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Arts & Culture

Cleveland Orchestra Returns to Musicmaking -- Digitally -- Tonight

The Cleveland Orchestra, with its music director Franz Welser-Möst, at Severance Hall.
Cleveland Orchestra
The Cleveland Orchestra, with its music director Franz Welser-Möst, at Severance Hall, the orchestra's home since 1931.

The Cleveland Orchestra returns to Severance Hall on Thursday night for its first concert since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

When the orchestra recorded Schubert’s Great Symphony in March, the players had no idea it would be six months before they could perform together again.

Tonight’s return performance, part of the “In Focus” series, will be different: instead of filling the seats in Severance Hall, it will be streamed on several online platforms (Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV), including the new “Adella” app – named for Cleveland Orchestra Founder Adella Prentiss Hughes.

The orchestra’s Chief Brand Officer, Ross Binnie, says the pandemic has given them a chance to explore new ways to deliver digital content.

“We perform for about 400,000 people – live – in Northeast Ohio every year. And this could turn it into 4 million.”

He adds that “In Focus” will feature a diverse array of composers: tonight’s performance includes Tchaikovsky and Respighi, but also American composer George Walker.

“These are pieces that you wouldn’t normally get in a ‘normal’ year from a full orchestra, but they’re great pieces of work, beautiful to listen to, and this crisis gives us the opportunity to broaden the spectrum.”

New protocols will limit the number of musicians, and for the time-being there will be no brass or woodwinds and no chorus.

There’s more information in the orchestra’s Fall Program Guide here.