The Cleveland Orchestra Embarks On Tour To Vienna, Paris, Linz, And Abu Dhabi In Spring 2020
In March and April 2020, The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst embark on their twentieth international tour together, with seven performances scheduled in three cities across Europe (Vienna, Paris, and Linz), and four concerts in the United Arab Emirates as the first U.S. orchestra to perform at the Abu Dhabi Festival.
The tour's concert programs feature the juxtaposition of works by Sergei Prokofiev and Franz Schubert, two composers separated by a century in time, but who shared gifts for melody and deep layers of musical meaning. Other musical works on the tour include Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony and Dvořák's Cello Concerto with Yo-Yo Ma. The ensemble will be joined in Europe by frequent Cleveland Orchestra collaborator Julia Fischer for performances of Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto. In Abu Dhabi, the concerts and performances feature baritone Simon Keenlyside singing a selection of arias, a special collaboration with American Ballet Theatre for staged performances of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet with choreography by Kenneth MacMillan, and Dvořák's cello concerto. Details of concert pairings, venues, and dates of the tour are listed in the program and venue information section at the end of this release.
Long committed to the pursuit of excellence in everything it does, The Cleveland Orchestra is a proud ambassador for Ohio, carrying the depth and breadth of local arts and cultural understanding across the globe. The 2020 International Tour is part of the Orchestra's 102nd season and the 18th year of the ensemble's acclaimed partnership with Franz Welser-Möst. This is the Orchestra's 53rd international tour, and its 20th presented with Welser-Möst; the ensemble has played nine concerts in Paris under his baton, and 41 in Vienna. Most recently, The Cleveland Orchestra toured Asia in spring 2019 - with first-time performances in Macao, Shenzhen, Wuhan, and Nanjing, along with return visits to Beijing, Shanghai, and Taipei.
"Nearly every season over the past half century, The Cleveland Orchestra has toured internationally," says André Gremillet, The Cleveland Orchestra's President and CEO. "We are extraordinarily proud to represent Cleveland and Northeast Ohio around the world. Touring remains an essential part of our season both from an artistic and an audience development perspective. It is always a great pleasure for us to be back in Vienna and Paris, and we are honored to be the first orchestra from the U.S. to play the renowned Abu Dhabi Festival. Music truly is a universal language that transcends cultures and connects us all."
Franz Welser-Möst on Schubert, Prokofiev, the Musikverein, and Abu Dhabi
"It is important that we continue to perform works that are too often neglected or have been forgotten," says Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst. "This season, I am pairing works by Schubert and Prokofiev because although both of them are well-known composers, there is still so much of their music that remains unknown. Their creativity shares a number of similarities and contrasts, and I believe that hearing them together brings out special qualities of their genius. Their lesser-known masterpieces should be rediscovered. At the same time, their acclaimed works also showcase the art and creativity of these two extraordinary composers. We are performing Schubert's Third and Fourth Symphonies, as well as Prokofiev's Third and Sixth Symphonies. These are absolute jewels, which audiences should experience - with as much to offer as Schubert's "Great" C-major Symphony or Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet."
"In Vienna, we are a household name from going to the Musikverein every other season," continues Welser-Möst. "We have become one in Paris as well. We leave a lasting impression. Prokofiev's Second Symphony has never been performed at the Musikverein and the last time Prokofiev's Sixth Symphony was played there was in 1983 with the Leningrad Philharmonic and I was in the standing room. I think it is important that we present programming in a way where people say, 'Oh, that's different,' so we can help audiences discover something they like and enjoy and when we've done that, I think we have done a good job."
"Abu Dhabi is new ground for us," says Welser-Möst. "The Abu Dhabi Festival has growing influence and importance within the classical music scene. Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo, who runs the Abu Dhabi Festival, knew about our collaboration in 2016 with the Joffrey Ballet for The Miraculous Mandarin. And because The Cleveland Orchestra is now known for extraordinary performances of symphonic repertoire, but also for great collaborations of opera and ballet, it's wonderful that an institution like the Abu Dhabi Festival wants to feature us."
American Ballet Theatre Leadership on Collaborating with The Cleveland Orchestra
"As American Ballet Theatre (ABT) celebrates its 80th Anniversary, we are delighted to join The Cleveland Orchestra for the 2020 Abu Dhabi Festival," said Kara Medoff Barnett, ABT Executive Director. "Artistic Director Kevin Mckenzie and I so look forward to traveling with ABT's extraordinary dancers to perform Kenneth McMillan's Romeo and Juliet with the incredible musicians of The Cleveland Orchestra, led by Music Director Franz Welser-Möst. I extend our deepest gratitude to the Orchestra's president and CEO André Gremillet and to Her Excellency Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo at the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation for making this magnificent collaboration a reality. Sharing this cultural exchange with The Cleveland Orchestra will be a memorable and meaningful adventure for our artists and audiences."
"It will be an enormous honor for our dancers to perform along with The Cleveland Orchestra at Abu Dhabi Festival," said Kevin Mckenzie, ABT Artistic Director. "I was delighted to discover that Ballet Theatre previously performed with The Orchestra in the 1940's. How fitting for an encore during ABT's 80th anniversary year! I look forward to hearing the Prokofiev score played by the renowned musicians of your great institution."
In recent seasons, including the orchestra's centennial season in 2017-18, praise for The Cleveland Orchestra under the artistic leadership of Welser-Möst has continued to grow. The New York Times has called the ensemble "America's most brilliant orchestra," "virtually flawless," and "one of the finest ensembles in the country (if not the world)," and The Wall Street Journal has referred to the Orchestra as "magnificent."
Founded in 1918, The Cleveland Orchestra first went on tour the next year, when the ensemble's musicians traveled by train to perform in nearby cities, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Youngstown, Ohio. They crossed an international border for the first time in 1922, to perform in Canada, and also made their first appearance at New York City's Carnegie Hall in 1922. The Orchestra first crossed ocean waters in 1927 to perform in Cuba. Major overseas and international touring began in 1957, with the ensemble's first trip to Europe, featuring 29 concerts across more than five weeks that spring. As the Orchestra's fame spread - fanned by recordings and radio broadcasts - new and lengthy concert tours of Europe followed in the 1960s, as well as the first trip to Asia in 1970, featuring 12 concerts in Japan and Korea.Touring expanded in the following decades, with Cleveland's first tour to Australia and New Zealand (1973), and South America and Mexico (1975), along with increasingly frequent visits to Europe's musical capitals and festivals, as well as regular concert tours across the United States and into Canada.