The summer includes shows for the serious and the casual concertgoer.
CLEVELAND -- Fireworks bursting in the summer air mean two things: Independence Day is around the corner and the Cleveland Orchestra is about to begin another summer Blossom Festival season.
"It's always great to see how a summer's activities will catch on, take hold, get people's imaginations and become successful events," said Cleveland Orchestra Artistic Administrator Peter Czornyj. "This coming summer, we've been able to program a lot of events that do show how much progress we've made in planning our Blossom summers and how we can appeal in many ways to a very broad group of enthusiastic concertgoers."
Entering its 36th year at the scenic outdoor Cuyahoga Falls venue, the Blossom Festival's 10-week season, which begins Sunday and runs through Sept. 4, spans the breadth of classical music offerings with symphonic gems and family-oriented programs. In addition, there's also the Cleveland Orchestra's Star-spangled Spectacular at 9 p.m. Tuesday in Cleveland's Public Square.
For the sophisticated music lover, one with a discriminating ear and extensive knowledge, Czornyj suggests numerous must-attend Blossom performances.
Said Czornyj, "I would say for the traditional, the great Cleveland Orchestra symphonic concert patron, someone who is not looking for a pop experience but to a great evening of music, opening weekend with the Cleveland Orchestra with Jahja Ling, Blossom Festival Director, conducting Tchaikovsky and Chopin with Cuban pianist Horacio Gutierrez will be fabulous."
Other standout dates of note include Ling conducting Bruckner on July 15, Franz Welser-Most directing Beethoven on Aug. 19 and assistant director James Gaffigan making his major Blossom debut directing Shostakovich on July 23.
As for the casual classical music follower, who perhaps is looking for a breezy program to enhance the breezy summer ambiance, there are plenty of notable performances.
"I'm really looking forward to the great night we have planned on July 30, where we'll play Holst's 'Planets' and also show spectacular NASA (National Aeronautic and Space Administration) videos throughout that performance projected on multiple screens around Blossom," Czornyj said. "It's an event that will be great for everyone -- the family, the orchestra lover but also people who love to see some extra elements during a Blossom concert. It's going to be really spectacular."
There's also "A Tribute to the Musicals of Rodgers & amp; Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim" on July 10, as well as "The Three Broadway Divas" on July 24 performing material from select Broadway musicals ("Evita," "Cats," "Mame," "My Fair Lady," "Wicked" and more).
For parents hoping to introduce their children to the world of classical music, the Blossom Festival boasts a few shows that cater directly to mom, dad and the kids. "The Blossom Festival Band Goes to the Circus" on Aug. 28 includes a ringmaster, perhaps a clown or two and plenty of family activities and fun music all afternoon and evening long.
And the 2005 season ends with a nod to the work of George Lucas and his famed sci-fi series "Star Wars." Taking place Sept. 3 and 4, the "Star Wars Spectacular" features the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra showcasing John Williams' movie scores from all six "Star Wars" films, including the recently released "Revenge of the Sith." In addition, Anthony Daniels, who portrayed "Star Wars" character C-3PO, narrates the entire performance.
Czornyj said hopes are high for this summer's season, especially with the recent news regarding the financial troubles of the Cleveland Orchestra.
"I think the best support that we can see for all that we do is for people to show up in their thousands to Blossom this summer to just enjoy the music," Czornyj said. "To be part of the whole experience of being outdoors there and being at this wonderful location to hear great music played by a great orchestra. And we all keep our fingers crossed that we'll have great weather."