Mahler spellbinds in James Conlon’s return to CSO


James Conlon, May Festival music director laureate, returned to conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 with the CSO. Photo provided/Lee Snow

James Conlon raised his arms to begin Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan,” and the musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra sounded the long, quiet ‘A’ that opens the work. From that pure tone, the woodwinds evoked the gradual awakenings of nature, trumpet fanfares sounded in the distance and every note had color and meaning.

It was a spellbinding start to the hour-long journey that is Mahler. Through it all, the warmth of Conlon’s interpretation was palpable.

Conlon’s masterful reading of Mahler’s First Symphony on Saturday was just the antidote for a cold, snowy weekend when a blustery winter storm bore down on the city. Some brave souls turned out on Friday despite the dire forecasts. On Saturday, with the storm past, Music Hall was filled to the rafters.Read More »


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 »

This just in: Grammy nominations tap CSO, The National and Fred Hersch

The CSO has been nominated for two Grammy Awards

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is up for two Grammy Awards for its groundbreaking album recorded live in Music Hall, Concertos for Orchestra. The orchestra, led by Louis Langrée, was nominated today for Best Orchestral Performance, as well as Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Zhou Tian’s score, which he called “a love letter” for the CSO.

Jazz pianist Fred Hersch is nominated — twice — for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for his latest album, Open Book, a lush, ravishing collection of solo piano improvisations. And his tune “Whisper Not” on the same album is nominated for Best Improvised Jazz Solo.

The National, the band whose members grew up in Cincy, is up for Best Alternative Music Album for Sleep Well Beast.

Of note to opera lovers, the great Siberian baritone who just died, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, was also nominated for Sviridov: Russia Cast Adrift with the St. Petersburg State Symphony, for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. See the complete list here.

The Grammys will air live on CBS from Madison Square Garden in New York City on Sunday, Jan. 28.


Helmut Roehrig founded music department at Xavier University

img_9071Helmut J. Roehrig established the music department at Xavier University, founded a chorus devoted to performing sacred masterpieces and was an accomplished organist. Music was his passion, but he never wanted accolades. Instead, said his friends and family members, it was his way of giving back.

“He brought out the best in everyone that he dealt with in any way,” said his wife of 54 years, Mary Evelyn Roehrig of Hyde Park. “Especially with people who never knew they could sing. They seemed to appreciate his striving for excellence, and he put his whole heart and soul into everything he did.”

Dr. Roehrig died on Nov. 6 at his home following a lengthy illness. He was 85.

Dr. Roehrig was born in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1932. In 1959, he traveled to Covington, KY, to become organist of St. Aloysius Church (now merged with Mother of God parish). He continued working there until he was able to pay back the parish for his ship fare, his wife said.Read More »

CSO shines in Paavo Järvi’s return

The CSO and Paavo Järvi, music director laureate, in Music Hall on Friday.

Music director laureate Paavo Järvi returned to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on Friday, conducting for the first time in the all-new Music Hall.  It was just like old times. Well, almost.

Järvi’s energized leadership and a top-notch piano soloist, Alice Sara Ott, added up to a gripping program for the CSO’s first morning concert of the season. But even more uplifting than the performance was the sound that Järvi achieved in the hall.Read More »