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 »

‘Classical Roots’ to explore Music Hall’s diverse history

Classical Roots Community Mass Choir
Photo provided

This year’s “Classical Roots” concert will explore Music Hall’s history as a gathering place for a wide spectrum of Cincinnati’s society.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s “Under One Roof,” led by Pops conductor John Morris Russell, will take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 20 in Music Hall. The program will illuminate Music Hall’s history — both as a great concert venue for the orchestra in the main hall and as a community gathering place that hosted many of the greatest jazz, soul, rock and R&B artists of the 20th century in the Greystone Club. Today that space in the South Hall is known as the Music Hall Ballroom.Read More »

Double bass shines in the spotlight at Music Hall

CSO principal bass Owen Lee gave the orchestra’s first-ever performance of the Koussevitzky Concerto for Double Bass/ photos thanks to Lee Snow

When it comes to concertos with orchestra, most people don’t think of the double bass as a solo instrument.  It’s usually heard at the bottom of the musical spectrum, rather than playing melodies that soar over the orchestra. But bassist Owen Lee, principal bass of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for 22 years, made a strong case for Serge Koussevitzky’s Concerto for Double Bass, given its first-ever performances by the CSO over the weekend at Music Hall.

It was a fascinating piece – partly because Koussevitzky, himself a virtuoso of the bass, wrote it before he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra and became one of the most influential music directors in America.  In a neat tie-in, the program’s second half was devoted to Bela Bartok’s “Concerto for Orchestra,” which Koussevitzky commissioned from Bartok, who was then ill and destitute. Louis Langrée and the orchestra gave the latter a brilliant performance.Read More »

Joshua Bell, Beethoven’s Ninth to highlight CSO season

“What I try is to have unity and diversity at the same time.” – CSO music director Louis Langrée

Music Director Louis Langrée
Music Director Louis Langrée

Violin superstar Joshua Bell, a phenomenal Russian pianist named Daniil Trifonov and renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein are just a few of the stars in an exceptional lineup coming to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra next season.

Program highlights of the 2018-19 season are just as attractive. Louis Langrée’s Beethoven cycle will continue with Beethoven’s great Symphony No. 9, Choral. The repertoire includes Stravinsky’s earthy, primitive ballet score “The Rite of Spring,” Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” Mozart’s Requiem and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.Read More »

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 »

Finding the mood of Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande”

CSo rendering
A rendering of the set. Photo provided: CSO/Adam Rigg

James Darrah likes to point out that he has curated the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s “Pelleas Trilogy” in three different phases of Music Hall’s renovation.

CSO music director Louis Langrée’s three year project exploring Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1893 play, “Pelléas et Mélisande” began with Arnold Schoenberg’s tone poem in Music Hall – pre-renovation. It continued last year with Gabriel Fauré’s incidental music to the play when the orchestra was displaced at the Taft Theater.

This weekend, the project culminates in Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande” in the newly renovated Music Hall.  The performance is in collaboration with Cincinnati Opera.

“It’s been really fun to bring an opera to life in this space,” says the Los Angeles-based director and designer. “We’re all still learning what we can and can’t do (in the theater). Some things are familiar and some different.”Read More »