Jamie Barton gives voice to women in music

The time is right, says opera mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, seen here in the Richard Tucker Gala, to put women composers in the spotlight. Photo by Dario Acosta

“Being able to do a brilliant piece by a female composer written in my own language — it feels very much like home,” said mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton.

Barton, a young American opera singer whose sumptuous voice is being compared to that of legends such as Kirsten Flagstad, was discussing the recital program that she will sing for Matinée Musicale next week. Cincinnati is a stop in her five-concert tour that began in December at Carnegie Hall.

Notably, half of her selections are by women: Elinor Remick Warren, Lili and Nadia Boulanger, Amy Beach and Libby Larsen. Even though women are gaining more recognition in classical music than perhaps ever before in history, it’s still remarkable to find concert programs that include very much, if any, music by women.

The time was right, Barton felt, to put women in the spotlight.Read More »


Mahler spellbinds in James Conlon’s return to CSO


James Conlon, May Festival music director laureate, returned to conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 with the CSO. Photo provided/Lee Snow

James Conlon raised his arms to begin Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan,” and the musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra sounded the long, quiet ‘A’ that opens the work. From that pure tone, the woodwinds evoked the gradual awakenings of nature, trumpet fanfares sounded in the distance and every note had color and meaning.

It was a spellbinding start to the hour-long journey that is Mahler. Through it all, the warmth of Conlon’s interpretation was palpable.

Conlon’s masterful reading of Mahler’s First Symphony on Saturday was just the antidote for a cold, snowy weekend when a blustery winter storm bore down on the city. Some brave souls turned out on Friday despite the dire forecasts. On Saturday, with the storm past, Music Hall was filled to the rafters.Read More »

Weather alert: May Festival’s ‘Messiah’ community sing postponed

Cincinnati May Festival

The Cincinnati May Festival has announced that its community sing event, scheduled for Saturday Jan. 13 in Music Hall, has been postponed due to the weather. The event will now take place on Jan. 20.

Here are the details:

Have you always wanted to sing with the world-famous May Festival Chorus? The chorus is hosting a free Community Sing at Music Hall with conductor Robert Porco and the May Festival Chorus, now slated for Jan. 20, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the chorus rehearsal hall at Music Hall.

The May Festival seeks singers of all voice types to join an all-new May Festival Community Chorus, a volunteer ensemble that will perform with the May Festival Chorus and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in a complete performance of Handel’s Messiah on May 26, 2018. Read More »

James Conlon brings the heroic Mahler into focus

James Conlon, backstage at Music Hall, offered insights into Mahler’s Symphony No. 1

James Conlon was back in Cincinnati, and he was beaming. Before sitting down to offer his thoughts on Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “The Titan,” which he will conduct this weekend with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, he offered a whirlwind tour of the new, somewhat spare dressing rooms in the old Green Room area backstage at Music Hall.

“It’s wonderful to see my old friends. It’s wonderful to see the orchestra,” he said, clearly touched to be back in the hall where he worked for so long. Music Hall closed for a 16-month renovation after his final concert as May Festival Music director in 2016.Read More »

Music Hall parking 101

It’s better to plan ahead for parking if you are going to Music Hall.

If you’ve gone to the Cincinnati Symphony, Pops or Cincinnati Ballet at Music Hall this fall, you’ve likely discovered that parking isn’t what it used to be. Here’s how to BE PREPARED for the new changes since Music Hall reopened after its 16-month renovation:

Parking for the CSO: In order to park in Washington Park Garage for the CSO, you need to purchase a $15 ticket ahead of time in order to get in. And sometimes those tickets are sold out. (That garage only holds 450 spaces, and some – but not all — of those are reserved on CSO concert nights.)Read More »

Review: Goossens symphony a pleasant surprise

Garrick Ohlsson made his 15th appearance with the CSO. Photo provided, by Dario Acosta

Nearly 74 years after Eugene Goossens put the finishing touches on his Symphony No. 2 in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra gave its Music Hall premiere.

Goossens’ Symphony may have been an unknown curiosity to most concertgoers in Saturday’s Cincinnati Symphony concert, the first of 2018. But guest conductor Sir Andrew Davis made a strong case for the work, which turned out to be a surprisingly good piece that was well-executed by the orchestra.

Frigid temperatures didn’t keep the audience away, for there was also a very fine known entity on the program. Pianist Garrick Ohlsson, in his 15th appearance with the orchestra, delivered an engaging performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, followed by a memorable Beethoven encore. And the evening opened with J.S. Bach’s lovely chorale prelude “Sleepers Wake,” as orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski.Read More »

Clip and save: What to see this winter

The incomparable Jamie Barton performs Jan. 26 at Memorial Hall

Baby it’s cold outside – but Winter is the season when the arts heat up. In the coming weeks, there are many tempting concerts and events to warm you up. So, bundle up, because there are a few that you won’t want to miss.

Jan. 11-12: Canticle. The Vocal Arts Ensemble reprises Kile Smith’s gorgeous “Canticle,” a setting of the biblical Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs), 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11 and 12 in Memorial Hall. Tickets start at $25. 513-381-3300, vaecinci.org.

Jan. 12-13: Conlon returns. James Conlon, music director laureate of the Cincinnati May Festival, returns to conduct the CSO in Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. Violinist Jennifer Frautschi is soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Music Hall. Tickets: 513-381-3300, cincinnatisymphony.org.

James Conlon at the 2016 May Festival
Photo provided

Jan. 19: Star soloist at Moveable Feast. CCM’s biggest fundraiser, this year on Friday, Jan. 19, will feature a performance by alumnus and star trumpeter Brian Newman, who will solo with the CCM Jazz Orchestra as the “opening course” in the CCM Village.  Read More »