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 »

The season is off and running

Louis Langre and Katia and Marielle Labque with the CSO


I’ve heard some wonderful concerts this month, starting with Damon Gupton’s debut as the new principal guest conductor of the Pops in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” It was fun to revisit the movie, but even better to hear the sound of John Williams’ score performed live in Music Hall. Gupton was a terrific host, and an engaging conductor. I couldn’t believe the cheers when the movie ended, and he launched into the “encore” — Williams’ orchestral suite from “Star Wars.” From my perch in the gallery, the brass sounded superb. See what the TV-movie star had to say before the concert about his new gig by clicking here.

John Morris Russell conducted the official opener of the Pops season, a stellar show with “Hamilton” star Renée Elise Goldsberry. Read the review here.

And the CSO also had an electric launch to the season, with Louis Langrée, the Labèque Sisters and a new concerto written for them by The National’s Bryce Dessner. Here’s my interview with Bryce.

What did you think? Here’s the review.

New security at Music Hall

Music Hall also debuted new security, with metal detectors in use for the first time. As far as I could tell, everything went smoothly.

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In memoriam Christopher Rouse

American composer Christopher Rouse

Publisher Boosey & Hawkes has just announced that American composer Christopher Rouse died today at age 70 in Baltimore.

His final work, Symphony No. 6, will have its world premiere on October 18-19 with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Louis Langrée.

A prolific composer of a wide range of acclaimed chamber and ensemble works, Christopher Rouse built a legacy as one of America’s greatest orchestral voices. His catalog of influential works is marked by extreme emotional depth and colorful orchestration, and reflected his insatiable curiosity for music from across Western music history to popular rock.Read More »

In memoriam Alice Weston

Alice Weston with one of her photographs, which I took in her home in 2012

Cincinnati lost a giant in the arts this week when Alice Weston, philanthropist and artist, passed away at age 93. Over the years, I interviewed Alice a number of times on a variety of topics, from her own extraordinary work in photography, shown above, to works she commissioned for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. One of my favorite interviews, though, was conducted with her cousin, Jane Ellis, about their experiences as children in the Philippines.Read More »

Stewart Goodyear to perform Beethoven sonata marathon next week

Photo provided/Anita Zvonar

Beethoven wrote 32 Piano Sonatas spanning his lifetime. It’s possible to view his musical evolution through these sonatas, from the early classical ones to the late, more revolutionary pieces.

Many of you have heard, or perhaps even played some of the most famous ones: The Moonlight Sonata, the Appassionata, the Waldstein, the Pathetique and the Hammerklavier. But few pianists have attempted to perform them all together, in a daylong marathon from beginning to end.

Pianist Stewart Goodyear opens Chamber Music Cincinnati with a Beethoven “Sonatathon” next Saturday, Sept. 7, in Memorial Hall.

He’ll begin at 10 a.m. and finish at 11 p.m., with breaks for lunch and dinner.Read More »