Heights Arts unveils season 12 of Close Encounters concert series

A Close Encounters performance at the Dunham Tavern Museum Barn.

The Heights Arts Close Encounters chamber music series began in 2005 as an opportunity for members of the Cleveland Orchestra to perform music of their own choosing in the gracious "chambers" of Cleveland Heights residences. Now in its 12th year, the series has matured into a lively concert series which taps the creative talents of fine classical music artists from throughout Northeast Ohio. Under the artistic direction of Cleveland Orchestra violinist Isabel Trautwein, Close Encounters Season 12 presents four musician-designed programs presented in stately residences and unique venues throughout Cleveland. All concerts are at 3 p.m.

This season, concertgoers meet the hottest additions to the music scene: cellist and film producer Dane Johansen, violin-star Jessica Lee, and the Cavani Quartet's new violist, Eric Wong. They will be joining the Omni quartet, Oberlin College's newest bassoon faculty, Drew Pattison, and pianist/composer Teddy Niedermaier, among others. As a bonus, Cleveland Orchestra's English horn player Robert Walters has designed a program of music and original poetry to be performed at the Bop Stop in Hingetown.

Season 12 opens on Sunday, Nov. 12, with the program "Felix, Wolfi and Zoltán" in a restored Herrick Mews carriage house. Masterpieces by two German Wunderkinder, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Felix Mendelssohn, frame a spicy Hungarian trio, played con brio by Jessica Lee, recently appointed assistant concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Cavani Quartet's Eric Wong, another international touring artist newly settled in our city. Both will be joined by audience favorites Mari Sato of the Cavani Quartet, plus Cleveland Orchestra musicians Tanya Ell on cello and Isabel Trautwein on violin and viola.

"Rhythms, Rhymes and the Kitchen Sink" brings a unique afternoon of music and original verse to the stage of the Bop Stop on Sunday, Jan. 21. It's a little-known fact that the Cleveland Orchestra’s Principal English Horn player, Robert Walters, is also a published poet. He joins bassoonist Drew Pattison and composer/pianist Teddy Niedermaier to perform a new trio composed by Niedermaier in 2016, two rarely-heard romances by Elgar and Sibelius, plus Claude Debussy’s thrilling "Rhapsodie."

The spectacular Omni Quartet of Amy Lee and Alicia Koelz (violins), Joanna Patterson (viola), and Tanya Ell (cello returns (after a year off to be "mom-nis") to present "The Omni Quartet: From Four to More" on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the historic Dunham Tavern Museum barn. Along with fellow Cleveland Orchestra musicians Dane Johansen and Isabel Trautwein, they will perform Johannes Brahms’ heart-wrenching String Sextet No. 2 in G-major as the heart of the program.

Sunday, April 22, is the season finale, with the performance of "Strangers on Earth, At Home with Bach" at a parklands villa in Shaker Heights. Dane Johansen, the newest member of the Cleveland Orchestra’s cello section, is also the producer of a full-length documentary, “Strangers on Earth" (presented at the 2016 Cleveland International Film Festival), which charted his musical pilgrimage on the ancient Camino de Santiago trail, cello strapped to his back.                            

Dane presents the first all-Bach Close Encounters concert, featuring the dark fifth suite for solo cello, written early in Bach's career, as well as selections from a late work, "The Art of Fugue," his most intense feat of counterpoint. The program concludes with Bach’s famous "Goldberg Variations," which legend has it was commissioned by a sleepless count for his resident harpsichord player, Goldberg. Dane is joined by Cleveland Orchestra colleagues Jessica Lee, assistant concertmaster, and Omni Quartet violist Joanna Patterson.

Complete program information on Close Encounters Season 12, as well as subscriptions and individual concert tickets, is available online at www.heightsarts.org/concerts. Tickets can also be purchased in person at Heights Arts, 2175 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, or via phone, 216-371-3457. Discounted tickets are available for students ages 8-23, as well parents of students ages 8-18.

Mary Ryan

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

Read More on A & E News
Volume 10, Issue 10, Posted 12:53 PM, 10.01.2017