The Cleveland Orchestra has announced a 2022 Blossom Music Festival with more programming, the return of blockbuster movie scores performed live to film, and a comeback for the Blossom Festival Band.
Those last two things didn't happen last summer as the orchestra tested the waters with its return to Blossom after the pandemic forced cancellation of the festival in 2020.
"We were very much kind of taking baby steps to try and get back to normal and we were very happy to see that our audiences were just as eager to come out and enjoy this kind of music and enjoy this kind of programming as ever, if not even more even, given that we did not have a festival in 2020," Ilya Gidalevich, director of artistic planning, said by phone Thursday. "We feel fairly confident about where we are with the measures we have in place so we're starting to move back to where we were before."
The upcoming summer season will run 10 weeks at Blossom with 14 different programs, some of which will run multiple nights. Last year's festival, which began the current rebuilding, had 11 concert programs.
The season will kick off with the Cleveland Orchestra July 2 with the program "Fanfare from the Common Man," which features Aaron Copland's post-World War II, celebratory Symphony No. 3. That will be followed by the return of the Blossom Festival Band for the first time since 2019, performing the "Salute to America" patriotic concerts July 3 and 4.
"We couldn't really safely have just a full band on stage" last year due to COVID-19 concerns, Gidalevich said. "We're very happy to see that the Blossom Festival Band is back with us."
The mix of concerts this summer will include well-known classical works such as Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade," Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony plus what Gidalevich described as some "rarely heard gems." Those lesser-known works include Austrian Friedrich Gulda's 1981 Concerto for Cello, a Cleveland Orchestra premiere featuring principal cellist Mark Kosower that mixes classical, rock, jazz, polka and marches.
"It's just a wild, wild piece of music," Gidalevich said. "I think our audiences will be very much surprised. It's not something that the Cleveland Orchestra does often."
Another rarely heard work will be Mary Lou Williams' "Zodiac Suite," a Cleveland Orchestra premiere that the jazz composer and pianist wrote with each movement reflecting on a friend and an astrological sign. Jazz pianist and Columbus native Aaron Diehl will bring his trio to Blossom to perform the work July 16 with the orchestra.
"It's really crossing the line between jazz and classical in a beautiful way," Gidalevich said of the work.
Two other rarely heard pieces will be Austrian composer Franz Schmidt's Symphony No. 4 Aug. 6, a romantic piece championed by the program's conductor, Jonathan Berman, who will make his Cleveland Orchestra debut. Another is John Adams' "Harmonielehre," one of his major works that's not often performed. It will be paired Aug. 13 with the well-known Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, played by star pianist Daniil Trifonov, a Russian musician who's a Cleveland Orchestra favorite.
Amid the programming of well-known classical works, Hong Kong conductor Elim Chan is scheduled to finally make her Cleveland Orchestra debut July 9 with the crowd-pleaser "Scheherazade" by Rimsky-Korsakov, after being slated to conduct at Blossom both in 2020 and 2021.
For a masterpiece on Aug. 7, Brunswick native and operatic bass Raymond Aceto will perform with three other vocalists and the Blossom Festival Chorus in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. They'll be under the baton of longtime favorite Jahja Ling, along with students from the Kent Blossom Chamber Orchestra, who are returning to play with the Cleveland Orchestra for the first time since 2019.
The festival's pops offerings will include the previously announced films "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in Concert" July 22-24 and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert" Aug. 20-21, both presented on large screens as the orchestra performs their scores live.
"Putting on a film is kind of a major enterprise" involving both the orchestra and a lot of production personnel, Gidalevich said. "In 2021 we didn't feel like we were ready to come back to film. So we're very excited to be able to do this again."
Other pops concerts will include the "Paul Simon Songbook" with vocalists July 10 and "Broadway Legends: Webber, Sondheim, Bernstein and More" July 31, with three vocalists and festival favorite Richard Kaufman conducting.
The festival will end Sept. 3 and 4 celebrating more local talent when Victoria Bussert from Baldwin Wallace University directs students from the musical theater program in a "lightly staged" production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music" with the Blossom Festival Orchestra, conducted by Andy Einhorn. BW performers will be returning to the Blossom stage after performing a concert version of "South Pacific" at the festival in 2019.
For subscription renewals, being offered now, call the Severance Music Center ticket office at 216-231-1111 or see clevelandorchestra.com. Lawn ticket books are being sold this year and single tickets are now on sale for the movie nights. The orchestra, in consultation with the Cleveland Clinic, will announce health and safety protocols for the festival in the spring.
2022 Blossom Music Festival schedule:
July 2: 8 p.m., "Fanfare for the Common Man." Vinay Parameswaran, conductor; Mark Kosower, cello. Gulda's Concerto for Cello (Cleveland Orchestra premiere), Copland's Symphony No. 3. Fireworks, weather permitting.
July 3 and 4: 8 p.m., Blossom Festival Band, "Salute to America," Loras John Schissel, conductor. Fireworks, weather permitting.
July 9: 7 p.m., "Scheherazade." Elim Chan, conductor (Cleveland Orchestra debut); Benjamin Grosvenor, piano. Weber's Overture to "Der Freischütz," Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade."
July 10: 7 p.m.,"Paul Simon Songbook." Jeff Tyzik, conductor (Cleveland Orchestra debut); Paul Loren, Daniel Berryman and Emily Drennan, vocalists (Cleveland Orchestra debuts).
July 16: 7 p.m., "Pines and Fountains of Rome." Jader Bignamini, conductor (Cleveland Orchestra debut); Columbus native Aaron Diehl, piano; Paul Sikivie, bass (Cleveland Orchestra debut); Aaron Kimmel, drums (Cleveland Orchestra debut). Mary Lou Williams' "Zodiac Suite" (Cleveland Orchestra premiere), Respighi's "Fontane di Roma (Fountains of Rome)" and "Pini di Roma (The Pines of Rome)."
July 22, 23 and 24: 7 p.m., "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" film with live orchestral score. Ludwig Wicki, conductor; Blossom Festival Chorus; Cleveland Orchestra Children's Chorus. Score by Howard Shore.
July 30: 7 p.m., "Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto." Ruth Reinhardt, conductor (Blossom Festival debut); Sergey Khachatryan, violin. Bacewicz's Overture (Cleveland Orchestra premiere), Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, Dvorak's Symphony No. 5.
July 31: 7 p.m., "Broadway Legends: Webber, Sondheim, Bernstein and More." Richard Kaufman, conductor; Hugh Panaro (Cleveland Orchestra debut), Dee Roscioli (Cleveland Orchestra debut) and Scarlett Strallen (Cleveland Orchestra debut), vocalists.
Aug. 6: 7 p.m., "Grieg's Piano Concerto." Jonathan Berman, conductor (Cleveland Orchestra debut); Cédric Tiberghien, piano. Grieg's Piano Concerto, Schmidt's Symphony No. 4.
Aug. 7: 7 p.m., "Beethoven's Ninth." Jahja Ling, conductor; Leah Hawkins, soprano (Cleveland Orchestra debut); Elizabeth DeShong, mezzo-soprano; Issachah Savage, tenor (Cleveland Orchestra debut); Brunswick native Raymond Aceto, bass. Blossom Festival Chorus and Kent Blossom Chamber Orchestra. Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll," Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”).
Aug. 13: 7 p.m., "Trifonov Plays Rachmaninoff." Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Daniil Trifonov, piano. Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Opus 18; Adams' "Harmonielehre."
Aug. 20 and 21: 7 p.m., "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." Justin Freer, conductor; Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus. Film with John Williams' orchestral score performed live to picture.
Aug. 27: 7 p.m., "Vivaldi's Four Seasons." Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; Vadim Gluzman, violin (Blossom Festival debut). Geminiani's "La Follia Variations," Hailstork's Sonata Da Chiesa for String Orchestra, Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" (for violin and orchestra). The Cleveland Orchestra does not appear on this program.
Sept. 3 and 4: 7 p.m., Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music." Blossom Festival Orchestra; Andy Einhorn, conductor; Victoria Bussert, director, in collaboration with Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music's Music Theatre Program. The Cleveland Orchestra does not perform on this program.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Orchestra adds programs, brings back film nights at Blossom