More closures: This time, the museums

Vincent Van Gogh, Undergrowth with Two Figures, at Cincinnati Art Museum — and also online. Image provided.

It’s not only the performing arts that are closing down operations. Today, Cincinnati’s three major art museums — Cincinnati Art Museum, the Contemporary Museum of Art and the Taft Museum of Art — sent out a joint statement that they will be closed through April 3.

Cincinnati Art Museum has suggestions for exploring art at home:

Explore Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection artworks that have been digitized and are  available for viewing on our website.

There are also online exhibitions for you to view any time, any place.

Google Arts & Culture features many CAM artworks.

The museums hope you’ll explore their news and collections online at their respective websites, and
At Cincinnati Museum Center: In the interests of guest health and safety, Cincinnati Museum Center will temporarily close effective Saturday, March 14. CMC will continue to monitor the developments around the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus and will evaluate a prudent date to reopen.

In addition, the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center will temporarily shut down its museum operations. The museum will close to the public on Saturday, March 14, through April 3. There are tentative plans to reopen the museum on April 4. The Holocaust & Humanity Center believes halting operations is the most effective way to safeguard guests and staff in response to the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus.

Watch for updates: Coronavirus causing cancellations in Cincy’s concert season

From a recent Linton Chamber concert. Linton has canceled concerts this weekend.

You’ve probably seen the cancellations across the country due to COVID-19 — of sporting events, parades and arts presentations in large theaters — from opera and ballet to “Hamilton” (canceled in San Francisco).

Just in: The Findlay Market Opening Day Parade on March 26 will be either canceled or postponed.

As far as the arts in Cincinnati, I’ve gotten official word that the Linton Chamber Music Series concerts on March 15-16 have been cancelled this weekend. In addition, there will be no “Peanut Butter & Jam Session” this week at Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church or next week at Sycamore Presbyterian Church. Information here.

Because the University of Cincinnati is canceling in-person classes from March 14 through April 13, I’m hearing from faculty members that performances at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) will be canceled through the end of the semester. It’s possible that some may be live-streamed, if you interpret the UC message below: Read More »

Art Academy president to speak at Xavier art exhibit “For a Better World”

Artwork by Tom Towhey

Joe Girandola, president of the Art Academy of Cincinnati, will be the first speaker at “Art and Poetry for a Better World,” 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday Nov. 16 at Xavier University.

The event is an afternoon of presentations and poetry readings exploring the role of art with peace and
justice, as part of an exhibition this month at the Xavier University Art Gallery, A. B. Cohen Center
1658 Musketeer Drive on the XU campus.

The exhibition, which opened on Nov. 1, features poems by 100 Cincinnati poets, culled from “For a Better World” 2004-15 editions. They’ll be displayed alongside artwork by 100 Cincinnati artists.

Other speakers on Saturday include Kelly & Kyle Phelps, professors and sculptors, who will speak on “Art for Workers’ Rights and Social Justice” at 2:30 p.m., followed by poetry readings by poets of the show.

“For a Better World,” now in its 17th year, is the product of SOS (Save Our Souls) ART, a
non profit organization, which has the mission to promote the arts as vehicles for peace and justice.

Information and to see the list of poets and artists, visit Gallery: (513) 745-3811.

Gallery Hours: Mon – Fri: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Closed university holidays

Chamber Orchestra clarinetist to perform at Holocaust & Humanity Center opening

John Kurokawa

As part of the community celebration of the Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center on Sunday, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra principal clarinetist John Kurokawa will lead a program of music celebrating our nation’s diversity driven by immigration, and touching on local survivors’ stories featured in the new Holocaust Museum.

The Center opens to the public at its new home at Union Terminal on Sunday, Jan. 27.

Kurokawa performs a FREE concert of about an hour in length at 3 p.m. in Reikert Auditorium at Union Terminal.

His program includes  “Viktor’s Tale” from the movie The Terminal; Bonia Shur’s “Fleeting Thought” (the late composer at HUC was a Latvian native who escaped the Nazi invasion, fleeing to Israel and later moving to the United States where he would become a major musical force in the Reform Jewish Movement in America); and Messiaen’s “Abyss of the Birds,” a movement from the “Quartet for the End of Time,” which was written and premiered in a prisoner-of-war camp in Görlitz, Germany.

Sarah Weiss, executive director, talks about the mural at the entrance of the new location of the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center at Union Terminal during a hard hat tour last month.

There will also be selections from the movie “Schindler’s List” as well as the music of Bella Kovacs, a celebration of Klezmer music.

Kurokawa will also perform the Sonata for clarinet and piano by Francis Poulenc, dedicated to the memory of his friend Arthur Honneger, which Kurokawa says is “a wistful and somber remembrance of his friend as well as a celebration of life.”

Read more about the new Holocaust and Humanity Center at Remember, the Arts Front is free, but you may need to register for a FREE subscription.

Many refugees came through Union Terminal during World War II

Here’s the whole Grand Opening schedule on Sunday, Jan. 27:

1:00 PM Holocaust survivor & descendants processional followed by opening ceremony and ribbon cutting
2:00 PM Holocaust survivor Renate Frydman shares her husband’s survival story
3:00 PM Special performance by the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s John Kurokawa
Union Terminal was a welcome sight for the U.S. service men and women returning from the war, as well as for refugees.

4:00 PM The making of Cincinnati’s Newest Museum panel discussion with exhibit designers Berenbaum Jacobs & Associates and Jack Rouse Associates

For more info:

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 It’s free, but you may need to register for a free subscription. For the latest CSO review of Beethoven’s Ninth, click here.

Security measures already in place at CAM for Terracotta Warriors — Different exhibition from one that was vandalized

One of the Terracotta Warriors, Middle Ranking Officer, coming to CAM in April. Photo provided

Perhaps you saw the news this week  that Chinese officials are angered that someone has vandalized a Chinese terracotta warrior currently on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Although the incident occurred in December, museum officials didn’t become aware of it until January.

It is not the same exhibition that will travel to Cincinnati Art Museum, “Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China” (April 20-Aug. 12).

According to reports, a 24-year-old Delaware man was attending an after-hours “Ugly Sweater” Christmas party at the Philadelphia museum, when he managed to take a “selfie” and allegedly also break off and steal the thumb of one of the statues. The FBI tracked him down and charged him with theft. That particular warrior is estimated to be worth $4.5 million.Read More »

My last list … for now … of the best of 2016

636184558582936207-052816-May-Fest-08-1-.jpgIt seems that the end of a year always results in lists — looking back and looking ahead. And invariably, my list is different from your list. There were so many other great performances that I could have added here — the Polish Festival at CCM, the Ariel Quartet, the great jazz heard every week in our community, and the high-energy shows by John Morris Russell and the Cincinnati Pops… not to mention the entire opening season this fall at the CSO, with Emanuel Ax, Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, Gil Shaham and Branford Marsalis!

I loved it all. But here’s my column, in case you missed it, for better or worse. At the list’s end, I look back at two of the big stories in the arts that I covered, and look forward to the opening of Music Hall next October.

Read More »

Cincinnati’s philanthropy: Why do people give to the arts?

  • There have been some astonishing stories in the past week or two about Cincinnati’s support for the arts. The Lindner family is giving $10 million to the Music Hall renovation project. The CSO has raised $26 million, which will both build back the orchestra to 90 players and balance the books. Read how the orchestra turned itself around in six years.
  • And the ArtsWave campaign hit a new high.
  • On Friday, a visitor from New York asked me why there is such passion for the symphony, opera, ballet, museums and theater in such a small market? And why do people care enough to give and keep giving?
  • I said I think it goes back to those German immigrants of the 19th century– it’s in the DNA.
  •  What do you think?
    CSO officials annouce $26 million in gifts on Thursday in Music Hall
    joshua Bell signs autographs
    A fan takes a selfie

    Louie Langree and orchestra taking bows

Read More »

Are the arts dumbing down to win YP’s? Yes, says Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough doesn't believe in coddling potential young audiences
Stephen Hough doesn’t believe in coddling potential young audiences

It seems as if many arts groups — from museums to symphony orchestras — are trying to attract Millennials and Young Professionals with all kinds of perks, from parties, wine tastings and backstage tours, to offering them positions on boards. Concerts may be shorter, and sometimes with beer tastings attached. (See the new Chamber Orchestra season.)

But star pianist Stephen Hough, who performed last week on the Xavier Piano Series, believes that the arts are bending backwards way too far to attract new audiences. The result, he says, is dumbing down the art form. Here are some of thoughts that did NOT make the interview that ran here.

Hough: “If an elder person thinks they know what a younger person wants, they’re always going to be wrong. I see people in their 50’s who say, ‘We’re going to do this in a young, groovy way’. But young people have changed styles twice since you’ve said that.

“Yes, let’s have the accessibility, and make it affordable. But tell people that these composers were not from the establishment. They were usually poor, often rebels, and not the stuffy thing that people think.

“I wrote an article about this not so long ago. Classical music is difficult to listen to. You can’t say, ‘Come in, it’s really easy.’ No, tell them to come in, and you’d better be intelligent. You tell them that it may be difficult to listen to this music. The analogy I made was, if you say to a teenager, ‘This is the hardest mountain to climb in the country,’ then that’s the mountain he or she will want to climb. If you say it’s really easy, they’re not going to listen.

“So why are we saying to people, ‘It’s easy, we’ll just play one movement, because you haven’t got the concentration for more.’ No, tell them, ‘This is tough, and I hope you’ve got the energy to listen to this.’

“I really think that’s where we’re going wrong. Rather than dumb down and dilute everything, instead say this music is the highest achievement that humans have had. Let’s go for it.”