M.U.S.i.C. (Musical Upcoming Stars in the Classics)

Figure 1.  Check me out warming up on the flute!  Memphis Youth Symphony at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens (1989).

At the risk of repeating myself again (ha!), Cleveland is steeped in all kinds of music.  I have written about the biggies.  You know, concerts at Severance Hall, at Blossom, at Oberlin, etc.  But, if that’s all you think we have here in the CLE, well, you are very much mistaken.

If you listen very carefully, you’ll find that there is music everywhere and anywhere.  Any parent with kids in band, as well as the kids themselves, knows that free concerts are plentiful.  Venues range from the typical school auditorium to the classier outdoor gazebos or gardens (Figure 1).  And, don’t forget those mall gigs (Figure 2)!

Figure 2.  This time on piccolo!  Holiday concert courtesy of the Callanwolde Concert Band at Phipps Plaza, Atlanta, GA (2001).

Not all concerts have to be full on band or orchestra.  They can be solos, duets, trio, quartets…you get the picture.  If you want to get fancy, you would call these performances chamber music.  If you want to get fancier, you would attend one.

Figure 3. Hanna Mansion–a cool old house in Bratenahl (2018).

Not sure which salon will be hosting a chamber music concert?  Don’t worry, the CLE has you covered!

M.U.S.i.C., Musical Upcoming Stars in the Classics, is a not-for-profit organization that organizes professional-level chamber music in actual homes here in the Cleveland area.  Of course, not just any home is qualified to host a concert.  The residence must have a grand piano and a room to host 40 or so music lovers in addition to the musicians.  Well, I suppose that rules out my house.

Mom and I went to a M.U.S.i.C. concert last holiday season held at the Hanna Mansion.  The Hanna Mansion is a private residence on the National Registry of Historical Places (Figure 3) built in 1910.  With 12,000 square feet, this lakeside abode in the village of Bratenahl has more than enough room for the required piano and seating for guests (Figure 4).  And, lucky for us, the house was decked out and ready for its closeup for the holiday season (Figures 5-9).

Figure 4. Large salon, check!  Grand piano, double check!  The Hanna Mansion is more than ready for a M.U.S.i.C. salon (2018).

Figure 6.  Not a creature was stirring–except for this giraffe with a bow tie!  (M.U.S.i.C. salon, 2018).

Figure 5.  Every head is ready for the holiday season (M.U.S.i.C. salon, 2018).

Figure 7.  A grand tree for a grand entrance at the Hanna Mansion (M.U.S.i.C. salon, 2018).

Figure 8.  A pair of amaryllis wait patiently for someone to start the fire (M.U.S.i.C. salon, 2018).

Figure 9.  Studying the program notes by candle light (M.U.S.i.C. salon, 2018).

Figure 10. The required dark picture in front of the lit tree with Mom.  Photo credit: Rebecca Shasberger, cello (2018).

Of course, the real stars of this show were the musicians.  This concert featured piano soloists and duets and trios of various instrument combinations.  The salon concert also featured soprano Natasha Ospina-Simmons singing selections ranging from Puccini’s La bohème to Cole Porter’s “The Tale of the Oyster.”

Each salon has food and drink available, brought or made by patrons and volunteers.  The doors typically open at least a half hour before the show, and there is the usual intermission for a short mid-show musical break.  Most concert goers stay a bit and enjoy the post-concert nosh when all the snacks and other goodies are fully laid out on the table.  If you are lucky, one of the musicians will pour you a glass of bubbly.  It’s all very Mozart in the Jungle.  Don’t worry, I suppressed the urge to yell “jai alai!”

Mom and I have since to been another salon and are putting the future dates on our calendars (it was that good), including the cabarets.  We have not yet attended a cabaret, but based on the website’s descriptions, they seem much like the salons but set in public venues as opposed to private homes.

So, if you are a supporter of classical music, and you are looking to get your twinkle twinkle little star on, consider attending a M.U.S.i.C. salon or cabaret (Figure 11).  After all, life is a cabaret, old chum!

Figure 11.  Mom says goodbye for now to the Hanna Mansion.  We’ll see you at the next M.U.S.i.C. salon or cabaret.


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Dana Crawford

Professor of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences and Associate Director of the Cleveland Institute for Computational Biology, with interest in pharmacogenomics, electronic health records, and diverse populations. Also, an avid foodie!