Review: "For young listeners, a poignant, relevant reminder of history"

Brett Mitchell led The Cleveland Orchestra in six performances at the Maltz Performing Arts Center at Temple-Tifereth in Cleveland. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

Brett Mitchell led The Cleveland Orchestra in six performances at the Maltz Performing Arts Center at Temple-Tifereth in Cleveland. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

Seen and Heard International has published a review of Brett Mitchell's recent concerts with The Cleveland Orchestra:

Are we doomed to repeat our history?

Not if we do the work necessary to wake people up with the arts, humanity’s mirror. In light of fractious political movements worldwide, this Cleveland Orchestra presentation of “Violins of Hope” can be seen as not merely an educational program, but a critically important call for awareness....

The music was led with poise by Brett Mitchell, the Cleveland Orchestra’s outstanding associate conductor. Mitchell started with Gerald Finzi’s gravely beautiful Prelude for string orchestra, one of the few orchestral works by the always expressive but never prolific English composer, born of a Jewish family, though himself an agnostic....

The “Allegro molto” from Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony (an arrangement of his harrowing String Quartet No. 8) brought to life the terror that came with the rise of the Nazis and their attendant monstrosities. Mitchell’s direction made the explosive movement part of the program’s whole—intense but less violent than it might be in a complete performance, and showing a shrewd sense of musical storytelling....

The actors then told the story of violinist Bronislaw Huberman, who formed the Palestine Symphony—today the Israel Philharmonic. Their first concert was in 1936, led by Arturo Toscanini, who opened with Rossini’s overture to La scala di seta. Mitchell made no attempt to imitate Toscanini’s fierce manner, again maintaining the program’s context: joyous in relief, but guarded.

The orchestra performed this important program six times to student audiences in the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, reaching three thousand elementary and middle school students, who had been prepared with in-class study guides. The seriousness and attentiveness of these young thinkers are reasons to hope that this time, history will not be allowed to repeat itself.

To read the complete review, please click here.