Engage, inspire, connect. These are the pillars guiding world-renowned pianist and Steinway artist Yaron Kohlberg every day. Kohlberg ignites audiences through traditional and nontraditional performances, develops creative programming, and supports emerging artists, making him a leader and innovator in the world of classical music.
While those crowds are often found in famous venues (Carnegie Hall, the Kremlin, Beijing’s Forbidden City, Kennedy Center, and Mexico City’s Bellas Artes are some of the iconic auditoriums he has performed as soloist), Kohlberg reaches beyond the concert-going public to engage new audiences with classical music in atypical places – a street piano in Singapore, a hotel lobby in Marrakech, a community center in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. It is in these unexpected performances where he crosses cultural divides and awakens listeners to new experiences.
Kohlberg often combines storytelling and transcriptions of popular tunes with traditional classical masterpieces, thrilling audiences and critics with his virtuosity and unique quality of sound. NPR raved, “When the music ends, if you’re not deeply moved by the depth of Kohlberg’s insight, you might want to check your pulse.” Audience favorites include Carmen, the theme songs from the Pulp Fiction and Mission Impossible soundtracks, “Hava Nagila” and the children’s song “The Most Beautiful Girl in Kindergarten.”
Winner of 10 international prizes and the 2007 silver medalist of the Cleveland International Piano Competition, Kohlberg is President of Piano Cleveland, the organizing body of the CIPC. Original programming he has co-created includes the upcoming Artist Development Program, an enrichment and professional development program for top-tier young pianists; The Listening Series, an in-person and virtual event that takes audiences from the couch to the concert hall as musicians take a deep dive into their work; and Virtu(al)oso, a global piano competition that raised more than $75,000 to support pianists during the pandemic. Articles about his creative ideas have been featured in several of the best classical music publications, including Pianist Magazine, Musical America, and The World of Piano Competitions magazine.
Kohlberg and his friend Bishara Haroni comprise the successful Israeli-Palestinian group, Duo Amal. They have performed worldwide, including at Geneva’s UN Hall, a remarkable example of the power of music to overcome cultural differences. The Vatican took notice, and invited them to perform for the Pope in 2020, which has been postponed due to Covid.
Forging connections through collaboration is a hallmark of Kohlberg’s work. He has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic and Jerusalem Symphony Orchestras, the Beijing and Chengdu Symphony Orchestras, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, and the Palermo Teatro Massimo Orchestra in Italy, working with conductors Thomas Sondergard, Jahja Ling, Roman Kofman, En Shao, Steven Byess and Ryan McAdams. He has also collaborated with the Limón Dance company, cellists Toke Møldrup and Nicholas Altstaedt, pianists Yeol Eum Son and Dong Hyek Lim, choreographer and dancer Jin Xing, rock star Shlomi Shaban, composer Alexey Kurbatov and the Ariel String Quartet. He was the artistic director of a cover band concert tour of his beloved alternative rock group, Radiohead.
In addition to co-leading Piano Cleveland, performing, and serving on international competition juries, Kohlberg also lectures and conducts masterclasses at leading institutions around the world. He speaks six languages, including Mandarin Chinese, has lived on three continents, and traveled to 85 countries. Immersing himself in other cultures and forging strong relationships with people from all over the world has inspired Kohlberg to dedicate his life to sharing the beauty of his greatest passion, the piano.
Formed in 1937, the CSO has celebrated 85 years serving the community of Stark County and beyond. Giving its first concert on February 16, 1938 under the direction of Richard Oppenheim the CSO has boasted world-class talent under the direction of many Cleveland Orchestra Assistant Conductors followed by the appointment of long-time Music Director Gerhardt Zimmermann in 1980. Diversity, equity, and inclusion lead the artistic planning process as all MasterWorks programs contain at least one work on each concert by composers undiscovered, under-represented, and up-and-coming, and the Orchestrating Change podcast, which looks at the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music and how to create actionable change. Supporting local organizations and talent is important through collaborations such as the Divergent Sound Series, which features local bands paired with musicians from the orchestra performing all original music.
Educational programming serves young audiences through free Young People’s Concerts, SymphonyLand, and Kinder Concerts each year. The Canton Youth Symphonies programs educate young musicians from over six surrounding counties and the Lighthouse Ministries Strings Program provides string training for free to students in southeast Canton. The Composer Fellowship program commissions a new work to be performed by the Advanced Youth Orchestra and the Artist in Residence Program identifies a local artist or group to create a classical music-related project.
Now completing its 85th Season, the Canton Symphony is a fully professional ensemble, and all of its members are members of the American Federation of Musicians. Their wages and working conditions are governed by a contract negotiated with Local 111 of the American Federation of Musicians.
Steven Byess is a dynamic and passionate conductor, hailed by critics as “masterful and brilliant,” “creating the epitome of instrumental elegance,” and capturing “the full spirit and vitality of the score perfectly.” Recognized for his musical versatility, multi-faceted presence on the podium, and passion for music education, he is devoted to promoting a life-long love and enthusiasm for music and the arts.
Steven is the music director of the Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra (Oregon), the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, and the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. He conducted the U.S. premiere of Russian violinist Alexander Markov’s Rock Concerto at Carnegie Hall in New York, and was selected by Walt Disney World Entertainment to conduct the 2000 NFL E*TRADE Super Bowl Halftime show, where he performed for a television audience of 88 million fans.
As a passionate advocate for the arts, Steven is sought after for his speeches on the arts, music, and education, and has organized collaborations with numerous choruses, chamber music ensembles, and festivals. He wrote and co-directed a PBS presentation, Count On It!, designed to connect music and mathematics for children grades K-3. Since 2013, he has shared this passion with over 80,000 children around the country as a conductor of the Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute Link Up orchestral education concerts.
A prolific conductor of opera from grand to contemporary, his performances include Puccini’s La Bohème and a critically acclaimed production of Robert Ward’s The Crucible at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel; Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with Greensboro Opera; Bizet’s Carmen with Emerald City Opera (Colorado); Copland’s The Tender Land, Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance, and a collaboration with composer Ricky Ian Gordon on his opera “27” with Intermountain Opera (Montana); and Weill’s Street Scene and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance with the Eastman School of Music Opera Theatre. Steven has been a guest conductor at the Pine Mountain Music Festival in Michigan for their productions of Le tragédie de Carmen (Bizet/Brook), a highly acclaimed production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, collaborating with the composer’s daughter Jamie Bernstein, and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.
Steven is the former associate music director of the Ohio Light Opera where he conducted over 80 productions and 21 commercial recordings, including repertoire ranging from well- to little-known operas and operettas to blockbuster classic American musical theater works.
In addition to over 60 symphonic performances in the 2022-2023 season, Steven will conduct ballet productions of The Nutcracker, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, and Appalachian Spring.
Taiwanese-American violinist Yun-Ting Lee joined the second violin section of The Cleveland Orchestra in 2013. He completed his Bachelor and Master degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where his principal teachers were David Cerone, William Preucil, and David Updegraff. He has also studied with Dr. Phyllis Skoldberg and Ming-De Zhang.
Yun-Ting has appeared as soloist with Spoleto Festival USA, Music Academy of the West, Cleveland Institute of Music, National Repertory, and Phoenix Symphony orchestras. A dedicated chamber musician, Mr. Lee received the Dr. Bennett Levine Memorial Award in Chamber Music from CIM. Yun-Ting has collaborated with Orion Weiss, Lyrica Baroque Ensemble, members of the Juilliard, Cavani, Verona, and Tokyo String Quartets.
Yun-Ting has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He is an alumnus of the New York String Orchestra Seminar, the Holland International Music Sessions, Encore School for Strings, and the Pacific Music Festival.
Violinist Jessica Lee has built a multi-faceted career as a soloist, chamber musician, and now as Assistant Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra since 2016. She was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2005 Concert Artists Guild International Competition and has been hailed as “a soloist which one should make a special effort to hear, wherever she plays”. Her international appearances include solo performances with the Plzen Philharmonic, Gangnam Symphony, Malaysia Festival Orchestra, and at the Rudolfinum in Prague. At home, she has appeared with orchestras such as the Houston, Grand Rapids, and Spokane symphonies.
Jessica has performed in recitails at venues including Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Ravinia “Rising Stars”, the Phillips Collection in Washington DC, and the Kennedy Center.
A long-time member of the Johannes Quartet as well as of the The Bowers Program (formerly the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Two), Jessica has also toured frequently with ‘Musicians from Marlboro’, including appearances at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston’s Gardner Museum, and with the Guarneri Quartet in their farewell season. Her chamber music festival appearances include Bridgehampton, Santa Fe, Seoul Spring, Caramoor, Olympic, and Music@Menlo. She also put together a six- video chamber music series during the pandemic which was a collaboration between the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Clinic to bring chamber music from iconic spaces in Cleveland to the greater Cleveland community.
Jessica has always had a passion for teaching and has served on the faculties of Vassar College and Oberlin College, and now is on violin faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She was accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music at age fourteen following studies with Weigang Li, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree under Robert Mann and Ida Kavafian. She completed her studies for a Master’s Degree at the Juilliard School.
American cellist Dane Johansen performs throughout the world as a chamber musician and soloist and as a member of The Cleveland Orchestra. Praised for his “brave virtuosity” and “staggering aplomb” (The New York Times, New York Magazine), Dane made his debut under James Levine performing Elliott Carter’s Cello Concerto at Lincoln Center’s celebration of the composer’s centennial. Dane has performed extensively as an Artist of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and has appeared in recital at Carnegie Hall as the first winner of the Leo Ruiz Memorial Award.
More recent engagements include performances of Walton’s Cello Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and performances with the Jerusalem Symphony and Houston Symphony. Dane walked 600 miles of the famed Camino de Santiago with his cello on his back, performing Bach’s Cello Suites in thirty-six concerts along the route. His experience is the subject of the documentary film, Strangers on the Earth, and his recording of Bach’s Cello Suites will be released in 2023.
Prior to joining The Cleveland Orchestra, Dane was a member of the Escher String Quartet, a recipient of the Avery Fischer Career Grant, and a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist. He studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris and the Juilliard School where he received the Artist Diploma.
A native of Calgary, Canada, Martha Baldwin has been a member of the cello section of The Cleveland Orchestra since 2001. Martha is a graduate of Rice University where she studied with Desmond Hoebig, and the Cleveland Institute of Music where she was a student of Stephen Geber. She has also spent time studying with Harvey Shapiro, Aldo Parisot, and Paul Katz. Martha has been broadcast nationally on NPR and CBC radio and has appeared as a soloist with a number of orchestras including the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Columbia Symphony, Canton Symphony, and National Repertory Orchestra.
A passionate educator, Martha serves as an artist/educator for The Cleveland Orchestra where she helps create programs and concert experiences for students and families of all ages. She was a long time member of the preparatory string faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she served as String Department Chair for 5 years. Her students have been accepted to top conservatories and music programs including Curtis, The Juilliard School, Eastman, McGill University, Northwestern University, New England Conservatory, Rice University, Tanglewood, and the Aspen School of Music.
She is regularly invited to teach in Canada and the U.S. at conservatories and summer festivals such as the C.I.M.
International Academy, Mount Royal University Conservatory of Music, and the Cincinnati Young Artists at the University of Cincinnati College/Conservatory. Martha plays on a cello by Eugene Holtier of North Ridgeville, OH.