The Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music rang with the sounds of one of America’s preeminent and most iconic symphony orchestras on Friday, Oct. 25. The Cleveland Orchestra, traveling from their usual home of Severance Hall 18 miles northeast of Berea, performed a concert in Gamble Auditorium on the BW campus.
The Cleveland Orchestra referred to by classical music enthusiasts as a member of America’s “Big Five,” a historically revered group of acclaimed symphony orchestras hailing from the major American cities New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.
Earlier this fall, the Orchestra opened the concert season at Carnegie Hall in New York, performing a pair of concerts which New York Times culture critic Joshua Barone called “virtually flawless.”
The Clevelanders were similarly received in Berea. A near-capacity audience rewarded the Orchestra with two standing ovations over the course of the evening, one after pianist Marc-André Hamelin’s performance of Franz Liszt’s “Piano Concerto No. 1,” and another at the evening’s conclusion, after Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony.” The Orchestra also played “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Aaron Copland and the overture to Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino.”
Susan Van Vorst, dean of the BW Conservatory of Music, called the performance “magnificent.”
“I hope that the walls of Gamble Auditorium hold that vibration for a very long time,” she said.
Erika Haskell, Concerts and Events Manager for the Conservatory, echoed Van Vorst’s sentiments about the success of the event.
“It was wonderfully attended — wonderful response from the audience,” Haskell said, noting the standing ovations. “I was really pleased with the energy of [the audience].”
According to data provided by Haskell, student tickets for the concert comprised of 18 percent of total tickets sold—95 student tickets sold out of 538 in total. That is a decrease in the percentage of student attendance at last year’s Cleveland Orchestra concert held inside the Gamble Auditorium. At last year’s TCO performance, students made up 25 percent of the audience.
Haskell pointed out that both concerts saw “less than half” of the Conservatory student body attending, adding that she found it “kind of disappointing.”
“It’s so easy to come to this world-class orchestra,” Haskell said. “I’d think that everybody would want to experience that.”
The Cleveland Orchestra has a long-standing tradition of collaboration with Baldwin Wallace. As for future collaborations, Haskell believes that both sides are open to continuing to work together.
“I think there is a desire from both organizations to continue this collaboration,” said Haskell. “And that could be in any of the myriad ways that have already sort of taken shape, whether that’s additional masterclasses or opportunities for our students to learn more intimately from clinician members or if that’s a return of [the full orchestra]. I don’t know what’s happening yet next season, but I know that we’re both interested in continuing those things.”
Professor Jack Sutte, lecturer in trumpet at BW and member of TCO, said before Friday’s concert that he believes the future for the two organizations is “wide open.”
“I look forward to the next, whatever iteration of [the partnership] is,” he said.
Van Vorst declined to comment regarding future initiatives with The Cleveland Orchestra.