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From Public Square to Hough, the Cleveland Orchestra Reaches Out to Its Hometown

Tyrionna McClain wails on her new instrumental friend

The Cleveland Orchestra returns to Public Square tonight for it's Star-Spangled Spectacular concert.  
The annual event was moved to a different location, last year, while the Square was under renovation.  
The free performance is one of several ways the Orchestra is reaching out to its home town, this summer

Guest conductor Loras Schissel says it was a bit daunting the first time he led the Cleveland Orchestra here in Public Square, over a decade ago.
"It's sort of like someone saying, 'Uh, I'm busy, take my Lamborghini around the block,'" he recalls.
Schissel says some in the Friday night audience may not have a background in classical music, but they won't need that to enjoy the show.
"A few weeks ago, you had this celebration for the Cavaliers," he notes.  "I can imagine that, out of the million people who came downtown, not everyone was a basketball fan.  And it's the same thing for the Cleveland Orchestra."
Thursday afternoon, the Orchestra was busy grooming a new generation of music fans in an educational session at the Langston Hughes library branch in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood.  It's part of a summer residency in the eastside community, where Orchestra members share their music outside of their traditional home in Severance Hall.  After hearing some examples of tonight's music, a group of grade school kids were given the chance to try out some instruments for themselves. Je'Mirah Broadus says she was shocked.
"I never got to pick-up an instrument before," she enthuses.
Tyrionna McClain said she was surprised that she could actually make some sounds on the violin
"It wasn't hard," she says.  "It was really easy."
She demonstrates by drawing a bow across the strings, as a series of notes squeak out.  Maybe not quite a Lamboghini, but a potential start on a new musical journey.

David C. Barnett was a senior arts & culture reporter for Ideastream Public Media. He retired in October 2022.