Monday, July 12, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra: Joffrey Ballet Preview

(See this related post for tonight's Blossom Program)

Joffrey returns to Blossom Saturday and Sunday, September 4th and 5th, 2010; tickets at

Before tonight's Cleveland Orchestra program, I had the privilege of attending a preview of Joffrey Ballet's upcoming performances at with the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom, hosted by Joffrey Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and The Orchestra's communications department.

It was a great glimpse of what is to come when Joffrey returns to Blossom after last year's fantastic and well-received introduction. Mr. Wheater described the partnership as almost "falling in love", "magical", and at a phenomenal venue (but Clevelanders already knew that about Blossom). Particularly striking was Mr. Wheater's comments about the open air venue equating to freedom for the dancers and audience to approach the work from a new perspective.

While all of the pieces sound interesting -- and the snippets shown look great, particularly interesting to me is "PrettyBALLET", a work that Joffrey recently premiered at its Chicago home but will be receiving its live orchestra premiere at Blossom (featuring Martinu's Second Symphony, coincidentally commissioned by Czech refugees living in Cleveland and first performed by the Cleveland Orchestra in 1943).

Likewise catching my ear was Age of Innocence, inspired by the social dancing found in Jane Austen's novels with music by Phillip Glass and Thomas Newman*

Across the program promises to span a variety of musical tastes ranging from Tchaikovsky's Cello Concerto (for Reflections) to the aforementioned Martineau and music of Phillip Glass and Thomas Newman.

I'd be remiss if I didn't also note the setting for the preview: The Blossom pavilion and stage seems like a simple structure to the naked eye, but down a backstage staircase one finds impressive depth in the facility, including dressing rooms, and for tonight's event a chorus room with a soaring ceiling with the sounds of trumpeter warming up nearby wafting in to add to the backstage atmosphere.

It should be another great program, blending great sights with great sounds.

*Best unknown as a film composer--Finding Nemo, The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty, etc. Useless trivia: Son of Alfred Newman, the composer of the 20th Century Fox Fanfare used to introduce virtually all of that studio's releases.

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