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Art Song Festival takes a bow at CIM with vocal grand finale, scholarship gift

November 30, 2023 | By Zachary Lewis
Communications Manager, CIM

CLEVELAND, Nov. 30, 2023 – One of Northeast Ohio’s greatest contributions to the world of music will soon sound its final notes at CIM.  

With a recital and masterclass by acclaimed mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and pianist Kirill Kuzmin, the Art Song Festival will end Dec. 9-11 the way it began and operated for 38 years: in glory.   

“It’s going to be a grand finale,” said Dean Southern, a member of CIM’s voice faculty and Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs. “We look forward to celebrating this pioneering organization and all that it has accomplished at CIM and beyond.”  

Cooke, for her part, will treat patrons in Mixon Hall to lustrous performances of Mahler, Falla, and Tilson Thomas in collaboration with CIM’s own guitar department head, Jason Vieaux (BM ’95, Holmquist). The following day, she will conduct a masterclass with students from CIM and Baldwin Wallace University. 

Cooke’s collaborator throughout, and the presenter of a masterclass of his own Dec. 9, will be pianist Kirill Kuzmin, another in the festival’s long line of illustrious guests.  

Founded in 1985 by former CIM Voice Department Head George Vassos, the Art Song Festival quickly became a local and national treasure, a unique platform for internationally known vocal artists including Elly Ameling, Christine Brewer, Marilyn Horne, Eric Owens, and Benjamin Appl, as well as pianists Warren Jones, Martin Katz, and Roger Vignoles.  

The Art Song Festival won't end with music-making alone. No, in bittersweet fashion, the organization will also say farewell with a heartwarming financial gesture, one that will ensure the art form thrives for years to come.  

As a parting gift, the Art Song Festival will use its remaining funds to establish an endowed scholarship fund for voice scholarships at CIM. This fund, it is hoped, will help young artists attend CIM and train to become the art song performers of tomorrow.  

“We owe a debt of gratitude to George Vassos for his leadership and support of Art Song Festival over the years,” said Art Song Festival Board Chair Frances Floriano Goins (BM ’71, MM ’73).  

“Establishing the George Vassos Endowed Scholarship Fund for Vocal Excellence is a way to continue George’s legacy of exceptional vocal pedagogy and his love affair with vocal music and the art song repertoire into the future.” 

For tickets ($30 general admission; $28 for seniors; free for students at the door), visit cim.edu/events. To contribute to Art Song Festival and the George Vassos Endowed Scholarship Fund for Vocal Excellence, visit artsongfest.com. 



Saturday, December 9 

3-5pm | CIM Room 217 


Kirill Kuzmin, piano 


Sunday, December 10 

5pm | Mixon Hall 

Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano 

Jason Vieaux, guitar 

Kirill Kuzmin, piano 

HANDEL  “As with rosy steps” from Theodora

MAHLER Songs from Fünf Lieder

MAHLER Songs from Rückert Lieder

FALLA   Siete canciones populares españolas 

TILSON THOMAS   Not Everyone Thinks That I’m Beautiful 



Monday, December 11 

12-2pm | Mixon Hall 


Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano 




Cleveland Institute of Music 

The Cleveland Institute of Music empowers the world’s most talented classical music students to fulfill their dreams and potential. Its graduates command the most celebrated and revered stages in the world as soloists, leading roles, chamber musicians, and ensemble members; compose meaningful, award-winning new repertoire; produce Grammy Award-winning recordings; and are highly sought-after teaching artists, administrators, and thought leaders. A testament to the excellence of a CIM education, more than half of the members of The Cleveland Orchestra are connected to CIM as members of the faculty, alumni, or both, and CIM alumni occupy hundreds of chairs in major orchestras worldwide. The school’s increasingly diverse collegiate and pre-college student bodies benefit from access to world-renowned visiting artists, intensive study with CIM’s stellar faculty, and the rich curriculum offered by CIM’s partner, Case Western Reserve University. A leader among its peers, CIM is the largest presenter of free performances, masterclasses, and community concerts in the Midwest, hosting hundreds of events each year on campus and at locations regionwide, including Severance Music Center. Explore cim.edu to learn more. 



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