Two musical groups perform 'Carmen'
With its close proximity to Severance Hall, the Heights has long been home to many Cleveland Orchestra musicians and concertgoers. Life in the shadow of one of the Big Five orchestras has certainly influenced the study and enjoyment of music in the Heights, and we are fortunate to have an abundance of excellent musicians in our community, ranging from tuxedo-clad professionals to backyard banjo players to pick-up jazz groups.
Two community music-making groups with close ties to the Heights—Choral Arts Cleveland and Suburban Symphony Orchestra—will join forces to celebrate 100 combined years of music making with the complete concert version of Bizet’s opera Carmen on March 15.
The 2014–15 season marks the 60th anniversary of the Suburban Symphony and the 40th for Choral Arts Cleveland. A large percentage of the nearly 180 performers have deep roots in these most musical of suburbs. Cleveland Heights native and resident Martin Kessler is the music director for both groups and will lead this March 15 production at the Masonic Auditorium. Joining the two ensembles will be nationally renowned artists Audrey Babcock (as Carmen) and Scott Ramsay (as Don José).
Now in his 35th year as music director of Suburban, and in his 12th leading Choral Arts, Kessler still lives in the Edgehill Road house he grew up in—just steps from the former Briggs Estate, where he took piano lessons from the formidable Frieda Schumacher.
Founded in 1974, Choral Arts currently rehearses and performs at Grace Lutheran Church. Many of the original members gained choral experience through the Heights High music department. Today, the chorus members come from all over the Cleveland area, and are committed to performing choral masterworks of all styles and periods.
Cleveland Heights resident Marge Geiger has performed with Choral Arts since 1991. She was the group’s general manager for 16 years, and still spends quite a number of hours as one of Choral Arts’ worker bees. Her husband, Joe Geiger, is a retired Heights High English teacher.
With many of its members hailing from Cleveland Heights or University Heights, Suburban Symphony is one of Cleveland’s premier community orchestras. Its 80-plus musicians have a reputation for high standards and a commitment to presenting the world’s greatest music. Suburban Symphony members Jim and Marian Patterson have lived in Cleveland Heights since 1974. Jim joined in 1990 as the orchestra’s principal clarinetist and has performed several concertos with the orchestra, and Marion joined the cello section four years ago.
Cleveland Heights resident and avocational musician Connie Roop is a member of the Suburban Symphony horn section.