"I always knew I wanted to be an orchestral player," says the principal cellist of the Ann Arbor Symphony. Cleveland grew up in Livonia in the 1960s. "It was a really good place to grow up," she says. "They had a really good music education system." She came to Ann Arbor to attend the U-M School of Music in 1973 and started her professional career the same year by joining the cello section of the Toledo Symphony.
Cleveland stayed with the Toledo for twenty years, thirteen of them as its principal cellist. At the same time, she also served as the Flint Symphony's principal as well and performed with the Detroit Symphony and the Michigan Opera Theater. I saw her many, many times back in the 1990s — one week in Ann Arbor, the next week in Flint, the week after that in Detroit. And Cleveland was always alert, always on, always leading her section with strength, sensitivity, and consummate musicality.
These days, though, Cleveland's cut back on her steady orchestral gigs. Aside from her post in Ann Arbor, she's been mostly freelancing and playing chamber music. "I've always put my family ahead of my career," explains
Cleveland. "There was really good music making up in Flint, but those all-day Saturday rehearsals were hurting my family, so I gave it up."