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Shuffle: The Highlights, The Lowlights And The Challenges Of The Cleveland Orchestra’s 100th Season

photo of Franz Welser-Most conducting the Cleveland Orchestra

The Cleveland Orchestra's 100th season will be busy and challenging. In this week's Shuffle, Cleveland.com classical music critic Zach Lewis says there's a lot to like, but there are also many uncertainties:

Lewis attended the orchestra’s centennial season unveiling last weekend and one thing that stood out is the public role Music Director Franz Welser-Most is taking on this year.

Lewis says Welser-Most doesn’t address the public often. But "he spoke at length about his passion for music education, where he’d like to see the orchestra go in terms of artistry over the next few years, what he’s already done with the orchestra during his tenure so far," Lewis says.  

And, Lewis feels it was genuine. "He spoke with passion and some humor which is a nice touch."

Zachary Lewis
Credit Cleveland.com
Cleveland.com classical music critic Zachary Lewis

Lewis says one highlight of the upcoming season is the very first program, reviving The Cunning Little Vixen

"There’s kind of this overlap between digital projections and physical people singing and the Cleveland Orchestra with that. It’s a totally immersive, amazing experience," Lewis says. 

Lewis is also excited about the list of soloists and conductors.

“Every single one of them over the course of the season are just fantastic, top notch."

Lewis says one under-whelming aspect of the upcoming season is what the orchestra is calling The Prometheus Project. It will feature Beethoven symphonies and overtures in a two-week, season-closing festival. 

“I feel like another composer would have been more interesting," Lewis says. "Beethoven is just heavily performed and analyzed and a lot of orchestras do this. It’s just a little overdone, perhaps.”

Zach Lewis on the orchestra's centennial outreach efforts

Last December, the orchestra announced a $2.4 million budget deficit. Lewis says the budget problems weren't discussed at its recent centennial event. 

"I would have expected them to outline a vision for where they would like the endowment to be this year and next year, and where they’d like it to be in 10 years. And I would have expected them to engage their audience to that end, and say, 'This is what you could consider doing to help us reach this goal.'"

Miami residency
Another uncertainty is the orchestra's annual Miami, Fla., residency. The orchestra has spent four weeks there for the past 10 years. 

"That’s still up in the air," Lewis says. "They haven’t confirmed it, but I feel they’re going to be scaling back.  Not leaving it, but reducing the amount time they spend there."

Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. After serving as WKSU's Morning Edition host for a dozen years, she moved to afternoons in March of 2022 to become the local host of All Things Considered. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio's sports scene called The View From Pluto. She also hosts and produces Shuffle, a podcast focusing on Northeast Ohio’s music scene.