CityMusic Cleveland opens new season with soloist Sayaka Shoji

CityMusic Cleveland’s Avner Dorman is excited to enter his third season as the chamber orchestra’s music director. “Our upcoming season spotlights an extraordinary cadre of guest artists and a wonderful lineup of works from throughout music history,” he said. “Each concert juxtaposes two or more pieces related by some historical or thematic idea.”

The season opens with Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 and a performance of Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, featuring internationally acclaimed violinist Sayaka Shoji, on Oct. 18, 5 p.m., at Church of Gesu in University Heights.

Rarely heard in the United States, Shoji will be making her Cleveland debut. Since taking First Prize at the 1999 Paganini Competition—the first Japanese and youngest artist ever to do so—Shoji has performed with the world’s leading conductors, including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, Mariss Jansons, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Semyon Bychkov, Paavo Järvi and Antonio Pappano.

Zubin Mehta has been her strong supporter. When she auditioned for him, he changed his schedule in order to make her first recording, with the Israel Philharmonic, and he invited her to perform with the Bavarian State Opera and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Since then, many prominent orchestras have invited Shoji [to perform], including the Israel Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony and many others. She plays the 1729 Recamier Stradivarious, on loan to her from Ryuzo Ueno, the honorary chairman of Ueno Fine Chemicals Industry, Ltd.

CityMusic Cleveland will also continue to feature its own musicians as soloists in its winter concerts, contrasting two works with the same title: The Four Seasons by both Antonio Vivaldi and Astor Piazzolla. Dorman said that the orchestra will “welcome the return of two of our favorite guest conductors, Stefan Willich, in December, and Joaquin Valdepeñas, in March, the latter of whom will conduct a program of music by Wagner and Mahler.”

The season will conclude with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 (the “Scottish Symphony”) and The Hebrides Overture; and Dvorak’s Violin Concerto, featuring guest soloist and rising-star violinist Tessa Lark. 

“This year, for the first time,” Dorman said, “we are excited to add a chamber music series to our season, the first of which will be dedicated to the music of Japan. This series will feature the orchestra's outstanding musicians, and it will create additional opportunities for community outreach, education, and diverse programming. I am excited to continue to work with our wonderful musicians, management, board, and volunteers in the upcoming season.”

City Music Cleveland performs in venues all around the Cleveland area. Its East Side concert schedule is: Sunday, Oct. 18, 5 p.m., Church of Gesu, 2470 Miramar Blvd., University Heights; Friday, Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m., Church of Gesu; Sunday, March 20, 4 p.m., Fairmount Temple, 23737 Fairmount Blvd., Beachwood; Friday, May 13, 8 p.m., Christ Episcopal Church, 3649 Warrensville Center Road, Shaker Heights.

There is no admission charge for most CityMusic Cleveland concerts. For more information, visit

Eugenia Strauss

Eugenia Strauss is executive director of CityMusic Cleveland.

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 10:22 AM, 10.12.2015