International flair: World music to take the stage at CMA’s Summer Solstice

The 13th annual Solstice 2023 is coming up fast—taking place on Saturday, June 24, both inside and outside on the Cleveland Museum of Art campus. It’s a night when art and music come together for a unique sensory experience.

While the Summer Solstice event has sold out quickly in the past 12 years CMA has been hosting the event, this year apparently is lucky 13 for those who have been procrastinating — they are still available.

This year, Solstice 2023 organizers emphasize the international spin with five musical groups hailing from Cuba and Toronto; Cartagena, Columbia; Barcelona, Spain; Cape Town, South Africa; and Cleveland slated to take the stage

“[The Solstice celebration] usually does have an international flair, because it’s an international, globally minded festival,” says Gabe Pollack, CMA director of performing arts. “We have art from all over the world at the museum, and we like to connect the music to art that we display.”

Pollack says the Solstice planners were able to book some well-known and up-and-coming groups this year, both playing on the international flair they want to create and showcasing some of the world’s most talented musicians.

“The museum is positioned in a way we’re able to bring international acts that fill our niche,” he says. “When people think about the music the art museum has provided, they think about the international flair it has brought”

Pollack says the Art Museum was lucky that these bands were all available on the summer solstice.

The outdoor musical performances begin at 7 p.m. on the south terrace and run straight through until midnight. Pollack says four of the acts are making their Cleveland debut, including Columbia’s number-one band, The Bazurto All Stars.

“I really love this lineup,” Pollack says. “With every festival, there’s a degree of skill involved in putting together a lineup based on who is available and who is touring.”

The music kicks off at 7 p.m. with the Juno-Award winning, women-led ensemble OKAN. Hailing from Toronto and Cuba, the group—which takes its name from the word for “heart” in the Afro-Cuban Santeria religion—fuses Afro-Cuban roots with jazz, folk and global rhythms in songs about immigration, courage and love.

At 8:15 p.m., Cartagena-based The Bazurto All Stars step up with their South American raggaeton, cumbia, and hip-hop sounds, followed by Barcelona-based La Sra. Tomasa at 9:30 p.m. with its fusion of Latin-flavored music that ranges from funk, reggae, and hip-hop to trap and drum ’n’ bass. La Sa. Tomasa has built an international fan base with its explosive mix that respects Latin musical traditions and steeps them with fresh new urban influences and electronic sounds. 

Headliner  GoldFish—a DJ duo from Cape Town, South Africa—will keep the audience moving from 10:45 p.m. to 12 a.m., to round out the night with a diverse mix of electronica, sax, flute, and keyboard.

Pollack says the planning group decided to extend the music by one hour this year, and when he attempted to book GoldFish as the headliner, he was surprised the group was available.

“They are just satisfying as dance party,” he says. “The evening starts more acoustic and then becomes more electric, [transitioning into] a late-night dance party. It’s an eclectic lineup."

Summer Solstice at the Cleveland Museum of ArtSummer Solstice at the Cleveland Museum of ArtOverall, Pollack says the south terrace performances are literally a world-class gathering that can’t be missed. “These guys are huge in their home countries,” he says, “that’s why it’s fun to bring them to the United States.”

Inside the museum, the popular Sanctuary Cleveland—founded by Mark Mathews and Daniel Gray-Kontar and was one of Cleveland’s best dance parties the featured a mix of international and local artists at Oho City’s Touch Supper Club—will make an epic return from 7 p.m. until 12 a.m., with Mathews (DJ Mark Who?), DJ Nuera, and DJ Red-I.

Pittsburgh-based Selecta, a Sanctuary favorite, will headline. He has been a pioneer of the Pittsburgh DJ and hip-hop scenes since the late 1980s and has supported many international touring artists.

Complementing the music will be Cleveland visual artist Kevin Jackson, who will produce visual displays using projection mapping inspired by the museum’s art collection and the music of the performers and 3-D illuminated lanterns designed by Inflatabill will be suspendeded from the Ames Family Atrium ceiling.

“We always like to throw in a few surprises,” teases Pollack.

Tickets are $150 and are all-inclusive. Tickets include wine, beer, and canned cocktails. Food includes items like poblano mac and cheese, hot honey chicken salad, tater tots loaded with beef chili or jackfruit chili, meat or vegetarian pizza bagels, Thai peanut noodle salad, Greek salad, and fruit and cheese cups.

Cleveland Museum of Art's Solstice 2023 is on Saturday, June 24 from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. at the museum, 11150 East Blvd., University Circle. All-inclusive 

Tickets are $150 per person.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: 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.