CSO, Pops nominated for two Grammy Awards

Both the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Pops are in the list of 2020 Grammy nominations released today by the Recording Academy. And there are several other Cincinnati-tied nominations this year, too.

Music director Louis Langrée, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra are nominated for Best Orchestral Performance for “Transatlantic.” This album includes the world premiere recording of the critical edition of George Gershwin’s An American in Paris. The CSO also gave the world premiere performance of this new edition at La Seine Musicale in Paris in 2017.

The award goes to both the conductor and to the orchestra.

And John Morris Russell and the Cincinnati Pops, as well as producer Elaine Martone, are nominated for “American Originals 1918” in the category of Best Classical Compendium. Performers on the album include collaborators Rhiannon GiddensSteep Canyon Rangers and Pokey LaFarge.

Other local ties include violinist Tessa Lark, who studied at CCM, for her recording of Torke’s “Sky” Violin Concerto with David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony, in the category of Best Classical Instrumental Solo.

Cincinnati-born jazz pianist extraordinaire Fred Hersch has received yet another nod for Best Instrumental Composition for “Begin Again” on the album, Fred Hersch & The WDR Big Band” conducted by Vince Mendoza.

And from Northern Kentucky University, the recording of a composition by NKU School of the Arts faculty member Kurt Sander, The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, is nominated for Best Choral Performance. The double-CD set features the PaTRAM Institute Singers led by Peter Jermihov, conductor. The 90-minute piece is one of the first English-language settings of the Eastern Orthodox liturgy.

And two choral conductors associated with the Vocal Arts Ensemble are up for Best Choral Performance: Craig Hella Johnson and Donald Nally.

Other names spotted:

Blanton Alspaugh, producer of the Vocal Arts Ensemble’s “Canticle” – released on the CSO’s Fanfare Cincinnati label – as well as Sander‘s The Divine Liturgy Of St. John Chrysostom, is nominated for “Producer of the Year, Classical.”

In the same list, under nominated producer James Ginsburg, I spotted brothers Anthony McGill, clarinetist, and Demarre McGill, flutist and CCM professor… 

Chuck Miller, savior of Sorg Opera House, steps down

Chuck Miller in his element, backstage at the Sorg

It took a man with a vision to see the beauty behind the dilapidated and abandoned Sorg Opera House in Middletown. Now, as John Kiesewetter reports this morning, Chuck Miller has resigned as president of the Sorg Opera Revitalization Group (SORG) to become the new executive director of the historic “State Movie Palace of Kansas,” the Fox Theatre in Hutchinson. Wife Denise Brodsky has also resigned her position on the board.

Current board members Roger Daniels and Chris Riva are stepping in to fill roles, although his successor has not been decided.

Here’s my story from about a year ago of how Chuck and his devoted board have been working — extremely hard — to restore the Hannaford-built theater to its former grandeur.

There are similarities between the Sorg Opera House (1891) and Music Hall (1878) as you can see in the balconies. Both were designed by Samuel Hannaford. The Sorg is on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the lobby
You can visit your old Music Hall seats

I’m posting a few memories of visiting the Sorg while these dedicated preservationists were at work restoring and programming a series of concerts in the hall. By the way, the acoustics are wonderful. And, for people who remember Music Hall’s old seats, you can revisit them up in Middletown.

Good luck Chuck and Denise! You’ll be missed.

Neil Armstrong’s son to perform with Harry James Orchestra

Mark Armstrong/Photo provided

“Fly Me to the Moon” is one of the songs Mark Armstrong, the youngest son of Janet and the late Neil Armstrong, will perform with the Harry James Orchestra on April 2 at the Music Hall Ballroom.

The moon-themed songs in Mark’s repertoire honor his father, who made history in 1969 as the first man to walk on the moon.

The Harry James Orchestra is led by Fred Radke, who played trumpet for James and has been the current orchestra’s director since James’ death in 1983.  Radke and Mark Armstrong struck up a friendship over their shared interest in the music and aerospace.

Armstrong, who lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children, has had a 30-year career as a software engineer and was instrumental in the development of several successful startup companies, such as WebTV Networks.  In addition, Mark was a senior engineering leader for both Symantec and Microsoft and also wrote system software for Apple Computer.

He’s also a singer/songwriter as well as an actor, and serves on the board of trustees to several non-profit organizations.

The Harry James Orchestra plays original charts of such hits asI’ve Heard That Song Before,” “I Had the Craziest Dream”, “Sleepy Lagoon”, “I Don’t Want to Walk without You”, and “I’m Beginning to See the Light.” 

The concert and dance is Tuesday, April 2, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Music Hall Ballroom.  Tickets are $30 ($20 for students with ID) and $35 on the day of the concert.

Tickets can be purchased at the Aronoff Center and Music Hall Ticket Offices, by calling (513)621-2787, or online atwww.cincinnatiarts.org.  The three-hour concert and dance will benefit public radio WMKV 89.3FM and WLHS 89.9FM.

 

Harry James Orchestra

Randy Brecker to visit Caffe Vivace

It’s a chance to see a world-class trumpeter in a venue not much bigger than your living room, says Brent Gallaher, co-owner of Caffe Vivace in Walnut Hills.

Caffe Vivace, the hip new coffee house by day, jazz venue by night, is hosting Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker in its listening room next weekend. He’ll play four sets over two nights — Feb. 15 and 16 — with two different groups of outstanding local musicians.Read More »

CCM Jazz to honor John Von Ohlen

John von ohlen provided
Provided photo: John Von Ohlen, co-founder of the Blue Wisp Big Band, was an adjunct instructor of jazz drums at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.

I’m sharing this note I received from CCM director of Jazz Studies Scott Belck:

The CCM Jazz Orchestra proud to present Stan Kenton’s “West Side Story” Sunday night,  November 4th. The band will be paying homage to the thrilling music of the Stan Kenton Orchestra’s first Grammy Award winning album, all of the magnificent arrangements by Kenton stalwart Johnny Richards.
This concert will be dedicated to the memory of distinguished faculty member and Stan Kenton alumnus, John Von Ohlen.
Special guest conductor, Vaughn Wiester, a veteran of the Woody Herman Band and a Stan Kenton scholar, will also be presenting a Pre-Concert Lecture entitled: “Three Outsized Personalities.”
Belck says he expects this prestige event to sell quickly, so get your tickets soon.
Von Ohlen died early this month. Read more about his achievements in the jazz world in John Kiesewetter’s tribute on WVXU.
What: Stan Kenton’s “West Side Story”
CCM Jazz Orchestra
Scott Belck, music director
Vaughn Wiester, guest conductor
When: Sunday, November 4th at 7pm
Corbett Auditorium
CCM Jazz Orchestra , Scott Belck, musical director/conductor
Vaughn Wiester Pre-Concert Lecture “Three Outsized Personalities”
6:15 in Corbett Auditorium
Tickets: $20 general, $15 non-UC students, UC students FREE
CCM Box Office:  ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice
Phone: 513-556-6638

My picks in the coming week

As always, Cincinnati offers myriad choices of things to do in the fall season. Here are just a few options that you might want to try.

Cincinnati Ballet’s “Peter Pan,” with a charming musical score composed by Carmon DeLeone, honors the maestro in its performances this weekend for his unprecedented 50 years as the Ballet’s music director. The dancing crocodile is one of my personal favorites. Thursday through Sunday in Music Hall. Tickets: cballet.org or call 513-621-5282.

Christian McBride. Photo provided

The great jazz bassist Christian McBride has shared the stage with jazz legends like Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock or Pat Metheny; pop giants like James Brown, Sting andThe Roots; and classical artists like Kathleen Battle, Edgar Meyer or the Shanghai Quartet. He visits the Xavier Jazz Series, 8 p.m. Oct. 27 in Gallagher Theater on the XU campus. Tickets: xavier.edu/musicseries

Cincinnati native and rising conductor Isaac Selya has just returned from making his debut with the Deustche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (yes, Paavo’s orchestra).

Next, he says, “I’m jumping straight into the next Queen City Opera program.” This one will be operatic selections featuring 11 emerging artists, accompanied by full orchestra. Eight of them trained at CCM; the other three trained at Indiana University, University of Kentucky, and Miami University in Oxford.

The concert will also feature the Xavier University Concert Choir,

Isaac Selya

singing in “Habanera” from Carmen. There will be a rare chance to hear the Council Chamber Scene from Simon Boccanegra, which ends with a soft entreaty for peace.

Just one performance: 3 p.m. Sunday, October 28 at the Sanctuary at Community Matters (2110 Saint Michael Street, 45204). To read the details on the repertoire and the performers click here.
Tessa Lark
Violinist Tessa Lark returns to the Queen City (where she trained at CCM) to star in Matinee Musicale’s 106th season, 2 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Anderson Center, 7850 Five Mile Road. Since her concerto debut with the Cincinnati Symphony at age 16, the Kentucky native is the recipient of a coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant and was silver medalist in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis and winner of the 2012 Naumberg International Violin Competition. She recently acquired a very special new violin from the Stradivari Society of Chicago. Read about it here. Andrew Armstrong collaborates at the piano. Here’s the program:
Suite Italienne……………………Igor Stravisky (1882-1971)

Appalachian Fantasy…………….Tessa Lark

Sonata in A major………………..César Franck (1822-1890)

Sonata No. 9, Op. 47 “Kreutzer”.. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Visit matineemusicalecincinnati.org for tickets or purchase at the door.