As the final weeks of winter move us closer to spring, The Cleveland Orchestra has plenty of music on offer to warm our souls, beginning with two weekends under Franz Welser-Möst’s baton. These include a weekend of concerts featuring works by Ernst Křenek and Felix Mendelssohn, whose Hymn of Praise features the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus — a group of extraordinarily talented and devoted singers who we’re proud to honor with The Cleveland Orchestra’s twenty-fourth annual Distinguished Service Award. The award is being given to the Chorus both for their exceptional commitment as volunteers and for their remarkable collective achievements and artistry as an ensemble.
The next weekend features a set of concerts in which Franz Welser-Möst juxtaposes symphonies by Sergei Prokofiev and Franz Schubert, two composers born a century apart. Throughout Franz’s tenure as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra, one of his greatest strengths continues to be his creative vision and keen insight into programming, bringing together musical scores or juxtaposing composers whose commonality may not be immediately apparent. Whether Schubert and Prokofiev or Beethoven and Shostakovich, Franz gives us fascinating explorations of interesting connections — similarities and contrasts — that bring the music of these great composers to life and invigorate our understanding of music’s power to offer insight.
In May, we’ll have another opportunity to experience Franz’s unique, thought-provoking programming during this spring’s festival, Censored: Art + Power, which centers around Alban Berg’s groundbreaking opera Lulu. The Festival’s offerings — at Severance Hall and beyond — are designed to spark discussion about the role of art in society, government censorship, and prejudice. Using Nazi Germany’s oppression and weaponization of the arts as a starting point, the festival features a weeklong series of concerts at Severance Hall, including three performances of Berg’s Lulu (May 16, 19, and 22) alongside other pieces primarily from the 1920s and ’30s — including provocative compositions by Mary Lou Williams, Bohuslav Martinů, and George Antheil. In addition, the Festival features collaborations with other cultural institutions from across Northeast Ohio, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Institute of Art, Facing History & Ourselves, and Beachwood’s Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. More details and information about the Festival can be found on pages 46-53 of this program book.
Regardless of the Orchestra’s particular focus each week — playing education concerts, family favorites, or exploring the broad range of classical music for new audiences and longtime friends alike, we are continually reminded of how fortunate we are to be a part of an incredibly loyal and involved hometown community here in Northeast Ohio. You encourage us and inspire us with your attendance, your questions, your support — and we’re grateful. At home and around the world, we carry the Cleveland name with total pride.
President & CEO
The Cleveland Orchestra