Remembering Robert L. Cronquist

Posted on September 13, 2018

Lakeside Chautauqua is saddened to share of the passing of longtime Lakeside Symphony Orchestra Music Director & Conductor, Robert L. Cronquist on September 11, 2018.

Cronquist came to Lakeside in 1970 from serving for 22 years as the Director of the Mansfield Symphony. He replaced William Penny Hacker, who founded the LSO in 1963 and served as the first conductor . Cronquist assumed the leadership of the LSO with a vision of reorganizing the orchestra and taking it from just a “festival” orchestra to a fully professional symphony in the broadest sense. He wanted to not only present orchestral concerts but also to expand the programming to include ballet, opera and choral works — broadening the cultural experiences of the Lakeside audiences.

During his 47 years as Music Director, Cronquist brought outstanding artists to Lakeside to appear with the orchestra including Metropolitan Opera stars: Jerome Hines, Frank Guarrera and Patrice Munsel. Well known Cleveland artists Jinjoo Cho, Antonio Pompa-Baldi, Angelin Chang, Jean Geis Stell, Clive Lythgoe, Dorota Sobieska and Joela Jones have performed with the orchestra as well as international celebrities including “Doc” Severinsen, Ferrante & Teicher, Florian ZaBach, Carlos Montoya, George Shearing and Victor Borge.

Ballet performances, which are sponsored by the Iva M. Clark Endowment, have been a regular feature at Lakeside with appearances of the Indianapolis Ballet, the Cleveland-San Jose Ballet, and Pointe of Departure Ballet.

Fully staged operas that Cronquist presented include Rigoletto, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Lucia de Lammermoor, Cosi fan Tutti, Tosca, Don Pasquale and The Barber of Seville.

In addition to conducting the LSO, Cronquist recently completed his 28th season conducting the historic Cleveland Women’s Orchestra, the longest continuously performing women’s orchestra in the country. The CWO performs a variety of special event programs and an annual spring concert at Severance Hall. During his 28 years as Music Director, he expanded the orchestra’s concert season and established an endowment to ensure the future of this unique ensemble.

Lakeside Chautauqua is grateful for the hard work and tireless efforts of Cronquist, who faithfully provided leadership to the LSO for nearly 50 years. He was also instrumental in starting the Arts Endowment at Lakeside and he has been a champion of Lakeside’s mission to nurture the mind and spirit through artistic experiences. Because of his devotion to the arts pillar at Lakeside, the LSO has remained a cherished tradition for more than five decades. Cronquist’s legacy will continue through the work of the LSO for decades to come.