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Arts District

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

University Circle Announces the Debut of Its Uptown Summer Series

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2018 at 11:53 AM

COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY CIRCLE
  • Courtesy of University Circle
You can add several more free summer activities to your list of things to do once the weather warms up.

Earlier today, University Circle Inc. and Case Western Reserve University announced that their Uptown Summer Series will debut on Saturday, June 2, with the Uptown Miniature Golf and Ice Cream Social. The event will take place from noon to 5 p.m. on Toby's Plaza, and there will be a 9-hole miniature golf course. Piccadilly Artisan Creamery and Mitchell's Ice Cream will hand out complimentary treats.

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

What You Need to Know About This Weekend's Cleveland Asian Festival

Posted By on Sat, May 19, 2018 at 5:08 AM

asian_fest.jpg
The Cleveland Asian Festival has only been operating since 2010, but it seems like it’s been around much longer than that. The festival, which takes place all day today and tomorrow, is located in the heart of Cleveland’s AsiaTown (Payne Ave. between East 30th St. and 27th St.) and offers all sorts of vendors, food, live entertainment and activities.

Nearly two dozen Asian restaurants set up in the festival area, serving everything from Banh Mi to Bubble Tea. There are also two main stages that include demonstrations and competitions, including an egg roll eating competition.

Admission to the festival is free, but parking can be a little hairy. There’s free parking at Cleveland State’s magnet lots on East 24th St., but you’ll have to walk a few blocks (which, let's be honest, you probably need anyway). The event runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.

See all the best Asian Festival costumes from last year right here.
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Friday, May 18, 2018

Surviving Five Glorious Nights of Beethoven Symphonies, with the Cleveland Orchestra

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2018 at 3:03 PM

KEN BLAZE, COURTESY OF THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA
  • Ken Blaze, Courtesy of The Cleveland Orchestra
To be sure, the Cleveland Orchestra’s Prometheus Project — playing all nine Beethoven symphonies over a two weekend stretch — is an over-the-top attention-grabbing stunt. It’s the equivalent of performance clickbait or, as music director Franz Welser-Möst described last year, a “sort of sports event.” But that doesn’t mean the performances so far (there are showings of Symphony No. 9 tonight and tomorrow) haven’t been divine. That doesn’t mean that those who’ve endeavored to take the plunge, like myself, and immerse themselves in a nightly dose of Beethoven haven’t been rewarded with sweet revelations.

Beethoven is a rock star of the orchestral world. He’s brooding and emotional, and most of all — that hair. His works, despite being nearly 200 years old, are performed everywhere from high school gyms to national TV commercials on the regular. The Fifth Symphony’s line “duh duh duh duhhhhhhhh/ duh duh duh duhhhhhhh,” has rolled around in your head more than once, as has the Ninth’s “Ode to Joy.” It makes sense the Cleveland Orchestra is taking on this symphony cycle in celebration of it 100th anniversary season.

A German who lived mostly in Austria, Beethoven has become a sort of legend. Things we know: Deafness did not stop him from composing. He never married. He died at age 56 of a prolonged illness that may have been alcohol related. The phrase “there is a story” is often used before little tidbits of supposed Beethoven truths, just like the antics of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, as seen in the feel-good film of 1995, Mr. Holland’s Opus:
But no matter how well performed, or how important they’re supposed to be, not all of these impeccably-written symphonies are going to stick with you. As Welser-Möst said in the concert liner notes, some of the symphonies are not completely obvious. In other words, some of these are somewhat boring, some of these won’t make you feel deeply and wholly. The point of this series though, is to hear these works in a short amount of time and understand how Beethoven grew as a composer, philosopher and man. It is an event worthy of being enjoyed once in one’s lifetime.

Each night I made note of the usual things such as how the orchestra played, but also more peripheral aspects of the performance like how Welser-Möst’s hair (so very much like Beethoven’s) looked or how many people had fallen asleep around me (it’s not a classical music concert unless someone dozes off, seriously). While every evening included an overture, I chose here to focus on the main works.

Here’s how the orchestra fared each night:
ROGER MASTROIANNI, COURTESY OF THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA
  • Roger Mastroianni, Courtesy of The Cleveland Orchestra
Night 1 - May 10
Symphony Nos. 1 and 3
Number of sleepers: 1
This is where the whole thing begins. Symphony No. 1 shows Beethoven as a young man writing somewhat like Mozart, while still putting his own spin on an older style. The orchestra played the starting elongated chords with moving expression, but it was the final movement that brought the passion. Naturally, it was Symphony No. 3, or “the Eroica” which was first dedicated to Napoleon, that took the cake on the kickoff night. Beethoven is a master builder of layers, especially on display in this work. While the second movement did start off somewhat shaky, footing was found immediately. And while the first movement may be more well known, the fourth movement was unbelievable. The action made the room hot with breath and anticipation. The standing ovation at the end was deserved and real.

Night 2 - May 11
Symphony Nos. 4 and 7
Number of sleepers: 2
As it was a Friday night, and people had no doubt worked a long week, Symphony No. 4 caused at least two concertgoers around me to doze off. It is one of those even number symphonies that isn’t as often played or enjoyed. But the piece has so much to offer, with its power coming in waves. Thankfully, at the start of Symphony No. 7, the one many cite as their favorite of the bunch, people woke up. The orchestra brought its A-game, but perhaps not as much feeling as was required. Seven’s quiet-then-roaring second movement, almost seemed too thought-out and plodding. The final movement showed off the orchestra’s marching spirit and brought the crowd to their feet with its conclusion.

Night 3 - May 12
Symphony Nos. 8 and 5
Number of sleepers: 1
Saturday night’s performance had the most palpable energy. The audience gave it to the orchestra, and the players reciprocated. Symphony No. 8, possibly the most understood of the bunch, offered fascinating flourishes but often left minds to wander. According to the concert liner notes, “there is a story that Beethoven, when asked why the Seventh Symphony was more popular than the Eighth, snapped back: ‘because the Eighth is so much better.’” But as with the night’s before, the second half was what everyone came for. This time it was Symphony No. 5, the most obvious of them all. The orchestra started off those well-known big chords with a bang. Welser-Möst then let his crew go, faster and faster, while still never coming undone. On the whole, it was probably the finest performance of every night I saw. It was wild, but had heart. Walking out, one concertgoer told a friend he would have preferred they play the Fifth twice.

Night 4 - May 13
Symphony Nos. 6 and 2
Number of sleepers: 2 (but they were small children, so doesn’t exactly count)
It was somewhat of a surprise for the orchestra to play Symphony No. 6 in the first half of the show. The Pastoral Symphony, as this one is known, is one of the more happy and liked of the works. During the more stormy passages the orchestra could have dug in a little more, but it was overall a lovely performance. For the second half of the afternoon show, with the Cavs trailing the Celtics by about 20 points, Welser-Möst brought the heat. It’s like he’d woken up from a nap and was ready to let loose (as was his hair). The Second Symphony shows Beethoven moving away from that more classical sound. It had moments, but was still something to be endured. The Lenore Overture No. 3, the show’s finale did seem to garner the most attention from the players ...and the audience.
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Night 5 - May 17
Symphony No. 9
Number of sleepers: 1
It was all leading up to Symphony No. 9, Beethoven’s masterpiece. Featuring 200 or so performers on stage, the work seemingly has everything. It’s like Beethoven sat down and thought about what was successful with his most popular symphonies and decided to do that. This has more sound, more humable lines, a freaking choir and four vocal soloists. The soloists weren’t always easy to hear, but it’s hard to compete with such a large ensemble. The fourth movement builds and builds to a joyful and miraculous conclusion, one that would cause the most icy of hearts to melt. Every musician should be so proud of this evening. It will be remembered.

Final thoughts:
- The whole of the wind and brass section needs to be commended for mostly immaculate playing. That being said, while flutist Joshua Smith slayed every single solo he was given, the star was clarinetist Afendi Yusuf. Such purity and soul is rarely found on this planet.

- For the last few centuries, orchestra-goers have followed the tradition of refraining from clapping between movements. People who know this rule pride themselves of knowing the proper place to applause; they may even look down on those who get it wrong. But Saturday, following the famous first movement of Symphony No. 5, a lone dissenter yelled “bravo!” from the audience. He was not wrong. The orchestra had just shredded the piece. It’s too bad orchestra fans are not allowed to express their gratitude a bit more freely.

-Public Service Announcement: You can pre-order your intermission drinks from the bar prior to the performance. Just show your ticket and pick up the beverage in the lobby at a designated corner table. No lines. No fuss.

-In general, the more basses on stage the better.

-As I sat in a different spot every night at Severance Hall, it’s confirmed, there are no bad seats.

-Attire ranged from jeans and nice tops to beautiful suits and dresses. How wonderful there is no official dress code at Severance Hall. How wonderful we’re not a city full of snobs.

-With this series, the orchestra has once more proven its majesty. Now onward to a new century of music, which should of course include Beethoven, but also new works. There’s much to discover by re-listening to old favorites, now let us celebrate the future.

You can attend the final two nights of the Cleveland Orchestra’s fiery Prometheus Project tonight and tomorrow, both of which feature Symphony No. 9. Find tickets here.
ROGER MASTROIANNI, COURTESY OF THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA
  • Roger Mastroianni, Courtesy of The Cleveland Orchestra
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Here's Your First Look at the New Murals Coming to Gordon Square

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2018 at 2:59 PM

A mockup of Ryan Jaenke's mural on the Butcher Building - GSAD MURAL PRESS RELEASE
  • GSAD Mural Press Release
  • A mockup of Ryan Jaenke's mural on the Butcher Building

The continued beautification of Gordon Square and the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood is pressing forward with the installation of eight new murals. Started in 2017, in an effort is to infuse the neighborhood with art that is free and accessible to anyone and everyone, the project is expected to be completed by the end of May. These murals will appear along Detroit Avenue between W. 74th Street and W. 52nd Street.

The Gordon Square Arts District partnered with LAND Studio and Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization to coordinate the mural installation, while funding was received from The Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland Casino Revenue Fund, Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone, Hilton, The David and Inez Myers Foundation, American Greetings and Sherwin-Williams.

The first mural (already completed) is located on the Western side of Stockyard Meats and was made by Cleveland artist Eileen Dorsey in collaboration with Chicago-based graffiti artist Ish Muhammad through a partnership with Graffiti Heart and Neighborhood Connections.

The largest mural of the series will be painted by Baltimore artist duo Jessie and Katey on the eastern wall of the Centers for Families and Children’s Reinberger Auditorium located at 5209 Detroit Ave.

This May, the six remaining murals will be completed by Cleveland artists.
  • Darius Steward’s mural is being painted on the eastern wall of Buehner’s Office Supply Co. (5818 Detroit Ave.)
  • Ryan Jaenke is painting on the western wall of the Butcher Building (6814 Detroit Ave.)
  • Dante Rodriguez is painting on the western wall of Astoria Café & Market (6417 Detroit Ave.)
  • The building at 6805 Detroit Ave. will have two murals; Lisa Quine is painting the east wall and Justin Michael Will is painting the west wall.
  • Matthew Sweeney’s mural will be installed on the western wall of Banter (7320 Detroit Ave.)
Check out a few images provided by the Gordon Square Arts District below:
Baltimore's Jessie and Katey's design for the Centers for Families and Children's Reinberger Auditorium - GSAD MURAL PRESS RELEASE
  • GSAD Mural Press Release
  • Baltimore's Jessie and Katey's design for the Centers for Families and Children's Reinberger Auditorium


Lisa Quine painting the east wall of 6805 Detroit Avenue - GSAD MURAL PRESS RELEASE
  • GSAD Mural Press Release
  • Lisa Quine painting the east wall of 6805 Detroit Avenue

A mockup of Dante Rodriguez' mural at Astoria Café & Market - GSAD MURAL PRESS RELEASE
  • GSAD Mural Press Release
  • A mockup of Dante Rodriguez' mural at Astoria Café & Market

The design for Darius Steward's Mural at Buehner's Office Supply Co. - GSAD MURAL PRESS RELEASE
  • GSAD Mural Press Release
  • The design for Darius Steward's Mural at Buehner's Office Supply Co.

A mockup of Matthew Sweeney's mural at Banter - GSAD MURAL PRESS RELEASE
  • GSAD Mural Press Release
  • A mockup of Matthew Sweeney's mural at Banter
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'Passing Strange' at Karamu House is the Most Exciting Show in Cleveland Right Now

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2018 at 9:56 AM

COURTESY KARAMU HOUSE
  • Courtesy Karamu House

In this musical the coming-of-age story is familiar and there are so many excesses it would take five columns to list them all. There is no scenic design to speak of. And often, the narrative arc of the storyline is muddled beyond comprehension. And to top it off the music, which weaves itself intricately into the dialogue, is frequently challenging.

And yet, this is the most exciting show on any stage right now, and maybe the most involving one that has appeared in some time. You will be a poorer person if you don’t find a way to see it before it closes on June 3.

It’s Passing Strange at Karamu House, featuring music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, with book and lyrics by Stew. Jammed with full-tilt energy and invention, the rock musical “goes there” in virtually every scene and every moment, and it’s a freaking rush.

In this autobiographical journey of Stew’s we follow the Youth, a young African-American man and music-maker who starts off by barely tolerating his mothers’ church in south central Los Angeles. After reaching an epiphany of sorts by smoking week with the pastor’s son, the Youth decides to find himself and “the real” by going on a drug and sex tour of Europe.

Segueing from hash to acid and from punk rock to psychedelic, the Youth spend his youth on a search for himself. Meanwhile, his mother pines for him back home, connecting with him intermittently over the phone.

If this all sounds like a tired old story format to you, the presentation is anything but tired. Right from the start, when the Youth’s mom switches back and forth from a cartoonish black woman dialect to a more nuanced voice, you know you’re in for something different.

In the demanding role of the Youth, Justin C. Woody sings with both poignancy and passion, and he keeps the whole enterprise humming with his infectious energy. As the Youth travels from Amsterdam to Berlin, Woody conveys his character’s wide-eyed innocence and desperate desire to find, you know, something.

He is well matched by Darius J. Stubbs, who plays and sings the narrator as the older and more temperate man who was the Youth. But Stubbs is also capable of kicking out the jams, as he does in the rock anthem “Work the Wound.”

Those performers are supported in glorious style by Treva Offutt, who is hilarious and touching as the Mother. And the four-person chorus—Carlos Antonio Cruz, Joshua McElroy, Mary-Frances Miller and CorLesia Smith—each add stellar cameo characterizations that are so sharp you could cut yourself if you’re not careful. Specifically, keep an eye out for Cruz’s decadent-to-the-max Mr. Venus, Smith’s insightful Desi, Miller’s spot-on punk rocker Sudebey, and McElroy’s vulnerable Terry.

The entire cast handles the singing with aplomb, backed by the fine vocalist Chantrell Lewis and a four-person, kickass band led by Ed Ridley, Jr. Director Nathan A. Lilly has taken this material, which is surprisingly witty and wise (as one character says, “Life is a mistake that only art can correct.”), and ignited his cast so they inhabit a galaxy of characters with different accents and attitudes.

Passing Strange covers a lot of years, a lot of miles, and many musical genres. And the 2½ hour show doesn’t have a single boring minute in it. Anywhere. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss any of those minutes.

Passing Strange
Through June 3 at Karamu House, 2355 East 89 St., 216-795-7070, karamuhouse.org.
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Lit to Headline the Downtown Willoughby Rib Burn Off

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2018 at 9:53 AM

FILTHY MOUTH CREATIVE
  • Filthy Mouth Creative
The seventh annual Rib Burn Off returns to Downtown Willoughby on Saturday and Sunday. Attended by thousands from all over Northeast Ohio, the family-friendly outdoor celebration provides an opportunity to showcase the bars and restaurants in Downtown Willoughby as well as bring regional and national barbecue vendors to provide a wealth of food options. There will also be beer and craft cocktails on Erie Street.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

The Sax Man Documentary Will Be Released on Digital and Streaming Platforms on May 15

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 8:12 AM

SAX MAN MOVIE STILL
  • Sax Man movie still

'The Sax Man' documentary, which debuted at the 2014 Cleveland International Film Festival to rave reviews and sold-out crowds, will finally get a wide release on May 15. It will be available on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Dish Network, Cox, Comcast and Verizon, as well as on DVD and Blu-ray.

The film, directed by Joe Siebert, chronicles the life of the late Sax Man, Maurice Reedus Jr., who passed away last month at the age of 65.

It's also been held up in a bit of limbo since 2014, as the filmmakers struggled to secure the song and artist licenses necessary for the film's official release. That finally happened late last year after Gravitas Ventures picked up the film as the distributor.

“It was just a huge punch in the gut,” says director Joe Siebert about Reedus' death so close to the release of the movie. “We were hoping to celebrate together. I think all of us just kind of expected that he’d always be around.”

“The release of the movie means everything to my family because his legacy is
still alive.” says Andrea Reedus-Pride, sister of Maurice. “It means everything to know that the people will get to know who Maurice Reedus, Jr. was.”

For more information, check out saxmanmovie.com.
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