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Classical 101

Celebrate the Cavaliers' Title with 52 Classical, Jazz Musicians from Cleveland

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Basketball star and Ohio native, LeBron James poses with pianist Lang Lang.

LeBron James is an absolute champion of the people in Ohio right now, and for good reason. The Cleveland Cavaliers have finally taken home the NBA championship and brought a resounding sense of hope and joy to Ohio fans and underdogs everywhere. 

In the spirit of celebration, here are 52 fabulous musicians who have also called Cleveland their home...52 for the number of years since Cleveland has held a major sports title, of course. 

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(Here's pianist Lang Lang giving LeBron James a piano lesson.)

1. Leslie Adams, composer and educator, was born in 1932 and has won  awards from the  National Association of Negro Women (1963) and the Christian Arts Annual National Competition for Choral Music (1979)

2. John Bassette, folk singer, tv personality, and poet, first attracted attention at the 1967 Newport Music Festival.

3. Fred Booker, folk and jazz singer, has been a staple in the Vancouver and Cleveland music and literary scenes since the 1960s. 

4. Charles Boone is an American contemporary classical composer who now lives and works in San Francisco.

5. Brooks Bowman, jazz composer, composed jazz standards such as East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)

6. Bessie Brown was one of the most noteworthy early blues singers.

 7. Joe Cabot, jazz trumpet player, is best known for his composition, Slow Down, Sugar, Take Your Time.

8. Alice Chalifoux was the Principal Harpist for the Cleveland Orchestra and, for many years, the only female orchestra member. 

9. Frederic Chapin, composer, was best known for his work with L. Frank Baum on The Woggle-Bug, a 1905 musical based on Baum's novel, The Marvelous Land of Oz.

10. Bill Crofut, classical banjo (yes, you read that correctly) was a notable American folk singer and composer who gave concerts in over 50 countries as well as The White House and Carnegie Hall.

11. Tad Dameron, jazz composer and pianist, is best known as the romanticist of the bop movement in jazz. 

12. John Elliot, electronic composer, currently lives and works in Cleveland. 

13. Eric Ewazen, composer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccIy5sZeSZ8

14. Frederick Fennell, conductor and pedagogue, was an internationally-recognized musician and educator, particularly for his approach to conducting.

15. John Ferguson, organist and composer, still lives and works in Cleveland. His many choral compositions and festival arrangements for organ, brass, and percussion of hymns are among his best known works.

16. Jim Glover, folk musician and activist, studied at the Ohio State University in the 1960s.

17. Harry Lawrence Freeman, opera composer and conductor, was the first African American person to produce a successful opera production. 

18. Endre Grenat is an actively-performing violinist who studied with such famed teachers as  Gyorgy Garay, Josef Gingold and Jascha Heifetz.

19. Raphael Grinage, jazz and folk music composer, was born in Cleveland in 1931. In the 1950s he played as an accompanying musician for the Alvin Ailey dance company.

20. Bill Hardman was an American jazz trumpeter and flugelhornist who greatly influenced the evolution of hard bop.

21. Rick Kiefer was an American jazz trumpeter who brought American jazz styles to Germany throughout the 1960s.

22. Ernie Krivda, jazz saxophonist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kT2EGsPG0JQ

23. Bob Lanese, trumpeter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4j7iD_n10II

24. Al Lerner was an extremely influential American pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor from the big band era. 

25. John Mack, oboist, was a longtime member of the Cleveland Orchestra. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's Oboe Concerto was commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra to honor Mack's 25th anniversary with the orchestra and he performed the world premiere. 

26. Oleh Mahlay is an American violinist, pianist, choral conductor, known for his work with the Ukrainian bandura and the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus.

27. Henry Mancini, television score composer, won four Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, and twenty Grammy Awards, plus a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.

28. Nancy McIntosh, singer and actress, was greatly admired in the London theatre scene throughout the 1890s. 

29. Brenda Miller Cooper, opera singer, sang many roles throughout the United States including  the New York City Opera's  first production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin with director Theodore Komisarjevsky in 1947.

30. Fred Neil, folk musician, is best known through other people's recordings of his material – particularly "Everybody's Talkin,'" after it was used in the film Midnight Cowboy in 1969.

31. James Oliverio, film and contemporary classical composer, wrote the score for Atlanta, GA's bid to host the 1996 Olympics. 

32. Alfred Humphreys Pease, composer and pianist, studied at Kenyon College and later in Germany under music professors Theodor Kullak, Richard Wüerst, Wilhelm Wieprecht, and Hans von Bülow in the late 19th Century.

33. John Roberts, electronic composer, is best known for his albums Glass Eight, released in 2010, and his follow-up album Fences, both released by Dial Records. 

34. James Hotchkiss Rogers, organist and composer, began studying piano by the age of twelve and organ with Clarence Eddy in Chicago. By age eighteen, he went to Berlin, Germany, where he studied for two years with Carl August Haupt and Rohde, followed by two years in Paris, France, where he studied with Alexandre Guilmant, Henri Fissot, and Charles-Marie Widor. He later worked for a year in Burlington, Iowa before moving to Cleveland, Ohio.

35. Richard Rood, violinist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-jY6TkvhdY

36. Barbara Rosene, jazz and big band singer, has sung with both Woody Allen's New Orleans jazz band and Les Paul. 

37. Al Sack, composer, conductor, and violinist, primarily associated with his work on radio and records through partnerships with artists like Tony Martin, Andy Russell, Gracie Fields, Dinah Shore, and Roy Rogers.

38. Hyman Schandler, violinist and conductor, was the founder and conductor of the Cleveland Women's Orchestra, the oldest women's orchestra in the world.

39. Jimmy Scott, jazz countertenor, was famous for his unusually high countertenor voice and his sensitivity on ballads and love songs throughout the 1940s and 50s.

40. Nadine Secunde, Wagnerian soprano, is an active performer who has shined in epic roles at the Bayreuth Festival in the leading parts of Elsa in Lohengrin and Sieglinde in Die Walküre.

41. Elliott Sharp, contemporary classical composer, has been a monumental figure in the avant-garde and experimental music scene in New York City since the late 1970s.

42. Arthur Shepherd, composer and conductor, composed throughout the early 20th Century. Shepherd also served as Assistant Director of the Cleveland Orchestra while teaching at Case Western University.

43. Mark Sparks, flutist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZre7U85ifw

44. Patty Stair, organist and composer, was born in Cleveland, in 1869. She taught organ at the Cleveland Conservatory of Music from 1889 to 192, served as organist for several churches in the Cleveland area, and was also the first woman member and dean of the Ohio Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and directed the chorus of the Forthnightly Musical Club.

45. John Stewart, tenor, conductor and pedagogue, was born in Cleveland, March 31st, 1940. Mr. Stewart had an active operatic career in such noteworthy opera houses as the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, and the Frankfurt Opera. 

46. Eleanor Painter Strong was a popular opera singer in the early 20th Century. Her operatic repertory included Madame Butterfly and Carmen, in New York City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Berlin.

47. Thelma Votipka, mezzo-soprano, was an American mezzo-soprano who sang 1,422 performances with the Metropolitan Opera, more than any other woman in the company's history.

48. Abdul Wadud, jazz and classical cellist, is known for his skill in mixing various genres and approaches to composition, today.

49. Robert Ward, composer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Y9bCv-qV80

50. Sammy Watkins, big band conductor, was the leader of the Sammy Watkins Orchestra throughout the 1930s and 1940s. He continued to lead a band, based primarily in Cleveland, into the 1960s.

51. Emerson Whithorne, composer and ethnomusicologist, seems to have been a slightly eccentric pianist (he was charged with something akin to disturbing the peace since he played piano at odd hours of the night in London) and an excellent source of information on Chinese music during the early 20th Century. 

52. Stella Zambalis, spinto soprano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODXZfTVq8PY