City Music

Group of people sitting on a stage in rows with instruments in hand

City Music will be performing Thursday, March 14, 2019 7:30 p.m.

Ensemble Bio

CityMusic Cleveland is a chamber orchestra that presents free concerts in a variety of Cleveland neighborhoods. Now celebrating its 15th anniversary season, the orchestra was founded in 2004 with the mission of developing audiences and building communities through the arts. CityMusic accomplishes this by presenting the finest quality performances of classical repertoire, eliminating the twin barriers of high ticket prices and unfamiliar venues, and working with neighborhood leaders to enrich the cultural offerings of their communities. CityMusic frequently tackles social issues through provoking and innovative concert-projects. The orchestra performs four concerts per season and this year will feature acclaimed soloists Tessa Lark, Frank Rosenwein, Sayaka Shoji and Amit Peled. Music Director Avner Dorman leads the orchestra, and this season has been commissioned to write a new violin concerto in celebration of CityMusic’s 15th Anniversary.

Artistic Director
Headshot of Avner Dorman, music director and composer for CityMusic's Violin Concerto

Avner Dorman writes music of intricate craftsmanship and rigorous technique, expressed with a soulful and singular voice. A native of Israel now living in the United States, Dorman draws on a variety of cultural and historical influences in composing, resulting in music that affects an emotional impact while exploring new territories. His works utilize an exciting and complex rhythmic vocabulary, as well as unique timbres and colors in orchestral, chamber, and solo settings. The world’s finest orchestras, conductors, and soloists regularly perform Dorman’s music, and many of his compositions have become contemporary staples in the repertoire. Dorman’s music is championed by conductors including Zubin Mehta, Ricardo Chailly, and Andris Nelsons, and by soloists Gil Shaham, Martin Grubinger, and Hilary Hahn. 

Dorman's music has garnered numerous awards and prizes. Most recently, he won the 2018 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music, and his debut opera, Wahnfried, was named a finalist in the category of World Premiere at the International Opera Awards. At the age of 25, Dorman became the youngest composer to win Israel's prestigious Prime Minister's Award for his Ellef Symphony. He has earned several international awards from ASCAP, ACUM, and the Asian Composers League. 

Dorman is an active conductor, and he is the current music director of CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra. He holds a doctorate in composition from the Juilliard School and serves as Associate Professor of Music Theory and Composition at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College.

Ensemble History

CityMusic Cleveland has carved a distinctive place in the cultural life of Northeast Ohio since its founding in 2004. Volunteers created the professional chamber orchestra to present free concerts in neighborhoods where audience members may have no other access to classical music. The organization has established a fresh orchestral paradigm by forging relationships, fostering community involvement in the arts, and offering programs full of artistic adventure.

CityMusic has explored a variety of social issues through intergenerational projects. The first, in 2011, addressed bullying with a commissioned work for narrator and chamber orchestra, Margaret Brouwer's Daniel and Snakeman. A year later, the Holocaust was the subject of a CityMusic program about genocide and oppression that included Hans Krasa’s children’s opera Brundibar, which received its initial performances at the Nazi internment camp Theresienstadt (Terezin) in Czechoslovakia in 1943 and 1944. One of the youngsters in the original casts was Czech-born Ela Stein Weissberger, who since has attended hundreds of performances of the work worldwide, including the CityMusic concerts. The plight of Cleveland refugees was the focus of last year’s project, which presented another commissioned work, Dan Visconti’s Roots to Branches, a percussion concerto. “Wishes and Dreams,” the next project, focuses on Cleveland’s homeless children with performances of music director Avner Dorman’s percussion concerto Spices, Perfumes, Toxins! and a selection of songs featuring Broadway and Hollywood star Heather Headley. The project for 2018 was “Two Faiths: One Spirit”, which combined parallel stories of the rescue of the Sarajevo Haggadah and the priceless ancient Islamic manuscripts of Timbuktu. CityMusic commissioned Merima Kljuco to orchestrate The Sarajevo Haggadah for chamber orchestra and accordion. This project underlines the common humanity that is the center of all faiths.

Along with audience development, CityMusic is committed to teaching young people about the joys of music. Its education program, the Clurie Bennis Children’s Outreach Program, presents dynamic educational pieces that represent a variety of cultural stories through music, theater and dance. The program is performed in partnership with the Children’s Museum of Cleveland and schools and libraries in Slavic Village, Collinwood, and Cleveland Heights.

CityMusic has commissioned several works in addition to the Brouwer and Visconti pieces created for the intergenerational projects. Brouwer composed her Concerto for Violin and Chamber Orchestra for the ensemble and soloist Michi Wiancko in 2007. The Greek-born Canadian composer Christos Hatzis wrote Redemption: Book I for the orchestra and the Pacifica Quartet, who premiered the score in 2009 under guest conductor David Alan Miller. A year later, CityMusic made its New York debut at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in “A Celebration of America’s Hellenic Community,” a benefit program of music by Hatzis featuring the renowned Greek pop singer George Dalaras.

The ensemble has released four compact discs. One features Brouwer’s Concerto for Violin and Chamber Orchestra paired with Stravinsky’s Danses concertantes and Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 under former music director James Gaffigan, who also conducts two other recordings of diverse fare. A fourth recording, devoted to music of Mozart, is led by Joel Smirnoff, president of the Cleveland Institute of Music and former violinist in the Juilliard String Quartet. The discs are available at