Where are the reviews?

Joshua Bell performing Sibelius with the CSO. Photo by Lee Snow

Some of you have asked me where to find symphony reviews. Thanks to a grant from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, they can be found on the Cincinnati Business Courier’s new Arts Front, which is free to read. (You may need to register for a FREE subscription).

Here’s the season so far:

‘Hamilton’ star Leslie Odom Jr. is electric in debut with Pops: There’s no question that there is life after “Hamilton” for Leslie Odom Jr., the Broadway star who played Aaron Burr in the hip-hop sensation until two years ago. The only question was whether the Tony- and Grammy-winning singer-actor would make it to Cincinnati in time for his Cincinnati Pops debut on Friday after Hurricane Florence canceled his flight. Review.

French program offers festive kickoff to CSO season: The French music, which demands both clarity and atmosphere, revealed that the orchestra is adjusting to Springer Auditorium’s new acoustics as it begins its second season in the hall following a transformational renovation. Review.

Joshua Bell dazzles, ‘Rite’ impresses in CSO’s season opener: It was vibrant, athletic playing. Bell leaned back, crouched, turned to the orchestra and mopped his brow between movements. The slow movement was warm and dark, and he smiled as he played its expressive themes. He soared brilliantly through the diabolical virtuosities of the finale, almost dancing along with the timpani beats that open the movement (Patrick Schleker). Review.

‘Dharma at Big Sur’ a mesmerizing experience in CSO’s all-American program: John Adams’ inspiration for the piece was Jack Kerouac’s description of the rugged California coastline at Big Sur as well as the beat poet’s interest in Buddhism. For this performance, the CSO also engaged video artist Adam Larsen to create projections that played on three screens above the orchestra. Review.

Read about this weekend’s soloist, principal violist Christian Colberg: CSO violist enjoying life after near-death scare. Click here for the story.

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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 »

Music critic Mary Ellyn Hutton: ‘The community was enriched by her knowledge’

Mary Ellyn Hutton wrote music criticism for 23 years for the Cincinnati Post.

Mary Ellyn Hutton will be remembered as a journalist with unflagging dedication to Cincinnati’s musical arts. The longtime classical music critic for the Cincinnati Post continued to cover the classical scene for more than a decade after the demise of Cincinnati’s afternoon newspaper in 2007.

She died surrounded by her family on May 28 after a battle with lung cancer. The Hyde Park resident was 77.Read More »

May Festival’s first season with Mena emphasized community

Links to my festival reviews for Cincinnati Business Courier are below:

John Holiday stepped in to sing wonderfully in Chichester Psalms when David Daniels could not apear on Friday. Photos are provided by the Cincinnati May Festival

The 2018 May Festival ended on Saturday night with a terrific performance of Handel’s Messiah, in which 170 community singers joined the May Festival Chorus.

Juanjo Mena led a stylish performance with a reduced Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and a smaller chorus (about 65 singers) surrounding the orchestra on risers. Stationed up high in Music Hall’s gallery were guest choruses, who participated in excerpts of the oratorio. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised from my seat — also in the gallery — that their ensemble was clean and they sang exceedingly well, as did the May Festival Chorus.

The May Festival Chorus on risers, with Juanjo Mena and soloists walking offstage

The soloists were superb — including soprano Robin Johannsen, tenor Barry Banks and baritone José Antonio López. What a thrill it was to hear countertenor David Daniels — who had canceled due to illness on Friday — appear on Saturday to sing brilliantly in airs such as “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion.” I especially enjoyed his wonderful embellishments to his vocal lines.

Highly-trained community choruses flanked the stage, seated in the gallery.

Mena propelled tempos briskly, and kept the vocal and instrumental articulation crisp. It was an uplifting conclusion to his first year as principal conductor.

May Festival articles

The tradition of little flowers girls/boys is still alive at the May Festival

I have reviewed three May Festival concerts for the Cincinnati Business Courier, thanks to support from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism.

REVIEW: Eun Sun Kim makes stunning debut in Verdi’s Requiem at May Festival

REVIEW: Bernstein’s ‘Mass’ an over-the-top ‘happening’ at May Festival

REVIEW: Juanjo Mena makes joyous debut as new May Festival leader

Leonard Bernstein’s Mass in Music Hall for the first time since 1972

And thanks to grants from ArtsWave and the Haile Foundation, you may view the Courier’s arts page for FREE. Click here for much more arts coverage, including other May Festival stories.

The May Festival is here

Eun Sun Kim with soloists for Verdi’s Requiem in Music Hall

The May Festival opened last night with a stunning performance of Verdi’s Requiem conducted by Eun Sun Kim — the first woman to lead the Cincinnati May Festival. Watch for a review later today at bizjournals.com/cincinnati/topic/arts.

And below are links to other preview stories that I’ve been writing for The Business Courier, part of their new initiative to provide arts coverage for our region:

Volunteer talent shines at 145-year-old Cincinnati May Festival: Click here to read

May Festival conductor Kim among new wave of women on the podium: Click here

May Festival to perform Bernstein Mass for first time in 46 years: Click here

The tradition of little flowers girls/boys is still alive at the May Festival

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 »

Old photos: Symphony Jazz Quintet

Marie Speziale has fond memories of playing the Cincinnati Symphony’s Jazz Quintet, which will be honored tomorrow night at Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame ceremonies.

Says Marie, the first woman trumpeter in a major orchestra: “We actually started as a quartet, expanded to a quintet, and eventually became a septet. The group was a product of an impromptu jam session at a club in India while on the 1966 World Tour.” Here are her personal pics, including one autographed by Dave Brubeck.Read More »