The Cleveland Orchestra is hailed as one of the very best orchestras on the planet, with The New York Times calling it, “America’s finest orchestra.” Every year during the summer season the orchestra moves from its home at Severance Hall to the purpose-built Blossom Music Center to host the Blossom Music Festival. Bring your family and friends to picnic on the lawn or get right up to the stage to appreciate the acoustics in Pavilion seating, either way, you can enjoy the very best summer season of concerts.
“…one of the most amazing classical orchestras in the world…” –The Los Angeles Times
The Blossom Music Festival is a beloved summer tradition and returns every year for a new season of concerts and picnics at Blossom Music Center with The Cleveland Orchestra, and in recent years has also included concerts by the festival’s own Blossom Festival Orchestra which made up of free-lance musicians from the Cleveland area, mostly from the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, Opera Cleveland Orchestra, or Apollo’s Fire. The festival consists of 10 weeks of concerts and picnics that runs from the Fourth of July holiday through to Labor Day weekend. From time-honored favorites like the annual Salute to America, with Blossom Festival Band, contemporary music and ending in fireworks. Contemporary classical works featuring the very best in guest conductors, pianists, violinists and more. Broadway Legends including Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein will combine Broadway favorites with songs from West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Evita, Company and others, complete with the star of the show and full orchestra backing. One or two full film screenings, also with live orchestral backing, expect at least one to be a John Williams score. Performances from the Great composers of history from Beethoven’s triumphant Ninth Symphony to Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concertos, and Bach, Mozart or Wagner, every festival will certainly feature a few of these, and these will all feature guest star musicians and conductors.
“The recording stands as testament: The Cleveland Orchestra is America’s finest, still.” – The New York Times
Music Director Franz Welser-Möst
Franz Welser-Möst is among today’s most distinguished conductors and has been music director of The Cleveland Orchestra for over 20 years, with the future of their acclaimed partnership extended to 2027. The New York Times has declared Cleveland under Welser-Möst’s direction to be “America’s most brilliant orchestra,” praising its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion. As a guest conductor, Mr. Welser-Möst enjoys a particularly close relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic, having twice appeared on the podium for their celebrated New Year’s Concert, and regularly conducts the orchestra in subscription concerts in Vienna, as well as on tours in Japan, China, Australia, and the United States. Franz Welser-Möst has recently conducted concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and is a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival where his work leading a series of opera performances has been widely acclaimed.
Music Director Laureate Christoph von Dohnányi
Christoph von Dohnányi is recognized as one of the world’s pre-eminent orchestral and opera conductors. Having held the post as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra from 1984 to 2002 and led The Cleveland Orchestra in more than a thousand concerts, including regular concert tours of the United States, Europe and in Asia, including the first concert appearance by The Cleveland Orchestra in mainland China. His other appointments have included opera directorships in Frankfurt and Hamburg, and principal orchestral conducting posts in England, including a longstanding partnership with the Philharmonic Orchestra in London where he served as principal conductor and artistic adviser for ten years and is now Honorary Conductor for Life, Germany, and Paris. Since the end of his tenure in Cleveland, Christoph von Dohnányi has appeared as a frequent guest conductor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Chicago Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as regular routine engagements in Cleveland.
The Cleveland Orchestra, based in Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the five American orchestras informally referred to as the “Big Five”, it was founded in 1918 by the pianist and impresario Adella Prentiss Hughes, businessman John L. Severance, who initially pledged funding to build Severance Hall, Father John Powers, music critic Archie Bell, and Russian-American violinist and conductor Nikolai Sokoloff, who would become the Orchestra’s first music director. After a great deal of planning and fundraising, The Cleveland Orchestra’s inaugural concert was performed on December 11, 1918, at Grays Armory. The orchestra plays most of its concerts at Severance Hall, with the summer season spent at Blossom Music Center. The Blossom Festival was originally created to provide a summer concert vehicle for the Cleveland Orchestra and the Blossom Music Center was specifically built to host the festival, and opened for its first season in 1968, consisting of six weeks of concerts given by the Cleveland Orchestra intermingled with eight individual jazz/folk music concerts.
Review of Blossom Festival Orchestra at the Blossom Music Center by Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer.
“While Europe is partaking of the Cleveland Orchestra, Blossom Music Center doesn’t go into orchestral slumber. Other local ensembles do more than take up the slack.
Last week, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra made a smashing debut at Blossom. Sunday’s concert featured the Blossom Festival Orchestra, whose musicians are top-notch area free-lancers, many of whom also play with the Pops Orchestra, Opera Cleveland Orchestra and Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra.
The conductor for Sunday’s program was Loris John Schissel, who also heads the Blossom Festival Band. He is a musician of enormous imagination and wit with the most affable ability to schmooze with an audience. For this occasion, Schissel devised an old-fashioned pops program full of beloved music and a few pieces that might have been new to Blossom listeners. Among the gems were familiar Sousa (“The Thunderer,” “The Stars and Stripes Forever”) and charming waltzes from his obscure operetta, “The Bride Elect.” Schissel, a senior musicologist the Library of Congress when he isn’t conducting, treats Sousa with almost reverent sensitivity. He never resorts to bombast, preferring instead to lavish subtle, songful and succinct musicality on the composer’s creations. And Schissel’s got rhythm, though no Gershwin was to be found on this program. He guided the Blossom musicians through each work with a keen ear for motion and balance. At times, he emphasized inner trombone and tuba lines (he’s a tuba player, after all) and made sure that a spectrum of instrumental colors was highlighted.
Among the detours from American music were Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” overture (trim, with pinpoint timpani), Grainger’s “Irish Tunes from County Derry” (better known as “Danny Boy”), Offenbach’s suite from “Gaite Parisienne” (crisply done, and savored by a clap-happy audience contingent) and Elgar’s arrangement of Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in C minor (with ample sonic pomp and circumstance). Victor Herbert’s “Pan Americana,” written for the 1901 Pan American Exhibition in Buffalo, N.Y., revealed the composer’s skillful melding of disparate styles into a dapper orchestral package. Schissel and company were especially sonorous and soaring in excerpts from John Williams film scores: “Adventures on Earth” from “E.T.” and the march from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The three piccolo players and brasses in “Stars and Stripes” couldn’t have been more sterling, and the orchestra applied warmth to “Shenandoah” and vibrancy to Richard Rodgers’ “Guadalcanal March.””by Donald Rosenberg at The Plain Dealer
“From Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto to Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, from the mountains of Germany and Austria to the vast wilderness of Russia, The Cleveland Orchestra under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst was clean, refreshing, and nuanced. The audiences were totally enraptured. At the end of the second piece, cheers and applause from the audience continued at extended length.”Wuhan Evening Post (Wuhan), April 2019