Modern Classics

October 10, 2015
Modern Classics

How amazing art is remaking Cleveland

By Jen Jones Donatelli

The New York Times said it best back in 2013: "Culture blooms in Cleveland." Of course, the city's creative spirit has been cultivating for nearly 100 years in world-class institutions like the Cleveland Museum of Art and The Cleveland Orchestra. They are the bedrock of a community of cultural offerings that are killing it both on and off the radar, attracting new audiences of all kinds to a variety of unique, local art and entertainment options.

Grand Impressions

Like any good artist, the Cleveland Museum of Art thinks big - and it's got the ever-expanding space to show for it. In recent years, the museum unveiled two new wings masterminded by architect Rafael Vinoly, as well as a 39,000-square-foot glass atrium. The wait was worth it: Its new West Wing houses a dazzling array of Asian art, while the East Wing has 21 new galleries spotlighting everything from medieval to modern. And it's free.

Once inside the museum's hallowed halls, make sure to hit the new exhibit "Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse." Open from Oct. 11-Jan. 15, 2016, the exhibit, only on display in Cleveland and London, will examine the depiction of gardens in the works of Monet and his contemporaries like Van Gogh, Matisse, and Munch.

Pro tip: Peep the "Gardens of War and Regeneration" section to see 11 paintings of Monet's water garden at Giverny - in particular, the well-known Water Lilies of 1915-1926. This artwork's three panels were separated back in the 1950s, but will be reunited specially for this exhibition.

The first Friday of the month is a great time to visit the museum and check out the vibrant monthly "Mix at CMA" event. Held from 5-10 p.m., Mix at CMA invites revelers to practice the "art" of mingling amid live music, cocktails, and tours of the museum.

Must-See Art

Don't miss these collection highlights at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

An ode to the female form, The Stargazer (3,000 B.C.) is one of the oldest sculptures of the human figure found in the museum.

An early ancestor of Buffy (not really), Apollo the Python Slayer is actually Greek sculptor Praxiteles' life-sized bronze version of the Apollo Sauroktonos.

No doubt Rodin's The Thinker is one of the art world's iconic images, and you can see it for yourself at CMA, which houses one of only 10 Rodin-supervised casts in existence.

Landscapes were Frederic Edwin Church's thing, and that's evident in his famed Twilight in the Wilderness, which captures a blazing Maine sunset circa 1860.

Can't get enough Marilyn Monroe? Neither could Andy Warhol, whose Marilyn x 100 is a trippy ode to his starlet muse.

Helpful hint: Make sure you didn't miss anything by stopping at the interactive, 40-foot tall Collection Wall, which allows you to electronically access 4,500 works of art on view from the permanent collection.

The Cleveland Sound

Ohio may be synonymous with the Big Ten, but in music circles, our fair state is also known as part of the "Big Five" - orchestras, that is - thanks to the efforts of the storied Cleveland Orchestra and its conductor Franz Welser-Möst. And, of course, their home base Severance Hall isn't too shabby itself, having been renovated back in 2000 and known as one of the most beautiful concert halls.

True to form, the 2015-2016 lineup doesn't disappoint. Highlights include three of Richard Strauss' epic tone poems, including "Also Sprach Zarathrustra" (Oct. 3); and "A Hero's Life" (April 28 and April 30, 2016). Other can't-miss shows include a performance of "Concerto for Two Violas" from retiring principal viola Robert Vernon (Nov. 19, 20, 21) and a collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet (April 7, 8, 9, 10, 2016).

For those who like a side of cinema with their orchestral fix, be sure to bookmark the "At the Movies" series. Things are sure to get heavy on December 10 as the Cleveland Orchestra fetes the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future, and audiences will relive John Williams' unforgettable score alongside Home Alone on December 16.

Pro tip: Concert previews at Severance Hall, which often include speakers, interviews, and performance presentations, are one hour prior to concerts.

Opera For All

Love the all-encompassing thrill of watching the opera, minus the stuffy formal environment? The Cleveland Opera Theater is calling you home. Open to opera newbies and aficionados alike, the COT engages its audience with pre-show "Opera 101" sessions and post-show receptions attended by the performers. The company's Mainstage Productions have ranged from favorites like the "Pirates of Penzance" to Puccini's "Tosca;" this season, they'll add "A Streetcar Named Desire" (Dec. 4 and 6) and "La Boheme" (April 29, May 1, 2016) to that list. Also, don't miss the new Opera UpClose series, which features 60-minute pop-up opera productions performed in wineries, craft breweries, and other unconventional spots - replete with themed food and drink pairings.

Classic Troupe

The equation is simple: Great performances = Great Lakes Theater. For more than 50 years, the Great Lakes Theater has been bringing down the house, and the 2015-2016 season will be no exception. Running September through May 2016, planned productions run the gamut from Agatha Christie murder mysteries like "And Then There Were None" (Feb. 26-March 20, 2016) to classics like "A Christmas Carol" (Nov. 28-Dec. 23) to musicals including "The Fantasticks" (May 13-29, 2016) and "The Secret Garden" (Sept. 25-Oct. 31). The company will also continue its ongoing Shakespearean tradition, mounting "King Lear" (Oct. 2-Nov. 1) and "Love's Labour's Lost" (April 8-24, 2016).

Did we mention the shiny new setting? Revamped in 2008, the 550-seat Hanna Theatre (part of Playhouse Square) amps up the theatre-going experience with an intimate "thrust" configuration, in which no seat is further than 12 rows back from the stage. For a peek behind the scenes, arrive early for a cocktail and watch rehearsals, or stay afterward to meet the cast and crew for "Nightcap Night" following Saturday evening shows.

Modern Classic Events

Classical Revolution Cleveland
Third Tuesday of Every Month

Say you want a revolution? Head to the Happy Dog the third Tuesday of each month, where classically trained musicians provide the unconventional soundtrack - and loaded hot dogs provide the menu - for Classical Revolution Cleveland.

Cleveland Institute of Music Faculty Recital Series | Through Spring 2016

Along with CIM's popular PianoFest, the Faculty Recital Series is another one-of-a-kind way to experience world-class talent inside Mixon Hall. Watch CIM faculty put the old "Those who can't do, teach" cliché to shame with 20 recitals throughout the season.

Key Bank Fridays@7 | Feb. 5-May 6, 2016

Didn't think it was possible for the Cleveland Orchestra to kick their performances up a notch? Think again. The "Fridays@7" world music series kicks off in February and features lively post-concert performances to remember, held in the Bogomolny-Kozerefski Grand Foyer.

Classical Guitar International Series | Sept.-April 2016

Being strung along has never been so enjoyable. Plymouth Church UCC in Shaker Heights plays host to this year's Classical Guitar International Series, a six-concert series featuring heavy-hitters like Grammy winner Jason Vieaux and Cuban guitar sensation Manuel Barrueco.

Cleveland International Piano Competition | July 24-Aug. 7, 2016

Talk about a "grand" event! The ivories are in full effect at this high-profile competition, at which 30 young pianists from all over the globe go head-to-head for a shot at playing with the Cleveland Orchestra (and other sweet prizes).

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