About Blossom Music Festival
Opened in 1968 as the summer home of The Cleveland Orchestra, Blossom Music Center is located just north of Akron, Ohio, and about 25 miles south of Cleveland. Blossom is situated on rolling hills surrounded by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which protects 33,000 acres along the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland. Blossom lies within the city limits of Cuyahoga Falls, an Ohio community founded over two-hundred years ago.
Blossom was planned and built between 1966 and 1968 by the Musical Arts Association (the non-profit parent organization of The Cleve-land Orchestra) at a total cost of approximately $8 million. The Center’s name honors the Dudley S. Blossom family, major supporters of The Cleveland Orchestra throughout its history. (Mr. Blossom served as president of the Musical Arts Association 1936-38. His son, Dudley Jr., served as a trustee 1946-61.)
In 2002, Blossom Music Center underwent the first major capital improvements project in the history of the facility, which serves 400,000 visitors each summer. The Blossom Redevelopment Project featured a major renovation of the facility and enhancement of patron amenities, and was completed prior to the beginning of the 2003 Festival. Additional upgrading has continued since that time, including major accessibility work within an ongoing Americans with Disabilities Act project generously funded by the State of Ohio. With initial phases completed in 2013, this has included the construction of new restrooms and walkways, and the introduction of new trams.
The first Blossom season in 1968 consisted of six weeks of performances by The Cleveland Orchestra, gaining enthusiastic reviews for the Orchestra and its new summer home from critics throughout the country. The schedule expanded in subsequent seasons to feature the Blossom Music Festival of orchestral and band music from the Fourth of July to Labor Day weekend alongside a summer-long season of concerts devoted to rock, jazz, country, and other popular music presentations. Live Nation operates Blossom, and books and promotes each season’s non-orchestral attractions.
The Blossom Grounds
At the heart of Blossom is the Blossom Pavilion, situated at the base of a natural bowl. The design architect for this award-winning structure, widely celebrated for its distinctive architecture and superb acoustical qualities, was Peter van Dijk, who also served as architect for the Blossom Redevelopment Project in 2002-03 and continues to help direct Blossom upgrades and changes. The seating capacity of the Pavilion is now 5,470 — and another 13,500 patrons can be accommodated on the expansive hillside lawn seating area.
Surrounding the Pavilion, the Blossom grounds encompass a number of other unique facilities. Near the Main Entrance from Steels Corners Road is Porthouse Theatre. Here summer theatrical productions are presented by the Porthouse Theatre Company, a professional repertory company affiliated with Kent State University under the Kent/Blossom Theatre program.
In addition to the Blossom Pavilion, the main grounds include the Bandwagon Gift Shop, the Blossom Grille (open before and after each Festival concert), the Knight Grove (a party center accommodating groups of 25 to 450), and Eells Gallery, which is used by the Kent/Blossom Art program to exhibit works by regional and national artists.
Three landscaped gardens also are located on the main grounds. The Frank E. Joseph Garden was named in honor of the president of the Musical Arts Association at the time of Blossom’s construction and opening. Emily’s Garden was opened in 1992 to commemorate Emily (Mrs. Dudley S. Jr.) Blossom’s many contributions to Blossom Music Center. New in 2003 was the addition of the Herbert E. Strawbridge Garden, named in memory of Musical Arts Association trustee and civic leader Herb Strawbridge. The Blossom Redevelopment Project redesign of Emily’s Garden, as well as the design of the Herbert E. Strawbridge Garden, are by Michael Van Valkenburgh.
Partnering with Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Trust for Public Land
Following the construction and opening of Blossom Music Center in 1968, additional ideas for redeveloping the Cuyahoga Valley spurred the creation of Cuyahoga Valley National Park to help preserve the natural beauty of the area chosen as The Cleveland Orchestra’s permanent summer home. Created as a recreational preserve in 1974, the land was designated as a National Park in 2000.
In the past decade, The Cleveland Orchestra worked with the Trust for Public Land (TPL) to conserve more than 500 acres of Blossom Music Center land into Cuyahoga Valley National Park through a sale funded by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. This transfer helps protect the park experience for concertgoers at Blossom, conserves the land for preservation, and provided one-time funding for the Orchestra. This sale of Blossom Music Center land now connects over 5,000 acres of forest ecosystems within the park.
Read more about the Park and nearby attractions on pages 86-87 in the Program Book, or visit www.nps.gov/cuva to learn more.