Joela Jones (photograph by Hilary Bovay © 2021)

Distinguished Artist

Joela Jones

Principal Keyboard for The Cleveland Orchestra

Joela Jones is the 2021 recipient of The Cleveland Orchestra’s Distinguished Service Award, recognizing her extraordinary artistic achievements, along with her contributions to the Orchestra and the Greater Cleveland community. The longest serving principal player in any section, she has been a member of the Orchestra across 54 seasons. During that time, she brought an uncompromising commitment to quality whether playing the piano, organ, harpsichord, synthesizer, celesta, and accordion.

Joela Jones's hands playing the piano from overhead

Listen to Joela's Landmark Performances

"I'd rather play well and have nobody recognize me, than to not play well and get a standing ovation."

As a soloist, Joela Jones has performed over fifty different concertos in more than 250 performances with The Cleveland Orchestra. These twelve recordings, selected by Joela, provide a brief encapsulation of her singular career across four music directors, from her first concert at Severance under George Szell to her special relationship with Ernö and Christoph von Dohnányi, to her fruitful marriage and partnership with First Assistant Principal Cello Richard Weiss, and more recent collaborations with Franz Welser-Möst. Read Joela's full bio.

New Beginnings

Oct 14 & 17, 2021

The Cleveland Orchestra performs together again, onstage in Mandel Concert Hall at Severance for the first time since March 2020, presenting a special concert filled with sonority and meaning.

Concert Details
Joela Jones

Two final performances.
Over a half-century in the making.

As we return to Severance this season, we also celebrate Joela Jones's incredible career with us. The opening two concerts of the 2021-22 season were Joela's final performances as principal keyboard with The Cleveland Orchestra.

These must-see performances featured works by Strauss, Tower, and Prokofiev – and audiences got to witness history as Joela received the Distinguished Service Award on Oct. 14, 2021 (opening night of the 2021-22 Severance Season).

  • Photo behind "New Music Program" by Peter Hastings, photo behind "New Beginnings" by Roger Mastroianni.

The First Concert

"New Music Program"

On April 13, 1967, Joela Jones made her Severance debut with George Szell conducting. Read coverage of the event in Steinway News from August 1967.

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Joela Jones
Joela Jones and The Cleveland Orchestra

Spotlight Feature Story (2021 Fall Issue*) "I couldn't have made a better decision than joining The Cleveland Orchestra."

As she steps away from the Orchestra, Jones looks back at her storied career across more than a half-century of music making in Cleveland. Recognized as a child prodigy at the age of 10, she had pursued a career as a soloist until she was offered a position with The Cleveland Orchestra. “Over the years, the orchestra has changed many times, but one thing has remained the same: the musicians are so dedicated to the music, and to striving for perfection.”

Read the Full Story
  • *Donors and Subscribers of The Cleveland Orchestra receive physical copies of our quarterly Spotlight magazine in the mail.
  • Photo by Peter Hastings (1986).