Close Encounters: Heights Arts, Cleveland Orchestra, Bop Stop team up for virtual concert series

Beginning this Saturday, Jan. 30, Heights Arts will launch its 15th Close Encounters concert series, streaming live from the Bop Stop at the Music Settlement. Close Encounters features three concerts—in January, February, and April­—and will feature minority composers and new music along with traditional favorites played by Cleveland Orchestra members.

“Live music has become a luxury amid the COVID-19 pandemic, says Heights Arts executive director Rachel Bernstein. “We’re thrilled to be able to do it at all, because these concerts used to be in-person. Thanks to technology and partnering with the Bop Stop, we’re able to do this. It’s nonprofits collaborating to make sure the arts remain relevant in the community.”

Additionally, Bernstein says the partnership and the virtual presentation allow both the Cleveland Orchestra and Heights Arts to reach both their regular audiences and potentially new audiences.

The concert series traditionally has been presented in people’s homes with audiences of about 80 people, Bernstein says. But with the pandemic this virtual performance will expand that group.

“The Orchestra hasn’t played in a while now,” Bernstein points out. “We have a strong, diverse audience and we’re reaching audiences we may never have reached before. We are making it our mission to be inclusive in classical music. We’re a very small organization, but through collaboration with another arts organization we’re able to present [the music] in a new way so people can enjoy it.”

It is partnerships like these that allow our respective arts organizations to continue to deliver our programming while we wait to present again in person.” says Bernstein.

Each concert is intended to whisk audience members away to another life—where the mind is inspired, stimulated, and enlightened.

Close Encounters Concert 1 Introduction: OMNIpresence with Obligat’OBOE from Heights Arts on Vimeo.

The performances are:

Saturday, Jan. 30: OMNIpresence with Obligat’OBOE. Omni Quartet members will perform trios by Handel and Beethoven. They will then be joined by Cleveland Orchestra principal oboist Frank Rosenwein in a solo by Lithuanian composer Povilas Syrrist-Gelgota. Performers from the quartet include Jung-Min Amy Lee on violin, Joanna Patterson Zakany on viola, and Tanya Ell Woolfrey on cello.

Sunday, Feb. 28: Florence, George and Amadeus. Florence Price and Wolfgang Mozart share the spotlight in this concert. Price, the first Black female composer to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra in 1933, lived until 1953 yet most of her work remains unknown. Her haunting and melodic String Quartet no. 2 is paired with Mozart’s beloved Quintet in A-major. Performers include Mari Sato and Isabel Trautwein on violin, Eric Wong on viola, Tanya Ell-Woolfrey on cello, and Robert Woolfrey on clarinet.

Sunday, April 25: Unfairly Neglected Masters. University of Texas at Austin professor and pianist Patti Wolf comes to Cleveland to perform Trio by the unduly neglected Russian romantic Anton Arensky and solo piano works by the innovative Fanny Mendelssohn, who is finally being pulled out of her famous brother Felix’s shadows. Performers with Wolf include Tanya Ell Woolfrey on cello, Isabel Trautwein on violin.

All concerts will stream live at 3 p.m. from the Bop Stop on January 30, February 28, and April 25. Tickets prices start at $25 for general the public; $20 for Heights Arts members; and $10 for students. Purchase tickets for Jan. 30; for Feb. 28; or for April 25. Confirmations will be sent via email with a private link and instructions for viewing.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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