CLEVELAND, Ohio – If you live in or near Cleveland, consider yourself lucky.
Not only does Northeast Ohio enjoy a relatively temperate climate and low cost of living. It also boasts some of the finest classical music in the nation, and more of it than most.
Need proof? Just keep reading. The document now in your hands (or on your screen) is a list of local concerts this season. Chock-full of events taking place now through May 2024, it is perhaps the clearest evidence around that when it comes to music, we along Lake Erie are uncommonly fortunate.
In addition to the Cleveland Orchestra, we have Apollo’s Fire, a world-renowned Baroque Orchestra, and Les Delices, an elite Baroque chamber ensemble. We’re also rich in high-level chamber music, courtesy of the Cleveland Chamber Music Society, the Rocky River Chamber Music Society, and the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society, among many others.
And don’t forget our many schools of higher learning, among them the Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin College, and Baldwin Wallace University, each of which alone could keep a music lover sated for the year.
Don’t forget this, either: along with our great music comes the great responsibility not to take it for granted. Just as we Clevelanders make full use of our lake and our parks, so must we patronize our cultural assets. So get out there and listen. A wealth of music awaits.
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2023-24 CLASSICAL SEASON
Akron Symphony: There’s something for everyone on the Akron Symphony’s 2023-24 season, a model of interesting programming led by Christopher Wilkins. Up first is “Beethoven’s Ninth,” which includes a work by Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate (Sept. 29). After that come “Organ Symphony” (Oct. 21); “Dvorak and Tchaikovsky” (Nov. 18); “Holiday Pops” (Dec. 8); “EarthQuaker and Mozart” (Jan. 13); “Gospel Meets Symphony” (Feb. 10); “Bruckner’s Fourth” (March 2); “Tchaikovsky and Bowden” (April 6); and “Mozart’s ‘Great’ Mass” (May 11). Information at akronsymphony.org, 330-535-8131.
Apollo’s Fire: Cleveland’s baroque orchestra and founder Jeannette Sorrell begin their well-stocked 32nd season together with “Splendour in London,” featuring music by Handel and Purcell (Oct. 12-15). The season continues with “Israel in Egypt” (Oct. 21); “Nights in Venice” (Nov. 9-10); “Fire & Joy” (Nov. 16-19); “Wassail: An Irish-Appalachian Christmas” (Dec. 6-17); “Sacred Mysteries” (Feb. 15-19); “Hispania!” (March 20-23); and Bach’s Easter Oratorio (April 25-28). Information at apollosfire.org, 216-320-0012.
Artist Recital Series: This 2023-24 edition of this historic series at Oberlin Conservatory is as illustrious as ever. The first event this year is the great, soon-to-disband Emerson String Quartet (Sept. 22). After that come Seraph Brass (Oct. 13); pianist Jeremy Denk (Nov. 30); Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar (Feb 10); Artemis (March 13); and the Silkroad Ensemble, with “Uplifted Voices” (April 26). Information at 440-775-8169, oberlin.edu.
Arts Renaissance Tremont: The 32nd season of high-level chamber music at St. Wendelin Church gets off and running with the Cavani Quartet, violist Ayane Kozasa, and poet Mwatabu Okantah (Sept. 20) and continues with violist Jordan Bak (Nov. 19); Burning River Brass (Dec. 17); Trio Seoul (Feb. 17); cellist Mark Kosower (March 23); and the Verona String Quartet (May 5). Information at artconcerts.org, 216-861-7388.
Baldwin Wallace Conservatory: With dozens of performances this fall by its students, faculty, and guests, BW is sure to scratch any musical itch. In particular, through December, look out for orchestra concerts, a robust new music series, a production of Handel’s opera “Giulio Cesare,” a choral gala, and a Conservatory holiday concert. Details at bw.edu.
BlueWater Chamber Orchestra: Conductor Daniel Meyer continues to push his ensemble of Cleveland-based musicians in all sorts of interesting directions. The group’s 14th season begins with Piano Cleveland president Yaron Kohlberg performing Shostakovich (Oct. 7) and continues with violinist Jinjoo Cho playing Barber (Nov. 17); harpist Yolanda Kondonassis playing Ravel (March 16); and guitarist Jason Vieaux playing Vivaldi (May 4).
Brown Bag Concerts: Much is in store for this series of free lunchtime concerts on Wednesdays at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland. The series begins Oct. 4 with organist Todd Wilson and friends and continues with pianist Nathan Carterette (Oct. 18); organist James Kibble (Nov. 1); the Somerset Trio (Nov. 15); “A Ceremony of Carols” (Nov. 29); “Holiday Organ Spectacular” (Dec. 6); and a “Messiah” sing (Dec. 13). Information at trinitycleveland.org.
Case Western Reserve University: When it comes to music, Case Western Reserve University is the gift that keeps on giving. Between its two venues, Harkness Chapel and the Maltz Performing Arts Center, and its many student and community ensembles, there’s a full calendar much of it free, including the Case Camerata Chamber Orchestra, CWRU Symphonic Winds, Case/University Circle Symphony Orchestra, CWRU Choirs, Baroque Chamber Ensemble, and a Baroque Orchestra, to name a few. Complete listings can be found at music.case.edu.
CityMusic Cleveland: The lineup for this professional chamber orchestra this season is as eclectic as its list of venues. After “Symphonie Concertante,” featuring works by Walker, Mozart, Takemitsu, and Boulogne (Sept. 21-24), comes “Celebrating Black Excellence” (Oct. 19-22); “Christmas, Beethoven & Mambo” (Dec. 7-10); “Symphony of Secrets” (Feb. 8-11); “Landscape of Memory” (Feb. 16); “Rediscovered Classics” (March 14-17); and “Jerod Tate Conducts Jerod Tate” (May 30-June 2). Free. Information at citymusiccleveland.org.
Cleveland Chamber Choir: New director Gregory Ristow has three programs in store for this professional choir’s ninth season: “Considering Matthew Shepard” (Oct. 21-22); “Holidays from the Iberian Peninsula” (Dec. 15-16); and “Choral Splendor: Old & New” (March 2-3). Information at clevelandchamberchoir.org.
Cleveland Chamber Music Society: The region’s standard-bearing presenter of chamber music kicks off another star-studded season with the Belcea Quartet (Oct. 17). After that comes the Danish String Quartet (Nov. 14); the Takacs Quartet with pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin (Jan. 23); cellist Steven Isserlis with pianist Connie Shih (Feb. 27); the Pavel Haas Quartet (March 12); tenor Matthew Polenzani with pianist Julius Drake (April 9); and pianist Garrick Ohlsson (May 7). Information at clevelandchambermusic.org.
Cleveland Classical Guitar Society: For lovers of classical guitar, this group’s International Series is required listening. This year’s lineup kicked off Sept. 17 with Stephanie Jones and continues with Tal Hurwitz (Oct. 5); a Showcase Concert (Nov. 11); Hermelindo Ruiz and Samuel Diz (Feb. 24); and Celso Machado (April 13). Information at cleguitar.org.
Cleveland Institute of Music: There’s more going on at CIM this fall than even the most devoted of music lovers could attend. The CIM Orchestra begins a new season at Severance Music Center on Sept. 26 and Nov. 15. There’s also a celebration of late composer Dolores White (Oct. 1); a celebration of composer Joan Tower (Oct. 15); a production of Handel’s opera “Alcina” (Nov. 17 and 19); and an illustrious array of performances by CIM faculty, guests, and students. Information at cim.edu.
Cleveland Museum of Art: Only the first half of this classical and world music season has been unveiled, but what’s there is plenty tantalizing. It began last month with a ragas program and continues with jazz icons Kurt Elling and Charlie Hunter (Sept. 27); Korean musician Soh-Hyun Park Altino (Sept. 29); “Love in Exile” (Oct. 4); “An Evening with Bombino” (Oct. 11); “Le Poeme Harmonique” (Oct. 25); Omara Portuondo (Nov. 1); Keith LaMar and Albert Marques (Nov. 8); Accent (Dec. 8); and Apollo’s Fire (Dec. 10 and 17). Information at 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org.
Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra: Four programs will come to life during the 2023-24 season under music director Victor Liva. First up is Saint-Saens and Beethoven (Oct. 14-15). After that come Dvorak and Hindulak (Dec. 9-10); Debussy and Stravinsky (March 2-3); and Mahler, Chausson, and Sarasate (May 4-5). Information at clevephil.org, 216-556-1800.
Cleveland Pops Orchestra: Another fun and festive season of lighter musical fare awaits with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and conductor Carl Topilow. Up first is “A Night in Hollywood” (Oct. 21), followed by “A Mediterranean Cruise” (Nov. 18); “Holiday Cheer!” (Nov. 26); New Year’s Eve Concert & Party (Dec. 31); “A Tribute to the Beatles” (Feb. 3); “Champagne & Shamrocks” (March 1); “Broadway Rocks” (April 12); and “A Tribute to our Armed Forces” (June 1). Information at clevelandpops.com, 216-765-7677.
Cleveland Repertory Orchestra: Music director Matthew Salvaggio presides over three free concerts spotlighting underrepresented composers and local talent in this group’s second season. They are: “Nature’s Beauty” (Nov. 11); “French Favorites” (March 9); and “Symphony for Ferguson” (May 25). Information at clevelandrepertoryorchestra.org.
Cleveland State University: Just because the CSU School of Music hasn’t yet posted a calendar of events doesn’t mean there isn’t anything happening. Keep an eye out for what is sure to be a full slate of concerts by students, faculty, and guests, including the Cavani Quartet, the school’s new quartet in residence. Information at csuohio.edu.
Heights Chamber Orchestra: Conductors Travis Jurgens, Frank Wiley, and Dean Buck lead this 50-member community orchestra in five creative programs this season: on Oct. 15, Nov. 19, Feb. 11, March 17, and May 5. Information at heightschamberorchestra.org.
Helen D. Schubert Concert Series: Ministry through music continues with this free series at St. John Cathedral in Cleveland. Two programs of vocal music remain on the 2023-24 season: the Choir of Notre Dame Cathedral (Oct. 18); and the Baldwin Wallace Men’s Chorus (March 15). Information at saintjohncathedral.com.
Keyboard Conversations: Pianist Jeffrey Siegel still reigns as keyboard music’s greatest ambassador, with his trademark series of recitals with commentary. His 2023-24 Cleveland season started last month and continues with “A French Musical Feast” (Oct. 22); “Brahms, Grieg, and Tchaikovsky” (April 28); and “The Power and Passion of Beethoven” (June 2). Information at case.edu/maltzcenter, 216-687-5022.
Les Delices: This relentlessly creative band of early-music experts under oboist Debra Nagy launches another eclectic season with “The Power of Musick” (Sept. 29-30). Their year continues with “The Highland Lassie” pop-up concerts (Nov. 3-4); “Noel, Noel” (Dec. 21-22); Bach’s Goldberg Variations (Feb. 11 and Feb. 18); “Song of Orpheus” (March 8-10); and “Seasons Transformed” (April 12-14), all in addition to an intriguing series of “SalonEra” digital programs. Information at lesdelices.org.
Music from the Western Reserve: Local talent takes the spotlight on this high-level chamber series in Hudson. The 41st anniversary season began earlier this month and continues with pianist Zsolt Bognar (Oct. 22); Les Delices (Nov. 5); guitarist Jason Vieaux (Feb. 25); Factory Seconds (March 24); and students in the Advanced Trio Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music (April 14). Information at musicwr.org.
Rocky River Chamber Music Society: This remarkable series of free, high-level chamber music at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church turns 65 this year, but it’s not retiring. Instead, it’s presenting the Omni String Quartet (Sept. 25); cellist Keith Robinson and pianist Hyunsoon Whang (Nov. 6); the Busch Trio (Jan. 29); the Capitol Quartet (April 8); and clarinetist Afendi Yusuf, violist Wesley Collins, and pianist Dawoon Chung (May 13). Information at rrcms.org.
Silver Hall Concert Series: There’s a wealth of music in this diverse series, one of several attractions at the Maltz Performing Arts Center. In 2023-24, the venue will host the CWRU Symphonic Winds, Case/University Circle Symphony Orchestra, and the Case Camerata Chamber Orchestra. Also on the calendar: the Russian Duo (Oct. 15); a video game music concert (March 7); Cleveland Winds (March 21); Djapo Cultural Arts Center (April 8); and Japanese traditional music (April 25). Information at case.edu/maltzcenter.
Snowbelt Symphony: Four programs await patrons of this professional orchestra serving Lake and Geauga counties, under the baton of Greg Hills. Up first is “Brilliant Baroque” (Oct. 22). After that come “Joy to the World” (Dec. 16); “Simply Strings…And Tuba” (Feb. 18); and “Beethoven’s First” (April 21). Information and tickets at snowbeltmusical.org.
Suburban Symphony Orchestra: Conductor Domenico Boyagian has another interesting lineup in store for this well-established group’s 69th season. Up first is “Beach & The British Isles” (Oct. 29). After that come “Family Fun” (Dec. 9); “Mahler’s Heavenly Fourth” (Feb. 11); “Brahms’s First and Pompa-Baldi” (April 7); and “Beethoven’s Dramatic Fifth” (May 19). Information at suburbansymphony.org.
Tuesday Musical: There’s something for everyone on the 136th edition of this renowned, famously eclectic concert series at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron. The season commences with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano (Oct. 24) and continues with Akropolis Reed Quintet (Nov. 7); The King’s Singers (Dec. 5); Aaron Diehl Trio (Feb. 13); Kyiv Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra (March 12); and Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis (April 20). Information at tuesdaymusical.org, 330-761-3460.
Western Reserve Chorale: This group’s 32nd season of community choral singing at Church of the Gesu features three programs: a holiday program of Rutter and Pinkham (Dec. 3); Brahms’ “A German Requiem” (March 10); and “From Sea to Shining Sea: American Choral Music” (June 2). Information at westernreservechorale.org.
West Shore Chorale: Michael Lisi presides over a season that includes both performances and community sing events. Upcoming are “Joyful Voices, Jubilant Sounds!” (Dec. 3); a community sing of Haydn and Vivaldi (Jan. 9); and a concert performance of the same works (May 5). Information at westshorechorale.org.
Zachary Lewis is the former classical music and dance critic of The Plain Dealer. He is a freelance writer in Cleveland and also works as the communication manager at the Cleveland Institute of Music.