Northeast

Music in Northeast Ohio

Northeast Ohio’s music scene is legendary, with deep roots, diverse styles and a reputation for pushing the boundaries of creativity. From Mahler to metal, you’ll find fans and artists of every genre celebrating music across the region.

HIDDEN GEMS:  Cleveland Area  /  Akron Area

ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS: Cleveland Suburbs West,  Suburbs East,  Suburbs South

MUSEUMS, MUSIC, THEATER, OPERA, DANCE


Cleveland Orchestra
Cleveland Orchestra concerts take place at Severance Hall during the school year. / Photo: ©The Cleveland Orchestra / Roger Mastroianni

CLASSICAL MUSIC

The Cleveland Orchestra, hailed as one of the best symphony orchestras on the planet, has been wowing classical music lovers since 1912. The Grammy-winning orchestra performs both standard repertoire and lesser known works, championing new composers and commissioning new compositions while delighting audiences with the classics. Concerts take place at the historic and architecturally stunning Severance Hall in University Circle (11001 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland 44106) during the school year and, during the summer, under the stars at Blossom Music Center (1145 W. Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls 44223). Conducted by internationally acclaimed Franz Welzer-Möst since 2002, The Cleveland Orchestra demonstrates its musical prowess in a variety of formats, including casual Friday night concerts, film scores performed live alongside movie blockbusters, collaborations with pop and jazz vocalists, ballet and opera presentations, and music education programs. With its new “Under 18s Free” program, the orchestra has significantly increased attendance of concertgoers ages 25 and under. (216.231.7300; clevelandorchestra.com)

In addition to The Cleveland Orchestra, exceptional ensembles of all sizes and varieties bring classical music to residents throughout Northeast Ohio. Here are some of the biggest names:

EJ Thomas Hall
The Akron Symphony Orchestra performs at E.J. Thomas Hall on the University of Akron campus.

Akron Symphony Orchestra (Summit County)
Akron Symphony Orchestra plays at E.J. Thomas Hall on the University of Akron campus, bringing symphonic favorites and special programming to its patrons with its Classic Series, Akron Youth Orchestras, Summer Parks Concerts and Concerts for Kids. (92 N. Main Street, Akron 44308; 330.535.8131; akronsymphony.org)


Apollo’s Fire: The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra (Cuyahoga County)
This internationally acclaimed period-instrument orchestra may just be the hottest ticket in town. Apollo’s Fire has performed sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall, BBC Proms, Royal Theatre of Madrid, Tanglewood Festival, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Library of Congress and many other distinguished venues around the world, but they shine brightest here in Northeast Ohio. If you can’t get a ticket to their show, you can always listen to one of their 26 commercial CDs, which includes their 2019 Grammy Award-winning album Songs of Orpheus. (216.320.0012; apollosfire.org)


Canton Symphony Orchestra (Stark County)
Led by nationally-recognized conductor Gerhardt Zimmermann for almost 40
years, the Canton Symphony Orchestra is one of the most highly respected small-budget symphony orchestras in the United States. The orchestra performs both classical and pops programs at Umstattd Performing Arts Hall in Canton. (2331 17th Street NW, Canton 44708; 330.452.2094; cantonsymphony.org)


Cleveland Chamber Symphony (Cuyahoga County)
Dedicated to commissioning, performing and recording musical works exclusively by contemporary composers, this unique Grammy-winning ensemble has premiered over 170 new works since its inception in 1980. The group also holds an annual music festival, NEOSonicFest, to promote new compositions and emerging artists in Northeast Ohio. (11125 Magnolia Drive, Cleveland 44106; 216.202.4227; clevelandchambersymphony.org)


Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM)(Cuyahoga County)
One of only three independent music conservatories in the U.S. devoted exclusively to classical music performance, the Cleveland Institute of Music in University Circle offers nearly 600 concerts and events annually. Most are free and open to the public and are presented by students, faculty and alumni. Considering that about half the current members of the renowned Cleveland Orchestra are either CIM alumni or faculty or both, a concert at CIM may be the best deal in town. (11021 East Boulevard, Cleveland 44106; 216.795.3211; cim.edu)


CityMusic Cleveland (Cuyahoga County)
This professional chamber orchestra distinguishes itself as an ensemble dedicated to performing free concerts throughout Northeast Ohio, including neighborhoods where audiences might otherwise not have access to classical music. CityMusic’s performances are lauded not only for their technical proficiency but for their programs themed around social issues past and present, often accompanied by exhibits of local artwork. (216.632.3572;
citymusiccleveland.org)


Oberlin Conservatory of Music (Lorain County)
Established in 1865 and awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2009, this prestigious institution within Oberlin College hosts around 500 vocal and instrumental concerts a year performed by students, faculty and visiting artists from around the world. Solo performers and ensembles offer music across the spectrum, from baroque to contemporary guitar, classical to popular, computer-generated to acoustic. Performances take place primarily at Warner Concert Hall on the Oberlin campus. (77 W. College Street, Oberlin 44074; 440.775.8200; oberlin.edu/conservatory)


CHORAL MUSIC

Cleveland Chamber Choir (Cuyahoga County)
This world-class ensemble based in Cleveland blends music by living composers with six centuries of choral repertoire, addressing relevant issues and universal themes through music and poetry. The choir performs at churches and performing arts centers throughout the Cleveland/Akron/Canton area. (clevelandchamberchoir.org)


Cleveland Orchestra Chorus (Cuyahoga County)
The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus is one of the few professionally trained, all-volunteer choruses sponsored by a major American orchestra. In addition to performing with The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall each season, the chorus has toured in Boston, Brussels, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, London, Lucerne, Luxembourg, Miami, Paris and New York, as well as performed on television and made numerous recordings. (216-231-7372; clevelandorchestra.com)


North Coast Men’s Chorus (Cuyahoga County)
With over 100 members, North Coast Men’s Chorus (NCMC) is one of the largest choirs in the region and the largest LGBT arts organization in Northeast Ohio. The chorus entertains audiences at sold-out shows at elite venues including Playhouse Square, Cleveland State University, Severance Hall and many smaller venues. It also performs at GALA chorus festivals nationally and internationally. NCMC has appeared with numerous Broadway legends, from Bernadette Peters to Michael Feinstein, as well as with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. (216.556.0590; ncmchorus.org)


Summit Choral Society (Summit County)
Based in Akron, Summit Choral Society has been a staple of Northeast Ohio's choral community for nearly 30 years, consisting of the Metropolitan Chorus, Children's Choir Program and recently-launched Akron City Gospel Singers. The Children’s Performance Choir is nationally recognized and has represented Ohio at the 2017 National Memorial Day Choral Festival in Washington, DC, performed as the featured choir at the 2018 National Choral Festival at Carnegie Hall, and performed at the Smoky Mountain Music Festival and the Grand Ole Opry in 2019. (140 E. Market Street, Akron 44308; 330.434.7464; summitchoralsociety.org)


JAZZ MUSIC

BluJazz
BLU Jazz+ is a stunning live music venue and photography gallery in Downtown Akron.

BLU Jazz+ (Summit County)
With a uniquely metropolitan vibe and “retro” mid-century feel, this cozy modern-day speakeasy in the heart of downtown Akron captures the intimacy of the famous New York City jazz clubs while offering the style and sophistication of an upscale venue. In addition to quality live music, the club features an impressive jazz photography and memorabilia gallery. (47 E. Market Street, Akron 44308; 330.252.1190; blujazzakron.com)


Bop Stop at the Music Settlement (Cuyahoga County)
Voted the #1 Jazz Venue in the Nation in the All About Jazz 2019 Readers’ Poll,
Bop Stop on Cleveland’s near-west side is a nonprofit performance venue that presents up-and-coming and well-established acts in an impeccably designed, acoustically pristine listening room. For those more interested in playing than listening, monthly freestyle jazz jam sessions welcome anyone with an instrument onto the stage. Proceeds from all ticket, food and beverage sales support the Music Settlement, Cleveland’s century-old community school dedicated to music education for all. (2920 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland 44113; 216.771.6551; themusicsettlement.org)

 

Cleveland Jazz Orchestra (CJO) (Cuyahoga County)
Entering its 35th season, the CJO promotes jazz in its historical and contemporary forms, through concerts featuring gifted musicians, arrangers, composers and educators at multiple locations throughout Northeast Ohio. The 2020 season marks the launch of the orchestra’s new “Women in Jazz” series. (33333 Station Street, Solon 44139; 855.301.5299; clevelandjazz.org)

 

Passion Blues (Stark County)
Passion Blues Restaurant & Club is Canton’s premier place to hear blues and jazz music by local musicians. Performances take place on Friday and Saturday nights, but the restaurant is open for dinner Monday through Saturday. (1212 Walnut Avenue NE, Canton 44714; 234.214.0396; passionbluesclub.com)


Rubber City Jazz & Blues Festival (Summit County)
A relative newcomer, arriving onto the scene in 2016, Rubber City Jazz & Blues Festival is a free three-day event taking place at diverse venues all around the Akron area. The festival celebrates Akron’s rich and vibrant history in jazz and blues and showcases today’s stars. The festival is run by Open Tone Music, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing music and arts programming to youth in under-served communities throughout Summit, Lorain, Erie and Cuyahoga counties. (330.752.2324; opentonemusic.org)

 

Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland (Cuyahoga County)
Cuyahoga Community College’s three-day summer music festival, which takes place in the theaters and on the streets of historic Playhouse Square in Cleveland, has been described by DownBeat magazine as offering "the type of diverse, top-tier talent typically found at a much larger festival.” The festival began in 1980 as a workshop for high-school jazz students and has since grown into a world-class regional event with a year-round component that connects students of all ages with local and international jazz artists. (216-987-4444; tri-c.edu/jazzfest)


ROCK/CONTEMPORARY MUSIC

Long before there was the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a Cleveland radio DJ back in the 1950s made waves by introducing his mostly-white, teenage audience to a style of music being marketed mainly to the African American community. The DJ, Alan Freed, started calling this upbeat rhythm-and-blues music “rock and roll,” and on March 21, 1952, he hosted what many consider to be the world’s first rock concert, The Moondog Coronation Ball. It lasted only a short time before authorities had to shut it down due to near-rioting ticketholders who couldn’t get into the overcrowded arena. But Freed’s legacy lives on in the many clubs and lounges all over Northeast Ohio, where fans of all ages and backgrounds get together to hear rock, blues, R & B, heavy metal, Americana, punk, country, hip-hop and every other musical relative of rock & roll. For starters, here’s a list of the area’s best-known venues:

The Agora
The Agora helped launch the career of Bruce Springsteen, Kiss, Pat Benatar and many others back in the day.
The Agora
(Cuyahoga County)

A direct descendent of the first Cleveland Agora, the venue that helped launch the careers of Bruce Springsteen, Kiss, Pat Benatar and many others back in the day, the Agora still hosts cutting-edge artists and bands of every kind. Fans of progressive rock, heavy metal, punk, psych-funk, hip-hop, electronic, indie and more catch their favorite acts in the Agora’s 2,000-capacity theater and 500-capacity ballroom several nights a week. (5000 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland 44115; 216.881.2221; agoracleveland.com)


Beachland Ballroom & Tavern (Cuyahoga County)
Housed in a former Croatian meeting hall on Cleveland’s northeast side, this eclectic, unpretentious venue features local and national bands in its spacious bare-bones ballroom (500 capacity) and intimate tavern (140-capacity). Most nights the Beachland operates two separate shows featuring rock, blues, Americana, reggae and other genres, plus a full kitchen, an extensive and affordable beer selection and a vintage shop in the basement called This Way Out. (15711 Waterloo Road, Cleveland 44110; 216.383.1124; beachlandballroom.com)


Buzzbin Art & Music Shop (Stark County)
Originally a record store, Buzzbin in downtown Canton describes itself as “a neighborhood bar that just happens to have really, really good bands and lots of beer.” Anywhere from 15 to 20 bands, a large number of them national touring acts, grace the venue’s small stage with rock, metal, blues, punk, hillbilly, doom and other music genres you may, or may not, have heard of. (331 Cleveland Avenue NW, Canton 44702; 330.754.6770; buzzbincanton.com)


House of Blues Cleveland (Cuyahoga County)
This iconic venue, the only House of Blues in the Midwest outside of Chicago, brings the nation’s top blues, R & B, gospel, jazz and roots-based rock & roll acts to the North Coast. The restaurant and bar’s world-famous gospel brunch on the third Sunday of every month will feed your soul with an all-you-can-eat buffet and local talent performing both traditional and contemporary gospel songs. (308 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland 44115; 216.523.2583; houseofblues.com/Cleveland)


Jilly’s Music Room (Summit County)
How many places can you find live blues, alternative, roots, reggae, jazz, country and hip-hop music with no cover charge and a 100% gluten-free American tapas menu? Located in downtown Akron's historic Northside District, Jilly’s offers live music four nights a week, showcasing local talent and national touring acts in a stylish, contemporary atmosphere. (111 N. Main Street, Akron 44308; 330.576.3757; jillysmusicroom.com)


Music Box
Music Box is a two-story concert venue, offering waterfront views, two stages with restaurant-style seating and live music.

Music Box (Cuyahoga County)
Located on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland’s industrial-chic Flats District, Music Box was voted Best Live Music Venue by Cleveland Magazine readers in 2017 and 2018 for a good reason: This unique two-story concert venue offers waterfront views, two stages with restaurant-style seating and live music nearly every night of the week. National touring acts and local talent play every genre, including blues, folk, rock, jazz and country, allowing audiences to connect with their favorite performers in an intimate setting. The club’s full-service restaurant serves classic comfort food with a Cleveland twist. (1148 Main Avenue, Cleveland 44113; 877.246.8206; musicboxcle.com)



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