Cleveland Music Festival Features International Opera Star This Weekend
Metropolitan Opera bass baritone Eric Owens comes to Northeast Ohio this weekend to take part in a long-standing local tradition. The Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM)’s Art Song Festival started 1985 and has since featured a who’s who of classical vocalists. The art song form is several hundred years old, and remains a popular, proving ground for young singers not quite ready for an operatic aria. Dean Southern, Executive Director of the Art Song Festival, said art songs spread rapidly thanks to a poetic renaissance.
“In the early 19th century, there was a proliferation of new poetry, specifically in German, that inspired composers to set music to this wonderful poetry that was being written.”
And he notes that the first audiences for this musical development were not in concert halls.
“It was originally for home consumption,” he says. “At this time, there were new pianos that were available, that people could have in their homes. So, publishers were looking for new works that they could sell, and these songs – specifically in the German tradition – were for home consumption, and that’s where these were originally performed.”
George Vassos, a former vocal teacher and founder of the CIM Art Song Festival, notes that this year’s event will feature just one recital, but next year there will be a week of music.
“We select ten singer-piano teams through auditions,” he says. “And they do master classes with the singers and the pianists.”
This year’s festival takes place on Sunday afternoon and pairs Eric Owens with pianist Myra Huang.