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The Century-Old Cleveland Orchestra Plays On

The Century-Old Cleveland Orchestra Plays On


Cleveland Orchestra has revamped how it reaches audiences

For more than 100 years, the Cleveland Orchestra has served as a beacon in Cleveland’s artistic community. Its musicians have delivered an immersive musical experience to generations of Ohio residents and to the world beyond.

The orchestra was created in 1918 by a group of citizens who “believed in the power of music and aspired to create the best performances of great orchestral music possible.”

The Cleveland Orchestra was one of the first in the nation to play on a series of radio broadcasts. That was largely thanks to the revolutionary recording and broadcast capabilities built into its famous Severance Hall venue.

Its mission 102 years later

Today, the orchestra upholds its mission of making music accessible to all. They offer a variety of formats for their concerts and community projects.

Not even the current coronavirus pandemic can slow the orchestra’s drive to explore music as a “universal language of communication and understanding.”

Now is a time when connection requires more creativity and intention than ever before. And the Cleveland Orchestra is doing its part to bring music to the community in a variety of ways.

Hear the stories behind the music

Just this week, the orchestra launched a new podcast, called On a Personal Note. The podcast will deliver the stories behind the Cleveland Orchestra’s music. The orchestra’s musicians and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst will share stories about the music that has shaped their lives.

The first season includes 10 episodes, all of which have been developed over the past year. The premiere episode, titled The Sound of Crisis, focuses on the extraordinary and moving circumstances of the Cleveland Orchestra’s last performance together as the coronavirus pandemic was closing down the world.

On the morning of March 13, the orchestra gathered onstage at Severance Hall for a final time before the venue was closed to the public. Welser-Möst led a performance of Schubert’s “Great” Symphony in C major to a nearly empty concert hall.

In the podcast, Welser-Möst recalls his conflicting emotions conducting the Cleveland Orchestra under such unusual circumstances — and without knowing when the musicians might make music together again.

“Every story has a soundtrack, and every soundtrack has a story,” says André Gremillet, Cleveland Orchestra president and CEO. “In this new series, Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst and individual musicians in the Orchestra share personally meaningful stories about moments when music has shaped their lives — providing listeners with behind-the-scenes insight and a chance to turn their focus away from daily challenges.”

Stream Cleveland Orchestra’s new album

The Cleveland Orchestra’s recently released album, “A New Century,” includes six music selections spanning three centuries. The three-disc set is available for pre-order or immediate download on Apple Music.

Franz Welser-Möst, conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. [Photo by Roger Mastroianni/Courtesy of Cleveland Orchestra]

The musical scores are conducted by Welser-Möst. With the extension of his contract through 2027, Welser-Möst is the longest-tenured director in the orchestra’s history.

The album takes listeners through a tour of classical music across the ages — from Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Opus 132 to the works of two 21st-century composers: Bernd Richard Deutsch and Johannes Maria Staud.

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Take a virtual tour of Severance Hall

As most of the world remains quarantined at home, many have turned to virtual tours of museums, theme parks, and other destinations to help soothe the urge to travel.

A visit to Severance Hall alone is worth the price of admission to a Cleveland Orchestra concert. [Photo by Roger Mastroianni/Courtesy of Cleveland Orchestra]

Now, music fans can get a glimpse into Severance Hall through a narrated virtual tour. The tour explores the building’s history, art, and architecture. It also unveils little-known facts, such as the lotus blossoms throughout the design honors the building’s namesake, industrialist John Severance.

The musical score in the background is, of course, supplied by the orchestra itself. It features pieces by Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and more. After the brief tour video, visitors can treat themselves to a variety of other videos of some of the orchestra’s most treasured performances over the years.

Tune in to recorded concerts and broadcasts

The Cleveland Orchestra has a long history of broadcasting concerts for fans to enjoy around the world. They continue that tradition by offering on-demand recordings of concerts and performances. On-demand performances include full-length replays of Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastorale,” and more.

Ohio-based radio station WCLV is also offering a full calendar of upcoming broadcasts of past Cleveland Orchestra concerts. The concerts feature both traditional and modern-day composers.

So sit back, tune in, and enjoy.

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