Critic’s notebook: The chapter of the gods concludes

Here’s one of the performances I’ve been lucky to catch this fall in Cincinnati.

Soprano Mithra Mastropierro was superb as Brunnhilde
Soprano Mithra Mastropierro was superb as Brunnhilde

Last month, Queen City Chamber Opera mounted the final installment, Act III, of Wagner’s opera “Siegfried,” at the Dunham Performing Arts Center on the West Side. The performance, which was well attended on a bright Sunday afternoon, marked the first complete performance of “Siegfried” in Ohio in a century. (It was in collaboration with the Wagner Society of Cincinnati.)

(The first two acts were performed in the previous two years. It’s a rather epic way to perform a Ring Cycle… )

What is so remarkable about the efforts of the company’s founding music director Isaac Selya is the quality that he has been able to achieve on a shoestring. His orchestra — complete with five extraordinary horn players, harp and timpani — filled nearly half of the auditorium floor. Continue reading

Fanfare for the Common Man: Stories behind the story


img_7770I will never hear this piece quite the same way again. Writing about Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” was a fascinating journey that had several unexpected turns. First, I must thank my editor Amy Wilson, who asked a few months ago, “What about that Fanfare?” Thinking that everyone already knew all about it, I soon discovered that, no, that wasn’t the case. First of all, the CSO “commission” was honorary. Who knew that Copland wasn’t paid a dime to write it? The clincher was the date on the manuscript: Nov. 6, 1942. It might be a nice piece to run around election day, so I got to work. Continue reading

Ariel Quartet Concert Series Continues Oct. 25 at CCM

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Second concert in Ariel’s series coming up!


After its stunning opening performance of the 2016-17 season in September, the Ariel Quartetreturns to CCM in concert at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25 in Corbett Auditorium with a program featuring the works of Mozart, Shostakovich and Dvořák. Tickets are available through the CCM Box Office.

The Ariel Quartet, string quartet-in-residence at CCM. The Ariel Quartet, string quartet-in-residence at CCM. Photo by Saverio Truglia.

The Ariel Quartet is comprised of Alexandra Kazovsky, violin; Amit Even-Tov, cello; Gershon Gerchikov, violin; and Jan Grüning, viola. Grand Prize winners at the 2006 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and 2014 recipients of the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award, the Quartet was formed in Israel 16 years ago and now serves as CCM’s distinguished string quartet-in-residence.

Cincinnati Enquirer writer Janelle Gelfand said nearly every seat in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium was filled for the Quartet’s Sept. 6 opening concert and praised the “vibrant” performance.

“I loved the…

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CCM Alumni Return in Concert with the US Air Force Band on Oct. 21

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Several UC College-Conservatory of Music alumni will return to campus and perform as part of a community relations concert tour with the U.S. Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants at 8 p.m. Friday, October 21 in Corbett Auditorium.

The concert is free and open to the general public but ticket reservations are required. Tickets are available online at or in person at UC’s Veterans Programs and Services Office.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force Band, the premier musical organization of the U.S. Air Force, which includes the Concert Band, Singing Sergeants and four additional ensembles. For three consecutive years, the Concert Band and Singing Sergeants have been the featured performing ensemble of Macy’s nationally broadcast Fourth of July fireworks show in New York City.

The tour is part of the Air Force Band’s “Advancing Innovation Through Music” (AIM) educational outreach program…

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Music Hall renovation stories

The scene a few weeks ago in Springer Auditorium.
The scene a few weeks ago in Springer Auditorium.

So, I had asked our techies to put all of our Music Hall stories on one page, so that you, the public, could follow the renovation. However, the page ( seems to be not working. Therefore, I have posted as many articles, renderings, letters and opinions as I could find on my Pinterest page.


A jazzy, joyful premiere

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich/photo by Bill Keefrey
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich/photo by Bill Keefrey

“I don’t like the ivory tower,” said Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. “When I’m writing for musicians, I can hear them in my head.”

Indeed, there was no “ivory tower” here. On Sunday, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer was in the house — First Unitarian Church, home of the Linton Music Series — to hear the world premiere of her delightful “Pas de Trois,” honoring the 40th anniversary of the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, to whom the piece is dedicated. It was her sixth piece for the ensemble: Pianist Joseph Kalichstein, violinst Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson.

Her Piano Trio marked their 10th anniversary, and she has also written a Double Concerto (violin and cello), a Triple Concerto, a Septet and a Quintet for the musicians:

Creator and performers discuss their longtime collaboration.
Creator and performers discuss their longtime collaboration.

Admitting that she had “butterflies,” Zwilich said “When there’s a commission, I feel like people are betting on me, and that inspires me…. This is not my piece. This is their piece. Performance breathes life into music.” Continue reading