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Allison Loggins-Hull dives into community to compose for Cleveland Orchestra

When the Cleveland Orchestra reached out to Allison Loggins-Hull asking her to be its 11th Daniel R. Lewis Composing Fellow, she was shocked.

“I thought, ‘Oh, maybe their artistic team is considering, like, programing something of mine in some concert,’” Loggins-Hull said. “Then several weeks later, the invitation to the fellowship came, and I was just like, ‘Is this really happening?’”

Female musician dressed in black holds a flute over her shoulder.
Rafael Rios
Allison Loggins-Hull

The Chicago-born composer and flutist jumped at the chance to work with music director Franz Welser-Möst and his orchestra.

“I am artistically very much a departure from other composers who have held this position. Truth be told, there hasn't been that many Americans. There hasn't been that many women and people from my perspective in life experience,” she said.

Her first assignment was to rewrite her 2021 work for nonet, “Can You See?”, for the full orchestra, which was performed in May 2023. The original was commissioned by the New Jersey Symphony as a response to Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner.”


Three Cleveland Orchestra flute players perform onstage during concert
The Cleveland Orchestra
Cleveland Orchestra flute players Mary Kay Fink, Saeran St. Christopher and Jessica Sindell perform Allison Loggins-Hull's "Can You See?" in 2023.

Loggins-Hull said she considered the validity of the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” including lines such as “can you see” and “the land of the free.”

As she reworked the piece, it took on a different tone.

“I ended it on this really nice, happy chord. It just kind of landed there,” she said. “I love how it ends. It just ended up taking a very different turn from the original, which I thought was kind of cool.”

Since the performance, Loggins-Hull has immersed herself in Cleveland’s neighborhoods looking for inspiration for a completely new work to debut in the spring of 2025.

“I didn't know much about Cleveland itself, but I did know it was home to this enormous, fantastic orchestra,” she said. “I was really curious to learn about this place. You know, after a lot of discussion about how this fellowship could look, I proposed really centering it in working with the community here and the people here and learning about the history of Cleveland.”

Woman laughing with music students in a rehearsal room at school.
The Cleveland Orchestra
Allison Loggins-Hull works with music students from the Cleveland School of the Arts.

She visited the Cleveland School of the Arts last season to work with music students on creating music inspired by their hometown.

“I gave them the prompt to work together and think of either a story or a theme or something that was significant to them as it relates to Cleveland.”

Loggins-Hull plans to incorporate some of the musical ideas the students came up with in her larger work for the orchestra.

Group of Cleveland Orchestra members, composer and bandura musicians stand onstage smiling for applause.
The Cleveland Orchestra
Allison Loggins-Hull and members of the Cleveland Orchestra visited the Hryhory Kytasty Cleveland School of Bandura in Parma.

This season the orchestra partnered with three community organizations with her residency: The Hryhory Kytasty Cleveland School of Bandura in Parma, the Fatima Family Center in Hough and Karamu House in Fairfax.

“All three very different organizations, very different histories, very different places in Cleveland,” she said. “My experience with each one was very different.”

At the bandura school, Loggins-Hull learned about the Ukrainian folk instrument, hearing it for the first time.

“It looks and sounds very much like a combination of a guitar and a harp,” she said. “Living in that sound world… thinking about other pieces that would complement that instrument from a musicological standpoint, that was great.”

Female flutist performs in front of piano with music stand in front of her.
Catholic Diocese of Cleveland
Allison Loggins-Hull performs at the Fatima Family Center in Hough.

The senior choir at the Fatima Family Center gave Loggins-Hull a generous welcome.

“[They] reminded me so much of my own grandmother. They shared a lot of their stories, either growing up or raising their family in Hough,” she said. “I just felt so grateful for how generous they were and their sharing,” she said.

Loggins-Hull and members of the Cleveland Orchestra shared the Karamu House stage with artists from other disciplines.

Group of musicians on stage getting ready to take a bow.
The Cleveland Orchestra
Allison Loggins-Hull and members of the Cleveland Orchestra on stage at Karamu House.

“That was a great opportunity to work with artists who weren't musicians necessarily, but who worked in other mediums as well, and how to make that work with the orchestra members,” she said.

All of her experiences in Northeast Ohio will feed into the broader composition she’s writing for the orchestra set to premiere in May 2025.

Dave DeOreo is coordinating producer for Ideastream Public Media’s arts and culture team.
Ygal Kaufman is a multiple media journalist with Ideastream Public Media.