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.


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 »

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

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