May Festival in full swing

View of the stage on Opening Night at the May Festival

Here are last weekend’s reviews:

Friday night’s review of Mark Simpson’s “The Immortal” is published on the national website, Classical Voice North America, free to read by clicking here.

And Saturday’s review is published locally by the Cincinnati Business Courier. Remember that the Arts Front is always free, but you may need to register for a FREE subscription. Click here for the review, and click here to read the season preview.

Tonight, May 23: Craig Hella Johnson leads Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble in a performance of his own oratorio, “Considering Matthew Shepard.” The work provides “a space for reflection, consideration and unity around (Matthew Shepard’s) life and legacy,” Johnson says. Rod Caspers, stage director. 7 p.m., Corbett Auditorium, CCM. (Note the show is moved from PCT due to ticket demand.)

Herald trumpets hail the season

Friday, May 24: Music director laureate James Conlon returns to the Festival for the first time since 2016 to lead Mussorgsky’s Prologue and Farewell Scene from “Boris Godunov,” Boito’s Prologue from “Mefistofele” and Mahler’s “Das Klagende Lied,” with soloists Morris Robinson, Sarah Vautour, Taylor Raven, Richard Trey Smagur, John Siarris and Donnie Ray Albert. Conlon gives the preconcert lecture at 7 p.m. in Springer Auditorium.

NOTE THE EARLY START TIME, Saturday, May 25: Juanjo Mena leads J.S. Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” with soloists Berit Norbakken Solset, Carlos Mena, Werner Güra, James Newby, Andrew Stenson and Hanno Müller-Brachmann and the May Festival Youth Chorus.  7 p.m., Music Hall (Note the early start time).

And here’s the review of the second weekend.

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

At the CSO: Young composers’ works to be heard, and $15 ticket deal this weekend

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is teaming up with the League of American Orchestras to support “Orchestras Feeding America” this weekend. Bring a nonperishable food item to benefit Cincinnati’s Freestore Foodbank in bins at the Music Hall Box Office. Donations will be collected at the CSO’s Young Composers Concert on March 29, or the CSO on Saturday March 30 or Sunday March 31 in Music Hall.

Stop by the box office between now and Sunday to receive a $15 ticket to Sunday afternoon’s Beethoven concert.

About the Young Composers Concert: The CSO has held a Young Composers Workshop led by composer-in-residence Jonathan Bailey Holland. Five young composers will have their works performed by the CSO during a FREE concert, 8 p.m. Friday March 29 in Music Hall.

The composers, ages 17 through 22, are: Joshua Baerwald; Pierce Baruk, Mabie Lecrone, Walker Smith and Chanceloor Waye.

Get your complimentary ticket on the CSO website.

The CSO program for this weekend’s concerts, conducted by Louis Langrée: Jonathan Bailey Holland’s Halcyon Sun; Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2.  The soloist in the Prokofiev is Violinist Esther Yoo.

Information: cincinnatisymphony.org; 513-381-3300

Music Hall arts groups, FC Cincinnati pledge “good faith” agreement

A recent acoustical study determined that crowd noise from the FC Cincinnati stadium will infiltrate Music Hall’s Springer Auditorium, where concerts by the CSO, Opera, Ballet and others are held.

For the past week, there have been minute-by-minute reports on how the new $250 million stadium for FC Cincinnati will impact Music Hall, its tenants, and Cincinnati Ballet, which has its headquarters at Liberty and Central Parkway.

I’m publishing the statement from arts groups that arrived in my inbox today. For more, Chris Wetterich at the Business Courier is covering all the news at bizjournals.com/cincinnati. To read the latest news about City Council postponing its vote on FC Cincinnati’s development plan, click here.

JOINT STATEMENT FROM CINCINNATI ARTS ASSOCIATION, MUSIC HALL RESIDENT PERFORMING ARTS ORGANIZATIONS, and MUSIC HALL REVITALIZATION COMPANY

This morning the Arts Organizations entered into an agreement of cooperation and support with FC Cincinnati regarding specifically the relationship between the new stadium and Music Hall. The Parties in regard to Music Hall and Stadium Operations have agreed to work together as good neighbors and in good faith on concerns related to noise, parking, traffic, and scheduling. Our collective goal is to minimize the number of occasions where performances at Music Hall occur at the same time as FC Cincinnati home games, and to minimize the impact of the stadium’s noise on Music Hall on the occasions when there are simultaneous events.

Specifically, this will include minimizing the stadium’s noise impact on Music Hall through stadium design and other sound mitigation measures at Music Hall. Regarding parking, if FC Cincinnati manages the Town Center Garage on game days starting in March of 2021 per an agreement with the City of Cincinnati, the team has committed to making a substantial amount of parking in that garage available to audience members attending performances at Music Hall when games overlap with performances. To be clear, this agreement does not speak to the ongoing negotiations between Cincinnati Ballet and FCC regarding the Ballet Center.

A rendering of the stadium site on the West End near Central Parkway/courtesy Business Courier

Reviews in the New Year

I’m ,thinking how fitting it was to hear “Winter” from “The Four Seasons” this weekend, and then wake up to this. I meaasured 9 inches on my patio.

In case you missed the CSO reviews of the first two concerts of 2019, here are the links. Remember that you can sign up for a FREE subscription to the Arts Front at bizjournals.com/cincinnati.

Fireworks at Rach 3 in first concert of year. It’s amazing to think that Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor was the composer’s own calling card to play on an American tour in 1909. Like his more famous Second Concerto (which he played in Cincinnati on that tour), it is lushly scored and features one great romantic tune after another. But technically, the Third goes a step further with nonstop fireworks for the pianist.

Benjamin Beilman in his debut with the CSO, conducted from the harpsichord by Richard Egarr. Photo by Lee Snow

Beilman wows in Four Seasons with CSO. I don’t think I’ve heard Baroque music played with such atmosphere and emotion while maintaining the “historically informed” performance style of clear textures and brisk tempos.

 

Year in review: Great performances of 2018

It’s always revealing to look back at the best things I saw – and heard — over the year. Cincinnati audiences heard memorable performances, musical rarities and world premieres. There were also some musical milestones, such as the Cincinnati May Festival’s first concert conducted by a woman. Here are a few of my personal favorites from 2018.

Jamie Barton red dress sm
The incomparable Jamie Barton

In January, a rare recital: Jamie Barton and pianist Kathleen Kelly launched their road tour in the Queen City with the recital that they performed in December at Carnegie Hall. The recital tour was part of a big season for the mezzo-soprano, who was honored with the 2017 Beverly Sills Artist Award by the Metropolitan Opera. Her program was a journey of discovery — with many unexpectedly delicious moments. That was partly because, in a rare occurrence on concert stages today, fully half of her program consisted of music by women: Elinor Remick Warren, Lili and Nadia Boulanger, Amy Beach and Libby Larsen.

Presented by the venerable, 105-year-old music club Matinée Musicale, the event was held at the beautifully-restored, circa-1908 Memorial Hall in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine historic district.  Its 550-seat theater was packed to the rafters.Read More »