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— N E W S - R E L E A S E —


Orchestra’s Second Century to build on superlative artistic reputation, continued growth of young audiences, increased commitment to education, and community programs that celebrate the support from Northeast Ohio

Artistic Highlights:

  The Cunning Little Vixen Revival

  Special Festival: The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde featuring opera and orchestral concerts

  The Prometheus Project: featuring Beethoven symphonies and overtures in a two-week, season-closing festival

  Music Director Franz Welser-Möst also leads Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Haydn’s The Seasons, and Mahler’s Ninth, at home and on tour

Severance Hall Concert Subscriptions on sale now, starting at $81 for a three-concert package

“Under 18s Free” continues during 2017-18 Season

2017-18 Season presenting sponsors: The J. M. Smucker Company and KeyBank

Praise for the Orchestra under the artistic leadership of Franz Welser-Möst includes
The New York Times calling the ensemble “… America’s most brilliant orchestra,” and
The Wall Street Journal stating that the Orchestra is “… magnificent.”

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst have announced details of the Orchestra’s 2017-18 calendar.  The season will be the ensemble’s 100th year of concerts and marks the launch of its Second Century.  2017-18 is also the 16th year of the Orchestra’s acclaimed partnership with Franz Welser-Möst.

With the 2017-18 season, The Cleveland Orchestra pushes forward with a series of ambitious goals across all areas of the institution:  artistic, community, education, service, and financial.  These goals include building upon the ensemble’s legendary musical excellence, continuing to grow the youngest audience of any orchestra, deepening relationships in the community through unique collaborations, customized engagement, and music education for all ages.

“Looking toward The Cleveland Orchestra’s future, I am filled with enormous pride in the one hundred year collaboration between the Orchestra and community,” said Music Director Franz Welser-Möst.  “The exceptional musicianship and dedication of this Orchestra are acclaimed anew with each passing season, here at home and around the world.  Our audiences’ musical curiosity and intellect drives all of us onstage forward, to dream beyond the past, and to continue exploring new boundaries in music.”

He continued, “Our 100th season serves as an historic moment, not only to celebrate our rich history, but to look forward to everything this institution will accomplish in the century to come.  Against the ever-increasing and fractious challenges of the world today, I believe that we have an obligation to harness the life-changing power of music to make the world a better place — to push the limits of our art to create thrilling adventures in music.  Music is an incredible tool for good — to inspire people, as Beethoven believed, in the ‘fight for good,’ for what is right and true.”

“The year marks an important milestone, both in celebrating the remarkable first 100 years and in launching a second century that will further build on the great legacy of the Orchestra,” said André Gremillet, Cleveland Orchestra Executive Director.  “I believe that our Second Century can be even more exhilarating than our first as we continue to elevate the extraordinary artistry of the Orchestra, develop new audiences, and deepen our relationship with our exceptional community.”

2017-18 Second Century Season Sponsors

The Cleveland Orchestra’s Second Century Season is presented by The J.M. Smucker Company and KeyBank.
“The Cleveland Orchestra is a source of civic pride because of its artistic excellence, and the community involvement of its musicians, Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, staff, and volunteers.  We are so fortunate to have this great institution in our backyard,” said Richard Smucker, The Cleveland Orchestra’s Board President and The J.M. Smucker Company’s Executive Chairman.  “The Orchestra is truly making a difference in our community, and we are excited to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this cultural jewel of Northeast Ohio.”

“A world-class institution, The Cleveland Orchestra has long been a cornerstone in the city’s rich history,” said Beth Mooney, KeyBank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.  “As Cleveland’s hometown bank, we are extremely pleased to support The Cleveland Orchestra’s Second Century season.”


Opera Presentations:  Janáček and Wagner

To deliver on Welser-Möst and the Orchestra’s ongoing commitment to present inspiring opera at Severance Hall, the 2017-18 season features performances of two different operas. 

At the start of the season, September 23, 24 and 26, 2017, the Orchestra presents encore performances of its innovative and revolutionary production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen.  Premiered in 2014, the production created by Yuval Sharon was described by The New York Times as “… ingenious ….” In it, the story is brought to life through state-of-the-art digital animation, juxtaposed and interacting directly with live singers.  Originally presented as a unique made-for-Severance Hall production, the opera will now also be performed as part of the Orchestra’s European tour during the 2017-18 season.  Details of the 2017-18 tours will be announced in the coming months.

On April 21, 26 and 29, 2018, Franz Welser-Möst leads The Cleveland Orchestra in concert performances of Wagner’s groundbreaking opera Tristan and IsoldeSoprano Nina Stemme stars as Isolde, with tenor Gerhard Siegel as Tristan.  Commenting on this opera, Welser-Möst said:  “Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde represents a milestone, the ultimate high point of musical Romanticism.  In this score, Wagner broke apart the harmonic tonal system to create a sense of longing, a search for rest and peace and home, for the ultimate fulfillment of love.  With this opera, Wagner unleashed music from the past and announced the start of our modern world.  This season, I programmed Tristan und Isolde, Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring because they are all influential works that were so powerful, the music world was not the same after they premiered.”

In the festival The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde, a special two-week series of concerts centered around performances of Wagner’s ultra-Romantic opera, Welser-Möst explores the depths and wonder of ecstasy — in a journey toward transcendence and understanding, through music, art, and belief.  In Tristan and Isolde the 19th century’s Romantic Era reached its climax.  Wagner wrote powerful music of unending longing (and unresolved harmony) — of a doomed love that reaches its full potential only through death.  The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde festival also includes concerts led by Welser-Möst on April 25 and 28 as well as a screening of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia in collaboration with the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque.  April 25 features Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie for Piano, Ondes Martenot, and Orchestra with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and ondes Martenot player Cynthia Millar.  OnApril 28 the program includes the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and the Orchestra performing select choral and brass works and Bach’s Cantata No. 170 with countertenor Iestyn Davies, plus Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue on the chorale “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam” performed by organist Paul Jacobs.  

Festival:  The Prometheus Project

In May 2018, concluding the Centennial Season is a Festival titled “The Prometheus Project” that takes place over two weekends and is devoted to themusic of Ludwig van Beethoven.  Franz Welser-Möst offers a renewed point of view on these groundbreaking works, rooted in a studied understanding of the composer’s philosophy of politics and art, and presented within the context of his thoughts and beliefs. Leading up to the concerts, Welser-Möst will host a “Prometheus Project” discussion in Reinberger Chamber Hall at Severance Hall.

”The Prometheus Project” will examine Beethoven’s music through the metaphor of Prometheus, a daring Greek Titan who defied Zeus to bestow on humanity the gift of fire.  For Beethoven, this gifting of fire represented the beginning of human civilization, the spark of creativity that has powered the imagination of generations, the warmth of justice and goodness, the fight for right, and individual freedoms.

Welser-Möst said, “In recent years I’ve been studying Beethoven’s music with the Prometheus concept particularly in my mind.  This ‘fiery core’ is not just central to Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, but, I believe, also permeates his entire creative output.  And I am convinced that this provides a robust and insightful window toward understanding Beethoven’s intended meaning within his art.  With an exceptional figure like Beethoven, it is essential that we constantly look at new approaches to his work, to enliven and deepen our understanding of his genius.”

Featuring all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies, paired with important overtures, these programs represent Beethoven’s musical genius in all its glory — as a full-throated cry for humanity’s heroic “fight for good over evil.”

Commissions and Premieres in 2017-18

The Cleveland Orchestra continues its commitment to commissioning new works to expand and extend the repertoire.  During this season, two former Cleveland Orchestra Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellows’ works are featured.

On January 11-13, 2018, the Cleveland premiere of Johannes Maria Staud’s Stromab (co-commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, and Royal Danish Orchestra) will be led by Welser-Möst.  Staud was The Cleveland Orchestra’s Lewis Young Composer Fellow, 2007-09.  The Orchestra will give the New York premiere of Stromab at Carnegie Hall in January 2018.  In Staud’s words, Stromab is “…inspired by Algernon Blackwood’s short story The Willows. One of the most beautiful and timeless tales of horror of all time, the novella details a canoe trip down the Danube River…I wanted to explore the incredible vibrations that emanate from Blackwood‘s musically visionary prose and make literal musical sense of this image of a journey down the Danube.”

The season also features the Cleveland premiere of a new piano concerto by Salvatore Sciarrino, a co-commission by The Cleveland Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Ensemble Intercontemporain.  It will be performed under the direction of Fabio Luisi with pianist Jonathan Biss (November 30 and December 2).

Music Director Laureate Christoph von Dohnányi leads the first Cleveland Orchestra performances of Julian Anderson’s Incantesimi December 8 and 9.  According to the composer, Incantesimi (meaning ‘spells’ or ‘enchantments’ in Italian) is based on five musical ideas that circle around each other, sometimes accompanying in the background, sometimes rising to the foreground.  Anderson was a Young Composer Fellow from 2005-07.

On November 24-26, the season features the first Cleveland Orchestra performances of Stephen Paulus’s Grand Concerto for Organ and Orchestra with organist Paul Jacobs and conductor Giancarlo Guerrero.

Cleveland Orchestra Choral Ensembles Featured

The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, one of the few professionally trained, all-volunteer choruses sponsored by a major American orchestra, will be featured in a variety of performances throughout the season.  Its members hail from nearly fifty Cleveland-area communities and together contribute more than 15,000 volunteer hours to the Orchestra’s music-making each year.

On September 23, 24, and 26, the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus are part of performances of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen.  The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus is also featured January 18 and 20 in Haydn’s The Seasons and February 22, 23, and 24 in Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloé (complete ballet music).  April 21, 26, and 29 the Men of The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus are part of performances of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.  As part of The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde festival, the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus performs choral works of Gabrieli as well as Bach’s Cantata No. 170.  At the conclusion of the Severance Hall season in May, as part of the Prometheus Project, the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus performs in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Cleveland Orchestra Family of Artists
The 2017-18 season features conductors and guest artists who have strong collaborative connections with the Orchestra.  They include pianists Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Daniil Trifonov, and Mitsuko Uchida; organist Paul Jacobs; and cellist Alisa Weilerstein (who is a former member of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra now fully acclaimed in her career as an international soloist).

Distinguished Guest Conductors
Guest conductors in the 2017-18 season include Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Laureate Christoph von Dohnányi, Vladimir Ashkenazy (Cleveland Orchestra Principal Guest Conductor, 1987-94), Charles Dutoit (Principal Conductor and Artistic Director, London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), Alan Gilbert (current Music Director, New York Philharmonic), Fabio Luisi (Music Director, Zurich Opera/Principal Conductor, Metropolitan Opera), and Michael Tilson Thomas (Music Director, San Francisco Symphony.)

The Cleveland Orchestra 2017-18 Tours
During the 2017-18 season, The Cleveland Orchestra will embark on two international tours, which will be their seventeenth and eighteenth international tours with Franz Welser-Möst.  Serving as an ambassador for the Cleveland community, the Orchestra first toured in 1919 to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Youngstown, Ohio with then music director Nikolai Sokoloff, and their first international tour took place in 1922 with Sokoloff when they traveled to Canada.  The tours in 2017-18 mark the Orchestra’s 50th and 51st international tours.

In October 2017 the Orchestra will travel to Europe for performances in Austria, France, Germany, and Luxembourg with programs featuring works by Beethoven, Stravinsky, Mahler, and Janáček.  Details of tour dates and venues will be announced in the coming months. 

On January 23 and 24, the Orchestra makes its 223nd and 224th appearances at Carnegie Hall.  The Orchestra first performed at Carnegie Hall in 1922 and last performed there in 2016.  The January 23 performance features the New York premiere of Johannes Maria Staud’s Stromab, which was co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall.  Also on the January 23 program is Mahler’s Symphony No. 9.  On January 24, the Orchestra performs Haydn’s The Seasons with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, soprano Golda Schultz, tenor Maximilian Schmitt, and bass-baritone Christian Van Horn.

In spring 2018, the Orchestra returns to Europe for performances in Vienna for five consecutive nights to perform all-Beethoven programs. They will also travel to Japan for a series of all-Beethoven programs.  Details of the spring tour will be announced in the coming months.

2017 Gala Concert – Second Century Kick-off celebration
The Cleveland Orchestra’s Gala Concert on October 7, 2017 will serve as the celebratory kick-off to launch Second Century initiatives at the start of the ensemble’s 100th season.  Franz Welser-Möst will lead the Orchestra in a program showcasing the Orchestra’s virtuosity in a series of orchestral showpieces: Verdi’s Ballet Music from Don Carlo and Respighi’s The Birds, as well as works by Johann Strauss, Johann Strauss Jr., and Tchaikovsky. 

Other Concert Series at Severance Hall
started in October 2009 with Franz Welser-Möst and continues with three concerts in the 2017-18 season on November 17, January 19, and March 23 – each with a 7:00 p.m. start time, no intermission, and an after-party following each Orchestra concert.

The 2017 Holiday Festival features The Cleveland Orchestra’s annual Christmas Concerts exploring the music of Christmas with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus, Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, and guest choruses.

At the Movies concerts continue in the 2017-18 season.  Following the popularity of film showings with live music the past five seasons, the Orchestra’s concerts will feature movies projected on a screen above the Severance Hall stage, with music performed live. Details of the 2017-18 At the Movies series will be announced in the coming months.


“It’s hard for me to imagine just how well this initiative has taken root since 2010.  Simply put, the results for the programs funded by the Center for Future Audiences have exceeded all expectations,” said Ross Binnie, Cleveland Orchestra Chief Marketing Officer and Director of the Center for Future Audiences.  “In only the first six years, more than 210,000 young people have witnessed The Cleveland Orchestra live by participating in a broad range of programs.  More than 40,000 young people per season are now attending our concerts at Severance Hall and at each summer’s Blossom Music Festival, which is more than ever in our history by quite a margin.  Today, over 20% of the classical concert audience is made up of patrons 25 years old and under.  As we look to the start of our Second Century, the Center will continue to push these boundaries and create even more innovative programs that promote concert attendance among the next generation and solidify Cleveland’s place as having one of the very youngest audiences of any orchestra.”

Center for Future Audiences
The Cleveland Orchestra's Center for Future Audiences was established to fund programs to develop new generations of audiences for Cleveland Orch­estra concerts in Northeast Ohio.  The Center was created in 2010 with a $20 million lead endowment gift from the Maltz Family Foundation.  Center-funded programs focus on addressing economic and geographic barriers to attending Cleveland Orch­estra concerts at Severance Hall and Blossom Music Center.  Programs include research, introductory offers, targeted discounts, student ticket programs, and integrated use of new technologies.  For additional details, see corresponding Center for Future Audiences fact sheet.

More young people than ever are attending Cleveland Orchestra concerts at Severance Hall and at each summer’s Blossom Music Festival.  Over 20% of the classical concert audience is now made up of patrons 25 years old and under, up from just 8% prior to the introduction of the expansion of programs made possible by the Center’s funding.

The Circle was launched in January 2014, and provides a monthly membership model for young professionals to not only receive subsidized tickets but also to engage with the Orchestra and its musicians on a deeper level, including behind-the-scenes access, networking, and volunteer opportunities.  As The Circle approaches its third year, there are currently 285 members signed up on a monthly basis, an active volunteer board structure, and a wide variety of engaging events.

The Members Club is the newest focus geared toward expanding audience participation among younger adults, specifically targeting those aged 25-40, by providing the flexibility of a monthly membership program.  For a monthly fee, each patron has access to club membership benefits, including steeply discounted tickets, private receptions, and increased access to the Orchestra.  The Cleveland Orchestra Members Club launched in the fall of 2016.  Currently, the Members Club has 200 members who are attending an average of six concerts a season.  This represents an increase of 150% over their previous participation.

“Under 18s Free” is a program of The Cleveland Orchestra’s Center for Future Audiences.  “Under 18s Free” continues to develop young audiences by making attending Orchestra concerts affordable for families, offering free tickets to young people, 17 and under, for select Severance Hall concerts again this season.

Building on the Orchestra’s long emphasis on school programs and the Center’s focus on future generations, the Alexander and Sarah Cutler Fund for Student Audiences was established through a pledge of $5 million in 2011.  This fund supports existing and new programs for students, with particular emphasis on Cleveland Orchestra concerts and programs at Severance Hall. 

Education and Community Engagement Programs:  Serving the Northeast Ohio community to foster a true love of, and passion for, music

The Cleveland Orchestra has a long and proud history of sharing the joy and benefits of music with people throughout Northeast Ohio.  Franz Welser-Mӧst leads the Orchestra into its second century with a renewed commitment to music education and community engagement, based on his belief that every child should be touched by music, that the arts are critical to a well-rounded education, and that learning never ends (lifelong learning). 

A very special Education Concert titled “Sparks of Genius:  Beethoven and Prometheus” will be featured as part of the opening weekend events for the 2017-18 season.  In a unique collaboration between The Cleveland Orchestra, led by Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, and the Cleveland School of the Arts (CSA), the program is inspired by the Prometheus Project a highlight of the Severance Hall season.  The program will introduce middle and high school students from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to an emotionally-rich, multidisciplinary, multimedia concert experience that illuminates the hero’s journey, as inspired by the lives of composer Ludwig van Beethoven, and the Greek Titan Prometheus, and will be repeated for school systems throughout the region later in November 2017.

The Second Century celebration season will also include a variety of performances that provide access to the greater community.  OnJanuary 14, 2018, The Cleveland Orchestra will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a special community concert led by Franz Welser-Möst that will showcase the life and legacy of Dr. King.  In partnership with ideastream, the concert will be broadcast live on 90.3 WCPN / WCLV 104.9 and will be recorded for statewide delayed television broadcast on WVIZ/PBS for expanded community reach.  In addition, a second series of Education Concerts will be featured in February 2018 that connects to the legacy of Dr. King and civil rights themes.

In July 2018, the Star-Spangled Spectacular, the Orchestra’s free community concert in downtown Cleveland, will be the public occasion to celebrate the Orchestra’s 100th Anniversary.  Franz Welser-Möst will lead the Orchestra in a concert extravaganza for the entire community.

The 2017-18 season will also feature a series of performances around the region by all of the organization’s ensembles – The Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, and Cleveland Orchestra Youth and Children’s Choruses.  The performances will celebrate and thank the communities that have supported The Cleveland Orchestra over the past century.

Details for education concerts and community events as well as the Family Concert and Musical Rainbow series will be announced leading up to the start of the 2017-18 season.

Details for education concerts and community events as well as the American Greetings Family Concert and PNC Musical Rainbows series will be announced leading up to the start of the 2017-18 season. 

Introducing CODA:  Cleveland Orchestra Digital Archives
Beginning in the autumn of 2017 and over the course of coming seasons, the Archives of The Cleveland Orchestra will begin launching a series of expanded online resources in support of Second Century celebrations and introducing the Cleveland Orchestra Digital Archives (CODA) as a permanent and growing feature of the Orchestra’s efforts to make its living, illustrious history available to a worldwide audience.  These new features include:

  • The Soundwave:  A timeline of 100 photos, musical clips, and spoken oral histories/interviews, and video clips that builds as each item is added over the season.
  • Prometheus Project:  Supporting the Prometheus Project through essays, video, and historical audio performances by The Cleveland Orchestra related to the Beethoven repertoire in the Prometheus Project.
  • Digital Fanfare:  A searchable database of the roster of Orchestra musicians from 1918 to the present.  Searchable fields will include name, tenure dates, instrument(s), title position(s), music director appointed under, photo, and brief biographies.  Fanfare: Portraits of The Cleveland Orchestrawas published in January 1995, as part of the celebration of The Cleveland Orchestra’s 75th anniversary.  The book includes biographies of members of The Cleveland Orchestra (from the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons), accompanied by black-and-white portrait photographs of the musicians.
  • Ask the Archivist:  An opportunity to connect easily and directly with the Archives staff.


Subscriptions for the 2017-18 season are on sale now and start at just $81 for a three-concert package. Subscribers receive seating priority over individual-ticket buyers, ticket exchange privileges, and other benefits, including savings of up to 30% off individual-ticket prices.

Cleveland Orchestra Memberships can be purchased at any time throughout the year.  Memberships are designed to offer convenience and value for patrons who want to experience more Cleveland Orchestra concerts each season and includes access to year-round concerts at both Severance Hall and the Blossom Music Festival.  In exchange for a monthly membership fee of $35 (billed automatically), Members can reserve a single ticket for $10 to any concert, at any time. For more information about the Members Club, please visit and watch a video here:

Tickets to individual performances go on sale in mid-August, 2017. For more information about the variety of subscription packages offered, or for other questions, call Cleveland Orchestra Ticket Services at 216-231-1111 or 800-686-1141, or visit

2017-18 Corporate Sponsors (as of 3-17-17):
The Cleveland Orchestra salutes these sponsors whose leadership support helps make the 2017-18 season possible.

Presenting Sponsors:
The J.M. Smucker Company

Second Century Sponsors:
voestalpine AG
Hyster-Yale Materials Handling and NACCO Industries, Inc
Ruth McCormick Tankersley Charitable Trust
Swagelok Company
The Sherwin-Williams Company
Westfield Insurance

American Greetings Corporation
Buyers Products Company
Dollar Bank Foundation
Ernst & Young LLP
Forest City
Frantz Ward LLP
Great Lakes Brewing Company
Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP
Hyster-Yale Materials Handling
NACCO Industries, Inc.
Jones Day
The Lincoln Electric Foundation
Litigation Management, Inc.
The Lubrizol Corporation
Materion Corporation
Medical Mutual
MTD Products, Inc.
North Coast Container Corp.
Olympic Steel, Inc.
Parker Hannifin Foundation
PNC Bank
Quality Electrodynamics (QED)
RPM International Inc.
Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP
The Sherwin-Williams Company
Thompson Hine LLP
Tucker Ellis

For 2017-18 season photos and links to Second Century videos featuring themes of history, community, and excellence, see this dropbox link and The Cleveland Orchestra’s youtube channel:
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