Classical Music In CLE
Classical Music Takes The Stage - More Than Just Rock
By Lexi Hotchkiss
C'mon. If the only thing we hung our hat on was rock music, we'd be leaving out some really critical elements of Cleveland's mixtape music scene. On any given night, you'll find a place to take in some solid beats - whether they're coming from inside a polka hall or on the stage of a renowned jazz club.
Another genre that endlessly takes center stage in Cleveland is of the classical variety.
And, really, this shouldn't come as any big surprise because CLE is home to The Cleveland Orchestra, an illustrious and world-revered performance group.
Throughout international orchestral circles, it's widely known that The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the very best. In fact, it is consistently ranked within the top 10 orchestras in the world.
Inside Severance Hall (during winter months) or at Blossom Music Center (during the summer), you'll have the opportunity to hear the slow draw of a bow across a set of strings, the deep pounding of a tympani drum, the clear crispness of a staccato section and the almost deafening sound of silence between movements - all performed by some of the world's masters.
And, it's not just the Cleveland Orchestra that gives us some solid classical music cred. Cleveland swanks a scene that ranges from French baroque to Italian opera.
- Apollo's Fire, The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra
- BlueWater Chamber Orchestra
- CityMusic Cleveland
- Cleveland Chamber Symphony
- Cleveland Opera Theater
- FiveOne Experimental Orchestra
- Les Délices
- Opera Circle Cleveland
If you're looking for special events to dot your Cleveland itinerary, consider checking out live musical performances and festivals.
In March, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony hosts NEOSonicFest, a festival featuring new music focused on recent compositions from Northeast Ohio - including performances by the chamber symphony and the Verb Ballets.
From May 12 - 21, the Cleveland International Piano Competition will host a Young Artists competition for pianists ages 12 through 18 from all over the world.
Or, head to Cleveland a week later (May 28 - 31) for the Cleveland International Classical Guitar Festival that brings some of the world's finest classical guitarists, lutenists, lecturers, composers, teachers and guitar makers to the Cleveland Institute of Music for four days.
Take a look at the Brownbag Concerts happening at the historic Trinity Episcopal Cathedral near Cleveland State University. Happening on Wednesdays from February through May, the church becomes an afternoon performance venue for incredible musicians ranging from chamber music groups to duo pianists.
University Performance Groups
Some of the best music you can find is performed by emerging artists and students. After all, the beginner's mindset is often the magic needed to create musical genius.
Such is the case at the Cleveland Institute of Music, which is an important part of Cleveland's University Circle neighborhood and one of only eight independent music conservatories in the world. Students study under the principals of the famed Cleveland Orchestra. Get to a free performance at the gorgeous Mixon Hall where you're hearing the masters of tomorrow right here and now.
Adding to Northeast Ohio's incredible classical offerings is the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. If you're a music aficionado, you've probably already heard of them and know that a performance here is a not-to-be-missed affair. Considered a national treasure, President Barack Obama awarded the institution the National Medal of Arts, the highest artist honor in the United States. A fan favorite - check out the Oberlin Symphony Orchestra.
Beyond these two famous musical institutions, Northeast Ohio is home to quite a few colleges and universities boasting nationally recognized music departments including:
- Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music - There are the large and quite popular ensembles like the BW Symphony Orchestra to smaller more niche groups like the Motet Choir for vocalists.
- Case Western Reserve University Department of Music - A baroque chamber ensemble, several jazz ensembles and even a camerata chamber group highlight this renowned music program's offerings.
- Cleveland State University Music Department - It's a sonic mash-up at this downtown university with two orchestras, two wind ensembles, large and small jazz ensembles, two choruses and other chamber ensembles.
- Kent State University Hugh A. Glauser School of Music - Student ensembles range from a gospel choir and African ensemble to percussion and clarinet groups.
- University of Akron School of Music - Many in the region rave about the University of Akron's Symphony Orchestra and their hugely popular steel drum band.
A Lively Sound
If the sound of more popular music gets you going, may we suggest a concert by The Cleveland Pops Orchestra. The 65-member orchestra performs a bevy of contemporary works inside large-scale venues like Severance Hall and PlayhouseSquare. Think: Sinatra, patriotic songs, film scores and show tunes.
Speaking of show tunes, we'd be remiss to not mention the perfection that is the North Coast Men's Chorus. The more than 100-member chorus showcases a rather fun repertoire of music ranging from 60s classics to Broadway musical favorites, all while promoting a positive influence within and beyond the gay community.
Also keeping the music lively is The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, which celebrates its 30th season in 2014/2015. Performing at the opulent PlayhouseSquare, CJO is known for busting out both traditional and contemporary jazz to its often sold-out audiences.
Classical Music in the Akron/Canton Area
Looking to expand your classical music trip to the Akron and Canton areas, just south of Cleveland? Consider checking out: