“When the Cleveland Orchestra’s leaders launched the campaign to build Severance Hall in 1928, Cleveland was on a roll,” writes Christopher Reynolds in Sunday’s (11/25) Los Angeles Times. “As America constructed skyscrapers, Cleveland’s steel mills were shipping vast tonnage on Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. The city’s population was about to hit 900,000. The orchestra, founded in 1918, had already … started on the path to worldwide acclaim…. It was 1928 … when philanthropists John and Elisabeth Severance pledged $1 million for a project to be designed by Walker & Weeks, a local architecture firm. Then Elisabeth died … followed by the stock market crash in late 1929…. ‘He really turned this building into a memorial to her,’ [archivist Andria] Hoy told me…. Nowadays, the city’s population is about 390,000; one steel mill remains. But Cleveland … has pivoted…. Condos and apartments are multiplying near the riverside…. Tourism [is] up …” During a recent Cleveland Orchestra performance of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 4, “Prokofiev dispatched us with a pair of booming, dissonant full-orchestra chords…. At the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the amps are turned to 11 to get effects like this. In Severance Hall, they do it without amplifiers.”

Posted November 26, 2018