Cincinnati Opera, CET to air documentary on opera’s first 100 years

In recent years, Cincinnati Opera has kicked off its season with a free concert in Washington Park, OTR

Cincinnati Opera and CET have announced plans for “Cincinnati Opera at 100,” an hour-long televised program commemorating Cincinnati Opera’s centennial. Featuring
insights from local and national opera experts and performances by artists from across the country, “Cincinnati Opera at 100” will premiere on CET 48.1 on Friday, July 3 at 9 p.m. EST.

Additional airings will follow on CET Arts 48.3 through Tuesday, July 7.

The nation’s second-oldest opera company, Cincinnati Opera presented its first performance on June 27, 1920, at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, and its annual Summer Festival has become a Cincinnati arts-going tradition.

Lisa Daltirus in “Aida” at Cincinnati Opera in Music Hall.

Though the company’s 100th Anniversary Season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, “Cincinnati Opera at 100” transports the opera-going experience into viewers’ homes, including performances by much-loved singers from recent Cincinnati Opera productions and historical highlights from opera experts.Read More »

CSO announces 5 new diversity fellows

Amy Nickler

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have selected five accomplished musicians for their next class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows.

The performance fellowship program was launched in 2015 out of a desire to help American orchestras be more inclusive and to better represent the communities they serve. The mission is to eliminate obstacles that can prevent musicians of color from achieving their full potential. It is funded with a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Through the collaborative program, CCM and the CSO provide graduate level academic study
and professional development and performance opportunities for the Diversity Fellows.

“The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra exists to serve our community. Our entire community,”
said CSO President Jonathan Martin. “But how can we authentically serve our entire community
if a significant part of that community doesn’t see themselves reflected in our organization? The
CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship is one of many steps we are taking to address this disparity. By
providing professional opportunities to a more diverse group of outstanding musicians, we hope
to cultivate—and begin changing —the next generation of American orchestral musicians.”

The new Fellows are:Read More »

Art of the Piano to be virtual this year

Awadagin Pratt established Art of the Piano 10 years ago at CCM

It comes as no surprise that Art of the Piano, the festival of pianists and piano music founded by Awadagin Pratt, will be virtual — or “Onlive!” — this year-of-the-covid.

The festival will begin at 6 p.m. June 23 with  a live-streamed concert by a superstar pianist to be named “once the ink is dry on the corona-revised contract,” Pratt says. The festival runs through July 27 with weekly concerts and lectures by both distinguished and emerging artists.

The website is under construction in preparation, so check back for news at

Here is Awadagin’s statement regarding diversity with his announcement:Read More »

Library of Congress commissions 10 musical works in response to Covid pandemic

Illustration from a medieval manuscript
Public Domain. Bibliotheek, K. (2020, April 01). Giovanni Boccaccio & Florentines Who Have Fled from the Plague. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

The Black Plague of the 14th century had Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, a literary masterpiece about 10 Florentine authors, holed up in quarantine, who entertained themselves by telling stories. The result was 100 tales.

Now, the Library of Congress announced today it will premiere a series of 10 commissions of new music from composers across America in The Boccaccio Project, a musical response to our current plague.

That early moment in history parallels the quarantine and social distancing phenomena we have been experiencing worldwide in recent months, the Library of Congress news release stated.

Curators in the Library’s Music Division asked 10 pairs of composers and performers to write brief solo works to be premiered over the course of 10 days — June 15 to June 26. The composers and performers are working remotely, and once the new commissions have been recorded, they will be released on the Library’s digital platforms and by the artists.

The release of the commissions over 10 days is a nod to the “Decameron’s” structure, the release said.

Since the Library’s concert series was founded in 1925, more than 600 works have been commissioned under the auspices of the Library’s gift funds.Read More »

What will make you feel safe going to a concert or museum?

As the country begins to open up after the pandemic lockdown, I’m seeing many surveys coming across my email, asking “What will make you feel safe going back to your old activities?”

Those activities, for me, include returning to concerts, plays, museums, ballet, the intimate venues and the larger ones, events that take place indoors and outdoors. I miss it all.

Of course, it’s a complex question. It’s clear that arts organization around the world have been pondering how they would reopen — safely — ever since everything closed in mid-March.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra took a first step with a chamber music concert live-streamed from an empty Music Hall last Saturday. Click here to read my impressions, free on

I’d like to hear from you. What might make you feel safe attending an arts or cultural entity again? Social distancing, face masks and hand sanitizer? Reliable Covid-19 treatments and tests? A vaccine?

Comment here, on Facebook or send me a note a

CSO to live-stream first Music Hall concert since pandemic shut-down this Saturday

Concertmaster Stefani Matsuo will be one of the musicians featured in the CSO’s first “Live from Music Hall.”
Photo by Jake Anderson

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will present Live from Music Hall, the first physically distanced live performance from the stage of Music Hall, 8 p.m. Saturday, May 16. The performance will be streamed on the CSO’s Facebook pageYouTube channel and website.

It is the first live performance in Music Hall since the Covid-19 pandemic closed all theaters in mid-March. The small ensemble of musicians will be following social distancing procedures onstage. There will be no audience in the hall.

The concert is dedicated “to the people of Cincinnati and beyond, to lift their spirits, and to thank those who have been at risk for their contributions to our continued safety and well-being,” said music director Louis Langrée.

Langrée will host the live-streamed, chamber music performance from the house of Springer Auditorium. CSO musicians will be playing Gustav Mahler’s Piano Quartet and the world premiere of the first piece for The Fanfare Project, a work written for principal oboist Dwight Parry by CSO Creative Partner Matthias Pintscher.Read More »

Louis Langrée to host online event tonight

CSO music director Louis Langrée will host “Louis on 125 – The Luminaries” in a special one-hour livestream event, 7 p.m. today (April 31), available on Facebook and YouTube.

Join Langrée via live-stream as he explores the orchestra’s origin and extraordinary musical legacy in honor of the CSO’s 125th anniversary. This final installment in the three-part “Louis on 125” series explores some of the many musical greats that have collaborated with the CSO in the first 125 years and provides a look at the CSO’s history.
The event was moved online due to the pandemic.
In the photo: Composer George Gershwin (first on the left) with taxi horns outside of Cincinnati’s Emery Theater following the CSO performance of An American in Paris.

Cancellations, digital programs, relief funds: How Cincinnati’s arts organizations are coping with COVID-19

A previous production of The Magic Flute/ provided by Cincinnati Opera

Cincinnati Opera’s news yesterday that it must cancel its 2020 Summer Festival — the company’s 100th anniversary — was just the latest in an ongoing wave of arts cancellations due to COVID-19. Because of extended stay-at-home orders and closures, it was literally impossible to begin set-building and rehearsing, let alone fly in the international stars who were coming from Italy and the Czech Republic.

I doubt that entire seasons have ever been canceled for such a plague, although world wars have interrupted some. Of the many arts organizations that I have interviewed this month, a few leaders have predicted to me, that, until people feel comfortable being with other people in a theater, museum or a concert hall (and you can add to that, restaurants and stadiums), they will not return. And that won’t happen until there is a vaccine.

As Ensemble Theatre’s D. Lynn Meyers tells me in Friday’s Business Courier, we all thought things would be closed for a weekend, and then it would be back to normal. Now we talk about the “new normal.”

The Blue Wisp Big Band at Caffe Vivace last month.

I began observing how the coronavirus was impacting our city’s freelance musicians about a month ago, when restaurants closed, and musicians began streaming their music live from empty bars, for tips. That article, “Virtual Reality,” on April 3, included some jazz musicians, as well. Trumpeter Matt Anklan, an adjunct at Miami University, said that 60 percent of his income is from freelance jobs — now completely gone.

A spot check of Cincinnati’s major arts organizations, “Critical Stage” on April 10, told stories of how groups are struggling to hang onto their staffs even as they tally their losses. Losses will be big. ArtsWave — which was just midway through its annual, $12.4 million campaign when the virus hit — predicts that losses in Cincinnati’s arts community could top $30 million if there is no arts activity all summer.

Van Gogh’s Undergrowth with Two Figures at Cincinnati Art Museum

Still, there was a note of optimism, despite the expected red ink. Cincinnati Art Museum’s Cameron Kitchin told me, “The arts are about connecting and inspiring. What greater time of need do we have for inspiration and connection than right now, in this time of social distancing and flickering hope? If we look at what the arts to able to provide for humanity, this is a moment where we are called to action.”

Friday’s article (April 17) is about how small and mid-sized arts groups in our region are coping. There will be more stories to come, including some with good news of how people are stepping up in a time of crisis.

As I wrote in a column at the very beginning of the trickle of online arts offerings — now a tsunami — the arts offer escape, joy and comfort. Don’t forget, these organizations can’t wait to welcome you back, live and in person, when we all reach the other side.

Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra cancels this year’s Summermusik

Sad news: The Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, which presents a Summermusik festival in August, has canceled its 2020 festival due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Chamber Orchestra, which is led by music director Eckart Preu, plans to return in 2021.

The CCO made this announcement in an email blast today:

Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, shown here with the Faux Frenchmen, at a Summermusik concert

“In the past few weeks the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, like so many of our arts peers around the country, has grappled with the uncertainty and disruption surrounding COVID-19, as well as the difficult financial situation confronting many of our donors. After much deliberation and soul-searching, the CCO Board and staff have made the heartbreaking decision to postpone our Summermusik 2020 festival until 2021.Read More »

CSO, Pops, May Festival cancel all concerts for the rest of the season


The May Festival has canceled its entire season due to Covid-19.

It’s not surprising, but the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops Orchestra announced this morning that they are canceling all concerts and events through the remainder of the season due to the coronavirus.

In addition, the entire Cincinnati May Festival season is canceled, as well as performances by the professional chorus, the Vocal Arts Ensemble.

This year is the orchestra’s 125th anniversary season.

Of course, financially the effects of Covid-19 will be disastrous for all of Cincinnati’s major arts organizations. We await to learn whether Cincinnati Opera will be able to mount its much-anticipated 100th anniversary season, to open in June.

Here’s the CSO’s announcement with a listing of cancellations:

In compliance with Governor Mike DeWine’s standing mass-gathering prohibitions and the recent directive to stay at home, and given ongoing travel bans, international quarantines and the continued disruption of normal business activity caused by the Coronavirus, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra announced today the cancellation of all CSO, Cincinnati Pops and May Festival concerts and events through May 31, 2020.

The CSO had previously cancelled concerts and events through April 5. President Jonathan Martin said that in light of the deepening national health crisis, the organization had no choice.Read More »