Unusual choral concert tonight on Purple People Bridge

A previous gig by the YPCC at Rhinegeist Brewery

The Young Professionals Choral Collective (YPCC) kicks off its 9th season with an unconventional, in-person performance on the Purple People Bridge at 6 p.m. today (Friday) October 16th. Their concert takes place in perhaps the most unusual venue ever used by a local arts organization — although they have come up with a number of other creative places to sing.

Produced in partnership with The Carnegie’s Creative Disruption Committee, Building Bridges – Keep the Arts Alive’ will be one of the first in-person, public choral performances in Cincinnati since March and demonstrates the importance of continuing to support the arts through the pandemic.

Repertoire features two original works by Jacob Stone, commissioned by YPCC through the Young Professional Composers Project. The performance also features an arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, signifying what the arts are to so many people during COVID-19 times.

(You  may recall this mention when I interviewed YPCC’s new director Danielle Cozart Steele for this story about how choruses can safely rehearse.)

Performers will be fully masked and socially distanced for the duration of the performance, lasting approximately 25 minutes. YPCC singers will be joined by select members of the Cincinnati Boychoir for a portion of the program.

What to expect: This event is free and open to the public. Masked-singers will be situated along the thinner, “walking” portion of the bridge, and socially distanced spots will be marked on the wider portion for audience members to occupy.Read More »

Cincinnati arts in top 20 of U.S. communities

CCO musicians performing at Pyramid Hill sculpture park, Hamilton
May Festival Chorus

A new report from the National Center for Arts Research names Cincinnati in the top 20 of large communities for arts vibrancy. The report takes “a data-driven approach to assessing characteristics that make up a community’s vibrancy rather than base the ranking on our own opinion about locations or on a popular vote.” Four measures were analyzed: supply, demand, and public support for arts and culture on a per capita basis.

It’s interesting that such a report would come out during a pandemic, when most arts organizations closed their doors in March, and have been struggling to survive ever since. The reason, the report says, it offers the report “as a celebration and reminder of the arts’ enduring importance, resiliency, and vibrancy.

“We should not forget the essential role that the arts play in fueling community development, emotional health, cultural literacy, social cohesion and integration, and creative expression. Ultimately, the communal nature of arts participation will be a strength to communities hungry to come together again and affirm existential meaning after prolonged isolation, trauma, and polarization.”

Indeed.Read More »

Local classical music focuses on music by African American composers

Anthony McGill performing at the Linton Music Series recently/ photo by Tina Gutierrez


Something good has come out of all the turmoil this summer. Arts organizations are programming music and even entire seasons devoted to the music of African American composers. It is music long neglected in our country. From the King of Ragtime Scott Joplin, whose “Maple Leaf Rag” appears on the Pops’ digital program on Oct. 3, to Florence Price, whose elegant symphonies, concertos and piano pieces are enjoying a revival, it is wonderful music that deserves study by scholars and performances by our major institutions. And now, that is happening at the Cincinnati Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops, the Cincinnati Song Initiative and others.

The Cincinnati Symphony and Pops are programming a free “digital season,” seven livestreamed concerts recorded in Music Hall, kicking off at 8 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 26.Read More »

“Live from Linton” — Linton Chamber Music to return, livestreamed and with small audiences

Sharon Robinson and Jaime Laredo, married duo and co-artistic directors of the storied Linton Music Series

Linton Chamber Music will return to its devoted fans. But, like everything else these days, the 2020-21 season has been “re-imagined.”

Live performances will be streamed online from the Linton stage at First Unitarian Church. Besides that, Linton Chamber Music will be making a small, limited amount of seating available to subscribers and donors.

CSO concertmaster Stefani Matsuo, principal cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn and CCM faculty member pianist Sandra Rivers

Starting Oct. 4, concerts will be streamed Live on Sundays at 4 pm on the Linton Chamber Music YouTube Channel, with audio engineering performed by WGUC (90.9) FM. Artists include co-artistic directors Sharon Robinson and Jaime Laredo, violinist Jennifer Koh, the return of the New York Philharmonic Quartet, the Miami String Quartet, faculty members from CCM and principal players from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

The musical lineup — as always — is enticing, including an all-Bach program for solo violin (Jennifer Koh), piano trios by Mendelssohn and Schumann, Bartok “Contrasts,” the Beethoven Septet in E-flat major and the Cincinnati premiere of a work by Richard Danielpour, String Quintet, A Shattered Vessel.”

You’ll be able to view programs on your flat-screen TV or your computer. Scroll to the end of this post for instructions.

The online performances are FREE. Donations are welcome, with a support button for each program on the website.

More about the programs:Read More »

Cincinnati Song Initiative to go virtual this season

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

I’ve enjoyed some of the most engaging programs in memory by Cincinnati Song Initiative, a series of programs devoted to art song. Founded five years ago by Sam Martin, it features rising stars — many of them CCM alumni — and CCM faculty in impeccable performances of music we don’t often hear.

This year, it’s all digital, thanks to Covid-19. That doesn’t mean that it’s programs aren’t just as compelling. Concerts can be streamed through CSI’s new online platform, CSI Digital. You can
access the concerts as they stream live and re-watch them as many times as you wish. You’ll also have access to extras, such as Composers & Cocktails happy hour chats, Beyond the Song webinars, Coffee Convos roundtable discussions, and CSI’s complete video concert archives.

Elena Villalón appears in January

The season includes its largest commissioning project to date. Cincinnati Song Initiative will commission a single song from ten composers for its grand finale in May.

Here’s the schedule:Read More »

New York radio WQXR to air CSO’s Beethoven Akademie 1808 concert this month

Maesstro Louis Langrée, with soloist Inon Barnatan, the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Akademie 1808 concert in Music Hall/AJ Waltz, photos

“Mostly Mozart Festival on WQXR,” a week-long radio festival on New York’s classical radio station, will be capped on Aug. 16 by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Beethoven Akademie 1808 concert performed last season in Music Hall and conducted by music director Louis Langrée.

On Monday, WQXR and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts announced a partnership to broadcast archival performances from the annual Mostly Mozart Festival, as well as interviews, discussions and “pop-up” performances daily from Aug. 10 to Aug. 16.  New Yorkers can listen at 105.9-FM, or anyone may stream it online at wqxr.org. On opening day, a series of pop-up outdoor performances across all five New York City boroughs will stream live on WQXR’s Facebook page.

Due to Covid-19, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, which is led by Langrée, was canceled for the first time since its founding in 1966.

The festival will close on Aug. 16 with the CSO’s recreation of Beethoven’s legendary Akademie 1808, the most important concert of the composer’s lifetime (Aug 16, 5 pm ET). Langrée had intended to lead the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra in this extravagant program — four hours of some of the greatest music Beethoven ever wrote. Instead, the festival will feature the performance recorded in Music Hall on March 1, 2020 with Langrée conducting the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and featuring the May Festival Chorus prepared by Director of Choruses Robert Porco.
Read More »

In memoriam: Pianist Leon Fleisher’s recital at 90

This was my review of the last local performance by the great pianist, whose touch and tone were as beautiful as ever two years ago. Leon Fleisher, who became a virtuoso of piano literature for the left hand after suffering injury to his right hand, died on Sunday in Baltimore at 92. May he rest in peace.


Leon Fleisher performed a luminous recital in Werner Hall at CCM on Saturday night.

Perhaps playing the piano is good for longevity. Amazingly, there are still two classical pianists who are concertizing into their 90s.

Earlier this year, Menahem Pressler, 94, the founding anchor of the Beaux Arts Trio, performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488, with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He made his debut with that orchestra under Eugene Ormandy in 1947. And, he’s still teaching at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University.

Over the weekend, Leon Fleisher, who is celebrating his 90th birthday, performed a recital as part of the Art of the Piano festival at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. (The festival’s founder, Awadagin Pratt, studied with Fleisher at Peabody.) As a teacher, Fleisher is a direct descendant of Beethoven, passed down through Carl Czerny, Theodor Leschetizky and Artur Schnabel.

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Chamber Orchestra announces lineup for Summermusik e-festival

CCO musicians performing at Pyramid Hill

In lieu of its usual month-long Summermusik festival, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra has 13 virtual events on tap to enjoy at home, Aug. 8 through Aug. 29.

The Silver-Garburg Piano Duo

Three will be three “live” events — online performances in real time, with stars including the Silver-Garburg Piano Duo, who wowed us in person at the festival in 2019 (Aug. 9); the superb young cellist Coleman Itzkoff, a Cincinnati native and CCO principal violist Heidi Yenney’s son (Aug. 16); and pianist Alon Goldstein, one of the stars of the 2017 festival (Aug. 23).

Those “eConcerts” will be hosted by music director Eckart Preu, and you’ll have a chance to ask questions.

Other events include “virtual watch parties” with local collaborators, a special WGUC Music Cincinnati Broadcast (Aug. 16), and “CCO2GO Rewind” events that were taped around the region earlier this summer.

Best of all, it’s all FREE. Access begins on Aug. 8th on the CCO’s website, ccocincinnati.org. Here’s the full lineup.Read More »

CCM alumnus recruits MLB stars and musicians for virtual rendition of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’

This should put a smile on your face:


Warm up for the start of the Major League Baseball season with a special virtual performance of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” that showcases UC College-Conservatory of Music students and alumni with MLB players. The performance is available to watch online.

Alumnus Harrison Sheckler (BM Piano, ’19) brought 200 people together for the performance, which was professionally produced with help from former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo. The performance features singers and musicians from CCM and the Brooklyn College. Filling out the roster for the project are Bret Saberhagen (pitcher in the Royals Hall of Fame and 1985 World Series champion and former Met); Jim Day (FOX Red’s baseball announcer); Susan Roush Dellinger (author of “Red Legs and Black Sox” and granddaughter of Baseball Hall of Famer Edd Roush); Nick Martinez (pitcher for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball and former Ranger’s pitcher); Aristides Aquino…

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CSO, Pops cancel fall season; live-streamed shows planned

An image I captured during the CSO’s livestream from Music Hall in May.

It’s no surprise. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra announced today that its fall season concerts for the CSO and Pops are canceled through Jan. 3 2021 due to Covid-19. Click here to read the story.

Louis Langrée

The orchestra joins a growing number of major North American orchestras that are canceling all or part of their 2020-21 seasons amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus.

The Indianapolis Symphony was the latest to cancel its entire season on July 24. Here’s a link to the news.

The Nashville Symphony also has announced it will not play in 2020-21. It will furlough its musicians, staff and even its music director, Giancarlo Guerrero. Press release here.

Toronto announced that it will not have its usual season, but will present scaled-down ensembles, even in its home in Roy Thomson Hall..

Those who have announced they will cancel their fall seasons only (for now) include The New Jersey Symphony, which is led by music director Xian Zhang, who earned her doctorate at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

The San Francisco Symphony, with its season canceled through Dec. 31, was to have welcomed its new music director Esa-Pekka Salonen this fall.

Other major orchestras canceling fall seasons include the New York Philharmonic, the National Symphony, Chicago Symphony (through Dec. 23) and the Baltimore Symphony, optimistically to the end of November.