Cleveland Orchestra’s Prometheus Project Showcases All Nine Beethoven Symphonies


Wed 5/9-Sun 5/13

Thu 5/17-Sat 5/19

Wring your hands all you want about the Cleveland Orchestra not playing enough contemporary music or music written by underrepresented groups of composers. The bottom line is: Beethoven packs ’em in and his music has so many layers it never gets old.

That’s why the Cleveland Orchestra is presenting The Prometheus Project, which takes place this week and next at Severance Hall. Its centerpiece is the performance of all nine of Beethoven’s beloved symphonies, conducted by Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Möst .

As the Orchestra press release explains, “The Prometheus Project will examine Beethoven’s music through the metaphor of Prometheus, a daring Greek Titan who defied Zeus to bestow on humanity the gift of fire. For Beethoven, this gift of fire represented the beginning of human civilization, the spark of creativity that has powered the imagination of generations, the warmth of justice and goodness, the fight for right, and individual freedoms.”

The event kicks off with a pre-festival conversation with Welser-Möst and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor of music Mark Evan Bonds at Severance Hall’s Reinberger Chamber Hall.

On Thu 5/10 @ 7:30pm, the Orchestra will play symphonies No. 1 and No. 3 (“Eroica”) along with the Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus. On Fri 5/11 @ 8pm, they’ll play symphonies No. 4 and No. 7, and the Overture to Egmont. Symphonies No. 8 and No. 5 are on the program Sat 5/12 @ 8pm, with the Overture to Coriolan opening the evening. And on Sun 5/13 @ 3pm, symphonies No. 6 (“Pastoral”) and No. 2 and the Leonore overture No. 3 comprise the program.

What about Beethoven’s most famous Symphony No. 9, you ask? That is so popular it will be featured in three concerts, on Thu 5/17 @ 7:30pm, Fri 5/18 @ 8pm and Sat 5/19 @ 8pm, along with the Grosse Fuge (for string orchestra).

After that, the Orchestra will be taking The Prometheus Project to Vienna and Tokyo.

“During our 100th season, we challenge the current trend that intellect is not to be prized. Civilization and society only move forward by tackling the big questions, by really thinking and debating what is good, and by fighting to make life better for everyone,” says Welser-Möst in the event press release.  “Music, great music, is part of that discussion.”

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