Sapling sculptures grow at Taft

So, earlier this week I took a peek at the environmental stick work sculptures that are going up on the lawn of the Taft Museum of Art. It was interesting to see the scaffolding-like structure that the sculptures were being created around.

Sculptor Patrick Dougherty happened to be there, working hard with his crew of volunteers, so I asked him what anchors them down. The saplings are actually planted into the ground. They don’t have roots, but sometimes they actually do sprout roots, he said.

Here’s my interview with him for the Business Courier. Enjoy the photos.

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Robert Porco’s contract extended with May Festival

Director of choruses Robert Porco

The Cincinnati May Festival announced today a two-year contract extension for Robert Porco, Director of Choruses, through the end of the 2020 May Festival.

Porco has served in that role since 1989, preparing the volunteer May Festival Chorus for hundreds of performances for the festival, as well as for concerts with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops.Read More »

Ohio Mozart Festival to feature C Minor Mass in historic church

Paul John Stanbery, founder of the Ohio Mozart Festival Photos provided courtesy of the Butler Philharmonic

Since 1997, Paul John Stanbery has led a festival that is unique in the Midwest: The Ohio Mozart Festival.

“Our Mozart presentations continue to be a cultural drawing card for the entire region,” says Stanbery, music director of the Butler Philharmonic. “The chance to present this stunningly beautiful score in a place that has such an acoustically and visually rich environment is surely a ‘bucket list’ opportunity. Upon entering, one feels as though they were transported to Vienna, just for an afternoon.”

Stanbery and his orchestra, the Butler Philharmonic, presents the “Grand Finale Concert” of the Ohio Mozart Festival at 4 p.m. Sunday; April 22 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 171 Washington St. in Hamilton.

This concert marks the first performance of symphonic music in the historic church, which has an acoustical environment that rivals the cathedrals of old Europe.Read More »

A new view of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4

There were 92 players onstage at Music Hall for Beethoven’s Fourth. Photo provided by CSO/Lee Snow

I was fascinated by the large-scale arrangement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 performed by Louis Langrée and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra over the weekend. It’s regarded as one of Beethoven’s more “classical” symphonies, calling for a smaller complement of players. But for this performance in Music Hall, there were 92 players onstage. (According to the CSO, Langrée was using a new critical edition by Bärenreiter.)

Curious about this arrangement, I spent some time digging through my personal library to no avail. Then, online, I found a doctoral thesis by Mark Christopher Ferraguto of Cornell University that mentioned a performance of the Fourth for a large-scale public concert in 1825. Beethoven arranged it for an estimated 94 musicians for the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of Friends of Music) concert in a large ballroom of the Imperial Court.

Here’s the review, which you can read free at, thanks to their new initiative to cover the arts.

What did you think?

Barnatan wows at CSO

Inon Barnatan in the Barber Piano Concerto with James Gaffigan conduting the CSO. Photo provided by CSO/Lee Snow

Here’s a link to my review of this weekend’s CSO concert on the Business Courier’s new Arts Front page. Remember, everything there is free to read. You don’t need to subscribe!

I thought it was interesting that the orchestra’s configuration was moved back to its original plan, with the violas on the outside, right, facing the first violins, and the cellos and basses also on the right. I still thought there were times when the brass and percussion overpowered the violins.

The Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances were wonderfully played and conducted. The clarity of sound in the new acoustic was quite good from my seat in the balcony. There was something about the string sound that was missing, though — that lush sound that makes it Rachmaninoff. It was resonance — defined as a “quality of sound that is rich, deep and reverberating.” I’m glad the acoustical experts are still tweaking the hall. Let’s hope they will be able to regain more of that full, resonant sound that has made Music Hall so special.


Old photos: Symphony Jazz Quintet

Marie Speziale has fond memories of playing the Cincinnati Symphony’s Jazz Quintet, which will be honored tomorrow night at Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame ceremonies.

Says Marie, the first woman trumpeter in a major orchestra: “We actually started as a quartet, expanded to a quintet, and eventually became a septet. The group was a product of an impromptu jam session at a club in India while on the 1966 World Tour.” Here are her personal pics, including one autographed by Dave Brubeck.Read More »

Jazz Hall of Fame to hold inductions Sunday

Marc Fields




Cincinnati’s Jazz Hall of Fame will be inducting 10 jazz luminaries in a jazz-filled celebration hosted by media legend Nick Clooney, 7 p.m. Sunday April 8 at Mount St. Joseph Auditorium. The honorees are: Bill Berry, Melvin Broach, Mandy Gaines, Wilbert t. Longmire, Artie Matthews, Michael Moore, Bill Rank, Steve Schmidt, Lee Tucker and Rick VanMatre.

In addition, special recognition will be given to the Cincinnati Pops, founding maestro Erich Kunzel and current Pops conductor John Morris Russell for 52 years of supporting jazz in Music Hall. The original Symphony Jazz Quintet will be honored, consisting of Paul Piller, Marie Speziale, David Frerichs, David Horine, Frank Proto and Robert Bradley.

Kay Casey, founder of the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame, and her board have made it their mission to shine a light on a Cincinnati treasure that, in previous years, received little recognition even though its history is rich. Clooney, always an entertaining host, is donating his time for the fourth year.

The event will include performances by current jazz talents: The Buffalo Ridge Jazz Band, Marc Fields Quartet and the Rob Allgeyer Trio featuring Nancy James, vocals. There will also be performances by jazz studies scholarship winner Tyler Marsh, piano, and his brother, Ethan Marsh on bass, and current scholarship winners Sam Breadon on guitar and Ziaire Sherman on baritone saxophone.

Hall of Fame members will be treated to the Philip Paul Trio in a reception for the inductees. Paul, of course, is the legendary session drummer for King Records.

Tickets help support the John DeFoor Jazz Master Classes at local high schools. $20 in advance; $25 at the door. 1-800-838-3006 or