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

In memoriam Peggy Kite

Peggy Wulsin Kite, who grew up during the golden era of the Baldwin Piano Co., which her family owned, passed away yesterday. She had recently suffered from pneumonia.

Mrs. Kite, who still played on one of the two Baldwin pianos in her Montgomery living room, was born in Cincinnati in 1928. She spoke about growing up in her grandparents’ mansion, which sat on 24 acres on Madison Road, and sliding down the banister when the adults weren’t looking. Several years ago, she wrote an extensive personal memoir entitled “The Piano Maker’s Daughter” about her life as the daughter of Lucien Wulsin II, the chief executive of Baldwin, then America’s largest piano company. One of seven children, she liked to say that she was “Opus 6” of the family brood.

She attended Mills College in Oakland, California and knew the Darius Milhauds like family — a relationship that began with Baldwin. Mrs. Kite was a graduate of the University of Michigan.

Here’s a link to the in-depth article I wrote for the Enquirer, with several videos and historic company photos from Cincinnati Museum Center.

About two years ago, I was contacted by a Japanese concert manager, Shoji Sato, regarding an upright Baldwin piano that had survived Hiroshima. They wanted to share a story with Mrs. Kite about the piano and its former owner, and news that an album — “Music for Peace” — had been made on the piano by the American virtuoso Peter Serkin. She was slightly amazed (as was I) and delighted to hear about it. She graciously agreed to be interviewed by NHK World Television to give her opinion of the project. I helped facilitate that interview from Japan with my iPhone as she sat in her kitchen. Here’s the story.

Mostly, I remember Peggy as a warm, unassuming person who loved and supported classical music and all of Cincinnati’s cultural organizations. I never saw her without a smile on her face, and we shared many interesting conversations. I will miss bumping into her at Music Hall.

A memorial service will take place 10:30 a.m. Nov. 23 at the Indian Hill Church, 6000 Drake Road.

Memorial donations may be made to Camp Wekandu, Attn: Daniel Lovell, Division of Rheumatology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, 3333 Burnet Ave., MLC 4010, Cincinnati 45229-3039; or to Matinee Musicale Cincinnati, P.O. Box 75197, Fort Thomas, KY, 41075-9998.

New Horizons Band celebrates 20th anniversary with fanfare

New Horizons Concert Band celebrates 20 years today.

New Horizons Band of Cincinnati has a proud history. Today, the band will celebrate 20 years in a special concert, 3 p.m. at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 8221 Miami Ave. in Madeira.

The group started in 1999 with about six musicians, launched by Pete Metzger, the organization’s first musical director. Metzger’s background includes playing French horn in the United States Naval Academy Band in Annapolis, Maryland, and teaching for 30 years in the Sycamore School District. The band has grown to 65 today, with multiple conductors and instructors. It is geared to seniors of any skill level.

In today’s concert, a special guest conductor, Dr. Roy Ernst, the founder of the New Horizons Music Program and professor emeritus at the Eastman School of Music, will lead band members in a Vaughan Williams selection, Flourish for Wind Bands.

In addition, David Shaffer, noted international composer and arranger, has written a piece especially for the occasion, Fanfare Cincinnatus, and will conduct the band in its first public performance. He has been associated with Miami University Marching Band, Wyoming High School String Orchestra, and many other organizations.

Also conducting will be founder and first conductor Pete Metzger, in addition to Jack Conway, Bruce Knapp, and Susan Schirmer, the band’s three current conductors.

The concert is free, and there will be refreshments.

Incidentally, they always welcome new members. Feel like taking out that old horn? Tailored for seniors, but open to all, the concert band helps men and women enjoy the fun of making music together. For Information call 513-793-0473. For more info about today’s concert and more, visit newhorizonsbandcincinnati.org.

Star violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter speaks out about Cincinnati incident

Anne-Sophie Mutter with the CSO and guest maestra Eun Sun Kim/photo by Lee Snow

The cellphone incident at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has traveled around the classical music world. Last week, the New York Times interviewed Anne-Sophie Mutter for an article about cellphones interrupting live performances, both music and theater.

Apparently the young woman who was recording her entire performance from the front row-center seat of Music Hall was using two smartphones and a power bank.Read More »

Pati, Sierra ravishing as star-cross’d lovers at SF Opera

Nadine Sierra and Pene Pati as Romeo and Juliet at San Francisco Opera. Photos provided/Cory Weaver

It’s always rewarding to see the understudy step in for the indisposed star, and become an “overnight” sensation. That is what happened at San Francisco Opera’s “Romeo and Juliet” earlier this month, when Samoan-born New Zealand tenor Pene Pati, who was scheduled to sing one performance, replaced Bryan Hymel for the entire run.

On Tuesday, I was able to catch a performance of the production, which opened the company’s 97th season in the War Memorial Opera House. I was partly interested because Cincinnati had the pleasure of being wowed by Pati in recital just last season for Matinee Musicale. But I was also interested in his Juliet — American soprano Nadine Sierra — who also performed a delicious recital for Matinee Musicale a couple of years ago. Since then, she has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera and won the 2017 Richard Tucker Award.

After the stunning performance by both of these artists on Tuesday, Cincinnatians can say, “We knew them when.”Read More »