The house that sings on Guilford Road
At a home on Guilford Road in Cleveland Heights, a unique type of spring cleaning is taking place. The piano is being tuned, music stands are being dusted off and repaired, and the screened-in porch is being converted to a musicians' "green room."
The home's owners, Franklin Cohen, principal clarinet emeritus of The Cleveland Orchestra, and his wife, Marcia Kodish Cohen, are readying for the annual arrival of the 30-plus musicians who fly in from all parts of the globe and comprise the world-class roster of performers at ChamberFest Cleveland.
This annual festival of chamber music was co-founded by Franklin and his daughter, Diana, who grew up in the Heights and is today the concertmaster of the Calgary Philharmonic.
The Cohen family includes Diana's brother Alex, principal percussionist in Calgary; and Diana's husband, the noted pianist and visual artist Roman Rabinovich, who, alongside his wife and father-in-law, is an artistic director of ChamberFest.
Nicknamed the "Chamberhood," ChamberFest Cleveland will celebrate its 10th anniversary June 16 to July 3, and the house on Guilford Road—dubbed "The House that Sings" by a documentary filmmaker—will once again serve as its hub.
Rehearsals, meetings, meals and musical conviviality will fill the Tudor home. And the "hood" will help make the festival happen.
Nearly all of the musicians, some of whom come from as far away as Israel and the Netherlands, are hosted by local families in their homes.
"My wife Anne Unversagt and I have been hosting musicians in our home for years in support of chamber music in Greater Cleveland," said Cleveland Heights resident Richard P. Goddard. "These hosting experiences have led to real friendships with amazing artists who enrich the culture scene in Cleveland Heights, and whose presence benefits our entire community."
Neighbors also pitch in to help keep the back porch "green room" stocked with fruit and healthy snacks, as well as freshly brewed coffee, compliments of Phoenix Coffee on Lee Road, a favorite stop for the musicians during their stays.
The generosity and arts-loving spirit of the Cleveland Heights community has nurtured ChamberFest Cleveland from day one. Welcome bags for the artists are prepared by neighborhood volunteers and include a treat from Mitchell's Fine Chocolates, another place where musicians can be found in a free moment, sometimes after a meal at Anatolia Cafe. Late night post-rehearsal and post-concert hangs at the house invariably include a few choice bottles of wine from The Wine Spot.
In its 10th season, ChamberFest has planned 12 concerts throughout Greater Cleveland. For more information about the dates, times and locations of the concerts, visit chamberfestcleveland.com.
Jacqueline Taylor lived on Coleridge Road in Cleveland Heights for 10 years, and is the executive director of ChamberFest Cleveland.