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Fans Eagerly Anticipate Cleveland Orchestra's Return To Blossom Music Center This Summer

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Kathryn Dillon
Kathryn Dillon
 2021-05-13

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Northeast Ohio music lovers, after mourning a dearth of live events for more than a year, are gleefully gobbling up tickets to various local and regional shows in 2021.

None are happier than Cleveland Orchestra fans, who can finally look forward to attending a concert at their favorite outdoor venue this summer.

The orchestra has announced that 2021 will mark its return to Blossom Music Center, the organization's regular summer home since 1968, for 10 weeks of concerts that can be purchased individually or as a subscription package.

Blossom, located in Cuyahoga Falls, is an outdoor amphitheater owned by the Musical Arts Association, parent company to the Cleveland Orchestra. Though today it hosts a variety of events and concerts of all genres, it was designed specifically to create a permanent summer locale for the orchestra, whose musicians often had trouble finding employment after the regular concert season was over each year.

In addition to its pavilion and stage, Blossom features ample lawn seating and picnic areas. Tucked into a hillside surrounded by trees, the lawn seat attendees are privy to a breathtaking view of the night sky as they take in the music.

COVID-19 health and safety protocols will be in place to protect both attendees and staff. Both pavilion and lawn seating will follow social distancing, with Blossom staff available to help lawn guests maintain a six-foot distance between households.

Guests and staff are asked to wear masks at all times, except when actively eating and drinking in their seats. Staff and musicians will have daily temperature scans, regularly wash and sanitize their hands, and ensure high-touch surfaces are frequently cleaned.

The Cleveland Orchestra summer concert calendar kicks off with An American Celebration on July 3rd and 4th, offering a patriotic assortment that includes Copland's "Appalachian Spring", Tchaikovsky’s "1812 Overture", and, of course, John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever".

After that, the program runs the gamut from the familiar (think Mozart and Beethoven) to the more obscure (Elgar's "Enigma Variations", described as the composer's "version of a mixtape"). Crowd-pleasers will include a Beatles tribute and a selection of film scores from blockbusters like Harry Potter and Star Wars.

I'm particularly looking forward to Dvorak's "Symphony No. 9 (From the New World)". I never tire of hearing what the Cleveland Orchestra website describes as "...the beauty of America through an outsider’s perspective – Dvorak’s – thrilled by the sounds and sights of this wild new country upon his arrival."

Orchestra events are exempt from the usual Blossom restrictions on bringing coolers and alcohol into the venue, and many attendees show up early to lay out picnic blankets and food spreads ranging from casual snacks to elaborate banquets.

It's easy to pinpoint the folks who have been coming for years, as they've meticulously prepared for the occasion, bringing low fold-out tables and picnic drink holders that stick in the ground to hold wine glasses and other beverages steady. (I've personally felt a bit gauche trying to stabilize a plastic cup of wine between my feet while simultaneously juggling a plate of food.)

Tapas-style dishes work nicely for a picnic. They pack well and are typically acceptable if not even better served at room temperature (think roasted cauliflower salad with a red pepper pesto, marinated chickpeas, assorted olives with chunks of feta cheese, potato wedges with creamy garlic dip, hummus with vegetables and pita, and slices of hard salami).

Such dishes are substantial enough to satisfy your appetite but light enough that you won't fall asleep on your picnic blanket once the sun goes down.

They pair beautifully with a bottle of wine from Sarah's Vineyard, conveniently situated in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, right across the street from Blossom's Steels Corners Road entrance.

The vineyard, open since 2007, currently grows nine varieties of grapes, including Cabernet Franc, Cayuga, Chambourcin, Frontenac, Niagara, Rubiana, Sevyal, Traminette, and Vidal. While many Ohio wines are sweet, Sarah's Vineyard offers selections to please all palates, importing grapes from California and Europe to supplement those that grow well in our climate.

Don't feel like packing your own picnic? Sarah's Vineyard also offers tasty food choices available for curbside pickup, from cheese plates and warm rosemary bread to main dish salads and sandwiches.

Whether you attend a single concert or buy a subscription for the whole season, whether you dine in style while sipping local wine or purchase food from the concession stands, the Cleveland Orchestra's return to Blossom is sure to please music fans of all types.

For more information, and to plan your own unforgettable evening, check out the Cleveland Orchestra's website here and the Sarah's Vineyard website here.

Blossom Music Center is located at 1145 W. Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223.

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