Memorable afternoons at the Linton Music Series

Anthony McGill performing “Principal Brothers” No. 3 by James Lee III

The Linton Music Series presented two inspiring concerts this month in memory of founding artistic director Dick Waller. I want to share some terrific photos taken by Tina Gutierrez for Linton, along with a few thoughts about the programs.

Yesterday, Linton welcomed back an old friend, clarinetist Anthony McGill. The principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic started his career as a 21-year-old associate clarinetist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. McGill spoke a bit about Dick Waller, former CSO principal clarinetist, who “showed him the ropes” and shared many dinners with him.

McGill opened the program with a wonderful work by his friend, James Lee III, “Principal Brothers” No. 3. Each of Lee’s “Principal Brothers” series is dedicated to a symphony music who is Black and a principal player. No. 1 is a flute solo for Anthony’s brother, Demarre McGill, principal flute of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra; No. 2 is for Titus Underwood, principal oboe of the Nashville Symphony; and No. 4 is for Bryan Young, principal bassoon of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. Lee’s three-movement piece for Anthony McGill was a ideal vehicle for the clarinetist’s beauty of line and expressive phrasing.

The remainder of the program consisted of two of the great clarinet quintets in music: Mozart’s Quintet in A Major, K. 581, and Brahms Quintet in B Minor. McGill was joined by Linton co-artistic directors Jaime Laredo, violinist, and Sharon Robinson, cellist, as well as violinist James Thompson and violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt.

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Holocaust museum offers free admission in wake of recent antisemitism

Citing the recent surge in antisemitism across the country, Cincinnati’s Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center will waive museum ticket costs for the remainder of the year.  The award-winning museum is open at historic Union Terminal from December 8 through January 2, 2023.

David Wise, interim CEO of the Holocaust & Humanity Center, said there is a need to educate the public about Judaism and the Holocaust at a critical time.

“As the only Holocaust museum in Ohio, our organization is in a unique position to bring the lessons of the Holocaust into the civic conversation. It is our responsibility to ensure the public can learn from the lessons of history, and this is a clear and immediate way for us to make an impact in this critical moment,” Wise said in a statement.

“We all must choose to stand up against antisemitism, and that starts with educating ourselves.”

There are daily antisemitic incidents around the country. Locally on Dec. 4, two men vandalized the Hillel House at the University of Cincinnati.

The Fox19 story reports that last year, the Anti-Defamation League reported that Ohio saw a 92% increase in antisemitic incidents, making 2021 the highest year on record.

Recent antisemitic rhetoric incidents coming from all sides of the political spectrum and ideological diverse actors highlight the problematic increase in Jew hatred. Read More »

Program announced: 30 YEARS OF STEPHEN Brings Broadway to CCM on Sept. 23 — Behind the Curtain Cincinnati

UC’s College-Conservatory of Music is thrilled to present a spectacular evening of music and stories, featuring our incredible students and a sampling of CCM’s most notable alumni. Join us for a front-row seat to the world premiere of 30 Years of Stephen: The Music of Stephen Flaherty at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 in Corbett […]

30 YEARS OF STEPHEN Brings Broadway to CCM on Sept. 23 — Behind the Curtain Cincinnati

Art of the Piano presents pianists, composers this month

Do you love piano music? Awadagin Pratt’s “Art of the PIano” Festival continues tonight with a recital by Conrad Tao at 7 p.m. in Werner Recital Hall at CCM. He is the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and was named a Gilmore Young Artist—an honor awarded every two years highlighting the most promising American pianists of the new generation.

His program is a combination of new music and classics:Read More »

New “Ascent” festival welcomes Cho-Liang Lin, Miró Quartet next week

Violinist Cho-Liang Lin

Alan Rafferty, a cellist in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and CCM professor, is artistic director of a new, three-week festival, Ascent International Chamber Music Festival in Cincinnati. Alan tells me that 70 students have been at the festival, which is based at CCM, coming from all over the U.S.

In addition, there’s a concert series that continues this week, with three more concerts scheduled. The “headliners” include the renowned violinist Cho-Liang Lin and the Miró Quartet.

Performances are in Werner Recital Hall at CCM, which has excellent acoustics.

Visit to read more. The concerts are ticketed — visit Event Brite to secure your tickets.

Miró Quartet

Here’s the lineup:Read More »

Paul Robeson is focus of new opera coming to Opera Fusion: New Works

Cincinnati Opera’s 2019 production “Blind Injustice” was by the same creative team. Photo provided.

Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) announce the next workshop in their groundbreaking joint program, Opera Fusion: New Works.

The featured opera currently has the working title of ROBESON Opera and includes music by Scott Davenport Richards and a libretto by Richards and David Cote, with CCM Professor Robin Guarino as dramaturg. Guarino will also serve as stage director. ROBESON Opera will receive a 10-day workshop culminating in a public performance of excerpts on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 3 p.m. in Music Hall’s Wilks Studio.

Inspired by historical events, ROBESON Opera also resonates with today’s ongoing fights for social justice.

ROBESON Opera (working title) is the latest work from the creative team behind the critically acclaimed 2019 opera Blind InjusticeROBESON Opera is an epic and inspiring examination of Black singer, actor, and activist Paul Robeson (1898–1976). A global superstar, Robeson leveraged his fame to fight on the frontlines for equality. His heroic and uncompromising efforts against fascism and racism worldwide led Robeson to be entangled in the tragic power struggle between the two superpowers of the twentieth century—the United States and the USSR—with his own life and career hanging in the balance.

Funded through a gift from the Mellon Foundation, Opera Fusion: New Works (OF:NW) is a partnership between Cincinnati Opera and CCM dedicated to fostering the development of new American operas. This collaboration is jointly led by Evans Mirageas, The Harry T. Wilks artistic director of Cincinnati Opera, and Robin Guarino, professor of opera at CCM.

Admission: FREE; reservations are required and seating is limited. Contact Cincinnati Opera Box Office (513) 241-2742 M-F, 12-5 p.m.

Ryan Speedo Green to make Cincy debut Sunday

Ryan Speedo Green, photo by jiyang chen

Last week, I had the privilege of talking to opera star Ryan Speedo Green about his upcoming appearance, 3 p.m. Sunday March 27 at the First Unitarian Church in Avondale, presented by Matinee Musicale.

Currently, he is singing his fifth production this season at the Metropolitan Opera, “Ariadne auf Naxos.”

He told me this inspiring story about his 4th-grade teacher, Elizabeth Hughes, who encouraged and believed in him and stayed in touch through thick and thin. I’ve been reading the excellent book about his life, “Sing For Your Life” by Daniel Bergner, and it’s detailed there.

But we touched on many other topics. He has been to Cincinnati before — to audition for graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. (He ended up going to Florida State University.) He’ll be giving a free master class at CCM on Saturday. And he has a brother in Dayton.

But he has never set foot in Music Hall.

Here’s a bit about Sunday’s program. He’s opening with the spiritual, “Deep River.” Besides some German lieder by Hugo Wolf and opera arias, he will be singing African American art songs.

“I love showcasing African-American music in a classical style. I will throw in spiritual because, obviously, it’s part of my history and part of African-American history,” he said.

“Then, German is sort of my lifeblood at the moment. It’s where I became a man and a musician in the opera world, living in Vienna. I been living in Europe for almost eight going on nine years, and (singing at) one of the greatest opera houses in Europe at the Wiener Staatsoper for five of those years. I learned so much from there, being immersed amongst the Austrian and German culture and really got to hone my German.”

Green will be singing Mahler, Wagner (an aria from “Der fliegende Holländer”) and one his favorite Verdi arias from “MacBeth.” And, we can expect a piece from one of his favorite oratorios, Mendelssohn’s “Elijah.”

“I consider myself operatically a Verdi – Wagner singer,” he said. “I love Mozart. I love all of these composers. I’m going to give you a little bit of a taste of my future.

“I’m excited to showcase my gambit of musical styles.”

Tickets, $25, at or call 513-977-8838. Green also performs a free master class, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday March 26 in Werner Hall at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Drummer Philip Paul, ambassador for the King legacy, dead at 96

Philip Paul Trio at Cricket Lounge. Photo by Paula Norton

More than 50 years after playing his last session at King Records, drummer Philip Paul was still performing in jazz clubs and restaurants around Cincinnati.

Mr. Paul – who in person was quiet and always sharply attired – performed over a span of eight decades. Over that time, he became known for his meticulous playing and versatility of style, whether it was blues, country or rock ‘n’ roll. A street was named for him in Cincinnati. He shared his talent and encouraged young musicians. He was world-renowned. The last time Paul McCartney was in town, the Beatles legend wanted to meet Philip Paul.

The former studio drummer for King Records played on the original recordings of “The Twist” and “Fever,” and continued playing with his latest trio until just a few months ago. Mr. Paul, who lived in Evanston not far from King Records, died on January 30 at age 96.

“No one represented the amazing story of King Records better than Philip Paul. King was the most eclectic independent label and Phil’s drums can be heard on the entire rainbow of genres the label produced – driving R&B, jazz ballads, bebop, doo-wop, Country & Western, even bluegrass,” musician and music journalist Larry Nager wrote to me from Hawaii, where he now lives. “As a drummer he had more flexibility than, say, a tenor sax player or guitarist in not being locked into a single style. He even developed his own way of playing country rhythms, using a stick and a brush on his snare to create that “boom-chang” sound. But it was Phil’s calm and coolness and his skill at listening – perhaps the most important skill for a musician – that made him such a great sideman. He was the perfect ambassador for the King legacy, which had been neglected for far too long in a city known for celebrating almost everything about itself, from baseball to chili.”

A few years ago, I enjoyed listening to jazz at the Cricket Lounge in the Cincinnatian Hotel. It was the Billie Walker Trio, featuring that wonderful pianist, now gone. Setting the tone for the trio, unobtrusively and smoothly, was a superb drummer named Philip Paul, with the trio’s longtime bassist Ed Conley.

Mr. Paul’s playing was sophisticated, effortless. It was unforgettable for nearly anyone who ever heard him — or even better, played with him.Read More »

Hamilton County Commissioners and ArtsWave Announce COVID Relief Grants for Hard-hit Arts and Cultural Nonprofits

Melissa Gelfin De-Poli and Cervilio Miguel Amador dancing The Nutcracker from a previous Cincinnati Ballet season. Photography: Peter Mueller

Thanks to Covid-19, this has been a terrible time for everyone, including workers and performers in the arts, who have been among the hardest hit in the nation. And the new variants have not made their comeback any easier.

Hamilton County has teamed up with ArtsWave to announce that it will award $2 million in nonprofit arts and cultural grants funded through the County’s allocation of American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars.

The grants will be awarded to combat the negative economic impact of Covid-19 on the local arts community and to fuel the region’s economic restart. Links to the applications and funding guidelines are available on the County’s Covid relief site – and

The Covid-19 relief grants will cover costs incurred due to business disruption, in a two-year period in which performing arts venues and museums lost significant box office and admissions revenue. The grants can also cover costs of mitigation expenses for re-opening and adaptations required for digital programming. Total grant amounts will be based on operating revenue from the prior fiscal year.
ArtsWave will host a virtual information session on Wednesday, February 3, 2022, from 12–1 p.m. answering questions and outlining the eligibility and application process. To join the information session, visit and click on “Hamilton County ARP Arts and Culture Grants Information Session.”

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