Happy Year of the Rat

chinese new yearJoin the Cincinnati Chinese community in celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Rat with a special concert by the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, Friday, January 24th (the eve of the Chinese New Year) in Memorial Hall, Over-the-Rhine.

Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. The evening will feature performances of traditional Chinese music by the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra at 8 p.m.

Founded in 1952, the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra highlights the history, legacy and influence of Chinese culture with a program of works performed on a mixture of Western and traditional Chinese instruments. The program, says spokesman Rudolph Tang, “represents its latest concept in showcasing the ancient Chinese music from the contemporary prism.”

Cincinnati is one of the seven concert stops during the orchestra’s U.S. tour. Others are the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Chicago’s Symphony Hall, Detroit’s Orchestra Hall, San Diego and Orange County, California.

The pre-concert celebration will include a Lion Dance, youth ensemble, an exhibition of Chinese photography and more.

Support comes from the Alliance of Chinese Culture and Arts USA.


When: January 24, 2020 

6:30pm  Celebration in the lobby and ballrooms (Lion dance, youth ensemble, Chinese photography  exhibits, and more)

8 p.m.  Concert by the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra 

Where Memorial Hall (1225 Elm St. Cincinnati, OH 45202)

Price:  $15 (family balcony); $30; $55 (VIP) 

Visit memorialhallotr.com to purchase tickets.


The Alliance of Chinese Culture & Arts, USA is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to build bridges for cultural diversity,  and connect people through various forms of the arts.

Renée Fleming on ‘Music and the Mind’

Opera star Renée Fleming led a fascinating discussion about the healing power of music, with Dr. John Tew, Jr. and Dr. Chris Tuell. Photo provided by the CSO

Two days before performing Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs and other works with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, opera superstar Renée Fleming spoke on a panel about something close to her heart. America’s diva has become an advocate for the power of music, and how it affects our health, our brain, our healing — virtually everything about our being.

The conversation in Music Hall’s Ballroom on Wednesday was jointly presented by the CSO and the Lindner Center of Hope. Its participants included Dr. Chris Tuell, clinical director of addition services at the Lindner Center of Hope, and neurosurgeon Dr. John Tew, Jr., who was clinical director of the UC Neuroscience Institute for 15 years.

Fleming spearheads the Sound Health initiative as part of her role as artistic advisor to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She delivered an excellent lecture, saying her curiosity regarding the intersection of music and health was piqued when she noticed that researchers were studying music.

Her Sound Health project began at a dinner party that included Supreme Court justices Ginsburg and Scalia (who were famously good friends) as well as NIH director Francis Collins — who brought along his guitar, and they all began singing together. Besides showing that music has the power to bridge political differences, the evening prompted Fleming to propose that the Kennedy Center and NIH collaborate on researching music and health.

Because of the opera singer’s efforts, NIH has committed $20 million to this collaborative study. The National Endowment for the Arts has also become involved, and will announce a new research center this spring, she said.Read More »

Year in review: Lists and more lists

Danill Trifonov with the Ariel Quartet: For these performances, Trifonov collaborated with the celebrated Ariel Quartet, faculty quartet-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. There was great anticipation to hear this 28-year-old Russian-born virtuoso, whose name is on everyone’s lips.

People often ask me why my reviews of local concerts are generally positive. The answer is this: The quality of Cincinnati’s performing arts compares favorably to anywhere I’ve traveled (and lived) in the world. It’s remarkable to consider the longevity of Cincinnati’s arts institutions, such as the Cincinnati Symphony, marking 125 this year, Cincinnati Opera, turning 100 this summer and the May Festival, founded in 1873.

It’s always difficult to pick just 10 memorable performances, because there were many more that should be included. You can read the list here.

There was also some arts news in 2019 — one even happened at the peak of the holiday season, when Cincinnati Opera announced that Chris Milligan will succeed Patty Beggs as general director and CEO. Click here to read the news.

And there was other arts news — such as the success of “Blink,” the four-day art and light festival in October. Looking back, several important people in the arts left us in 2019. Read that column here.

Cincinnati May Festival 2019

I hope you had a chance to catch some holiday shows this month. Some, such as Cincinnati Ballet’s magical Nutcracker, are still running. See the list here.

Handel’s ‘Messiah’ was given an intimate, authentic performance by Collegium Cincinnati.

I attended several shows. The performance I reviewed of Collegium Cincinnati’s “Messiah” performance illustrates the breadth and depth of local talent that we have across the region. Many of the performers were familiar as they appear with organizations such as Cincinnati Opera, CCM, the Vocal Arts Ensemble and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.

Watch for my list of upcoming performing events as well as art exhibitions that you won’t want to miss in 2020.

Don’t forget that the Business Courier’s Arts Front page is sponsored by ArtsWave, and therefore FREE to read. I’ve you’ve read three stories, you may be asked to sign up for a free subscription.

Miami U grad to compete in Miss America Pageant televised Thursday

Caroline Grace Williams; photo provided/Sylvart

Cincinnatian Caroline Grace Williams, a 2017 graduate of Miami University, will be competing as Miss Ohio in the Miss America Pageant, to air at 8 p.m. Thursday Dec. 19 on NBC.

A talented singer, Williams is planning to perform the gorgeous aria, “O mio babbino caro,” from Puccini’s opera “Gianni Schicchi” — the same aria that propelled her to win the Miss Ohio competition. The orchestra accompanying her on the national broadcast will be a recording of the Miami University Symphony Orchestra led by Ricardo Averbach.

Williams, who graduated with a voice and theater double major and a minor in musical theater at Miami, is currently a graduate student at MU. She also works at the university as an admissions counselor.

Her personal platform has been to create awareness for safety features on your cellphone, telling University News that she used the method after being in a car wreck. If you hit the side button five times on your iPhone, it automatically calls 911, sends your location to emergency contacts, and updates your location every two minutes.

Now called Miss America 2.0, the 98-year-old competition eliminated the swimsuit portion last year, and now has its first female director in 15 years.

CSO, Pops nominated for two Grammy Awards

Both the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Pops are in the list of 2020 Grammy nominations released today by the Recording Academy. And there are several other Cincinnati-tied nominations this year, too.

Music director Louis Langrée, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra are nominated for Best Orchestral Performance for “Transatlantic.” This album includes the world premiere recording of the critical edition of George Gershwin’s An American in Paris. The CSO also gave the world premiere performance of this new edition at La Seine Musicale in Paris in 2017.

The award goes to both the conductor and to the orchestra.

And John Morris Russell and the Cincinnati Pops, as well as producer Elaine Martone, are nominated for “American Originals 1918” in the category of Best Classical Compendium. Performers on the album include collaborators Rhiannon GiddensSteep Canyon Rangers and Pokey LaFarge.

Other local ties include violinist Tessa Lark, who studied at CCM, for her recording of Torke’s “Sky” Violin Concerto with David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony, in the category of Best Classical Instrumental Solo.

Cincinnati-born jazz pianist extraordinaire Fred Hersch has received yet another nod for Best Instrumental Composition for “Begin Again” on the album, Fred Hersch & The WDR Big Band” conducted by Vince Mendoza.

And from Northern Kentucky University, the recording of a composition by NKU School of the Arts faculty member Kurt Sander, The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, is nominated for Best Choral Performance. The double-CD set features the PaTRAM Institute Singers led by Peter Jermihov, conductor. The 90-minute piece is one of the first English-language settings of the Eastern Orthodox liturgy.

And two choral conductors associated with the Vocal Arts Ensemble are up for Best Choral Performance: Craig Hella Johnson and Donald Nally.

Other names spotted:

Blanton Alspaugh, producer of the Vocal Arts Ensemble’s “Canticle” – released on the CSO’s Fanfare Cincinnati label – as well as Sander‘s The Divine Liturgy Of St. John Chrysostom, is nominated for “Producer of the Year, Classical.”

In the same list, under nominated producer James Ginsburg, I spotted brothers Anthony McGill, clarinetist, and Demarre McGill, flutist and CCM professor… 

Art Academy president to speak at Xavier art exhibit “For a Better World”

Artwork by Tom Towhey

Joe Girandola, president of the Art Academy of Cincinnati, will be the first speaker at “Art and Poetry for a Better World,” 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday Nov. 16 at Xavier University.

The event is an afternoon of presentations and poetry readings exploring the role of art with peace and
justice, as part of an exhibition this month at the Xavier University Art Gallery, A. B. Cohen Center
1658 Musketeer Drive on the XU campus.

The exhibition, which opened on Nov. 1, features poems by 100 Cincinnati poets, culled from “For a Better World” 2004-15 editions. They’ll be displayed alongside artwork by 100 Cincinnati artists.

Other speakers on Saturday include Kelly & Kyle Phelps, professors and sculptors, who will speak on “Art for Workers’ Rights and Social Justice” at 2:30 p.m., followed by poetry readings by poets of the show.

“For a Better World,” now in its 17th year, is the product of SOS (Save Our Souls) ART, a
non profit organization, which has the mission to promote the arts as vehicles for peace and justice.

Information and to see the list of poets and artists, visit sosartcincinnati.com Gallery: (513) 745-3811.

Gallery Hours: Mon – Fri: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Closed university holidays