May Festival 2015

May Festival soloists, provided Mark Lyons
James Conlon leads May Festival soloists, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus in Haydn’s The Creation. Photo provided by May Festival/Mark Lyons

Looking back at last month’s May Festival, the five-concert season was an artistic triumph. The only disappointment was in the attendance. Officials blamed it on Memorial Day weekend, which fell this year on the festival’s opening, rather than closing concerts.

The May Festival Chorus/ photo provided by May Festival/Mark Lyons
The May Festival Chorus/ photo provided by May Festival/Mark Lyons

But currently, behind the scenes, those in high positions are discussing how the festival might reinvent itself. And as I noted in this column, the challenges are many. Not least will be finding a superb artistic leader — or leaders — to succeed James Conlon. As Conlon said before he left town to conduct opera in Italy, “As I look forward and know that every music lover in Cincinnati looks forward to the future of the May Festival, whatever form it may take, I hope that the core value of this legacy of choral music will be preserved.”

The Cathedral Basilica was a magical setting for Bach. Photo provided by May Festival/Philip Groshong
The Cathedral Basilica was a magical setting for Bach. Photo provided by May Festival/Philip Groshong

Where else can one hear such tremendous music, a marathon that takes place over two weekends each May? The breadth and depth this year were astonishing. The chorus has never sounded better, with a large amount of credit going to Robert Porco, celebrating his 25th season as director of choruses.

Here are the reviews:

Opening night, featuring Haydn’s “The Creation,” conducted by Conlon.

Night two, featuring Vaughan Williams’ “Sea Symphony,” conducted by Robert Porco.

Night three, the intimate concert in the Cathedral Basilica, featuring J.S. Bach, conducted by Porco and James Bagwell

Night four, featuring Berlioz’s Requiem, with Conlon conducting

Night five, a Russian program of Shostakovich, Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky, conducted by Conlon

 

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