Fridays@7: The Cleveland Orchestra’s New Concert Format

One of the things I love about living in Cleveland is the great access to culture and arts. When I visit B at Case (he’s in the law school), I’m within walking distance from the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Orchestra. I don’t take advantage of these opportunities nearly enough. This weekend, however, I was able to get dress-circle tickets (from B’s sister-in-law who works for the orchestra) to the Cleveland Orchestra’s first performance as part of its new Fridays@7 concert series.

What’s so cool about Fridays@7?

  • Earlier start time, shorter program: Concert starts at 7 p.m. (just as the title suggests) and is only about 1.25 hrs long – meaning your whole night isn’t taken up by the concert if you don’t want it to be.
  • No intermission: The 75 minute program does not include an intermission – meaning the music is played straight through and again, it ends earlier.
  • Less formal: The musicians trade their formal wear in favor of more casual “urban black.” Attendees are told to feel free to leave their ties at home!
  • Post-concert concert: If you want to stay at Severance Hall even after the program, there’s post-concert music to enjoy in the grand foyer.
  • Food and drinks: During the post-concert entertainment, food and drinks are available. Though I, myself, didn’t get anything, I saw people eating some sandwiches and noticed a cash bar.

beatthedonkeyI think this format is a great concept – and could appeal to a much younger, Gen X and Gen Y audience who want to enjoy the orchestra but still have a free Friday night. Our sold out show was a night of Beethoven (the Piano Concerto No. 4 and Symphony No. 5) and was AWESOME. The pianist for the concerto, Mitsuko Uchida, was amazing and received a long standing ovation. After the concert, we stuck around to hear a few songs from the post-concert entertainment, Cyro Baptista’s Beat the Donkey – which was quite a contrast to the Beethoven we’d been hearing moments earlier. Beat the Donkey can only be described as new world music with crazy innovative percussionists. If you’ve seen Rachel Getting Married – think of the rehearsal dinner scene – that’s Cyro Baptista himself.

I definitely recommend you check out Fridays@7 – the next concerts include:

  • November 20: Cello and Space with Alisa Weilerstein and guest conductor Jonathan Nott
  • January 8, 2010: Tragedy to Triumph, with guest conductor Jaap van Zweden leading Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4
  • February 19, 2010: Musical Obsession, with Music Director Franz Welser-Möst conducting orchestral excerpts of music by Richard Wagner
  • April 30, 2010: Royal Drums & Trumpets, with baroque specialist Bernard Labadie guest-conducting Handel’s Water Music

For more info or to purchase tickets, check out

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