Brahms Concerto shines with Ehnes in CSO season finale

James Ehnes performed Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major with the CSO. Photo provided

Violinist James Ehnes’ inspired playing in the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra over the weekend can only be described as masterful. The golden sound that he achieved on his 1715 Stradivarius violin was stunning. In Saturday’s concert, it was equally fascinating to hear Ehnes reveal the Cincinnati connection behind his $8 million instrument.Read More »


VAE conductor change for ‘Vespers’

Elena Sharkova will step in for the VAE’s Craig Hella Johnson. Provided photo

Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble (VAE), the city’s premier professional choral ensemble, has announced a conducting change for Tuesday’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers at Memorial Hall. VAE Music Director, Craig Hella Johnson, who was scheduled to conduct, has had to cancel due to illness.

Johnson has tapped choral conductor Elena Sharkova to take his place as conductor for the performance. The Russian-American conductor is in her 17th year as Music Director of Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale. She is a passionate advocate for Russian choral music.

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sharkova holds graduate degrees in conducting from the St. Petersburg Rimski-Korsakov State Conservatory and Western Michigan University.


James Conlon brings the heroic Mahler into focus

James Conlon, backstage at Music Hall, offered insights into Mahler’s Symphony No. 1

James Conlon was back in Cincinnati, and he was beaming. Before sitting down to offer his thoughts on Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “The Titan,” which he will conduct this weekend with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, he offered a whirlwind tour of the new, somewhat spare dressing rooms in the old Green Room area backstage at Music Hall.

“It’s wonderful to see my old friends. It’s wonderful to see the orchestra,” he said, clearly touched to be back in the hall where he worked for so long. Music Hall closed for a 16-month renovation after his final concert as May Festival Music director in 2016.Read More »

May Festival stars in engaging choral evening at Music Hall

May Festival Bach
Louis Langrée leading the CSO, May Festival Chorus and soloists in Bach’s glorious Magnificat in D. Photo provided/Lee Snow

Audiences at Music Hall heard the May Festival Chorus in three different configurations for three different choral works.  And the acoustical differences between them were startling.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concluded its five-week rededication of the newly-renovated Music Hall on Saturday by showcasing the May Festival, for whom the hall was built. The engaging program (which repeated Sunday) looked back to music that graced the 1875 season: J.S. Bach’s Magnificat in D and Brahms’ little-known “Triumphlied.”

As the story goes, they were interrupted when a thunderstorm pounded the tin roof of Saengerhalle, spurring Reuben Springer to mount a campaign to build Music Hall.

The program also looked ahead by commissioning a stunning new a cappella choral work entitled “Equinox” by American composer Julia Adolphe. The world premiere was conducted by the May Festival’s director of choruses Robert Porco.

Each of the five concert weeks has allowed the performers – and the acousticians – to adjust to the new sound in the renovated space. It’s been a fascinating process to observe.Read More »

Big weekend

IMG_8934I was happy to be invited to appear on a podcast for WCPO’s “Hear Cincinnati” with host Meghan Wesley Thursday to talk about all of the activities this weekend surrounding the opening of Music Hall after its 16-month, $143 million renovation.

The Music Hall segment is about 27 minutes into the podcast. Listen here.

Listen Friday when I visit 91.7 WVXU at 1 p.m., for “Cincinnati Edition.”

And speaking about events, you can find the lineup of free performances and tours during the FREE community open house at Music Hall, starting with a ribbon-cutting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday at You’ll also catch lots of free performances in Washington Park.

And be sure to take a stroll around the neighborhood to see the newly renovated Memorial Hall, the brand-new Cincinnati Shakespeare Theater and recently expanded Ensemble Theatre. All will be open and offer tours and more.

To save you time,  here’s Saturday’s lineup:Read More »

Acclaimed Musician Demarre McGill Joins CCM Faculty as Visiting Assistant Professor of Flute

This is fantastic news — brother of Anthony McGill


Demarre McGill

CCM Interim Deanbruce d. mcclung has announced the appointment of lauded flutist Demarre McGill as Visiting Assistant Professor of Flute. Winner of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, McGill is a leading soloist, recitalist, and chamber and orchestral musician.

A native of Chicago, McGill began playing the flute at age seven. He attended Chicago’s Merit School and was a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. At age 15, he appeared as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony.

McGill received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied with Julius Baker and Jeffrey Khaner. He continued his studies with Baker at The Juilliard School, where he received a Master of Music degree.

McGill has appeared as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Dallas Symphony, San Diego Symphony and Baltimore Symphony.

In September 2017, McGill will return as principal flute of the…

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