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The Cleveland Orchestra embarks on tour to Vienna, Paris, Linz, and Abu Dhabi in spring 2020

Showcasing the depth and range of their extraordinary partnership, Music Director Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra travel to Europe and, for the first time, to the United Arab Emirates as part of a ten-concert tour

This is the 20th international tour for the Orchestra with Welser-Möst

Violinist Julia Fischer, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and baritone Simon Keenlyside appear as soloists during tour

In the first Abu Dhabi Festival appearance by an orchestra from the U.S., The Cleveland Orchestra will be joined by American Ballet Theatre for staged presentations of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet

The tour marks the first appearance by The Cleveland Orchestra in the United Arab Emirates

CLEVELAND – 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.”

The Cleveland Orchestra and Touring
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.


About The Cleveland Orchestra
Founded by Adella Prentiss Hughes, The Cleveland Orchestra’s inaugural concert took place on December 11, 1918, with the 2017-18 centennial season marking the Orchestra’s 100th year of concerts.  Under the leadership of Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, The Cleveland Orchestra has become one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world, setting standards of extraordinary artistic excellence, creative programming, and community engagement.  The New York Times has declared it “the best in America” for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion.  The 2019-20 season marks the Orchestra’s 102nd year of concerts, remarkable music making, and dedicated service to its hometown.

Strong community support from across the ensemble’s home region is driving the Orchestra forward with renewed energy and focus, increasing the number of young people attending concerts, and bringing fresh attention to the Orchestra’s legendary sound and committed programming — including annual opera presentations with innovative staging and pairings.  Recent productions have included Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande (May 2017), a double bill of Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin and Bluebeard’s Castle (April 2016) presented in collaboration with Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet, and an innovative presentation of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (May 2014, with encore performances in Cleveland and Europe during the autumn of 2017).  The 2017-18 season also featured in-concert performances of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde (April 2018).

The partnership with Franz Welser-Möst, begun in 2002 and entering its 18th year with the 2019-20 season, has earned The Cleveland Orchestra unprecedented residencies in the U.S. and around the world, including one at the Musikverein in Vienna, the first of its kind by an American orchestra.  It also performs regularly at the Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals.  The Orchestra’s 100th season in 2017-18 featured two international tours, concluding with the presentation on three continents of Welser-Möst’s Prometheus Project featuring Beethoven Symphonies and overtures; these Beethoven concerts were presented in May and June 2018, at home in Cleveland, in Vienna’s Musikverein, and in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall.

The Cleveland Orchestra has a long and distinguished recording and broadcast history. A series of DVD (available through Clasart Classics) and CD recordings under the direction of Mr. Welser-Möst continues to add to an extensive and widely praised catalog of audio recordings made during the tenures of the ensemble’s earlier music directors.  In addition, Cleveland Orchestra concerts are heard in syndication each season on radio stations throughout North America and Europe.

Seven music directors — Nikolai Sokoloff, Artur Rodziński, Erich Leinsdorf, George Szell, Lorin Maazel, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Franz Welser-Möst — have guided and shaped the ensemble’s growth and sound since its founding in 1918.  Through concerts at home and on tour, via radio broadcasts and a catalog of acclaimed recordings, The Cleveland Orchestra is heard today by a broad and growing group of fans around the world.  For more information, visit clevelandorchestra.com and https://www.clevelandorchestra.com/about/mission-and-history/.

About Franz Welser-Möst
Franz Welser-Möst is among today’s most distinguished conductors.  The 2019-20 season marks his 18th year as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra, with the future of this acclaimed partnership extending into 2027.  The New York Times has declared Cleveland under Welser-Möst’s direction to be the “best American orchestra“ for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion. 

During The Cleveland Orchestra’s centennial season — dedicated to the community that created it — Franz Welser-Möst led two ambitious festivals, The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde, examining the power of music to portray and create transcendence, followed by a concentrated look at the philosophical and political messages within Beethoven’s music in The Prometheus Project (presented on three continents, in Cleveland, Vienna, and Tokyo).  His innovative approach to programming, introducing new music, and rediscovering and re-examining older works continues this season, including a groundbreaking citywide festival, Censored: Art & Power, scheduled for May 2020 and centering around Alban Berg’s opera Lulu and the Degenerate Art & Music movement.

Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra are frequent guests at many prestigious concert halls and festivals around the world, including regular appearances in Vienna, New York, and Miami, and at the festivals of Salzburg and Lucerne.  During Welser-Möst’s tenure, The Cleveland Orchestra has been hugely successful in building up a new and, notably, younger audience at home in Cleveland through innovative programs involving families, students, universities, and cross-community partnerships.  A series of established and newly created education offerings continues to energize and engage students throughout the region.  To read more about Franz Welser-Möst visit this link: https://www.clevelandorchestra.com/about/musicians-and-conductors/franz-welser-most/.


About Yo-Yo Ma
Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is testament to his enduring belief in culture’s power to generate trust and understanding.  Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, collaborating with communities and institutions to explore culture’s social impact, or engaging unexpected musical forms, Mr. Ma strives to foster connections that stimulate the imagination and reinforce our humanity.

Mr. Ma first performed with The Cleveland Orchestra in January 1982.  He has returned regularly since that time, to perform with the Orchestra, in solo recital or in chamber music performances, or with his Silkroad Project.  His most recent appearance — at the Orchestra’s summer home, Blossom Music Center — was in a program that featured all six of Bach’s Suites for Solo Cello, in 2018, launching a new journey in which he played the six suites in 36 locations around the world.  Each concert is an example of culture’s power to create moments of shared understanding, as well as an invitation to a larger conversation about society and the themes that connect us all.

Expanding upon this belief, in 1998 Mr. Ma established Silkroad, a collective of artists from around the world who create music that engages their many traditions.  In addition to presenting performances in venues from Suntory Hall to the Hollywood Bowl, Silkroad collaborates with museums and universities to develop training programs for teachers, musicians, and learners of all ages.  Silkroad has commissioned more than 100 new works from composers and arrangers around the globe, and released seven albums, including a collection of music recorded for The Vietnam War, a documentary film from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.  Visit www.yo-yoma.com for more information.


About Julia Fischer

German violinist Julia Fischer is praised for her technical mastery and musical interpretations.  She made her Cleveland Orchestra debut in July 2008, and her most recent concerts were in May 2017.  Born in Munich in 1983 to a pianist mother from Slovakia and a mathematician father from Germany, Ms. Fischer began playing piano at age three and violin at age four.  After taking violin lessons at the Leopold Mozart Conservatory, she was admitted to the Munich Academy of Music at age nine.  She became a pupil of Ana Chumachenco, and in 2011, assumed her teacher’s position at the Academy.

During the 2019-20 season, Ms. Fischer appears in concert with the London Philharmonic and Berlin Radio Symphony with Vladimir Jurowski, Vienna Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic with Philippe Jordan, Chicago Symphony under Riccardo Muti, Orchestre National de France with Emmanuel Krivine, and Bamberg Symphony under Jakub Hrůša.  She also gives recitals in major European concert halls with the pianist Aris Blettenberg and with the Julia Fischer Quartet.  She recently completed two extensive tours of Asia, one with the Dresden Philharmonic and Michael Sanderling, and the other with the London Philharmonic under Mr. Jurowski.

Among Ms. Fischer’s honors are first prize in the 1995 International Yehudi Menuhin Competition, Germany’s 2005 and 2007 Echo Awards, and France’s Diapason d’Or de l’année in 2006.  She was named BBC Music Magazine’s 2006 “Best Newcomer of the Year,” Gramophone’s 2007 “Artist of the Year,” and the 2009 Midem Classical Awards’ “Instrumentalist of the Year.”  In 2016, she received Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit.  Visit www.juliafischer.com for more information.


About Simon Keenlyside
British baritone Simon Keenlyside is among today’s most sought-after and praised singers.  He made his Cleveland Orchestra debut in 2000, and has sung with the Orchestra in Europe and Cleveland on a number of occasions since that time, most recently performing Schubert’s Winterreise song cycle in recital at Severance Hall in May 2019.

Mr. Keenlyside performs regularly on the world’s great opera stages and has particularly close associations with the Metropolitan Opera, London’s Royal Opera House, Bavarian State Opera, and Vienna State Opera.  His 2019-20 season includes a return to the Vienna State Opera for Don Carlo, Falstaff, and La Traviata; Bavarian State Opera for Rigoletto, Parsifal, and La Traviata; Royal Opera House for La Traviata; and Hamburg State Opera for Pelléas et Mélisande, among others.  In addition, he will appear in concert with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Harding, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra under Alexander Joel, and Orchestre de Paris under Daniele Rustioni.

Born in London to a musical family, Mr. Keenlyside pursued violin lessons as a child before entering the choir school of St. John’s College Cambridge at age eight.  At the Royal Northern College of Music, he studied voice with John Cameron and was later a student of Rudolf Knoll at Salzburg’s Mozarteum.

He was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2003 and received knighthood in the 2018 Birthday Honours.  In 2017, he was made a Kammersänger of the Vienna State Opera.  Other honors include an Echo Klassik award as male singer of the year in 2007 and being named Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year in 2011. Visit www.simonkeenlyside.info for more information.


About the Abu Dhabi Festival
Founded in 2004 and organized by Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, the annual multidisciplinary Abu Dhabi Festival is the largest cultural celebration in the region and reaches across the world through co-commissions and the international presentation of innovative Arab creativity.  The Abu Dhabi Festival strives to broaden cross-cultural dialogue around the globe while inspiring a deeper interest in the cultures of the Arab world.  For more information, visit abudhabifestival.ae/about/.


About American Ballet Theatre
Recognized by an act of the United States Congress as America’s National Ballet Company®, American Ballet Theatre is one of the great dance companies in the world.  Few ballet companies equal ABT for its combination of size, scope, and outreach.  Founded in 1940, ABT performs for more than 300,000 people annually. It has made more than 30 international tours to 45 countries and has been sponsored by the State Department of the United States on many of these engagements.  In keeping with its long-standing commitment to bringing the finest in dance to the widest possible audience, ABT has recently enjoyed triumphant successes with engagements in Hong Kong, Brisbane, Singapore, Oman, and Paris.  For more information, visit https://www.abt.org/.


International Tour Support and Sponsorship
The Cleveland Orchestra thanks these corporations and individuals for generously supporting the Orchestra’s International Tours: Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich, Jones Day, voestalpine AG, Dr. and Mrs. Wolfgang Berndt, Dr. and Mrs. Robert Ehrlich, Dr. and Mrs. Herbert Kloiber, Dr. and Mrs. Peter Mitterbauer, and Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Umdasch.


2020 International Tour Program and Venue Information

Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 8:00 p.m.  ǀ  Brucknerhaus, Linz, Austria
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor

SCHUBERT  Symphony No. 4 (“Tragic”) in C Minor, D. 417
PROKOFIEV  Symphony No. 6 in E-flat minor, Opus 111


Saturday, March 21, 2020, at 8:30 p.m.  ǀ  Philharmonie de Paris, Paris, France
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor

PROKOFIEV  Symphony No. 2 in D minor, Opus 40
SCHUBERT  Symphony in C major (“The Great”), D. 944


Sunday, March 22, 2020, at 4:30 p.m.  ǀ  Philharmonie de Paris, Paris, France
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Julia Fischer, violin

SCHUBERT  Symphony No. 3 in D major, D. 200
PROKOFIEV  Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Opus 19
PROKOFIEV  Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Opus 44


Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.  ǀ  Musikverein, Vienna, Austria
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Julia Fischer, violin

SCHUBERT  Symphony No. 3 in D major, D. 200
PROKOFIEV  Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Opus 19
PROKOFIEV  Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Opus 44


Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.  ǀ   Musikverein, Vienna, Austria
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor

PROKOFIEV  Symphony No. 2 in D minor, Opus 40
SCHUBERT  Symphony in C major (“The Great”), D. 944


Thursday, March 26, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.  ǀ   Musikverein, Vienna, Austria
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor

SCHUBERT  Symphony No. 4 (“Tragic”) in C Minor, D. 417
PROKOFIEV  Symphony No. 6 in E-flat minor, Opus 111


Tuesday, March 31, 2020, at 8:00 p.m.  ǀ   Emirates Palace Auditorium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Simon Keenlyside, baritone*

Program to include:
TCHAIKOVSKY  Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64


Wednesday, April 1, 2020, at 8:00 p.m.  ǀ   Emirates Palace Auditorium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Yo-Yo Ma, cello

DVOŘÁK  Cello Concerto in A Major
SCHUBERT  Symphony in C major (“The Great”), D. 944


Friday, April 3, 2020, at 8:00 p.m.  ǀ   Emirates Palace Auditorium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
American Ballet Theatre
Choreography by Kenneth MacMillan

PROKOFIEV  Romeo and Juliet [complete ballet in three acts]


Saturday, April 4, 2020, at 8:00 p.m.  ǀ   Emirates Palace Auditorium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
American Ballet Theatre
Choreography by Kenneth MacMillan

PROKOFIEV  Romeo and Juliet [complete ballet in three acts]