Eiji Hashimoto was a virtuoso and scholar of the harpsichord

Eiji Hashimoto

Eiji Hashimoto is remembered by his students and colleagues as as a brilliant performer, a distinguished scholar of baroque music and a dedicated teacher of the harpsichord.

Mr. Hashimoto died in Cincinnati on Jan. 14 at the age of 89.

“His legacy is great,” said Michael Unger, associate professor of organ and harpsichord at CCM. “He had a strong reputation in the harpsichord world, and he leaves behind a rich legacy among his former colleagues and students at CCM. His name is still remembered well for his long and distinguished work at CCM as a teacher, harpsichordist and director of ensembles dedicated to eighteenth-century music.”

In 1968, while on a concert tour of the United States, Mr. Hashimoto, a native of Japan, was invited by the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music to establish a harpsichord program at the school. He served for 33 years on the faculty until 2001, when he became professor emeritus.

Quiet and unassuming, Mr. Hashimoto built a distinguished academic and performing career over three decades. As a soloist, he dazzled audiences in more than 50 international tours, and made numerous recordings in the U.S. and Japan. His own editions of baroque music for the keyboard are highly regarded.

Between 1968 and 1986, Mr. Hashimoto performed many times with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as a guest artist and soloist. In the ’80s, he was the orchestra’s official harpsichordist under the tenure of music director Michael Gielen, and performed J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 with him in Music Hall.

Mr. Hashimoto also performed under maestros Max Rudolf and Thomas Schippers, as well as at the Cincinnati May Festival under the legendary Robert Shaw. He recalled to me in an interview that Schippers loved 18th-century music and “needed me all the time” for Handel and Bach oratorios and concerti grossi. He also performed a contemporary harpsichord work by Ned Rorem during that time.Read More »

Inauguration music to feature fanfare with CSO ties

Don’t forget to stream the inauguration orchestral fanfares at noon today, featuring 14 musicians from across the nation, including one from Cincinnati. You’ll find the livestream on social media and at cincinnatisymphony.org …

In the meantime:

Composer Peter Boyer — well known to the CSO and Pops — announces that the United States Marine Band has commissioned him to compose a new piece of music to be premiered at the Inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. His new work, “Fanfare for Tomorrow,” will be performed as part of the one-hour Prelude music of the Inauguration ceremony, conducted by the Marine Band’s director, Colonel Jason Fettig, at the U.S. Capitol on January 20. The Inaugural Prelude takes place from 10 am to 11 am EST.

“Fanfare for Tomorrow” began as a brief piece for solo French horn, originally commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra last year, as part of their Fanfare Project in response to the pandemic.

“I have significantly expanded and developed that music for a full concert band for this commission (and I will be preparing an orchestral version also),” Boyer says.

Here’s the link to the CSO version– performed by the CSO’s Elizabeth Freimuth.

The Prelude program also includes music by American composers Kimberly Archer, Adolphus Hailstork, Jim Stephenson and John Williams. Boyer says that CSPAN will include complete coverage of this early event.

The U.S. Marine Band will also accompany Lady Gaga in the National Anthem during the ceremony.

Uncommon music for an inauguration

CSO principal horn Elizabeth Freimuth

In what is the strangest year any of us can remember, one musical tribute to the incoming president and vice president will also be unusual.

In an effort to promote some badly needed “hope and harmony,” conductor Marin Alsop and Classical Movements, a concert tour company for classical orchestras and choirs, have come together to honor the inauguration next week of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They will present a livestream performance by the Hope & Harmony Ensemble comprised of 14 musicians from 14 American orchestras. Principal hornist Elizabeth Freimuth will represent the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

The livestream over social media and orchestra websites will be at noon EST on Jan. 19 — the day before the inauguration. The music will feature Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (which Copland wrote for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as a wartime fanfare) and Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, composed by American composer Joan Tower, the first woman to win the Grawemeyer Award in music. Tower’s Fanfare is often viewed as a response to Copland.

Marin Alsop/photo by Grant Leighton

The works to be conducted by Alsop will honor Joe Biden with Copland’s Fanfare. Tower’s Fanfare honors Kamala Harris as the nation’s first female vice-president.

There is unifying symbolism in the coming together of 14 musicians from across the nation, from sea to shining sea.Read More »

CCM’s Moveable Feast is virtual this year

Students of CCM’s Musical Theatre Class of 2022 and alumni guest artists Noah J. Ricketts, John Riddle, Nikki René Daniels, Leslie Kritzer and Stephanie Jae Park. (Screen grab provided by CCM)

If you’ve ever attended a Moveable Feast, the imaginative fundraising event at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, you’ve probably never forgotten it. The idea is to stroll from theater to theater, classroom to classroom, and sample the amazing talent of students in every discipline — from ballet to jazz to scenic design and media arts. You do this while also sampling “dinner by the bite” in wonderful food stations throughout the building.

This year, with Covid, Moveable Feast is re-imagined as a virtual event on Jan. 22. Although there won’t be the thrill of rushing down hallways with dozens of other people to make it in time to a see some Broadway hits before you dash away to catch ballet students in a scene from “Swan Lake” — the event will be able to involve viewers around the country.

It’s presented by CCM Power, a volunteer group of friends, advocates and alumni. The event provides essential support for student scholarships, projects and travel opportunities.  This year, COVID-19 cancelled paid work that students rely on and drastically changed students’ family financial circumstances. Scholarship and emergency funds are needed now more than ever.

CCM has produced major stars of stage and screen — from Broadway and Carnegie Hall to Hollywood. Alumni guest artists for the show will include stars of Hamilton, Frozen, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Netflix’s Dead to Me and much more.

Edward Nelson Highlight Screen – This image features CCM alumnus Edward Nelson performing “Someone to Watch Over Me” for CCM’s virtual Moveable Feast. He is Accompanied by San Francisco Opera guest artist Ronny Michael Greenberg, piano. (Screen grab provided by CCM)

Opera alumnus Edward Nelson (BM, ’11; MM, ‘13) wanted to participate because, he says, “At every step further into my career, I have found myself drawing on my experiences and education from CCM. When the opportunity arose this year to give back to the institution that has given me so much, I jumped on board without hesitation.”Read More »

Cincinnati Opera panel to discuss diversity in the arts

Participants in a previous Cincinnati Opera performance of “Opera Goes to Church”

This is a no-miss:

Cincinnati Opera Center Stage presents an honest and informal discussion about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts, to be streamed live on social media next Thursday (Jan. 21) at 7 p.m.

The conversation will be moderated by Cincinnati Opera Artistic Advisor (and superstar opera bass) Morris Robinson. It will feature a panel of expert educators, performers, and professionals discussing opportunities to break down barriers through this important work. The program concludes with a question-and-answer session.

The panel:

  • Morris Robinson, bass and Cincinnati Opera Artistic Advisor, moderator

  • Flávia Bastos, PhD, Cincinnati Opera board member and distinguished research professor of art education, University of Cincinnati School of Art

  • Tiffany Cooper, director of community engagement and diversity, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

  • Jennifer A. Ingram, founder and CEO of Calibrated Lens and former vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at United Way of Greater Cincinnati

This event will be streamed live—registration is not required. Watch on Facebook or YouTube on Thursday, January 21, at 7:00 p.m.

What I’m watching to ring in 2021

A lot of us would like to say good riddance to 2020. To celebrate, I’m planning to drink in some lavish performances on PBS and streaming media to ring in the New Year.

At 4 p.m. tomorrow, New Year’s Eve, the Metropolitan Opera is continuing its annual New Year’s Eve gala concert — but this year it’s virtual. The Met rings in 2021 with opera stars Javier Camarena, Angel Blue (who just sang so brilliantly with the CSO this fall), Pretty Yende, and Matthew Polenzani, in a livestream a pay-per-view performance. It is being broadcast from the historic Baroque-style Parktheater, ca. 1886, in Augsburg, Germany.

The New Year’s Eve Gala program will include arias, duets, and ensembles from Donizetti to Puccini, as well as arrangements of operetta and Neapolitan songs.

The concert, part of the Met Stars Live in Concert series, will be streamed live on the Met’s website at 4 pm EST/10 pm CET, and then be available on demand for 14 days. It costs $20.

The gala will be shot with multiple cameras, and linked by satellite to a control room in New York City, where host Christine Goerke will be situated. Gary Halvorson, the Met’s award-winning director of the company’s Live in HD cinema transmissions, will direct.

Tickets can be purchased on the Met’s website at metopera.org. Gala Committee tickets, with enhanced benefits, are also available at a range of donation levels. The gala supports the company.

The performances will be available for on-demand viewing for 14 days following the live event. The programs can be viewed on a computer, mobile device, or home entertainment system (via Chromecast or AirPlay).

The Vienna Philharmonic performs its annual New Year’s Concert in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein

On New Year’s Day, it’s the annual Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert with Riccardo Muti, in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein, which airs over PBS locally on CET Channel 48 and nationwide. The 2021 New Year’s Concert will be broadcast in over 90 countries and followed by millions of television viewers around the world. Due to Covid-19, the 2021 New Year’s Concert will take place without an audience.

Of course, you can expect lots of Strauss waltzes, galops, polkas and marches. Here are the local times for From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2021 on CET (Channel 48). It continues on CETARTs Jan. 4-6 at various times.

Friday, January 1, 9:00 pm on CET HD

Saturday, January 2, 1:00 am on CET HD

Monday, January 4, 3:00 am on CET HD

Art Museum announces ‘special engagement’ weekends through January

Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum announced today it will be open to the public for special engagement days on the weekends in January (Jan. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 31). Hours will be 11 a.m.–5 p.m. each day.

Members will have special access each Friday starting Jan. 8 (continuing Jan. 15, 22, 29), as well as “Member Mornings” each Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.–11 a.m. The museum will not be open on New Year’s Eve or Day.

To ensure community wellness, limited hourly capacity remains reduced and advanced online registration is required. The museum will continue its safety policies requiring masks covering noses and mouths, and six feet of social distance between visitors. Increased cleaning and use of hospital-grade air filtration allow the museum to operate safely. The museum asks that all patrons limit their visit to two hours and ONLY visit with members of their own household.

This makes me happy, because yesterday — the last viewing day previously announced — I attended Frank Duveneck: American Masterwhich is set to run through March 28, 2021. With 90 works of art, it is a revelatory exhibition. Both comprehensive and beautifully organized, it also offers a personal view of the artist, including his friendships with other artists such as Whistler — featuring side-by-side works — the Duveneck Boys, his Art Academy students and especially with his wife, who died much too young.

It is a rare, sweeping look at Duveneck’s output in its only showing in America. (Due to Covid, it will not travel elsewhere after Cincinnati.) At CAM, it is the first major exhibition of Duveneck’s work in more than 30 years.

“The Three Boys” are together, perhaps for the first time

In a Q&A for the Business Courier, I asked curator Julie Aronson for some of her favorite works. This topped her list:

“Seeing the “three boys” hung together is going to be a great moment in the exhibition. “The Whistling Boy,” “The Cobbler’s Apprentice” from the Taft Museum of Art and “He Lives by his Wits,” still in a private collection, will be hung together.”Read More »

Vienna Boys Choir on a virtual Christmas tour

Vienna Boys Choir, photo by Lukas Beck

One of the favorite memories of my music journalism career was visiting the Vienna Boys Choir in their school in the lovely Augarten Palace in the Leopoldstadt district of Vienna. At the time, the famed boy choir had some Cincinnati Boychoir members.

The legendary choir is prized worldwide for the pure tone of its young singers, who, pre-pandemic, carried on a busy world tour schedule. They have appeared in Cincinnati multiple times. This holiday season, with 300 concerts canceled for the ensemble, they have created a beautiful online program: “Vienna Boys Choir: Silent Night.”

Their “World Online Tour” can be followed on idagio, where you can register free, and then purchase concerts. This one, which is about an hour long, costs $9.90, and is available until 5:59 p.m. Dec. 31. Click here to book. 

Their selections are lovely — including Es ist ein Ros´entsprungen (Lo, how a rose e’er blooming), Max Reger’s serene lullaby Maria Wiegenlied (Mary’s lullaby) and of course Still Nacht (Silent Night).

Because of stay-at-home orders, the concert is streamed from the palace’s state rooms, which have baroque architectural features, and there are also some outdoor scenes. All four of the tour choirs perform. The sound is exceptional.

The choir’s dramaturg, Dr. Tina Breckwoldt, writes from Vienna: “Our holiday offering is a traditional German/Austrian selection, for that feeling of warmth and gemütlichkeit. The boys are singing around a Christmas tree, decorated with real candles, apples, and gingerbread (some gingerbread choristers as well).”

Don’t miss the snowball fight in the gardens at the end as the credits roll.

The year in review in the arts

The CSO’s first digital experiment last spring in Music Hall was music for four musicians.

What a year! If you’re a musician or a music fan, you probably remember the last live concert you attended or performed before Covid-19 shut down the country in March. Mine was on March 10: My granddaughter’s middle school orchestra concert.

Looking back, I realized that my annual “best of the year” in performances could only apply to the 10 weeks before we were locked down. So I wrote my Year in Review column for the Business Courier in two parts, as BC — Before Covid — and after.

Soprano Angel Blue wowed in Barber in a CSO livestream.

There were some unforgettable shows during both periods. In the second half — a season of screens — I am still enthralled by the Sept. 26 CSO digital program streamed from Music Hall, conducted by Louis Langrée. Gorgeous-voiced soprano Angel Blue gave an emotional performance of Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” a piece rarely heard. And what a treat it was to hear Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” as originally scored for 13 instruments.

And in a rare live performance by Cincinnati Ballet outdoors at Sawyer Point, I loved a new work for four dancers, choreographed (and danced) to Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat (fourth movement) by soloist David

Cincinnati Ballet danced at Sawyer Point

Morse. It was thrilling to see the exuberance and strength, the lifts and turns of the entire company. The program was enhanced by performances by a CSO quartet and Cincinnati Opera singers Victoria Okafor and Maria Miller.

You can read that column here (it’s free).

Earlier this year, local critic and retired opera singer Rafael de Acha asked people in the arts to answer the question, “What have you been during during the pandemic?” for his blog, rafaelmusicnotes.com.

I thank him for that, because it made me look back at how I had the opportunity to document the impact of the pandemic on our arts community in the pages of the Business Courier. Here is some of that column:Read More »

Lights, cameras, action: Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker at Home’ to debut tonight on WLWT

From a previous production, principal dancer Melissa Gelfin De-Poli (this year’s Sugar Plum Fairy) performs with Cervilio Miguel Amador; Photography: Peter Mueller

Tonight, for the first time ever, Cincinnati Ballet, WLWT (Channel 5) and Frisch’s have teamed up to present televised performances of the holiday classic “The Nutcracker.” This year’s “The Nutcracker at Home presented by Frisch’s” will premiere in Prime Time, 8 p.m. December 22, with additional re-broadcasts throughout the holiday season on both WLWT and MeTV, Cincinnati channel WLWT 5.2.

The re-imagined, one-hour broadcast is “a holiday gift to the community,” says Cincinnati Ballet President and CEO Scott Altman.

The performance was recorded in Music Hall using safety protocols. The production will introduce new choreography by Artistic Director Victoria Morgan with support from artistic team, who worked with Emmy award-winning Director David Ashbrock to adapt the ballet for television.

Please look below to see the entire cast.

Due to the pandemic, dancers will wear masks and follow socially-distancing guidelines, but Morgan said audiences will enjoy an up-close, immersive experience of The Nutcracker like never before.

“With eight cameras capturing moments from every angle, even on the stage itself, this is a truly unique experience,” said Morgan. “Those magical moments we share together each year remain in this production — Clara and the Nutcracker Prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, plus we’ve added a few surprises just for this broadcast version.”

Cincinnati Ballet Music Director Carmon DeLeone and 35 Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
musicians recorded a special score for the performance at Music Hall in late November. DeLeone
also spent many hours editing the music for this special broadcast. A streaming version of the
production will be also available to watch for a limited time after Christmas. More details to come at
cballet.org.Read More »