Last weekend, the Cleveland Orchestra
opened up Blossom's backstage doors to area bloggers and media types for a casual "meet the musician" panel discussion. With nary a string, reed or drumstick in sight, the cultured quartet performed with understated charm as they chatted about starting out.
"Every Korean kid has to take piano lessons," said Jung-Min Amy Lee. Alas, her teacher reported that she did indeed have musical talent, but it wasn't in piano. Lee considered the cello, but her mother nixed those aspirations. "My mom said, 'No. That thing is so big, I'm going to have to carry it around for her!'" so Lee settled on the infinitely more manageable violin.
She wasn't the only one who struggled. Principal timpanist Paul Yancich detailed his long family history with classical music and how he started out as a bit of a black sheep.
"They could not find an instrument that I liked," said Yancich. His father suggested the French horn. "I had one lesson and that was it." So it went until he saw a pair of drumsticks sticking out of a schoolmate's pocket. Yancich was hypnotized and never looked back.
Principal clarinetist Frank Cohen succinctly explained why he chose the clarinet as a kid. "It was the only instrument I could get a sound out of."
The rocky start-ups notwithstanding, when the musicians joined the rest of the orchestra, their performance of the John Adams Violin Concerto and Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 9 dazzled the audience.
Principal violinist Stephen Rose summed up the orchestral experience thusly:
"You do really feel like one small, small part of this massive, beautiful, round sound. It's a special kind of feeling." Judging from the audience's thunderous applause, that feeling spread throughout Blossom amphitheatre.
The Orchestra's line up for the 2011 season at Blossom features shows from Broadway Classics to the music of Irving Berlin and the Joffrey Ballet. They run every weekend though September 10. With incredibly reasonable ticket pricing from $19 to $53, and books of 10 flexible lawn tickets for $139, everyone can afford to enjoy this staple of cool Cleveland culture.
Writer: Erin O'Brien