CMA Recorded Archive Editions

The Cleveland Museum of Art is home to the longest-running concert series of any museum of North America, and consequently home to an extraordinary recorded archive of these performances. It is with great excitement that we announce the Cleveland Museum of Art – Recorded Archive Editions, a digital-only series of releases selected from this singular legacy. Since the 1918 appearance here by the New York Philharmonic, the museum has presented more than 5,000 concerts over the course of its first century.

An astonishing number of extraordinary artists have graced the stage of the museum, from nearly every corner and every tradition of the globe: Maurice Ravel, Béla Bartók, Aaron Copland, Nadia Boulanger, John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Amy Beach, Philip Glass, Bright Sheng, Walden Quartet, Jascha Heifetz, William Christie, Kronos Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, Vijay Iyer, John Luther Adams, John Zorn, Maja S.K. Ratkje, Camille Norment, Chen Yi, the International Contemporary Ensemble, So Percussion, Nikhil Banerjee, Wu Man, Royal Ballet of Cambodia, Henry Threadgill, Tarek Abdallah & Adel Shams El-Din, Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ, Zakir Hussain, the Sabri Brothers and countless others, altogether representing not fewer than 100 countries.

In launching the Recorded Archive Editions, the guiding vision is to make available historically significant recordings of performances that were exceptional and unique to Cleveland. The first is composer Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Piano with Javanese Gamelan, featuring pianist Sarah Cahill with Gamelan Galak Tika under the direction of Evan Ziporyn and Jody Diamond. This 2017 performance was organized on the occasion of the composer’s centennial, and highlighted Harrison’s distinctive ability to marry western classical forms with Asian musical traditions—in this case the Javanese gamelan, which required an idiosyncratic (to western ears) retuning of the piano to match the pitched percussion ensemble. An exceedingly rare performance has been beautifully captured on tape. The second release is a historic concert by Olivier Messiaen with his wife, virtuoso pianist Yvonne Loriod. In 1978, they performed Visions de l’Amen, the composer’s masterwork for two pianos, in Gartner Auditorium. Discovering this tape in our vaults was nothing short of a revelation, because there are so few recordings available of the composer playing his own works for piano.

Starting September 27, 2021, these and future Recorded Archive Editions will be available through all the major streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon. Program notes for scholars and enthusiasts will be posted on the museum’s website, and together this rich history of performance in a museum will at long last be available for enjoyment by audiences everywhere.

A standard of excellence was set in the earliest days of the museum, when curator of music Douglas Moore wrote in Fine Arts Review in 1922, “Is there not a real service that a museum may render to the community by offering a musical standard as well as a pictorial one?” An esteemed, century-long commitment to the endlessly beautiful variety of musical traditions in this unique curatorial role has given rise to a performing arts series notable for its international reach, critical acclaim, and adventurous spirit—and now its recorded legacy.