Cleveland Orchestra Celebrating 100 Years

They might not light 100 birthday candles, but the fire of Prometheus plays a part in the orchestra's centennial season (image / The Cleveland Orchestra)
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On December 11, 1918, 54 musicians tuned-up their instruments in a downtown Cleveland concert hall and launched into history.  The Cleveland Orchestra has ambitious plans for it its 100th birthday celebration this year.  Chief Artistic Officer Mark Williams says it’s been a five-year process, developing special concerts and booking guest performers.

One major event is called the Prometheus Project, based on the Greek mythological figure who stole fire (metaphorically, enlightenment and knowledge) from the gods and brought civilization to us mere mortals on earth.

“It got us thinking about: Who are the people, who are the artists, what are the pieces of music that have really changed the world?” Williams said.

One of their choices was Ludwig van Beethoven.  Over the course of two weekends this Spring, the Orchestra will perform all of Beethoven’s symphonies and some other works.

The Orchestra will be celebrating another Promethean figure, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in January.  Although they’ve done an annual concert dedicated to the civil rights leader for many years, Mark Williams says the 2018 event will be special.

“We want to bring Dr. King into the room, using the opportunity to honor what this great person did, but also to really explore him as an intellectual,” he says. 

The birthday plans also include an opera, the annual Star Spangled Spectacular concert in downtown Cleveland near the 4th of July, and a series of performances and programs across six counties.

When asked if a birthday cake lit with 100 candles might raise any safety concerns, Williams smiles.  “We’ll have to call the fire marshal.”

Listen to the entire interview on the centennial season 




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