In the news: Local musicians win awards

Soprano Jessica Rivera (photo provided)

Cincinnati Song Initiative, established by Samuel Martin, is one of this year’s recipients of the arts network Ovation TV and Spectrum’s Stand for the Arts Awards. The new award is presented to arts organizations across the country who demonstrate efforts to be inclusive, accessible, and relevant to the needs of the communities they serve.

Cincinnati Song Initiative is one of 10 arts groups across the country to be honored. It will receive the award in a ceremony on Oct. 10 at Willis Music Steinway Gallery, 8118 Montgomery Rd.

Cincinnati Song Initiative kicks off its third season on Sept. 22 with Alma de España, a survey of art song from Spanish-speaking nations, 7:30 p.m. in Willis Music Steinway Gallery. The performers include Grammy Award-winning soprano Jessica Rivera, Mexican mezzo-soprano Paulina Villarreal, pianist Marie-France Lefebvre, and guitarist and lutenist William Willits. For information about the program and tickets, visit cincinnatisonginitiative.org.

Isaac Selya

Conductor Isaac Selya, known to local opera lovers as the founder of Queen City Opera, is the 2017-18 winner of The American Prize in Conducting in the professional opera division. He was recognized for Wagner’s Siegfried, in both Opera Production and Conducting.

Selya — who recently joined the music faculty as an orchestra conductor at Xavier Universitywas selected from applications reviewed recently from all across the United States. The American Prize recognizes the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings.

The American Prize has awarded more than $50,000 in prizes in all categories since 2010, and is presented annually in many areas of the performing arts.

David Katz, chief judge and creator of The American Prize, was selected as one of Musical America’s “Professionals of the Year, 2016.” To see the other winners in all divisions, click here.

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Oratorio to be given Ohio premiere: ‘Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Dream’

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Catherine Roma, artistic director, directing the World House Choir, which will perform the Ohio premiere of “Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Dream.” Photo provided.

A combined mass choir of 160 singers from 20 choirs in Cincinnati, Dayton and Yellow Springs have been rehearsing all summer for the premiere of an oratorio hailing the memory of a leading figure in the Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin (1912-87).

The choral work, “Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Dream,” was composed by Steve Milloy, a Cincinnati composer, conductor and an alumnus of Miami University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Four performances — three in the Yellow Springs/Dayton area and one in Cincinnati — and numerous events from Cincinnati to Yellow Springs will celebrate Rustin’s life as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, which took place Aug. 28 1963 — 55 years ago today. Read More »

WGUC to air ‘Leonard Bernstein: A Legacy ‘ on Sunday

Leonard Bernstein conducting, provided/Paul de Hoeck, courtesy of the Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc.

WGUC (90.9-FM) continues its “100 Days of Bernstein” celebrating the centennial year of Leonard Bernstein’s birth with a special program, “Leonard Bernstein: A Legacy,” airing at 8 p.m. Sunday night Aug. 19.

Produced by WGUC music director, Jessica Lorey in collaboration with Naomi Lewin, Stephen Baum, and hosted by Brian O’Donnell, “Leonard Bernstein: A Legacy” will bring you a wide range of Bernstein music as well as insights from musicians, conductors, and academics with local ties who knew, worked with, or studied the man many called Lenny.

You’ll hear remarks from:Read More »

Matinée Musicale announces grants to 10 arts programs

Students from MYCincinnati. Photo provided

Thanks to a bequest from the estate of the late arts patron Louise Dieterle Nippert, Matinée Musicale is awarding $72,000 in grants to 10 deserving music education and outreach programs in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

They are all achieving great things in the arts. The list:

Benjamin Carlson-Berne Scholarship Fund, which provides weekly private lessons and mentorship to youth of middle school age to high school age.Read More »

Cincinnati Song Initiative wins ‘Stand for the Arts’ award

Cincinnati Song Initiative participants around the piano (L-R): Alex Hurd, Ahyoung Jung, Samuel Martin, Ivy Walz, Kenneth Griffiths, Marie Marquis

America’s only arts network, Ovation TV, in partnership with Spectrum, has awarded Cincinnati Song Initiative a 2018 Stand for the Arts award. The award includes $10,000 in funding. Officials will hold a formal award presentation in Cincinnati on Oct. 8.

Cincinnati Song Initiative is a three-year-old concert series devoted to art song. The project, led by founding artistic director Samuel Martin, presents beautifully-sung, well-researched programs on themes such as American song, the French group, Les Six, and the art song of Spanish-speaking nations, “Alma de España,” which kicks off the third season on Sept. 22.Read More »

Opera is changing, and Cincinnati is at the forefront

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Eisenhower’s words are projected above the cast in a scene of “Another Brick in the Wall” that drew audience applause. Provided/Philip Groshong

This month at Cincinnati Opera, audiences are seeing an opera based on a Pink Floyd rock album and another, “As One,” on a transgender topic. The company is commissioning “Blind Injustice,” based on the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati, to premiere next year in CO’s 99th season.

Last week, the chamber group concert:nova presented a “rock opera” based on sci-fi stories from “The Illustrated Man” by Ray Bradbury. (Here’s a column I wrote about it.)

It’s no secret that opera can no longer lure audiences with just the traditional canon of the ABCs – “Aida,” “La Boheme” and “Carmen.” Around the country, opera companies are embracing diversity and programming new American opera on a range of topics.

For the last couple of decades, new opera has addressed timely social issues – such as Jake Heggie’s and Terrence McNally’s “Dead Man Walking,” based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean about the death penalty. As opera embraces the vernacular – with the aim of making it accessible to all — the whole art form is blurring the lines between traditional opera, pop and musical theater.

A case in point is “Another Brick in the Wall,” based on the acid-rock Pink Floyd Album, “The Wall.” To me, the production emphasized the visuals – the projections, the scenic design, the spectacle – leaving an impression not far removed from a night at the theater seeing “Les Miserables” or “Miss Saigon.” (Read my review here.)Read More »

The Flying Dutchman leaves port