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 »


Jesús López-Cobos remembered in CSO concerts, tributes around the world

CSO music director emeritus Jesús López-Cobos Photo provided/Javier del Real

In case you missed it on bizjournals.com, here’s the CSO review from the weekend: Janowski’s Bruckner, Wagner provide fitting tribute to López-Cobos.

Read an appreciation for CSO music director emeritus Jesús López-Cobos, who died of cancer on March 2 at age 78 by clicking here. During his 15-year tenure with the CSO, he made many contributions.

The CSO’s March 23-24 concerts will be performed in his memory.

You can read some comments in appreciation of the maestro, his CSO recordings and more on Norman Lebrecht’s blog, Slipped Disc.

In memoriam Jesús López-Cobos

Jesús López-Cobos
Photo By Javier del Real

CSO Music Director Emeritus Jesús López-Cobos passed away this morning in Berlin at age 78. The CSO released this statement today:

His extraordinary tenure as Music Director here in Cincinnati from 1986 to 2001 had a lasting impact and he forged so many wonderful friendships. We grieve with his family and honor and celebrate his tremendous legacy.

There will be a moment of silence before each of this weekend’s concerts and we will dedicate the performances on March 23 and 24 in Jesús López-Cobos’ memory.

Please keep his family, many friends and former colleagues in your thoughts and prayers in this time of loss.

Here is his obituary, with some local information, on bizjournals.com. Maestro López-Cobos had the second longest tenure (15 years) of any CSO music director in its history, surpassed only by that of Eugene Goossens. He was the orchestra’s 11th music director, succeeding Michael Gielen.

He led the CSO on European and Far East tours, and conducted the orchestra’s first nationally televised concerts in the United States and Japan. He conducted the CSO 14 times at Carnegie Hall and made 26 recordings, more than any other music director at the time.

Gramophone has a nice tribute to his many fine Telarc recordings with the CSO and other orchestras.

Do you have memories of the maestro that you’d like to share? Please post them here, or send me an e-mail to janellesnotes@yahoo.com and I will post them for you.


‘Classical Roots’ to explore Music Hall’s diverse history

Classical Roots Community Mass Choir
Photo provided

This year’s “Classical Roots” concert will explore Music Hall’s history as a gathering place for a wide spectrum of Cincinnati’s society.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s “Under One Roof,” led by Pops conductor John Morris Russell, will take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 20 in Music Hall. The program will illuminate Music Hall’s history — both as a great concert venue for the orchestra in the main hall and as a community gathering place that hosted many of the greatest jazz, soul, rock and R&B artists of the 20th century in the Greystone Club. Today that space in the South Hall is known as the Music Hall Ballroom.Read More »

Strauss’ ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ a glowing highlight of CSO concert

Read the review on the new Cincinnati Business Courier Arts Front, which made its debut yesterday. (See the previous post.)

And here’s the review to Audra McDonald’s concert with the Pops on Sunday night.

Guest conductor Juraj Valčuha takes bows with violinist Simone Lamsma after her performance in Bernstein’s “Serenade, after Plato’s Symposium.”

Several times per month, I will be reviewing for their new arts page, which is free online.

Business Courier is now covering the arts

I’m happy to announce that I will have a weekly column in the Cincinnati Business Courier, which has made an unprecedented commitment to cover the arts. One of my first articles explains why Cincinnati is suddenly getting noticed as a destination.

And here’s my introduction. You can read the new arts page today in print, or online, a new feature called “Arts Front.” There you’ll also find ArtsWave’s calendar and much more. A few times a month, I will be reviewing classical music events there, too.

The new arts page will be FREE to read online.

I’m also happy to say that I’ll continue my relationship with Cincinnati Public Radio, and my blog will remain right here, at WGUC.org.

Thanks for reading!

Women’s musical accomplishments heralded in local concerts

Brianna Matzke will play a piano concert of music by women.
Photo provided

Women in music will be celebrated in — at last count — three local events in March, Women’s History Month.

Salon 21 is a series of intimate recitals, often held in people’s living rooms or other small venues, in the style of the 19th-century salon. For International Women’s Day, March 8 – an observance that goes back to 1911 in America — Salon 21 will host a concert with pianist Brianna Matzke playing a program of music written by female composers with a Cincinnati connection.Read More »