The Cleveland Orchestra performing in Cartwright Hall 2019

Intern Blog: A Deeper Look at Our Cleveland Orchestra Partnership

POSTED: Jun. 24, 2020

If you remember from my first blog, I mentioned my interest in the community partnership of Kent Blossom Music Festival. Strong community partnerships are a crucial component for all arts organizations to remain sustainable. In today’s blog, I am going to talk about what I have learned about the unique community partnership between the Kent State and The Cleveland Orchestra during these three weeks.

Kent State University and the Musical Arts Association (governing body of The Cleveland Orchestra) have been longtime institutional partners. The partnership is maintained by long-term Joint Use Agreements between KSU and the Musical Arts Association. With the agreement, KBMF and The Cleveland Orchestra exchange resources. The festival seeks opportunities to present masterclasses on campus with Cleveland Orchestra musicians. During the summers, our young artists can perform side-by-side with The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center, one of the country's finest summer performing arts centers. Free tickets are also available for our young artists during the KBMF program. Having this type of relationship and partnership with The Cleveland Orchestra sets Kent State University apart from similar programs. 

Besides the direct benefits, shared values and goals are also necessary for a sustainable partnership. One shared value in this partnership is the educational component. Education is one of the key words in The Cleveland Orchestra’s mission. It is also the core of the KBMF. Without it, it would be a different type of festival. The University also plays an important role in the educational component. We want our young artists to gain various experiences with chamber music. This drives the diversity of repertoire and feedback from different faculty. Kent State's extensive Performing Arts Library resources provide sheet music at no cost. The campus environment and the possibility to earn college credit are also representations of the educational component. These make it possible for KBMF to achieve its educational objectives.

Communication is also an important element in a long-term partnership. Musicians of The Cleveland Orchestra are individually contracted to teach, coach and perform at KBMF. This requires communication not only between the two entities, but also with each festival faculty member. Communication happens at different levels, between the Director of the Festival and The Cleveland Orchestra as well as between the Director of the Festival and the Dean of the College of the Arts and the Director of the School of Music at Kent State University. Communication is very important for us because we need to make sure we convey a consistent message and one that aligns with both KSU and TCO. Without effective and efficient communication, we will not be able to reach our goals. 

There are lots of details in this partnership to talk about and I picked the elements that I think are the most important. I am looking forward to introducing more in my following blogs!

Written by Eva Zhang.