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Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Orchestra’

In 2009, Lithuanian composer and conductor Mindaugas Piečaitis created a CATcerto for the Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra. The piece, intended for a family audience and especially young listeners, takes edited videos of Nora – a YouTube starring cat that plays piano – and builds a beautiful classical work around this found medium. Nora, a U.S. resident, did not attend the concert, but was presented on a video screen above the orchestra. What could have been a disposable novelty was turned into an event that continues to draw new fans years later.

The story might have lived and died five years ago if it was not for the complete sincerity of the work. Piečaitis became known for this piece (YouTube cats know no national boundaries), but his career has long focused on connecting with new audiences through unexpected channels. Enjoy the chamber orchestra performance below, along with a (translated) Lithuanian TV interview with the composer. If you have a hankering to experience another side of classical music live, the Cleveland Orchestra presents a Sci-Fi Spectacular with guest narrator George Takei this Sunday (7/13) at Blossom.

Performance of CATcerto

Interview with Mindaugas Piečaitis

Alexandra Preucil (Roger Mastroianni)
Alexandra Preucil
(Roger Mastroianni)

The Cleveland Orchestra announced today (30 April) that violinist Alexandria Preucil has been named an assistant concertmaster. She fills the position opened when violinist Lev Polyakin retired last October (2012). The orchestra’s other assistant concertmaster is Yoko Moore.

Music is in Preucil’s blood: she’s the daughter of the Cleveland Orchestra’s concertmaster, William Preucil. She joined the orchestra’s violin section in 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Previously, Preucil was concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra. She has also held posts as assistant concertmaster with the Akron Symphony Orchestra and the Canton Symphony Orchestra.

Further exploration:

Deciphering Cleveland Orchestra Player Hierarchy at

Little Rock School Integration, 1957
(Will Counts/Arkansas Democrat)

In 1954, in the landmark case Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the US Supreme Court found that separate but equal schools for white and African American children were unconstitutional.

It would be another 22 years before a federal district court decision in the case of Reed v. Rhodes would finally force the desegregation of Cleveland public schools. But by the mid-1960s, voluntary busing programs were in place. Although these programs didn’t always fully implement side-by-side classroom education of black and white students, they were still controversial.

Gerald Sindell today
(Agency for Social Media)

In the mid-1960s, twenty-three year old Shaker Heights native Gerald Sindell decided that he wanted to "educate the world so that ignorance, war, and racism would end."

Sindell says, "Throughout my high school life in Cleveland, I had been concerned with what it would take to end racism in the country. The hope was that by integrating the schools, our cities could finally provide equal rights and equal opportunity to all our citizens. I was confident, in 1962, that within a few years racism would be a thing of the past."

Nor were social concerns Sindell’s only interest. In his childhood and youth, he’d been deeply immersed in music. He had seriously studied organ, flute, and piano, and played in a dance band. He’d grown up going to Cleveland Orchestra concerts, following a score as the orchestra played, sitting in a box right next to the Szells’.

But by 1967, Sindell had gravitated toward film as his medium of expression. With the help of his older brother Roger as co-writer and producer, he explored the issue of racial equality in an early independent film, Double-Stop.

Marrying his passions for social justice and music (double-stopping is the process by which a string player sounds more than one note at a time), Sindell built his story round a musical family. His protagonist is a fictional Cleveland Orchestra cellist, Mike Westfall (Jeremiah Sullivan). Westfall and his activist wife Katherine (Mimi Torchin) enroll their young son Pablo (Billy Kurtz; his character is named for the legendary cellist Pablo Casals) in a voluntary busing program.

When Westfall discovers the rough reality of conditions at his son’s new school, he pulls Pablo out, against the wishes of the more idealistic Katherine.

Daniel Domb
Daniel Domb
(Larney Goodkind)

Sindell hired the entire Cleveland Orchestra to appear in his film. Music director George Szell declined to take part, so they were led by assistant conductor Michael Charry.

Some of the film’s music was composed expressly for the purpose by David Davis and James Streem, but the Cleveland Orchestra and chorus performed music from Bach’s Cantata #40. Cellist Daniel Domb, who was married to Sindell’s cousin and would later serve as the Cleveland Orchestra’s acting principal cellist, played the Bach cello suites for the soundtrack. He also modeled for shots of fingers on a cello’s neck.

Scene from Double-Stop
Scene from Double-Stop

Visually, the film was ambitious and unusual. It was shot in the fall of 1967 in Cleveland, and all the hues – costumes, sets, accessories – were deliberately designed to suggest autumn leaves. Even the cars were painted.

When Double-Stop was chosen for the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, it looked as if Sindell’s movie was on its way to international distribution. But civil unrest cut the festival short, and Sindell’s distributor let him down. After a few more film festival screenings, Double-Stop was largely forgotten. Sindell made a few more films, then moved on to other pursuits. Today he operates a California-based PR firm, the Agency for Social Media.

Finally, over 40 years later – thanks in part to some help from the Cleveland Orchestra – Cleveland is about to see Sindell’s dream on the screen. WKSU’s Mark Urycki has more on the film, and the story of how Double-Stop was rescued from oblivion.

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Double-Stop will play at the Cleveland Cinematheque, Aitken Auditorium in the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Gund Building at the corner of East Boulevard and Bellflower Road in University Circle. Screenings are Saturday, 19 February 2011 at 7:25 pm, and Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 8:40 pm.

Further Reading:

Double-Stop at

Double-Stop at the Cleveland Cinematheque

Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Pierre-Laurent Aimard
(Vivian Goodman)

After last weekend’s Severance Hall concerts, former Cleveland Orchestra Artist-in-Residence Pierre-Laurent Aimard takes Bartok on the road with the orchestra. This Tuesday (25 January 2011) they’ll perform Bartok’s challenging second piano concerto in the auditorium at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Then it’s on to Miami. There, on Friday the 28th, Aimard and the orchestra bid Bartok farewell in favor of the Schumann concerto. Tuesday will find them at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. On Wednesday they land in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, home to the Chicago Symphony. Friday it’s Carnegie Hall in New York, though Aimard won’t perform on that concert. The Cleveland Orchestra’s mini-tour wraps up in Newark on the 6th of February. Franz Welser-Möst will conduct all the concerts.

WKSU’s arts reporter Vivian Goodman spoke with Aimard about the Bartok concerto.

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Matthias Pintscher
(Cleveland Orchestra)

Next month (June 2010) you’ll have a rare opportunity. You’ll be able to hear one of the world’s most revered and lauded orchestras. Now, that’s not so rare for folks in Northeast Ohio; it’s been our privilege to hear the Cleveland Orchestra for decades. The rarity is that, this time, your ticket to Severance Hall will be free.

On Saturday 5 June 2010, the Cleveland Orchestra plays works of living composers in two evening concerts. At 7pm they’ll perform Susan Botti’s Translucence, originally commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra; and Johannes Maria Staud’s On Contemplative Meteorology. At 9pm they’ll return to the Severance Hall stage for Concertate il suono by Marc-André Dalbavie and Matthias Pintscher’s with lilies white. Pintscher will be on hand and will conduct all the works.

Botti and Dalbavie will also be in town – the former now lives in New York and the latter in Paris. They’ll take part in a 6pm pre-concert discussion about "creation, performance, and the role of new music for orchestras," moderated by CIM composition department head Keith Fitch.

In the hour between the performances, the orchestra will throw a party in Severance Hall’s Grand Foyer and outside on the terrace (if the weather cooperates). Refreshments will be offered for sale. The entertainment during this interlude will be an amplified performance of Workers’ Union, created in 1975 by the Amsterdam-based composer Louis Andriessen for "any loud-sounding group of instruments."

The concert really is free, as is the reception, but you’ll still need tickets. Get them through the orchestra’s website.

Paid parking is available in the orchestra’s garage behind Severance Hall. You may be able to find free parking elsewhere in University Circle, but remember, it can be a bit of a stroll. The orchestra’s parking is a reasonable deal at $10-14, especially if you have health or security concerns.

The concert is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Further Reading:

Louis Andriessen at Wikipedia

Susan Botti’s Website

Marc-André Dalbavie at NPR

Matthias Pintscher, The Radical Conservative at The Guardian

Johannes Maria Staud: Fifteen Questions at tokafi


Andriessen’s Workers’ Union at Youtube, performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars

Dalbavie’s Concertate il suono, music download at Amazon, performed by Radio France Philharmonic


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