‘Tis the season…. for sing-along Messiahs

Butler Philharmonic and Chorus, Paul John Stanbery, music director

Performances of Handel’s Messiah are among the best-loved traditions of the holiday season. This year, there are several to choose from, for singers and listeners alike.

The Majesty of Christmas — The sing-along Messiah by the Butler Philharmonic and Chorus on Friday, Dec. 7, might be the region’s largest. Music director Paul John Stanbery says their first Messiah last year drew 1,000. It’s so popular, “we might need to do it twice,” he says.

Stanbery has assembled a fine cast of soloists: Soprano Jennifer Cherest, mezzo Kaylee Nichols, baritone Tom Dreeze and tenor Scott Wyatt. They’ll be performing the Christmas portion, plus selected arias and of course, the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Oh, and you won’t need to bring your own score, unless you want to. The chorus parts will be shown on two giant video screens. There will be designated areas for singers by type: Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass.Read More »

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Salonen to lead SF Symphony; Bryce Dessner to have role

Esa-Pekka Salonen has been named as the next music director of the San Francisco Symphony, succeeding Michael Tilson Thomas. And in what seems to be a trend, the orchestra will take on the new approach of having an artistic leadership team with a group of eight collaborative members, who will “reimagine” the role of the orchestra.

Aaron and Bryce Dessner performed Bryce Dessner’s “St. Carolyn by the Sea” with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Photo courtesy of CSO

One of those is Cincinnati native Bryce Dessner, of the band The National. Of course, most of us know that he is also an excellent classical composer and curator, whose music has been premiered by the Cincinnati Symphony.

The Finnish conductor Salonen will serve as Music Director Designate for the next year and half, and will become the 12th Music Director in the illustrious 107-year history of the San Francisco Symphony.

His tenure as Music Director will begin in September 2020 following the conclusion of Thomas’ remarkable 25-year tenure.

In a statement, the orchestra says that “Esa-Pekka values a collaborative approach to artistic leadership and music making. Together, the SFS and Esa-Pekka Salonen will reimagine the role of a symphony orchestra in our community and in today’s world.”

The new partners come from a variety of cultural disciplines. They are pianist, film producer, and composer of award-winning film scores Nicholas Britell; soprano and curator Julia Bullock, who has made social consciousness and activism fundamental to her work; flutist, educator, and advocate for new and experimental music Claire Chase; composer, new music curator, and member of The National Bryce Dessner; violinist, musical director, and artistic trailblazer Pekka Kuusisto; composer and genre-breaking collaborator Nico Muhly; artificial intelligence entrepreneur and roboticist Carol Reiley; and jazz bassist, vocalist, and undefinable artist Esperanza Spalding.

Salonen will lead the orchestra in concerts on January, 18, 19, and 20, 2019.

A father’s meaningful memorial to his son

Jordan McFaull

Rod McFaull, of Ft. Mitchell, wanted to make a lasting memorial to his son, Jordan, who died tragically at age 26 in 2015 of complications from diabetes. Jordan, who had just finished his first year practicing maritime law in New Orleans, loved classical music. He studied viola with Dorotea Vismara Hoffman at CCM Prep, at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. McFaull decided that a fitting tribute to his son would be to commission a new string quartet in his memory.

On Nov. 15, Kyle Werner’s String Quartet No. 2, “In Memory,” was given its world premiere at CCM.Read More »

In memoriam: Don Siekmann

Don Siekmann, immediate past president of the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall, had a big smile and a booming voice. A champion of Music Hall, he was most enthusiastic about the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ, and established a concert series in the Ballroom, a popular series still sells out quickly.

Mr. Siekmann died on Nov. 14.

Born in 1938 in St. Louis, Mr. Siekmann was the longtime managing partner of Arthur Anderson & Co.. His involvement with Cincinnati arts and civic groups was widespread. Besides, SPMH, Mr. Siekmann served as president of the Greater Cincinnati Arts and Education Center (the organization led by Erich Kunzel that spearheaded the new School for Creative and Performing Arts) and was a Cincinnati United Way Campaign chair.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Linda, and son Brian, as well as a sister, Ruth Ann Yorg and two grandchildren.

Visitation is 5 pm to 8 pm Nov. 19 at Spring Grove Funeral Homes, 4389 Spring Grove Ave. Services are at 10:30 am Nov. 20 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Milford, preceded by visitation at 9 am.

To read more, visit bizjournals.com/cincinnati.

Who are the next leaders in the arts?

One of the most interesting stories I have had the privilege to write for the Business Courier was about 10 up-and-coming young arts patrons who will be guiding our great Cincinnati arts institutions in the decades to come. For as long as I’ve covered the arts here, there has been hand-wringing over who will replace those great philanthropists and board leaders who have gone before. The Nipperts and Corbetts are just two of most well-known names from the previous generation, among many others.

Cincinnati has a great history of generosity and stewardship that goes back more than a century. You only need to consider this:

The CSO turns 125 in 2020

Cincinnati Opera turns 100 in 2020

Art Academy of Cincinnati turns 150 in 2019

UC’s College-Conservatory of Music is celebrating its 150th this year.

That kind of legacy takes leadership and creativity. And it takes changing with the times. Who could have imagined that an arts event called Blink could bring a million people downtown last year?

These young leaders already hold some of the city’s most important board roles. I think the arts are and will be in very good hands.

So who are the 10? Read the story here.

Where to find arts news and reviews: Visit the new Arts Front at bizjournals.com/cincinnati. It’s free, but you may need to register for a free subscription. For the latest CSO review of Beethoven’s Ninth, click here.

Tessa Lark dazzles in masterworks, bluegrass at Matinee Musicale

Tessa Lark

For Tessa Lark, performing in Cincinnati on Thursday was “basically coming home.” The violinist, who has appeared with dozens of American orchestras and is a Naumburg winner, among other prestigious awards, made an impressive recital debut at Matinee Musicale.

Cincinnati — specifically, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music — was a kind of second home during her early years. Between the ages of 11 and 18, her mother drove her two hours each way every Saturday from Richmond, KY, to work with master teacher Kurt Sassmannshaus in CCM’s Starling Preparatory String Project, a program for vastly talented kids. She made her Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra debut at age 16.

Now 29, she plays with an easy virtuosity. But she also charmed the audience at Anderson Center on Thursday with her down-to-earth personality and sense of humor as she spoke about each piece that she was performing with her pianist, Andrew Armstrong.Read More »

Review: Terrific all-Russian concert at CSO

Click here to read the review of pianist Yevgeny Sudbin with the Cincinnati Symphony, led by guest maestro Hannu Lintu this morning in Music Hall.

Yevgeny Sudbin wowed in his CSO debut, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Photo by Lee Snow

Reviews on the Cincinnati Business Courier website are supported by the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.