Lighthearted Leonard Bernstein tribute, Gershwin at CSO

French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet gave a wonderful performance of Gershwin’s Concert in F

There’s lots to do this weekend! Here’s an option, for an entertaining, all-American program:

Thibaudet’s Gershwin thrills in crowd-pleasing program with CSO, on the Business Courier’s new Arts Front. *It’s free…



Rarely heard music by Baltic composers to soar in organ concert

The historic Austin Pipe Organ at Covenant-First Presbyterian Church

Peggy Wolverton, organist of Covenant-First Presbyterian Church, 717 Elm Street, downtown, is performing a free organ concert featuring music of the Baltic States.

“Covenant-First is likely the only church in the U.S. where this music is heard!” she says. “We in the West have become quite familiar with choral and orchestral music of the Baltic States, but our exposure to music for the organ and other genre has been considerably less.”

She’ll be performing on the church’s historic, century-old Austin Pipe Organ. Built by the Austin Organ Co. of Hartford, Connecticut, it was considered one of the largest organs in this part of the country, with 51 stops and more than 3,100 pipes.

Her concert, 4 p.m. Sunday April 22, will survey the music of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. She says she became interested in that repertoire partly out of “self-defense,”  she says. Her husband, Dr. Vance Wolverton, a former professor of music at NKU, is a leading authority in the choral music of the Baltics. As he has edited and published choral scores, he’s been given many organ scores by the composers and conductors that he’s met along the way.Read More »

Sapling sculptures grow at Taft

So, earlier this week I took a peek at the environmental stick work sculptures that are going up on the lawn of the Taft Museum of Art. It was interesting to see the scaffolding-like structure that the sculptures were being created around.

Sculptor Patrick Dougherty happened to be there, working hard with his crew of volunteers, so I asked him what anchors them down. The saplings are actually planted into the ground. They don’t have roots, but sometimes they actually do sprout roots, he said.

Here’s my interview with him for the Business Courier. Enjoy the photos.

Read More »

Robert Porco’s contract extended with May Festival

Director of choruses Robert Porco

The Cincinnati May Festival announced today a two-year contract extension for Robert Porco, Director of Choruses, through the end of the 2020 May Festival.

Porco has served in that role since 1989, preparing the volunteer May Festival Chorus for hundreds of performances for the festival, as well as for concerts with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops.Read More »

Ohio Mozart Festival to feature C Minor Mass in historic church

Paul John Stanbery, founder of the Ohio Mozart Festival Photos provided courtesy of the Butler Philharmonic

Since 1997, Paul John Stanbery has led a festival that is unique in the Midwest: The Ohio Mozart Festival.

“Our Mozart presentations continue to be a cultural drawing card for the entire region,” says Stanbery, music director of the Butler Philharmonic. “The chance to present this stunningly beautiful score in a place that has such an acoustically and visually rich environment is surely a ‘bucket list’ opportunity. Upon entering, one feels as though they were transported to Vienna, just for an afternoon.”

Stanbery and his orchestra, the Butler Philharmonic, presents the “Grand Finale Concert” of the Ohio Mozart Festival at 4 p.m. Sunday; April 22 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 171 Washington St. in Hamilton.

This concert marks the first performance of symphonic music in the historic church, which has an acoustical environment that rivals the cathedrals of old Europe.Read More »

A new view of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4

There were 92 players onstage at Music Hall for Beethoven’s Fourth. Photo provided by CSO/Lee Snow

I was fascinated by the large-scale arrangement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 performed by Louis Langrée and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra over the weekend. It’s regarded as one of Beethoven’s more “classical” symphonies, calling for a smaller complement of players. But for this performance in Music Hall, there were 92 players onstage. (According to the CSO, Langrée was using a new critical edition by Bärenreiter.)

Curious about this arrangement, I spent some time digging through my personal library to no avail. Then, online, I found a doctoral thesis by Mark Christopher Ferraguto of Cornell University that mentioned a performance of the Fourth for a large-scale public concert in 1825. Beethoven arranged it for an estimated 94 musicians for the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of Friends of Music) concert in a large ballroom of the Imperial Court.

Here’s the review, which you can read free at, thanks to their new initiative to cover the arts.

What did you think?

Barnatan wows at CSO

Inon Barnatan in the Barber Piano Concerto with James Gaffigan conduting the CSO. Photo provided by CSO/Lee Snow

Here’s a link to my review of this weekend’s CSO concert on the Business Courier’s new Arts Front page. Remember, everything there is free to read. You don’t need to subscribe!

I thought it was interesting that the orchestra’s configuration was moved back to its original plan, with the violas on the outside, right, facing the first violins, and the cellos and basses also on the right. I still thought there were times when the brass and percussion overpowered the violins.

The Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances were wonderfully played and conducted. The clarity of sound in the new acoustic was quite good from my seat in the balcony. There was something about the string sound that was missing, though — that lush sound that makes it Rachmaninoff. It was resonance — defined as a “quality of sound that is rich, deep and reverberating.” I’m glad the acoustical experts are still tweaking the hall. Let’s hope they will be able to regain more of that full, resonant sound that has made Music Hall so special.