Classical Roots hosts its first artist-in-residence

Kelly Hall-Tompkins is the first artist-in-residence for the CSO’s Classical Roots program.

Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, winner of the Honorarium Prize in the 2003 Naumburg International Violin Competition and a career grant from the Concert Artists Guild, is the inaugural artist-in-residence for Classical Roots, an outreach program of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

During her residency this week, the violinist will visit City Gospel Mission, where she and CSO musicians will perform Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale” for clients. The performance is inspired by her not-for-profit Music Kitchen, which takes live classical music to homeless shelters in New York City.Read More »

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Opera Rap

Join Cincinnati Opera’s Harry T. Wilkes artistic director Evans Mirageas and me as we discuss arts journalism in today’s cultural climate, and more — 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Mercantile Library, Downtown. It promises to be fun. And, I might bring a surprise guest…

The Opera Rap — a lively discussion — is free to Library members; $10 nonmembers.

Reservations required: 513.621.0717 or email reservations@mercantilelibrary.com

Hope to see you there!

Reviews: CSO’s musical comaraderie, and opera at CCM

Mozart wind band music
Mozart’s Serenade No. 10 was played for the first time in 85 years by the CSO.

Here are my reviews from two of the shows I saw this week, which you can read free on the Business Courier:

CSO demonstrates musical camaraderie in smaller works

Gianni Schicci_ml-6738-2
Gianni Schicchi cast — note that there are two casts — (Left to right) Antonio Cruz, Samson McCrady, Michael Hyatt, Chandler Johnson, Lisa Rogali, Tyler Johnson, Amy Joy Stevens, Zane Hill. Photo: Mark Lyons

And at CCM: From tragedy to comedy, CCM double bill is a treasure

And the winners are…

The Winners of the CCM Opera Scholarship Competition on Saturday in Corbett Auditorium have been announced. (See more about the competition in the post below.)

The singers were vying for full scholarships and $62,500 in cash awards. The winners:

The Corbett Award – $15,000
Teresa Perrotta of Orlando, Florida

The Italo Tajo Memorial Award – $15,000
Murella Parton of Knoxville, Tennessee

Andrew White Memorial Award –$12,500
Salvatore Atti of Buffalo, New York

Seybold-Russell Award –$10,000
Victor S. Cardamone

John Alexander Memorial Award– $10,000
Eric Shane of Tulsa, Oklahoma

Corbett Chair Recruitment Award — $3,000
Daren Small of Billings, Montana

This year’s judges were Michael Eberhart from Opera Philadelphia, Cory Lippiello from the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Steven Osgood from the Chautauqua Opera Company.

CCM singers compete for cash, scholarships

CCM student Brianna Bragg participating in a master class with opera star Jamie Barton earlier this year. Photo: Andrew Higley

On Saturday at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music, singers will be vying for five prestigious full-tuition scholarships and $62,500 in cash awards. The Opera Scholarship Competition will be held on Saturday, March 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium.

It’s a high-stakes, daylong event featuring 27 current and incoming singers who are students in CCM’s storied opera department. They’ll be performing arias, songs and scenes before influential judges who have been flown in for the event.Read More »

VAE conductor change for ‘Vespers’

Elena Sharkova will step in for the VAE’s Craig Hella Johnson. Provided photo

Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble (VAE), the city’s premier professional choral ensemble, has announced a conducting change for Tuesday’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers at Memorial Hall. VAE Music Director, Craig Hella Johnson, who was scheduled to conduct, has had to cancel due to illness.

Johnson has tapped choral conductor Elena Sharkova to take his place as conductor for the performance. The Russian-American conductor is in her 17th year as Music Director of Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale. She is a passionate advocate for Russian choral music.

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sharkova holds graduate degrees in conducting from the St. Petersburg Rimski-Korsakov State Conservatory and Western Michigan University.

Tickets: vaecinci.org

Levine’s fall from grace is complete

Levine cr Naomi Vaughan
James Levine, being applauded at the Metropolitan Opera, was fired by the company, citing “credible evidence” for sexual abuse. Photo by Naomi Vaughan

By now you’ve read, or you’ve heard about, Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine’s fall from grace. Yesterday, the Metropolitan Opera fired the maestro, a Cincinnati native, citing “credible evidence” for sexual abuse allegations that go back decades.

Levine was one of the most powerful people in the opera world. He was revered as a conductor who rivaled legends such as Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein. In Cincinnati, Levine’s talent is a part of local lore. He made his Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra debut as piano soloist at age 10 under Thor Johnson. As a pre-teen, he would sit for hours at Cincinnati Opera rehearsals at the zoo, inhaling opera scores and imitating Italian conductor Fausto Cleva.

He was music director of the Cincinnati May Festival in 1974, before he turned 30, and served for five seasons. (The May Festival has canceled his planned appearance this season.)

In Cincinnati, he conducted his first performances of Wagner operas Lohengrin, Tannhauser and Parsifal, in concert version for the May Festival. Levine hand-picked his successor, James Conlon.

He was a personal champion of opera soprano Kathleen Battle, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

And his mentor from an early age into adulthood was Walter Levin, the late first violinist of the LaSalle Quartet, the distinguished former quartet-in-residence at CCM.

One of Levine’s honorary doctorates was from the University of Cincinnati.

I’m reposting the Met’s entire statement here:Read More »