Saturday, August 18th, 2018

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Cleveland Orchestra “A Musical Journey Through Italy”




The Cleveland Orchestra is well known for its sumptuous fundraisers and generous benefactors, but whenever an organization is celebrating the start of its 100th robust season, there’s an extra frisson of excitement in the air.

Five hundred and fifty guests dressed in their black-tie best, gathered in the Smith Lobby to enjoy cocktails, passed hors d’oeuvres and crudité stations. “We are sold out, this evening,” said Co-Chair Nancy McCann during the lively pre-concert gathering. “We are so proud that our Cleveland Orchestra includes some of world’s greatest musicians,” she said. “People in Europe race to hear them. Their concerts are sold out all over the world. And we are fortunate to attract a growing number of young people to every concert – this is how we build the future.”

No entertainment can come close to the Orchestra in full ‘voice.’ It moved through the program with divine expression – it spoke, it whispered, it roared the language of Verdi, Respighi, Strauss (père et fils) and Tchaikovsky. The musicians’ effort was greatly appreciated by the full house, evidenced by an encore and several standing ovations. Every seat was filled because in addition to the gala attendees, the Orchestra, with the help of The Cleveland Foundation, gave away 1,000 free tickets for the concert.

Just as music director Franz Welser-Möst led a musical journey, executive chef Doug Katz of Fire Food and Drink created a three-course culinary journey through Italy. The panzanella bread salad was followed by beef braciole, sautéed escarole and herb ravioli. The cheesecake with Amaretti crust was served with Limoncello, the beloved Italian liqueur. Dinner was served on four levels of Severance Hall, from the Hood Meyerson Box Promenade and Founders Gallery atop, to Severance Restaurant and the Smith Lobby below.


In brief remarks from the stage, board president Richard Smucker announced that for the fourth year in a row, the benefit had raised over one million dollars – $1.235 million, in fact. Last year the Orchestra’s community and education programs served 100,000 in Northeast Ohio. “Music education has been integral to the mission for 100 years,” he said. “By developing a new generation of audience members, we bring our community together and enrich our community with the power of music.” STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RITA KUEBER




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