CCM singers compete for cash, scholarships

CCM student Brianna Bragg participating in a master class with opera star Jamie Barton earlier this year. Photo: Andrew Higley

On Saturday at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music, singers will be vying for five prestigious full-tuition scholarships and $62,500 in cash awards. The Opera Scholarship Competition will be held on Saturday, March 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium.

It’s a high-stakes, daylong event featuring 27 current and incoming singers who are students in CCM’s storied opera department. They’ll be performing arias, songs and scenes before influential judges who have been flown in for the event.Read More »


Two CCM alumni up for Oscars

Nick Lipari also worked on the new Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music is reporting that two alumni — Nick Lipari and Dan Schroer — from the school’s Electronic Media Division worked behind-the-scenes on films nominated for Oscars in the 2018 Academy Awards, airing live from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC. The 90th Academy Awards is hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.Read More »

Violins that saved lives, offered hope to be heard again

The violin with a Jewish Star inlaid on the back was likely played by a Klezmer musician. Jim Nolan, photo

Avshalom “Avshi” Weinstein carefully lifted one of the violins that his family of master violin makers in Tel Aviv, Israel, had lovingly restored. Its varnish was beautiful. Turning it over, he pointed out the ornate, inlaid Star of David on its back.

“Most of these instruments were simple, because those people didn’t have much money,” Weinstein said, noting that this was not a high-quality violin.  “Many played Klezmer (music) in their ghettos. This type of instrument with the Star of David would be played by Klezmers (Jewish folk musicians). They had no money, almost nothing.”

Avshalom “Avshi” Weinstein in his workshop

That violin with the Star of David is one of nine Holocaust-era violins that Weinstein hand-carried to Cincinnati this week. They will be played on Tuesday by some of Cincinnati’s finest musicians in a special concert at Music Hall.Read More »

‘Cinderella’ on the West Side

Queen city Opera
A scene from Queen City Opera’s “La Cenerentola” opening Friday.

Issac Selya, conductor and founder of Queen City Opera, is adding a new title to his resume: Producer. For the first time since founding Queen City Opera in 2012, he is not conducting, but is producing Rossini’s “La Cenerentola,” Friday and Sunday at the Dunham Arts Center on the West Side. The production’s conductor is Queen City Opera’s Associate Music Director Jesse Leong, and the stage director is Jacquelyn Mouritsen, coming from Indiana University.

“Since the company’s mission is to launch the careers of emerging artists, I am glad we can feature a new accomplished emerging conductor as well,” Selya says.

While the company has often featured musicians and singers from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, this production will be in close collaboration for the first time with the CCM Opera Department and its chair, Robin Guarino. Current CCM students will take the starring roles.

The production is presented in memory of Dr. Bob Hasl – “Dr. Bob” — who was very fond of the opera’s alternative title “Bonta in trionfo,” or “Goodness triumphs.”Read More »

Sandra Rivers steps in for André Watts at Phoenix festival

André Watts

Pianist and CCM professor Sandra Rivers is stepping in for André Watts to perform two extra programs for the Phoenix Chamber Music Society this week. Piano legend Watts is unable to perform for the Winter Festival due to ongoing cancer treatments, according to the festival’s website.

Rivers, who has collaborated with stars such as Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and Kathleen Battle, was already slated to perform Brahms sonatas with the wonderful violist/violinist Nokuthula Ngwenyama last Sunday. But after arriving, she was invited to add a heaping plate of repertoire at the last minute for performances on Monday and Wednesday, as well.

“It’s very exciting,” Rivers said by phone on Sunday. “I’ve been in nonstop rehearsals since I arrived.”

Last night she played the four Brahms Op. 119 piano pieces (Klavierstücke), as well as the lovely Brahms Sonata Op. 120, No. 1 for piano and clarinet with David Shifrin, who also directs the festival.

And tomorrow night, she will join four other artists to anchor Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds, K. 452. This one will be in the Music Pavilion at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. It’s sold out. Rivers only concern: What to wear so as not to clash with the very red room!

Meanwhile, we send good vibes and our best wishes to Mr. Watts for a quick recovery! I hear that he hopes to be back on the concert stage by this summer.