Mike Telin, Cleveland Classical, 31st July 2018

When Michael Francis made his Cleveland Orchestra debut last summer, the British-born conductor brought along a program that featured music by Elgar and Vaughan Williams. When he returns to the Blossom Music Center stage on Sunday, August 5 at 7:00 pm, he will lead the Orchestra in a program featuring the music of Bedřich Smetana, Leoš Janáček, and Antonín Dvořák. Tickets are available online.

“I’m thrilled to be asked back,” Francis said during a telephone conversation from his home in Tampa, Florida. “The Cleveland Orchestra is a truly exceptional orchestra and the Blossom Festival is a real beacon of cultural life in America. To have a chance to do these three pieces that I love is a great honor.”

Francis, who serves as music director of The Florida Orchestra, said that being English, he has a “strong connection” to the music of British composers. “But I’m not Czech. I have no connection in my blood to Czech music, I just love it. I find it so visceral, powerful, romantic, and exciting, and I’m happy to talk through each piece.”

The program will open with Smetana’s Sárka (from Má Vlast) and be followed by Janáček’s Taras Bulba. “In terms of the narrative, I think these two pieces make up the most violent first half of a concert that you could possibly put together,” Francis said. “It’s absolutely vicious.”