A hundred years ago, Cleveland Orchestra founder Adella Prentiss Hughes recognized the value of music education for young people and the need to grow an audience for her new orchestra. More than a century later, education and community service are still core to our mission — and have never been more important. One of the great joys of my professional life is sharing in the excitement students feel as they experience the power and passion of an extraordinary musical performance during a first-time visit to Severance Hall.
Across the decades, the Orchestra has introduced more than four million Cleveland-area students to classical music through concerts presented for schools and families. This month, we present “Beethoven: The Man & His Music” — programmed to honor the legendary composer’s 250th birthday this year. For these daytime Education Concerts, we’re sharing with middle-school students a number of Beethoven’s orchestral masterpieces, as well as the difficult challenges he faced throughout his life. That Beethoven was able to overcome so many obstacles and channel both his frustrations and his love of humanity into composing some of the greatest music ever written is a lesson for everyone.
In addition to performing Beethoven’s works for nearly 6,000 young people at Severance Hall, assistant conductor Vinay Parameswaran also leads the Orchestra in special presentations for students at the Lorain Palace Theatre and for west side Cleveland residents at Lakewood Civic Auditorium. The expansive reach of this year’s education performances is made possible, in part, by Mrs. Jane Nord, whose transformational gift to The Cleveland Orchestra last year ensures free admission to Education Concerts for all schools and students throughout our hometown community — forever. This remarkable donation was inspired by Mrs. Nord’s own “revelatory and powerful” experience hearing The Cleveland Orchestra as a young girl, and her wish that every child across Northeast Ohio have the same opportunity as she did to be moved by these world-class musicians.
At the top of February, we welcomed Jamie Bernstein, daughter of Leonard Bernstein, to Severance Hall. Here, she shared her father’s radiant music in a program titled “The Bernstein Beat: What Makes Music Dance?” — presented as part of our 50th season of Cleveland Orchestra Family Concerts. As many of you know, Leonard Bernstein was not just an innovative composer, but also a brilliant music educator, who brought his pioneering Young People’s Concerts television series to millions of living rooms across the country in the 1960s.
As The Cleveland Orchestra continues forward into its second century, Franz Welser-Möst and this entire institution remain deeply committed to engaging young people through memorable musical presentations and education initiatives. March is Music In Our Schools Month across the United States — I hope everyone who has been inspired by The Cleveland Orchestra will reflect on the importance of music in your own lives, and join us in nurturing new generations of music lovers. We must all be advocates for music in our schools, and embrace every opportunity to spark a passion for this special artform in young and old alike. I’m reminded of Beethoven’s simple declaration: “Music can change the world.” Indeed, it does — every day.
President & CEO
The Cleveland Orchestra