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July 2015 Hot News





26 July 2015


Senior VIP Franklin Cohen performs Farewell Concerto performance with The Cleveland Orchestra performing Weber 2nd Clarinet Concerto Op 74  at Blossom Music Festival


Cayahoga Falls, Ohio USA

Cleveland Orchestra gives and feels the love on special night at Blossom



                The bowl that is Blossom Music Center nearly overflowed with affection Sunday, and fortunate were those caught in the tide.



               To and from the Cleveland Orchestra flowed torrents of emotion, as guest conductor Jahja Ling poured his heart into Elgar and Franklin Cohen gave his last performance as principal clarinet. Special from the start, the night ultimately went down as unforgettable.



              Anyone unaware of Cohen's looming retirement came quickly up to speed. Though ebullient and teasing, the opening performance of Strauss's "Die Fledermaus" Overture spoke nothing about the occasion, but the standing ovation with which the audience greeted Cohen as he bounded on stage said it all.



              Well, not everything. After acknowledging Cohen's 39 years of service with that early applause, the audience following his performance jumped to its feet again and conveyed the true extent of its admiration with numerous curtain calls. So vigorous was the clapping, Ling actually nudged Cohen onto the podium, so as to make his friend more visible to the crowd.



             By then, of course, Cohen had already returned the sentiment in spades, in the form of a lavish, richly expressive performance of Weber's Clarinet Concerto No. 2. With that, one of his trademarks, the artist bid his many fans an exceedingly fond farewell from the orchestral stage.



             What a swan song it was. On all fronts, Cohen displayed the personality and technical virtuosity that made him one of the orchestra's most bankable assets for decades.



             Here was playing of utter smoothness, gorgeously shaped and packed with genuine feeling. Whether leaping all over his instrument's range, unfurling a long melody or pouring forth rapid streams of notes, Cohen evinced complete freedom, unearthing nuances galore and applying tiny, elegant flourishes.



            This, in short, is what Cleveland will miss. Cohen may soon have a successor, but he'll never be replaced.



            Neither, for that matter, will Ling. No doubt still elated from the first half, Cleveland's former resident conductor and Blossom Festival director returned from intermission with a personal offering of his own: a luxurious, deeply-felt performance of Elgar's "Enigma" Variations.



            The hallmark in this case was pacing. Rather than hurry through the familiar music, as many do, Ling refreshingly basked in it, enforcing contrast and giving the orchestra and soloists in most sections all the room they needed.


           They, in turn, responded with eloquence. Among the many highlights was Ling's "Nimrod" Variation, an immaculate balancing of exquisite softness and forceful emotion. By way of conclusion to a bittersweet evening, none could have asked for more.




Cleveland Orchestra with Jahja Ling: Franklin Cohen farewell concerto (July 26)

by Daniel Hathaway




              When it’s time for a musician to say goodbye to an ensemble and its audience after 39 years, what piece should he choose for his swan song? Long-time Cleveland Orchestra principal clarinet Franklin Cohen revisited Carl Maria von Weber’s second concerto on Sunday night, July 26 at Blossom, winning a standing ovation before he even played a note.



             Cohen, a beloved presence in TCO for the last four decades, has also been one of its most frequent members to appear as a soloist with the ensemble. He introduced Weber’s concerto to The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom in 1981 under the baton of Jesús López-Cobos, and repeated it there in the summers of 1998 and 2011 as well as at Severance Hall in the fall of 2011. Jahja Ling was the conductor in 1998, and he was on the podium again on Sunday evening to join Cohen in a revelatory performance of the piece.



           Cohen’s bio in the program book noted that the clarinetist has been acclaimed for the “strength, passion, and beauty of his playing.” All of those qualities were present in his performance of the Weber, a piece that serves up Mozartean balance and grace along with plenty of operatic fervor.





                 Announcing from his first entrance the wide range of pitches from top to bottom that he and Weber would spend the next twenty minutes exploring, Franklin Cohen dug deep into the fabric of the E-flat concerto, finding treasures there that frequently go unmined. His power and virtuosity came into full play, as well as his affecting treatment of lyrical passages and his skillful shaping of lines — especially the recitative that leads into the “Polacca.” The concerto ended with a particularly stylish version of that dance-inspired finale, full of dizzying swirls of notes, but laid-back and wryly amusing. Through their committed approach, Cohen and Ling honored Weber by treating his second concerto as a first-class piece of music, not just as a flashy showpiece.




               A second, noisier standing ovation followed, then more call-backs, flowers, and finally, Ling urged Franklin Cohen onto the podium for a final bow. (Cohen mimicked conducting, maybe a presage of new activities to come?) Judging merely from the number of musicians who turned out for his final appearance, Franklin Cohen is a Cleveland treasure. It’s not enough to say that he’ll be sorely missed in the ranks of The Cleveland Orchestra.



              Jahja Ling is another Cleveland Orchestra VIP, and the applause that welcomed him to the stage on Sunday evening was impressive in its own right. Having conducted the ensemble on a regular basis for more than thirty years, Ling and the Orchestra are not only on the same page, but often on the same sixteenth note, so closely do they read each other’s minds about details and nuances.


              Ling opened the concert with Johann Strauss Jr.’s waltz-filled Fledermaus overture, a perfect vehicle for pointing up the close connections between conductor and orchestra. Little lifts, subtle tucks in tempo, splendid transitions, and brilliant outbursts of orchestral virtuosity made this performance of a well-known overture something extraordinary. The Orchestra’s massed string tone was both strong and velvety and the brass brought an old world distinction to the sonic mix.




              The second half of the concert was devoted to Edward Elgar’s Variations on an original theme, an occasion duly marked by some audience members, who sported Edwardian stick-on moustaches. Cleverly shaping each variation so the individual cameos of Elgar’s friends came across clearly, but masterfully pacing the work so it retained its arc, Ling brought new life to a piece that can use some fresh air. Time seemed to pause in its tracks as he led a deeply-felt performance of “Nimrod,” but after that, “Dorabella” giggled along with all the vivacity of an energetic young woman. Moments like the final variation — presumably E.E.’s own portrait — that can be as stodgy as Edwardian England itself, sounded noble and spacious. In terms of ensemble, The Cleveland Orchestra was simply dazzling from stem to stern — no “enigma” there.





              The weather gods sent muggy weather Blossomward for this occasion, but somehow the repertoire and its performance took on a delightful summery quality. That no doubt sent the audience home on Sunday feeling particularly grateful for Jahja Ling, Franklin Cohen, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the Blossom Music Center.

Photos by Roger Mastroianni.




22 - 26 July  2015























ClarinetFest 2015 - Madrid, Spain in Collaboration with the International Clarinet Association


               The annual ClarinetFest this year in the Capital of Spain, already is a resounding success with all arrays well represented with ongoing activities all this week.  A brief summary impression is linked below with more to come.  Further information with complete summary available from The Clarinet Online.




Senior VIP Karl Leister in Recital and with CD's





VIP Stephen Williamson (Solo Clarinetist in Chicago Symphony) in Quintet Recital






Cappricio Clarinet Choir under VIP John de Beer, the European Clarinet Ensemble,  Michael Dean Recital and other Chember Ensembles




16 - 18 July 2015




The United States Army Band (Pershing's Own) Alumni Reunion Concerts and Weekend  


Fort Myer, Virginia and Washington, DC



 5 - 11 July 2015






15th "Gheorghe Dima" International Music Competition 


Cluj-Napoca, Romania



13 - 18 July 2015









Buffet Summer Clarinet Academy at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville - VIP Matt Vance, Magoli Trichote, Directors, with Renowned Faculty from the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, and the Orchestre Montreal


Jacksonville, Florida USA





8 - 14 July 2015


Belgian Clarinet Academy -  Guido Six, Director, with VIP's Eddy Vanoosthuyse and Robert Spring


Oostend, Belgium


Belgian Clarinet Academy faculty and participants


by Kristi Hanno, Abby Lloyd and Olivia Moonitz


                 The 2015 Belgian Clarinet Academy was hosted by Guido Six at the Conservatory an Zee in Ostend, Belgium July 8-14, 2015. Students and clarinet enthusiasts from Canada, China, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Thailand provided a diverse turnout. The academy professors this year were Robert Spring from Arizona State University; Eddy Vanoosthuyse, principal clarinet with the Brussels Philharmonic and professor of clarinet at the Royal Conservatory in Ghent, Belgium; and Deborah Bish from Florida State University.

Belgian Clarinet Academy faculty and participants.

               A routine was established every day at 8:30 a.m. with a group warm-up class run by Spring. This consisted of long tones, arpeggios, scales and single-tonguing exercises, as well as double-tongue and circular breathing instruction. Individual practice, chamber music coaching, open-observation lessons, and a much-needed coffee break occupied the time before and after a lunch together. Each day at the conservatory concluded with clarinet choir rehearsal before returning home at 6:00 p.m. to the amicable host families in and around Ostend.


              Each family provided a unique Belgian experience for their guests, presenting as many cultural experiences as possible through home life, cuisine and town history. There were many shops with waffles or chocolates around Ostend and beaches that the students frequently visited. After a few clarinet-filled days, the students were granted a free day to experience the area outside of Ostend. Many students went to the medieval city of Brugges, while others went to the historical city of Ghent.


             The BCA ended with two recitals that presented pieces the students had been preparing throughout the week. The first recital included both unaccompanied and accompanied solo works, duets and quartets, all of which featured a variety of repertoire, including standards, many contemporary works and two newly commissioned works.


            The concluding concert featured quartets and a clarinet choir program that performed Six’s arrangements of a variety of music, including traditional pieces, standard works featuring student soloists, a very jazzy dedication to Six’s new granddaughter, and a showcase of the students’ newly acquired ability to double tongue! The BCA came to a close with a reception that not only recognized the students’ hard work, but also honored each host family for their thoughtfulness and hospitality.


           All of the students were grateful for Guido Six’s ability to organize and host the BCA program, for each professor’s kind willingness to share their wisdom, and for each host family that welcomed them into their homes. We look forward to another unforgettable week at BCA 2016!


          Kristi Hanno and Abby Lloyd are students in the Doctor of Musical Arts program in clarinet performance at Arizona State University. Olivia Moonitz is a student in the Master of Music program in clarinet performance at Arizona State University.



2 - 3 July 2015






Sebastian Manz, Soloist with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart (Germany) performing Carl Nielsen Clarinet Concerto, Op 57 with Herbert Blomstedt, Conductor


Stuttgart, Germany











17 June - 1 July 2015


ChamberFest Cleveland - Senior VIP Franklin Cohen and VIP Diana Cohen, Directors


Cleveland, Ohio


                In its 4th summer season of world-class concerts in Cleveland at several venues of note, including the Cleveland Institute of Music, and other nearby sites, the CFC has risen to a high point of International class musicmaking found only in halls in New York and other major music centers in Europe.  As the website linked above indicates the performers are International in stature and the programs are diversified and skillfully programmed with themes on each concert.   The Theme this year, Crossing Borders, is exactly that in many aspects.   A major highlight this year is the honoring of Senior VIP Frank Cohen, soon graduating from the Cleveland Orchestra as Principal Clarinetist after 39 illustrious years and a major icon trademark sonically in the Orchestra.  His biography on his VIP Page and the Orchestra program notes tell the story, especially of his appearing as soloist more often than anyone in the Orchestra itself, about 200+ performances of a broad scope of Clarinet Concerto repertoire.  The below review of his FRANK concert manifests the Clarinet virtue Cohen has brought with a program challenging for any player,   Steve Reich NY Counterpoint for Clarinet and Tape, Brahms Clarinet Quintet Op 115, and 2nd half, the Mozart Clarinet Concerto K622 with Cohen as soloist and conductor.


ChamberFest Celebrates “FRANK!” (June 19)


by Mike Telin





             On Thursday, June 19, a standing-room-only crowd gathered in Kulas Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music to hear clarinetist Franklin Cohen perform works by Reich, Brahms and Mozart. From start to finish Cohen proved that he is, without a doubt, one of the greatest musicians of our time.  

            Presented as part of ChamberFest Cleveland, and in keeping with this year’s festival theme of “Crossing Borders,” the concert, simply titled “FRANK!,” was a celebration in honor of Cohen as he nears his own border crossing — after serving for nearly 40 years as the principal clarinet of The Cleveland Orchestra, he will say “so long” to the orchestra and embark on new musical and life projects.


           The evening began with comments from Cohen’s son, Alexander, and daughter, Diana (ChamberFest co-artistic director), who, along with making some humorous remarks about their father, highlighted a few of Cohen’s musical accomplishments. Those honors included his winning the 1968 Munich Competition as well as his 1996 Grammy Award-winning recording of the Debussy Première Rhapsodie with Pierre Boulez and The Cleveland Orchestra. Frank Cohen, who was obviously humbled by the event, spoke eloquently about his children and their late mother Lynette. After he thanked the audience for being there, the concert got under way. From then on, it was all about superb music making.


          Written in 1985, Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint for Amplified Clarinet and Tape is a captivating work which calls for the soloist to pre-record ten clarinet and bass clarinet parts and then play the eleventh part live against the tape. Composed in three movements, fast-slow-fast, and played without pause, New York Counterpoint is full of sudden tempo changes and musical lines that jump from one end of the instruments’ registers’ to the other. Cohen played effortlessly and completely in sync with the tape. Although not required, the addition of real-time video projections by T. Paul Lowry enhanced the listening experience. Performing on a darkened stage, with a combination of colorful dots and images of Manhattan darting across the walls, Cohen looked like a rock-star in front of the mosh pit.


         The Quintet in B Minor for Clarinet and Strings by Brahms is a sublime work that makes it easy for listeners to become entranced by the composer’s lush melodic lines. However, this performance by violinists Yura Lee and Diana Cohen, violist Dimitri Murrath, cellist Peter Wiley, and Franklin Cohen was awe-inspiring. Every phrase was perfectly shaped and balanced. Throughout the performance, the ensemble produced a darkly-hued sound which added an extra layer of richness to the work’s autumnal mood. At the end of the fourth and concluding movement, the ensemble’s final chord dramatically diminished into silence. Appropriately, the audience held their applause, not wanting to break the spell that had been cast upon them.





           The second half consisted of a single work, Mozart’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra in A Major. Although Cohen has performed the concerto countless times and recorded it with Christoph von Dohnányi and The Cleveland Orchestra, this performance was unforgettable. Cohen owned the work from start to finish, tossing off the opening movement’s numerous scales and chordal passages with rapid-fire precision. His inner opera singer showed through during the slow and melodic middle movement. The finale, “Rondo: Allegro” was lighthearted, as Cohen playfully ornamented here and there, adding spice to Mozart’s frolicsome music. Never once did the soloist and the outstanding ChamberFest All-Star Orchestra led by concertmaster Amy Schwartz Moretti stray apart from each other. This was an orchestra comprising the best chamber music players in the business, and it showed — the performance was chamber music at its best. The audience rewarded soloist and orchestra with an immediate standing ovation. Cohen acknowledged his colleagues with his own applause, but when he returned to the stage and asking the orchestra stand, they graciously refused. This was a night to celebrate “FRANK!”


Photos by Gary Adams.

Published on June 23, 2015.




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Revised: October 15, 2015