Heights Arts unveils 10th season of chamber music concerts

A Close Encounters performance. [photo by GM Donley.]

Chamber music has been described as a conversation between friends, a view that Heights Arts has embraced in its Close Encounters music series since 2005. Each season, Heights Arts presents four chamber music concerts performed by members of the Cleveland Orchestra and other high-level classical musicians, in an assortment of intimate settings throughout the Cleveland area. This unique combination offers a thrilling opportunity to experience the music as it was meant to be heard—in an intimate space by a small audience.

This season, Close Encounters artistic director Isabel Trautwein, also a Cleveland Orchestra violinist, has engaged some of her colleagues and their peers to curate their own programs, ranging from classical baroque and passionate gypsy music to the world premiere of a sextet for English horn and strings by Cleveland Orchestra member Jeffery Rathbun.

"As artistic director, I feel very lucky that my many musician neighbors and colleagues continually inspire the growth of this series with creative ideas on programming,” Trautwein said, “and, also, that Heights Arts has even expanded upon the original ideas. Looking back upon these 10 years and over 40 wonderful concerts, I can say without hesitation that we have all chosen a great community to love and call home."

On Sunday, Nov. 22, Close Encounters presents "BA-Shostakowi-CH" in Midtown's landmark Dunham Tavern Museum. Johann Sebastian Bach's rarely heard Coffee Cantata will be performed by soprano Sandi Simon, Cleveland Orchestra principal oboist Frank Rosenwein, French Canadian harpsichordist Christopher Bagan, and a string ensemble led by Cleveland Orchestra and baroque violinist Miho Hashizume. Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8, a portrait of war, destruction and suffering, will be followed by one of classical music’s greatest gems, J.S. Bach’s Ciaconna in D Minor for solo violin.

Works by Bach, Ravel, Beethoven and Brahms are the inspiration for “1-2-3-4-5 From Solo to Quintet," to be performed by the Omni Quartet and guest artist Isabel Trautwein, on Sunday, Feb. 28. Cleveland Orchestra members Jun-Min Amy Lee, Alicia Koelz, violins; Joanna Patterson, viola; Tanya Ell, cello; and Isabel Trautwein, violin/viola, take listeners on a musical journey from the purity of a Bach solo voice to the richness of a Brahms string quintet. This program provides an opportunity to experience the layering of chamber music in the extraordinary setting of a private downtown penthouse with 360-degree city views.

A historic carriage house on Herrick Mews in Cleveland Heights will be the setting for "The Sung Path . . . a Tandem Journey of Music and Words" on Sunday, April 3. An ensemble of six Cleveland Orchestra members, led by principal second violinist Stephen Rose, takes listeners through the musical garden of the program, featuring "Soliloquy" by Jennifer Higdon and "Morning Star" by Edward Niedermaier, as well as the poetry of Robert Walters, principal English horn player and an accomplished writer. This concert also will feature a world premiere of Voyage by associate principal oboist Jeffery Rathbun, whose masterful compositions reveal his unique voice. 

"A Gypsy Mixer" on Sunday, May 1, will be the final concert of the Close Encounters season. Gypsy music has been an enduring influence on many composers, including Joseph Haydn, George Enescu and Moritz Moszkowski. The virtuoso band of Cleveland Orchestra players Katherine Bormann, Isabel Trautwein, violins; and Tanya Ell, cello; with pianist Randy Fusco will present a program of musical abandon at the Bop Stop on Cleveland’s West Side.

Subscriptions for the Close Encounters series, as well as single concert tickets, are available at the Heights Arts gallery, 2175 Lee Road; via phone at 216-371-3457; and at www.heightsarts.org. Discounted ticket prices are offered until Nov. 1, with additional discounts for Heights Art members and students. All concert venues are wheelchair accessible.

For information on all Heights Arts events and programming, visit www.heightsarts.org.

Mary Ryan

Mary Ryan is on staff at Heights Arts, a nonprofit community arts organization.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 8:44 AM, 10.01.2015