Cleveland: Holiday concert change upsets some

2:28 PM, Jun 30, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- It's been a tradition for 21 years.

The Cleveland Orchestra mixes its music with fireworks  for a concert and show called the Star-Spangled Spectacular that draws up to 80,000 people and their energy, excitement and spending downtown .

But this year, there's a change.

The orchestra has decided to do it's free downtown concert as a commemorative event to mark the 10th anniversry of 9/11.

And while seemingly everyone salutes recognizing the profound and historic importance, some concertgoers and businesses wonder why both events could not have been held.

Concertgoer Cheri Henson said, "I was mad. I was disappointed not having this. Now we have to find an alternative plan. We came down with my nieces and nephews. It's a great event, a tradition."

The event is a big night for downtown restaurants.

John Q's has a patio facing Public Square.

Owner Rick Cassara said, "It'll be a big hit for us. We sell out the patio and fill up the restaurant. Dollarwise, it would be a big number."

Cassara called patrons with reservations to inform them of the change. He said about a third were not aware there was no July concert.

Most orchestra news rReleases, news reports, including those from WKYC, and flyers about the change focus on the 9/11 theme and barely mention the July cancellation.

Cuyahoga Arts and Culture bankrolls most of the cost of the $250,000 event. It's board approved redirecting the money to September instead of July at a December meeting.

Orchestra members play for free.

The orchestra claims it's received few complaints about the change.

General Manager Gary Ginstling saiid, "We felt the tenth anniversary of 9/11 was important enough to schedule the event and the community and public embraced it."

Did anybody in the civic, political or business communities even ask if there was a way to preserve the July event by seeking alternative funding  or do it on a lesser scale.?

Apparently not.

At City Hall, Mayor Frank Jackson's Government Affairs Chief said, "I do understand the question. But the question's not being asked the right way.... If you look at the orchestra as being the only one in the world of this magnitude taking time to pay respect to the nation, it's a phenomental opportunity....The Star Spangled Banner is moving for one year. It's not going away. It will be back next year." 

The 9/11 concert at 3 p.m. will be entitled "Hope. Remembrance. Dedication."

There will be a procession. including firetrucks that were at Ground Zero.

The orchestra is in talks with the White House to possibly get a video from President Obama to play. It promises to be an emotional, memorable event.

There are plenty of 4th of July weekend activities downtown, including an Indians series with the New York Yankees, and lakefront fireworks visible from many locations in the city.


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