‘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 »


Kahane’s surprising encore in CSO appearance is unforgettable

Jeffrey Kahane delivered a ravishing performance of the Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major with the CSO. Provided, CSO

Pianist Jeffrey Kahane wowed in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. But it was his surprising encore that left the evening’s most indelible impression.

He made no announcement. But his somber, reflective improvisation on “America the Beautiful” felt like a memorial to the victims of the horrible events that had unfolded two days earlier in a Florida high school. The tune rested briefly in the minor mode before ending quietly. It was heartfelt and moving, and listeners stood in appreciation.Read More »

Juanjo Mena’s ‘Leningrad’ Symphony with CSO vivid, powerful

Juanjo Mena led the CSO in Shostakovich’s sprawling “Leningrad” Symphony. Photos provided/CSO

It’s hard to fathom how Dmitri Shostakovich managed to write his Symphony No. 7, “Leningrad,” during wartime, even as the Nazis advanced and people were starving to death in his besieged city. In its first Leningrad performance, the players were given extra rations just to get through the 70-minute work.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s performance of the sprawling, grandiose Seventh Symphony under Juanjo Mena would have made a powerful impact even without knowing that story. Its war-like imagery  — incessant drumming, trumpet fanfares, explosive outbursts in the brass and cynical themes in the winds — was brought vividly to life in Friday’s performance in Music Hall.Read More »

May Festival announces first woman conductor

Eun sun kim
Eun Sun Kim will be the first woman to lead the May Festival in its 145-year history. Photo provided/Cincinnati May Festival

Korea-born conductor Eun Sun Kim will make her Cincinnati May Festival debut on May 18, replacing James Levine, who was previously announced to open the season. The Cincinnati May Festival made the announcement on Thursday.

She will be the first woman to lead the festival in its 145-year history. The program is unchanged. Kim will lead the May Festival Chorus and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem at Music Hall. Read More »

‘ArtsWave Days’ to present 12 days of free fun

Visitors hear an opera performance in the beautifully restored Corbett Tower during a free open house at Music Hall in October

If you missed the free community open house when Music Hall reopened in October, you’ll have another chance during ArtsWave’s upcoming campaign. Music Hall will be open to all on March 24. It’s just one of 12 Saturdays of free fun spanning the entire ArtsWave campaign.

The goal for this year’s 2018 “Make Waves” campaign will be announced early on Thursday.

ArtsWave, the nation’s oldest and largest community arts fund, previously offered an Arts Sampler Weekend of live performances, art and more.

The new concept, ArtsWave Days, will feature events at different venues with different themes on each Saturday between February 3 and April 21. In all you’ll find more than 100 free community performances throughout the campaign.Read More »

Double bass shines in the spotlight at Music Hall

CSO principal bass Owen Lee gave the orchestra’s first-ever performance of the Koussevitzky Concerto for Double Bass/ photos thanks to Lee Snow

When it comes to concertos with orchestra, most people don’t think of the double bass as a solo instrument.  It’s usually heard at the bottom of the musical spectrum, rather than playing melodies that soar over the orchestra. But bassist Owen Lee, principal bass of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for 22 years, made a strong case for Serge Koussevitzky’s Concerto for Double Bass, given its first-ever performances by the CSO over the weekend at Music Hall.

It was a fascinating piece – partly because Koussevitzky, himself a virtuoso of the bass, wrote it before he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra and became one of the most influential music directors in America.  In a neat tie-in, the program’s second half was devoted to Bela Bartok’s “Concerto for Orchestra,” which Koussevitzky commissioned from Bartok, who was then ill and destitute. Louis Langrée and the orchestra gave the latter a brilliant performance.Read More »