Blossom Friends of the Cleveland Orchestra (BFCO) hosted a “Spring Into Blossom” luncheon and fashion show fundraiser at the Bertram Inn in Aurora on May 10. Michael Gandlmayr, new Artistic Administrator of the Cleveland Orchestra, delivered a preview of the upcoming 2022 Blossom season. After lunch, BFCO members and professional models walked the runway wearing fashions curated by Toni In Style, located in Chagrin Falls.
Founded in 1968, the organization’s purpose is to promote the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Center.
The Blossom venue honors the Dudley S. Blossom family, major supporters of the Cleveland Orchestra throughout its history. Architect Peter van Dijk designed the space that carved
through rolling farmland just north of Akron, along the edge of today’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It was constructed in just over one year at the cost of $8 million.
“I was at Blossom on opening night,” said Kaye Lowe, current BFCO co-president, with Peggy Krinsky and Susan Kenney. She described that night, July 19,1968, as “magical.” Famed Music Director George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The first special attraction concert took place July 23 with Arlo Guthrie opening for Judy Collins.
According to Lowe, Szell advocated for the world-famous orchestra musicians to have a year-round contract. In order to expand into a one-year contract, the orchestra needed a summer home to perform. Thus, in 1966, after looking at 80 parcels of land, the Musical Arts Association purchased 776 acres in Northampton Township to create its summer home.
At BFCO’s inception, there were five operating groups (Akron, Canton, Kent, Aurora, and
Northeast Ohio) with representation in 40 communities in the 5,000-square-mile radius surrounding Blossom.Today the five groups, of more than 100 members, have merged into one organization with a board consisting of members from each former group. Membership is open to all. For information, e-mail Kaye Lowe at firstname.lastname@example.org
BFCO raises up to $40,000 per year by sponsoring various events. These include gourmet luncheons at Blossom featuring members of the orchestra performing, and Opening Night: Blossom’s 50th Anniversary Fundraiser. Members work at the volunteer booth for each concert. The group plans its Second Blossom Summer Soiree fundraiser for July 31, when the orchestra plays its annual Broadway Legends concert. Soiree tickets are available online at https://donate2.app/LJFrl5
Blossom lawn ticket books are now available for the 2022 season ($160 for 10 tickets which includes two upgrades to pavilion seating and 20 tickets for children under 18). For tickets, visit clevelandorchestra.com or call 216-231-1111 or 800-686-1141 (toll free). STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREA C. TURNER