Blossom Music Festival to open season with patriotic concerts

By Kerry Clawson
Beacon Journal arts writer

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Salute to America at Blossom / July 3 & 4 Blossom Festival Band (photo by Roger Mastroianni)

You know summer has “officially” begun when it’s time to strike up the band at Blossom Music Center for Fourth of July festivities.

The Blossom Music Festival season will open Wednesday and July 4 with the Blossom Festival Band continuing its 40-year tradition with its Salute to America Concerts. They will be held at 8 each night with a program featuring music by some of the country’s best-loved composers, including Gershwin and Sousa.

The concerts will end with Tchaikovsky’s explosive “1812 Overture” and will be followed by fireworks.

The band will be conducted by Loras John Schissel, who has been at the helm since 1998.

He knows a thing or two about patriotic music: Schissel is also founder and music director of the Arlington, Va.-based Virginia Grand Military Band, composed of current and former members of the four U.S. service bands, and is a senior musicologist at the Library of Congress. Last year, Schissel co-authored John Philip Sousa’s America — A Patriot Life in Images and Words with John Philip Sousa IV, the famous composer and conductor’s great-grandson.

Cost for the Independence Day concerts is $20 for lawn tickets or $25-$45 for pavilion seats. Guests under 18 are free on the lawn. All-American cookout concessions will be available for additional purchase before the concerts.

The patriotic concerts kick off a 19-concert season, with the Cleveland Orchestra appearing in nine classical programs as well as eight evenings of pops or other special programs, running through Sept. 1.

The orchestra’s opening night will be July 5, featuring soprano Luba Orgonášová in her Cleveland Orchestra debut. She will perform as soloist in Strauss’ Four Last Songs under the baton of Music Director Franz Welser-Moest.

Slovak lyric soprano Orgonášová has sung on all the major operatic stages in the world and in leading concert halls in cities including Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Hamburg, Leipzig, Zurich, Milan, Rome, Amsterdam, Paris, London and New York.

Also on the July 5 program will be Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8.

On July 6, Welser-Moest will lead the orchestra in a Heroic Beethoven program, which will include Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge for string orchestra and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.”

The July 6 program also will feature French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in Liszt’s Totentanz for piano and orchestra. Thibaudet has performed around the world for more than 30 years and recorded more than 50 albums, including the 2011 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close movie soundtrack and his 2010 Gershwin CD on Decca featuring big jazz band orchestrations of Rhapsody in Blue, variations on I Got Rhythm and Concerto in F live with the Baltimore Symphony. He was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2010 in honor of his musical achievements.

Both opening weekend Cleveland Orchestra performances will be at 8 p.m. Cost is $20 for lawn tickets, free lawn tickets for those under 18 and $25-$85 for pavilion tickets.

Tickets for all the festival shows are available by telephone (216-231-1111, 800-686-1141), at the Severance Hall Ticket Office, and online at Blossom Music Center is at 1145 W. Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls. All artists and programs are subject to change.

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or

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