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Severance Hall: Home of the Cleveland Orchestra


Not long ago, a Catholic American college student studying in Paris went to confession. 

"Where in America are you from?" the priest asked.

When the girl said she was from Cleveland, Ohio, the priest was impressed. 

"Ah," he said, "The Cleveland Orchestra!"

If music is the universal language, The Cleveland Orchestra speaks it fluently.  Called "the best band in the land" by Time magazine, Cleveland's symphonic ensemble is world renowned, ranked behind only the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. As of January 2000, Cleveland's cultural ambassador to the world has a home worthy of its musical reputation.  Severance Hall was acclaimed as one of America's premiere concert halls when it opened in 1931, but time took its toll, preventing the hall from keeping pace with the quality of the performances inside its walls. 

But in December 1999, a $36 million restoration was completed, and, one month later, a newly refurbished Severance Hall was unveiled.  The New York Times etched its praise in ink, saying "Visually the new stage is stunning Severance Hall sounds as seductive as it looks." In reviewing the opening night performance, the London Financial Times said "Severance Hall's old analytical clarity was unimpaired and new warmth had been added."

In January 2001, the Norton Memorial Pipe Organ, created by E.M. Skinner in 1930 and silent for a quarter century, was unveiled, adding the finishing touch to the restoration.

The 2001-02 season promises to be historic since it marks the final season for Music Director Christoph von Dohnanyi whose tenure as conductor began in spring 1982.  The twenty-year partnership between Dohnanyi and the orchestra is, in the words of the Washington Post, "the most magnificently coordinated and mutually complementary teaming since Herbert von Karajan's best days with the Berlin Philharmonic."

As always, the season promises something for all musical tastes.  Carl Orff's masterpiece "Carmina Burana" is slated for a series of performances in late October, and Mozart's final three symphonies are on tap early in the New Year.  

Paul Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," best known for its appearance in Disney's Fantasia, will be given the Cleveland Orchestra treatment, and there will be several premieres, including James Macmillan's "Magnificat."  Guest artists will include Gil Shahom and the phenomenal Midori. 

A complete concert schedule is available online at clevelandorchestra.com where individual tickets can be ordered as of September 4. 

Like The Cleveland Orchestra, Severance Hall is a source of great pride to the citizens of Cleveland, Ohio, but like music itself, it belongs to the world.   As the orchestra's own marketing campaign suggests, when in Cleveland, Ohio, come hear what the world is talking about.

Severance Hall is located at 11001 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

Brian W. Fairbanks
Entertainment Editor