Behind the Beat: Ruth Reichl


Behind the Beat

Behind the Beat is a series featuring composers and performers in the time of isolation. While the twin pillars of performing arts—global travel and gathering together for a shared experience—are impossible, artists are reflecting on their work, both past and future. Of particular interest are those artists with direct connections to the Cleveland Museum of Art. This series celebrates the legacy of music at the museum and uniquely illuminates aspects of the museum’s collection.

Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl

Legendary food writer Ruth Reichl was restaurant critic for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times and editor in chief of Gourmet magazine. She has been honored with six James Beard Awards and is the author of the critically acclaimed best-selling memoirs Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, Garlic and Sapphires, and For You Mom, Finally—in this last work, the reader discovers Ruth’s close connection to Cleveland through her remarkable grandmother, Mollie Brudno. Ruth Reichl joins Tom Welsh in a conversation about her grandmother, an unheralded but important impresario in the mid-20th century who organized hundreds of concerts with the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Courtney Bryan. Photo by Elizabeth Leitzell

Courtney Bryan (Part 1)

Courtney Bryan’s music is strongly informed by bridging the sacred and the secular, with influences ranging widely through jazz, gospel, and experimental music. From solo works to ensemble pieces to large orchestral scores, Bryan’s music is also concerned with social justice. Her work list includes a series of responses to police brutality, beginning with Saved in 2013. Bryan’s year at the American Academy in Rome on a prestigious Rome Prize was cut short by the global pandemic, and she speaks with Tom Welsh from her home in New Orleans. In Part 1 of their extended conversation, Bryan and Welsh discuss her forthcoming opera Awakening about Rebecca Cox Jackson, a free Black woman in the 19th century who established a Shaker community in Philadelphia.

Steven Bernstein

On the occasion of The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s exhibition in fall 2017, the Cleveland Museum of Art welcomed Henry Butler, Steven Bernstein, and the Hot 9—artists devoted to keeping music of the 1920s alive. In May 2019, bandleader Steven Bernstein took time out of his schedule to have a conversation about the roots of jazz in American popular culture. (With a slight detour through Cleveland.)

Cenk Ergün with John Richards and Chris Otto of the JACK Quartet

Composer Cenk Ergün joins John Richards and Chris Otto of the JACK Quartet to discuss Ergün’s music and performing in venues apart from the conventional concert hall.

Aleksandra Vrebalov with David Harrington of Kronos Quartet

Composer Aleksandra Vrebalov and David Harrington of Kronos Quartet discuss their collaboration on Vrebalov’s recent commission by the Cleveland Museum of Art, Antennae.