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To look at the 2009-2010 concert schedule The Cleveland Orchestra has just released, you’d never guess that they were staring down the maw of a potential $7.5 million budget shortfall.

Fully staged opera? Check. Renowned guest conductors? Yep. Beloved soloists? Got ‘em.

If you tried to get tickets for this season’s The Marriage of Figaro, you know how enthusiastically Northeast Ohio concertgoers responded to hearing their orchestra in the pit. In 2010 Cleveland will take on another Mozart opera — this time, Cosi fan tutte.

Guest conductors will include Vladimir Ashkenazy, Iván Fischer, Semyon Bychkov, and Pierre Boulez, whose involvement with The Cleveland Orchestra dates back to 1965.

Mitsuko Uchida (BBC)

Mitsuko Uchida is always welcome in Northeast Ohio, and next season she’ll be featured in two concerts — Beethoven’s 4th in October, and two Mozart concertos in April. She’ll conduct the Mozart works from the keyboard.

Yefim Bronfman and Richard Goode are also among the visiting pianists we’ll hear. Violinist Leila Josefowicz and cellist Truls Mørk will appear. We can also expect a return visit from soprano Measha Brueggergosman, among others. Over a dozen more returning and new-to-Severance singers will join the orchestra.

The orchestra won’t reduce the number of programs they offer, although some programs won’t be played as many times as in past seasons.

The orchestra will also introduce three new concert series. Severance Fridays will combine an early-evening concert with a reception featuring drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and live music. Musically Speaking Sundays will begin with a detailed analysis of a work, including live musical examples, and conclude with a complete performance of the work. The Baroque and Classical Series will comprise three concerts — the Uchida Mozart performances; Handel’s Messiah; and an all-Baroque program, including Handel’s Water Music. This last will be led by Bernard Labadie, music director of Les Violons du Roy.

The new series are part of The Cleveland Orchestra’s renewed effort to connect more closely with Northeast Ohio. The centerpiece of this strategy is the week-long Community Music Initiative. It includes music director Franz Welser-Moest conducting a benefit Beethoven Ninth, concerts in Cleveland schools, and a family concert.

How are they doing all this in a down economy? Every element of the season is designed to maximize revenue and/or reduce costs. In addition to the slight trimming in total number of performances in Cleveland, when the orchestra tours, they’ll concentrate on the stops that generate the best return. And as I mentioned a few days ago, they’ve taken some large whacks at administrative costs.

The season’s repertoire delivers a mix of new experiences and familiar friends. Joerg Widmann’s Chor, the violin concerto of Thomas Ades, The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind by Osvaldo Golijov, and John Adams’s Doctor Atomic Symphony and Son of Chamber Symphony will be among the works receiving their first Cleveland performances.

Complimenting them are many well-known standards of the repertoire, including the Shostakovich Fifth (and Beethoven’s and Tchaikovsky’s); Brahms’s German Requiem, second symphony, and second piano concerto; the Schubert Ninth; Rachmaninoff’s Second (and Schumann’s); Strauss’s Don Juan and Also Sprach Zarathustra; Orff’s Carmina Burana; Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition; and the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique.

WKSU’s Vivian Goodman spoke with executive director Gary Hanson and music director Franz Welser Moest about their plans, and has more information on the upcoming Cleveland Orchestra season.

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Further reading:

Cleveland Orchestra announces 2009-10 Severance season at the Plain Dealer

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