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Archive for July, 2008

Jahja Ling (Photo: WKSU)This weekend, the last person to hold the title of Blossom Festival Music Director returns to The Cleveland Orchestra’s summer home.

Jahja Ling ran the classical show at Blossom Music Center while he was also leading the Florida Orchestra, and before he moved on to direct the San Diego Symphony. WKSU’s Vivian Goodman spoke to the maestro at his Cleveland hotel, where he’s staying with his wife, pianist Jesse Chang.

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When I tagged along with The Cleveland Orchestra on their tours of Europe and the Canary Islands (1999) and Vienna (2003), I noticed that certain members tended to vanish on free days. Where’d they go? "They’re mountain climbers," violinist Judy Berman explained. "They’re off finding Climbing Every Mountainsomething to climb."

As are Jeremy Dawson, Clare Wallace and James Rees. Cellists all, they have an abiding appreciation for elevation. No longer content with cathedral rooftops, they plan to scale the UK’s highest mountain peaks — where, inspired by the slightly daft sport of extreme ironing, they intend to unpack their instruments and play recitals.

It’s not just for the challenge, though that’s surely the principal reason. It’s to raise funds for charities. Mountain rescue teams, for example.

Further reading:

Cello players reach new heights at the BBC

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Columbus Symphony (Photo: Vern Riffe Center)Although the orchestra hasn’t officially disbanded, its prognosis isn’t good. But don’t count Columbus’s classical music out yet.

The Columbus Symphony, still unable to reach an agreement with its musicians, has officially cancelled part of the upcoming season. There’s still a glimmer of hope for concerts from December, including the holiday pops, but official Columbus Symphony performances through November are definitely off the schedule. This summer’s outdoor concerts were also given the axe.

Despite mediation and telephone discussions, the musicians and management are still far apart. The Columbus Dispatch quotes the president of the board, Robert "Buzz" Trafford: "We have gone absolutely as far as we can go. Unless musicians change their position, we won’t reach an agreement."

This month (July 2008) the musicians rejected an agreement that called for sacking the orchestra’s highly regarded music director, Junichi Hirokami, and cutting 27% from the players’ salaries. The musicians’ union has filed unfair labor charges against the orchestra’s management for allegedly locking them out and failing to bargain in good faith.

Although the Columbus Symphony is shuttered for now, orchestral music has not vanished from the city. As Symphony Columbus, orchestra members have already presented two concerts in Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium this summer, and are planning additional performances. Their concert on 17 August will take place outdoors, at a natural amphitheatre in Hocking Hills’ Ash Cave.

Further Reading:

Symphony Talks Stall in The Columbus Dispatch

Goodbye, Columbus Symphony? in The Wall Street Journal

Columbus Symphony official website

Symphony Musicians

Symphony Columbus

All Columbus Symphony entries in WKSU Classical

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When it comes to travel, the Cunard line of cruise ships has made high-class luxury its top goal.  Along with good food, dancing and a variety of entertainment, transatlantic crossings on the Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 typically include cultural opportunities.  Cunard (which calls itself “the Official Cruise Line of the National Symphony Orchestra”) is presenting members of The Kennedy Center Chamber Players, as well as welcoming Nigel Boon, director of artistic planning for the National Symphony Orchestra on the September 8, 2009 transatlantic crossing from New York to Southampton (the crossing to Britain is 6 days and the ship then continues on for the 24-day Grand Mediterranean Highlights tour).  The ensemble is a group of National Symphony Orchestra principals.

Although this adventure definately falls in the super-pricey, not-your-everyday-vacation category, I have been on the ship and it lives up to its posh promise.  And, it’s culturally enriching!

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Cleveland’s “working man” comedian Drew Carey is returning to his hometown to take an unlikely role. He’s narrating Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with the Cleveland Orchestra Saturday. Carey expects to draw a few unintentional laughs and maybe talk baseball at a local bar.

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