Behind the Beat: Kaija Saariaho

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Behind the Beat

Behind the Beat is a series featuring composers and performers in the time of isolation. While the twin pillars of performing arts—global travel and gathering together for a shared experience—are impossible, artists are reflecting on their work, both past and future. Of particular interest are those artists with direct connections to the Cleveland Museum of Art. This series celebrates the legacy of music at the museum and uniquely illuminates aspects of the museum’s collection.

Kaija Saariaho

Kaija Saariaho is one of the most widely respected composers in classical music today. Her works, spanning from chamber and orchestral music to electronic music and opera, have been performed worldwide. Saariaho's large orchestra work Orion has a unique link to the Cleveland Museum of Art - not publicly known until now. 

Courtney Bryan. Photo by Elizabeth Leitzell

Courtney Bryan (Part 2)

Courtney Bryan’s music is strongly informed by bridging the sacred and the secular, with influences ranging widely through jazz, gospel, and experimental music. From solo works to ensemble pieces to large orchestral scores, Bryan’s music is also concerned with social justice. Her work list includes a series of responses to police brutality, beginning with Saved in 2013. In Part 2 of their extended conversation, composer-pianist Bryan continues with her insights about spirituality in music, victims of police brutality, and the role of the artist in society.

Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl

Legendary food writer Ruth Reichl was restaurant critic for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times and editor in chief of Gourmet magazine. She has been honored with six James Beard Awards and is the author of multiple critically acclaimed best-selling memoirs. In For You Mom, Finally, the reader discovers Ruth’s close connection to Cleveland through her remarkable grandmother, Mollie Brudno, an unheralded but important impresario in the mid-20th century who organized hundreds of concerts with the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Courtney Bryan. Photo by Elizabeth Leitzell

Courtney Bryan (Part 1)

Courtney Bryan’s music is strongly informed by bridging the sacred and the secular, with influences ranging widely through jazz, gospel, and experimental music. From solo works to ensemble pieces to large orchestral scores, Bryan’s music is also concerned with social justice. Her work list includes a series of responses to police brutality, beginning with Saved in 2013. In Part 1 of their extended conversation, Bryan and Welsh discuss her forthcoming opera Awakening about Rebecca Cox Jackson, a free Black woman in the 19th century who established a Shaker community in Philadelphia.

Steven Bernstein

On the occasion of The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s exhibition in fall 2017, the Cleveland Museum of Art welcomed Henry Butler, Steven Bernstein, and the Hot 9—artists devoted to keeping music of the 1920s alive. In May 2019, bandleader Steven Bernstein took time out of his schedule to have a conversation about the roots of jazz in American popular culture. (With a slight detour through Cleveland.)

Cenk Ergün with John Richards and Chris Otto of the JACK Quartet

Composer Cenk Ergün joins John Richards and Chris Otto of the JACK Quartet to discuss Ergün’s music and performing in venues apart from the conventional concert hall.

Aleksandra Vrebalov with David Harrington of Kronos Quartet

Composer Aleksandra Vrebalov and David Harrington of Kronos Quartet discuss their collaboration on Vrebalov’s recent commission by the Cleveland Museum of Art, Antennae.