpful to have solid objects on either side.” The burning stick is actually Palo Santo, which Gallagher will light during the happening. “I was reading and it actually ionizes air, like it actually purifies it.
It’s not just incense.”

Turning back to the video, he continues, “This is a visual control all of these rigid things and the smoke is vibrating with the pressure. You can see it a bit more and the visual effects are more dramatic and the one over there is just smoke; it’s a beautiful video, but you don’t get the more scientific part of it.”

We are guided to a plexi-glass box, which hearkens back to the aforementioned magnet/pigment sculptures. Gallagher educates us on the construction. “This is an electromagnet,” he says pointing to the structural base, “and inside the box there’s a little neodymium permanent magnet. The permanent magnets poles are always fixed at north and south, they never change, and the electromagnet has switching poles, so it switches with the alternating current back and forth and it switches the poles in the magnet and that goes at a rate of 60 times per second, which is audio rate, so when I flip this switch here…”

The neodymium permanent magnet goes wild and creates a crazy clacking sound as it bounces like an angry bee caught in a jar. We were electrified. The artist will be rigging the pedestal so the viewer can flip the switch themselves, thus creating an even more interactive artwork.

Looming large in the middle of the room sits “Standing Wave,” two speakers on top of cinderblock, lit from underneath with some blue light. Red cords reach up like nerves outstretched into space. We ask if it’s dangerous to stand in between the speakers and were assured that it was safe, we admit that we’re anxious to experience what’s ahead.

WARNING: If you have any photosensitivity or tinnitus, you should be aware that the installation is quite loud and employs arena strobe lights in a small space.

Collaborator Jeff Host arrives to hook up his part of the collaboration; the soundboard looks like a dish of electric spaghetti. The moment of truth has arrived, the flip is switched and, we are immersed. The subterranean sound moves the red cord in waves and the entire room comes alive. In a sense we felt like we were in a discotheque taken over by Dr. Frankenstein and Stephen Hawking with a touch of Jacque Cousteau. The recordings, we later found out, were taken at the NASA Reverberant Acoustic Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio.

Also in the exhibition are several of Gallagher’s sonic paintings. These works were created with an elastic band that had been stretched to near breaking point and released, creating an almost gunshot loud sound; tying the artists process using extreme environments. Concludes the artist, “What turns people off sometimes to the magic of science is that empirical study so clinical and while that’s really important and essential, I’m just trying to offer something different, multiple perspectives on that. There’s a goldmine of accessibility in art and in science, which is super relevant now. It’s a huge stratum that needs to be compressed unified.”

Seeing Sound is a one-day exhibition. The installation will run every 25 minutes in 6 to 7 minute intervals this Saturday, October 5, 2019, from 7 P.M. to 10 P.M. H-Space is located at 10237 Berea Rd., Cleveland, OH 44102.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Gigantic Cleveland Whale Mural Off I-90 is Getting a Fresh Update This Week

Posted By on Tue, Oct 1, 2019 at 5:07 PM

  • Photo via Wyland Foundation
Update: The giant mammal-themed mural, seen on the Cleveland Public Power Plant just off I-90, is getting that previously-announced paint-job this week.

Artist Robert Wyland starts the freshening-up process on his whale-themed work Wednesday.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of 1969 Cuyahoga River fire,” said Wyland Foundation president Steve Creech in a statement. “The Wyland murals have always been intended to raise awareness about clean water and healthy oceans, so we couldn’t think of a better time to restore the mural than this year.”

The large artwork will also be rededicated upon completion on Friday. People are encouraged to stop by and watch the artist at work during the restoration process. 

(Original Story 4/4/2019): Muralist Robert Wyland arrived in Cleveland yesterday to announce intentions to update his giant mammal-themed mural "Song of the Whales," which can be viewed on the Cleveland Public Power Plant just off I-90.

Painted in 1997, the whales (which there are none of in Lake Erie) have faded with age. The mural update is estimated to cost around $30,000, about a dollar per square foot.

“I’ve been touching up quite a few lately,” Wyland recently told Ideastream. “If I can’t do it, I encourage local artists and painters to get together to try and save as many of these murals as I can.”

The artist also talked about efforts to improve water conservation in Northeast Ohio through his Wyland Foundation. People can donate to the project through Wyland's foundation.

Check out all 100 of Wyland's whale murals, which are found on sides of buildings throughout the world, right here.

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Wednesday Brownbag Concerts Return to Trinity Cathedral and the Rest of the Classical Music to Catch This Week in Cleveland

Posted By on Tue, Oct 1, 2019 at 11:19 AM

  • Wikipedia

The 42nd season of Wednesday Noon Brownbag Concerts gets underway at Trinity Cathedral on October 2 with violinist Mary Beth Ions and her colleagues in the Amethyst String Quartet. A freewill offering is requested, and you can pack a lunch.

On another Wednesday Noon series across the Cuyahoga, weekly organ recitals continue and run all year on Music Near the Market at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ohio City. On October 2, Florence Mustric plays “Back-to-back Bach” on the celebrated Beckerath organ. There’s a freewill offering connected with this series as well, and lunches are also welcome.

Also on October 2 at 6:00 pm, the Cleveland Museum of Art begins its first-Wednesdays Chamber Music in the Galleries performances. This week, performers come from CIM’s guitar studio. These events are free.

Oberlin’s TIMARA program (Technology in Music and Related Arts) turns 50 this year, and one of the celebrations will be a Crafting Sound Symposium. Among the events are a “Sonic Super-Buffet” of interactive exhibits, instruments, and installations on Friday, October 4 at 7:30 pm, and a Final Concert on Saturday, October 5 at 7:30 pm featuring works by guest artists Asha Tamarisa, Afroditi Psarra, and Jess Rowland — as well as works by student artists Rachel Gibson, Drew Smith, and Dirk Roosenburg. Those are free and take place in the Birenbaum Innovation and Performance Space in the Hotel at Oberlin.

It’s a big week for classical guitar. Judicaël Perroy will play in Kulas Recital Hall at Oberlin on Friday, October 4 at 7:30 pm, and his fellow Frenchman Raphaël Feuillâtre will open the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society’s International Series at Plymouth Church on Saturday, October 5 at 7:30 pm. The Oberlin performance is free. Tickets for Saturday’s event are available online.

On Sunday, October 6 at 5:00 pm, CIM faculty Colin Davin will appear on Music from The Western Reserve at Christ Church, Hudson. You can reserve tickets online or purchase them at the door.

The Cleveland Orchestra is off to New York this week to open the Carnegie Hall season, but the CIM Orchestra will be hosting guest conductor Andrew Grams in Kulas Hall on Friday, October 4 at 8:00 pm (free but seating passes required), and Carl Topilow and The Cleveland POPS will welcome the Texas Tenors at Severance Hall on Saturday, October 5 at 8:00 pm (tickets available online)

Our list ends with a Cleveland Museum of Art Transformer Station performance by electroacoustic composer Sarah Davachi on Sunday, October 6 at 7:30 pm. Tickets can be ordered online.

For details of these and other classical concerts, see our Concert Listings page.

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