CSO’s principal trumpet Robert Sullivan accepts new post

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s principal trumpet Robert Sullivan has accepted a position as professor of trumpet in the winds and percussion instruments department of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance beginning in August.

The CSO says that Sullivan will still remain CSO Principal Trumpet through the 2022-23 season and retire from the CSO in May.

It’s a natural choice for Sullivan, who is a graduate of UM. “It is humbling to be chosen to take over the trumpet studio where I began to learn and hone my craft so many years ago with Armando Ghitalla’s tutelage and mentorship,” he said in a statement on the website.

Sullivan has twice served as principal trumpet with the CSO; he joined in 2008, departed to teach, and returned in 2017. He has been featured as soloist five times, including a new work by Peter Boyer with a stirring trumpet solo, “In the Cause of the Free,” which is on the Cincinnati Pops’ “American Originals 1918” album. On most nights, he dazzles in his trumpet solos in the section.

Previously, Sullivan was associate principal trumpet with the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra, and second trumpet with the Charleston Symphony. He has also been a member of the US Air Force Band and a faculty member at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Mannes College of Music.

He also served for five years as professor of trumpet at Northwestern University, during which time he was a regular performer with the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera Orchestra of Chicago.

The orchestra will begin a search for his successor this season.

Paul Robeson is focus of new opera coming to Opera Fusion: New Works

Cincinnati Opera’s 2019 production “Blind Injustice” was by the same creative team. Photo provided.

Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) announce the next workshop in their groundbreaking joint program, Opera Fusion: New Works.

The featured opera currently has the working title of ROBESON Opera and includes music by Scott Davenport Richards and a libretto by Richards and David Cote, with CCM Professor Robin Guarino as dramaturg. Guarino will also serve as stage director. ROBESON Opera will receive a 10-day workshop culminating in a public performance of excerpts on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 3 p.m. in Music Hall’s Wilks Studio.

Inspired by historical events, ROBESON Opera also resonates with today’s ongoing fights for social justice.

ROBESON Opera (working title) is the latest work from the creative team behind the critically acclaimed 2019 opera Blind InjusticeROBESON Opera is an epic and inspiring examination of Black singer, actor, and activist Paul Robeson (1898–1976). A global superstar, Robeson leveraged his fame to fight on the frontlines for equality. His heroic and uncompromising efforts against fascism and racism worldwide led Robeson to be entangled in the tragic power struggle between the two superpowers of the twentieth century—the United States and the USSR—with his own life and career hanging in the balance.

Funded through a gift from the Mellon Foundation, Opera Fusion: New Works (OF:NW) is a partnership between Cincinnati Opera and CCM dedicated to fostering the development of new American operas. This collaboration is jointly led by Evans Mirageas, The Harry T. Wilks artistic director of Cincinnati Opera, and Robin Guarino, professor of opera at CCM.

Admission: FREE; reservations are required and seating is limited. Contact Cincinnati Opera Box Office (513) 241-2742 M-F, 12-5 p.m.

Cincinnati-born pianist Nicholas Angelich dead at 51

Nicholas Angelich, photo by Marc Ribes, Warner Classics

Pianist Nicholas Angelich, one of the world’s finest interpreters of Brahms, died early today in Paris of a rare lung disease, I’ve just learned. Angelich, 51, has lived in Paris for many years, having first gone there at age 13 to study at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique.

Angelich was born in Cincinnati, and began studying piano at age 5 with his mother, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 467 in concert at age 7. His father, violinist Borivoje Angelich, was a long-time member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

I’ll never forget his 2009 performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1, which he performed with the CSO led by then-music director Paavo Järvi. Nicholas’ father was playing in the violin section, which must have been a moving experience for father and son.

Here’s a bit from my review of that concert: It was a treat to hear him play Brahms’ D Minor Concerto, one of the most emotional masterpieces this composer ever wrote. It weighs drama and turmoil against enormous lyrical beauty, and pianists may be tempted to tackle it with too much bombast.

Yet Angelich’s view was heartfelt and genuine. He communicated a profound understanding for Brahms’ noble themes, playing with depth, warmth and a sonorous tonal palette. His technique was effortless, and he summoned plenty of power in the peaks.
The beauty of his touch was something to behold in the slow movement, and each phrase was deeply felt. The finale was adrenalin-charged, yet he communicated its romantic mood with great sweeps of color and lyricism.

Nicholas built his career mainly in Europe, and released a number of excellent recordings. His award-winning discography includes the Brahms Piano Concertos with Paavo Järvi and the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra as well as the majority of Brahms’ piano music and chamber music; Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Gil Shaham and Anne Gastinel; and solo recordings of works by Bach, Liszt, Beethoven, Schumann, Rachmaninoff and many others.

One of my favorites is his recording of the Brahms piano trios with Renaud Capuçon and Gautier Capuçon for Erato Records.

We should learn more in the coming days, but this is a great loss to the piano world. The news comes on the same day that we also learn the great Romanian pianist Radu Lupu has passed away, and just after our friend to the Linton Series, Joseph Kalichstein, has died. Rest in Peace.



Linton Series remembers Joseph Kalichstein

A photo from the trio’s 40th anniversary: Sharon Robinson, cello, and Jaime Laredo, violin and Joseph Kalichstein, piano

Cincinnati’s Linton Chamber Music Series lost an important friend last week. Pianist Joseph Kalichstein died on Thursday, March 31 of pancreatic cancer. He was 76. Known to all affectionately as Yossi, he was revered by Cincinnati audiences, who had the joy of hearing him annually perform with the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio.

His colleagues of more than 45 years, Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson, are the series’ co-artistic directors.

Mr. Kalichstein was to have performed on Sunday with the trio. But when he became too ill to perform, the excellent pianist Ran Dank, a CCM faculty member who studied with him at Juilliard, stepped in on a week’s notice. The program was dedicated to his memory.

The Linton Series dedicated its program to Joseph Kalichstein’s memory. Photo thanks to Noriko Matsui

The concert included piano quartets by Mozart (E-flat Major, K. 493) and Brahms (No. 1 in G Minor), with Nokuthula Ngwenyama elegantly performing on viola. The centerpiece of the program was the world premiere of Ngwenyama’s “Elegy,” a commission of the KLR Trio and the Linton Series.Read More »

UC Hillel’s singing competition to honor Lauren Shmalo Berg

The University of Cincinnati Hillel’s “Campus Superstars,” a collegiate singing competition, 7 p.m. Sunday, April 3, will feature local students competing for a $5,000 cash prize.

A panel of celebrity judges — Kim Mann, Deondra Means, Pamela Myers and Kathy Wade — will narrow 11 finalists down to three. Then you — the audience — will vote for the winner. This year’s competition, held at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson Kaplan Theater, will showcase our region’s superb musical talent. All contestants are full-time, local undergraduate students who have passed multiple auditions for the chance to compete.

They’ll be singing in every genre, including opera, musical theater, jazz, country and spirituals.

This year’s event will honor Lauren Shmalo Berg, an original member of the show’s staff. In October 2021, Lauren suffered a devastating spinal cord injury as the result of a fall. Before the accident, she was a talented singer, dancer, actress, Pilates/Zumbini instructor, preschool teacher, and competitive figure skater who was featured on the classic MTV show “Made.”

After multiple surgeries and 3-1/2 months at the Shepherd Institute in Atlanta, Lauren is now home with her husband and two small children. She is impressing her doctors and therapists and making remarkable progress.

Of course, Lauren’s journey to recovery comes with an exorbitant price tag, much of which is NOT covered by medical insurance. As a result, Cincinnati Hillel will be giving Lauren 50% of all new gifts and gift increases for this year’s event. All contributions made to Help Hope Live (Helphopelive.org) are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law and are used specifically for Lauren’s uninsured medical and injury related expenses.

About the show

The team of professionals to support the contestants includes Susan Winters- assistant director, Pat Kelly-Musical Director, orchestrator, conductor; Steve HoskinsWoodwinds; Michael Scharfe- Bass; and John Taylor-drums. Also, Andrew Wright, of CCM, is the lighting designer; and Clear Sound Design will be doing the sound.

The competition’s past competitors have gone on to get advanced degrees at some of the nations most prestigious universities including Julliard, Eastman School of Music, Rice, Yale School of Drama and Indiana. Others have starred in or appeared in Broadway and touring productions including Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, The Prom, Miss Saigon, The Book of Morman and Wicked.

Tickets to the show: Cincinnatihillel.org/campussuperstar-tickets


Ryan Speedo Green to make Cincy debut Sunday

Ryan Speedo Green, photo by jiyang chen

Last week, I had the privilege of talking to opera star Ryan Speedo Green about his upcoming appearance, 3 p.m. Sunday March 27 at the First Unitarian Church in Avondale, presented by Matinee Musicale.

Currently, he is singing his fifth production this season at the Metropolitan Opera, “Ariadne auf Naxos.”

He told me this inspiring story about his 4th-grade teacher, Elizabeth Hughes, who encouraged and believed in him and stayed in touch through thick and thin. I’ve been reading the excellent book about his life, “Sing For Your Life” by Daniel Bergner, and it’s detailed there.

But we touched on many other topics. He has been to Cincinnati before — to audition for graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. (He ended up going to Florida State University.) He’ll be giving a free master class at CCM on Saturday. And he has a brother in Dayton.

But he has never set foot in Music Hall.

Here’s a bit about Sunday’s program. He’s opening with the spiritual, “Deep River.” Besides some German lieder by Hugo Wolf and opera arias, he will be singing African American art songs.

“I love showcasing African-American music in a classical style. I will throw in spiritual because, obviously, it’s part of my history and part of African-American history,” he said.

“Then, German is sort of my lifeblood at the moment. It’s where I became a man and a musician in the opera world, living in Vienna. I been living in Europe for almost eight going on nine years, and (singing at) one of the greatest opera houses in Europe at the Wiener Staatsoper for five of those years. I learned so much from there, being immersed amongst the Austrian and German culture and really got to hone my German.”

Green will be singing Mahler, Wagner (an aria from “Der fliegende Holländer”) and one his favorite Verdi arias from “MacBeth.” And, we can expect a piece from one of his favorite oratorios, Mendelssohn’s “Elijah.”

“I consider myself operatically a Verdi – Wagner singer,” he said. “I love Mozart. I love all of these composers. I’m going to give you a little bit of a taste of my future.

“I’m excited to showcase my gambit of musical styles.”

Tickets, $25, at matineemusicalecincinnati.org or call 513-977-8838. Green also performs a free master class, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday March 26 in Werner Hall at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Cincinnati native Megan Moore is 2022 George London Award winner

Mezzo-soprano Megan Moore. Photo by Jennifer Taylor

Megan Moore, a 31-year-old mezzo-soprano from West Chester Township, has won a 2022 George London Award, which includes a prize of $10,000. She was one of five winners recently announced of the 50th George London Foundation Competition.

The final round with 12 finalists took place at Gilder Lehrman Hall at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City on Feb. 25. Susanna Phillips, international opera star and 2005 George London Award winner, was the livestream host. (Watch it here.) Megan’s performance begins at 1:01:50 in the video.

The other 2022 George London Award winners are Erik Grendahl, Timothy Murray, Blake Denson and Eric Ferring.

Megan recently completed an Artist Diploma at The Juilliard School.

Last summer, she created the role of Ino in the world premiere of John Corigliano & Mark Adamo’s Lord of Cries at Santa Fe Opera. Megan looks forward to her Metropolitan Opera debut in Brett Dean’s Hamlet, opening May 13. Among her many awards, she has won top honors from Young Concert Artist International Auditions. She’ll make her Kennedy Center debut on April 11, presented by Young Concert Artists — followed by Merkin Hall on April 20 and Carnegie Hall on May 2.

The competition for young American and Canadian opera singers has many winners who have gone on to international stardom – the list of past winners includes Christine Brewer, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, Catherine Malfitano, James Morris, Matthew Polenzani, Sondra Radvanovsky, Neil Shicoff, and Dawn Upshaw.

In the production of Terence Blanchard’s opera Fire Shut Up in My Bones that opened the Metropolitan Opera’s 2021-22 season, six George London Award winners were featured in the cast: Will Liverman, Latonia Moore, Ryan Speedo Green, Norman Garrett, Donovan Singletary, and Errin Duane Brooks.

So far, Megan hasn’t appeared lately on Cincinnati stages, but we hope that is in her future!

John Storgårds has to pull out of CSO concerts; Christian Reif steps in

Christian Reif

The CSO announced today that conductor John Storgårds has been forced to withdraw from this weekend’s Feb. 12 & 13 performances of Tango & City Noir. Conductor Christian Reif will step in on short notice to lead a slightly revised program which opens with Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No. 2 in place of Philip Glass’ Canyon.

The German-born conductor is former resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony.

The revised program is below.

Saturday, February 12, 7:30pm

Sunday, February 13, 2:00pm

Cincinnati Music Hall

Tango & City Noir

Christian Reif, conductor

Ksenija Sidorova, accordion

Arturo MÁRQUEZ            Danzón No. 2

Astor PIAZZOLLA              Acongagua

John ADAMS                     City Noir

Information: 513-381-3300, cincinnnatisymphony.org

Drummer Philip Paul, ambassador for the King legacy, dead at 96

Philip Paul Trio at Cricket Lounge. Photo by Paula Norton

More than 50 years after playing his last session at King Records, drummer Philip Paul was still performing in jazz clubs and restaurants around Cincinnati.

Mr. Paul – who in person was quiet and always sharply attired – performed over a span of eight decades. Over that time, he became known for his meticulous playing and versatility of style, whether it was blues, country or rock ‘n’ roll. A street was named for him in Cincinnati. He shared his talent and encouraged young musicians. He was world-renowned. The last time Paul McCartney was in town, the Beatles legend wanted to meet Philip Paul.

The former studio drummer for King Records played on the original recordings of “The Twist” and “Fever,” and continued playing with his latest trio until just a few months ago. Mr. Paul, who lived in Evanston not far from King Records, died on January 30 at age 96.

“No one represented the amazing story of King Records better than Philip Paul. King was the most eclectic independent label and Phil’s drums can be heard on the entire rainbow of genres the label produced – driving R&B, jazz ballads, bebop, doo-wop, Country & Western, even bluegrass,” musician and music journalist Larry Nager wrote to me from Hawaii, where he now lives. “As a drummer he had more flexibility than, say, a tenor sax player or guitarist in not being locked into a single style. He even developed his own way of playing country rhythms, using a stick and a brush on his snare to create that “boom-chang” sound. But it was Phil’s calm and coolness and his skill at listening – perhaps the most important skill for a musician – that made him such a great sideman. He was the perfect ambassador for the King legacy, which had been neglected for far too long in a city known for celebrating almost everything about itself, from baseball to chili.”

A few years ago, I enjoyed listening to jazz at the Cricket Lounge in the Cincinnatian Hotel. It was the Billie Walker Trio, featuring that wonderful pianist, now gone. Setting the tone for the trio, unobtrusively and smoothly, was a superb drummer named Philip Paul, with the trio’s longtime bassist Ed Conley.

Mr. Paul’s playing was sophisticated, effortless. It was unforgettable for nearly anyone who ever heard him — or even better, played with him.Read More »

Pops cancels tonight’s show due to snow and ice

Damon Gupton conducts the Pops this weekend.

This just in: Due to circumstances caused by the inclement weather, the Cincinnati Pops has cancelled its Friday, February 4, 7:30pm performance of the Music of John Williams. This performance in Music Hall will not be rescheduled.

The Saturday, February 5, 7:30 pm performance and the Sunday, February 6, 2 pm performance will proceed as scheduled.

The free livestream of the concert, originally scheduled for Saturday night, will now take place on Sunday, February 6 at 2 pm EST. Please visit the Cincinnati Pops Facebook Page and CSOvideo YouTube channel to view.

Ticket information

All ticketholders for the Friday performance of the concert have the option to exchange into another CSO or Pops performance this season. (Exchange fees will be waived; additional charges may apply based on concert choice). Ticketholders may donate the value of their tickets and receive a tax acknowledgement. Ticketholders also have the option of returning their tickets for a gift certificate, account credit or full refund.

Please use this form, contact the box office at 513.381.3300 or email hello@cincinnatisymphony.org to select a ticket option by Wednesday, February 9.