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.

Oratorio to be given Ohio premiere: ‘Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Dream’

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Catherine Roma, artistic director, directing the World House Choir, which will perform the Ohio premiere of “Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Dream.” Photo provided.

A combined mass choir of 160 singers from 20 choirs in Cincinnati, Dayton and Yellow Springs have been rehearsing all summer for the premiere of an oratorio hailing the memory of a leading figure in the Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin (1912-87).

The choral work, “Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Dream,” was composed by Steve Milloy, a Cincinnati composer, conductor and an alumnus of Miami University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Four performances — three in the Yellow Springs/Dayton area and one in Cincinnati — and numerous events from Cincinnati to Yellow Springs will celebrate Rustin’s life as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, which took place Aug. 28 1963 — 55 years ago today. Read More »

WGUC to air ‘Leonard Bernstein: A Legacy ‘ on Sunday

Leonard Bernstein conducting, provided/Paul de Hoeck, courtesy of the Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc.

WGUC (90.9-FM) continues its “100 Days of Bernstein” celebrating the centennial year of Leonard Bernstein’s birth with a special program, “Leonard Bernstein: A Legacy,” airing at 8 p.m. Sunday night Aug. 19.

Produced by WGUC music director, Jessica Lorey in collaboration with Naomi Lewin, Stephen Baum, and hosted by Brian O’Donnell, “Leonard Bernstein: A Legacy” will bring you a wide range of Bernstein music as well as insights from musicians, conductors, and academics with local ties who knew, worked with, or studied the man many called Lenny.

You’ll hear remarks from:Read More »

Cincinnati Song Initiative wins ‘Stand for the Arts’ award

Cincinnati Song Initiative participants around the piano (L-R): Alex Hurd, Ahyoung Jung, Samuel Martin, Ivy Walz, Kenneth Griffiths, Marie Marquis

America’s only arts network, Ovation TV, in partnership with Spectrum, has awarded Cincinnati Song Initiative a 2018 Stand for the Arts award. The award includes $10,000 in funding. Officials will hold a formal award presentation in Cincinnati on Oct. 8.

Cincinnati Song Initiative is a three-year-old concert series devoted to art song. The project, led by founding artistic director Samuel Martin, presents beautifully-sung, well-researched programs on themes such as American song, the French group, Les Six, and the art song of Spanish-speaking nations, “Alma de España,” which kicks off the third season on Sept. 22.Read More »

Reviews: CSO’s musical comaraderie, and opera at CCM

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Mozart’s Serenade No. 10 was played for the first time in 85 years by the CSO.

Here are my reviews from two of the shows I saw this week, which you can read free on the Business Courier:

CSO demonstrates musical camaraderie in smaller works

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Gianni Schicchi cast — note that there are two casts — (Left to right) Antonio Cruz, Samson McCrady, Michael Hyatt, Chandler Johnson, Lisa Rogali, Tyler Johnson, Amy Joy Stevens, Zane Hill. Photo: Mark Lyons

And at CCM: From tragedy to comedy, CCM double bill is a treasure

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

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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 »