It’s been a while, thanks to COVID’s unwelcome interruption, but beginning Sept. 11, The Cleveland Orchestra residency at the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Music returns. For three days packed with sectionals, rehearsals, mock auditions, master classes, a Q&A and a Faculty Tuesdays concert, 14 members of the renowned Ohio orchestra will work side-by-side (literally) with CU Boulder student musicians eager to learn.
“It’s been a great partnership,” observes Steve Rose of this every-other-year collaboration that began a decade ago—until 2020 when the pandemic “got in the way,” as The Cleveland Orchestra’s principal second violinist puts it. This program, he says, “serves as a testament to CU Boulder to have the foresight to support the wonderful College of Music faculty and to have our orchestra lend our talents.”
Rose has been more than a cheerleader and faculty member since the birth of the residency. By pure luck, he was instrumental (pardon the pun) in its birth. The story begins with College of Music Dean-Emeritus Daniel Sher’s son Martin, who was a close friend of Rose’s back when Sher was dean at Louisiana State University (where Rose and Martin were students). The two friends would then continue their studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Later, the saga shifts to Boulder where the elder Sher was about to retire as dean. “Dan called me and told me of this dream of his (to have a Cleveland residency),” Rose recalls. “He asked, ‘Could this be possible?’” Yes, it could, thanks to Sher’s commitment and the financial assistance of The Clinton Family Fund led by Bruce Clinton.
Daniel Silver is another longtime participant in the Cleveland residency, but he’s locally based (albeit with Ohio roots). “I grew up in Cleveland,” says the College of Music professor of clarinet. “I grew up with that orchestra. I’ve known a lot of the players.” More than that, he learned to understand what makes them more than merely members of a world-class ensemble. “They bring to Boulder their wisdom—their realization of what it’s like to engage in a collaboration with others, to be a part of a team. Szell [longtime Cleveland music director George Szell] talked about players needing to listen to each other.” That spirit, he says, will be imparted to College of Music students—along with so many other extra-musical qualities.
Rose stresses the value of students getting close to musicians living daily lives as full-time orchestra members, to learn what that’s really like. “The experience of this residency comes in addition to their studies at CU Boulder, of course,” he says. “These students are so fortunate in getting a great music education. What we’re doing is contributing to that.”
One can imagine that participating students will be soaking up every minute of those three intense September days and evenings. Fact is, the same enthusiasm exists among the Cleveland contingent, Rose says. “I reached out to my colleagues to see who might be interested and available, concentrating on principal players in each of the sections.” He had no trouble getting takers. “We have some tremendous performers, ones who have the desire and the ability to teach,” the violinist adds.
Silver seconds that view. “They all look forward to coming here,” he observes. And yes, the students will be thrilled to participate in the three-day program ... but these aren’t a bunch of wide-eyed youngsters, he cautions. “We have highly motivated students with a range of sophistication.” While it’s a shame that the residency is only three days, Silver acknowledges, “it’s still possible for them to be sparked to a deeper awareness. Our goal is for the experience to leave them with something to work on. Maybe they’ll come away with a patience they didn’t have before.”
Members of The Cleveland Orchestra residency will join College of Music faculty and students in a free Faculty Tuesdays concert on Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m. in Grusin Music Hall. Preview, download or print the program.