In memoriam: Dick Waller

Dick Waller with Peter Wiley at a 40th anniversary concert of the Linton Music Series

Cincinnati has lost a musician who contributed much to the cultural life of our city. Richard “Dick” Waller passed away yesterday. His daughter, Margy Waller, said that he died while listening to a recording of Dvorak’s “Romance” in F Minor. It was days after celebrating his 93rd birthday with cake and Graeter’s Ice Cream.

“I’m grateful. And told him many times over the past few days that he has an incredible legacy of music, art, and community, and a beautiful family,” she said. “He showed us how to see the miracles, to be thankful and optimistic, and always to see the best in everything and everyone. That’s a high bar—and he inspires us to aim for it.”

Waller, former principal clarinetist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, was the founder of the Linton Music Series. From its start in 1978, his mantra was “music making among friends.” It began with a small chamber music concert of “friends” in the historic church, First Unitarian Church on Linton Street in Avondale, and continued to grow. The gem of a sanctuary, with stained glass windows, turned out to have wonderful acoustics.

That first concert evolved into a second. Then Mr. Waller had an epiphany. World-renowned soloists appeared each week with the Cincinnati Symphony, where he worked. Why not ask the orchestra’s then-general manager, Judith Arron, whether the artists could stay in town for an extra day to play chamber music? Arron agreed.

His first artists in the new arrangement were concert pianist Andre-Michel Schub and Peter Wiley, then principal cellist of the CSO.

“In the old days, there was a pay phone at Music Hall and during intermission, I’d run to the pay phone to make calls about Linton,” he told me a few years ago.

It was a formula that continues with the CSO to this day. Mr. Waller paid his soloists little — but was a wonderful host and they loved coming to Cincinnati. There are legendary stories of dinners at the Maisonette, followed by poker games.

Born in Philadelphia in 1929, Mr. Waller grew up in Long Beach, CA, and attended the Marlboro Music Festival and the Juilliard School. However, his Juilliard education was cut short when his brother joined the armed forces and Mr. Waller had to return home to California to run his brother’s business. In the 1950s, the clarinetist became concertmaster of the United States Navy Band, a stint he said he undertook in order to avoid the draft.

During that time, a job opening was posted for the clarinet section of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and he decided to apply. Then-music director Max Rudolf  hired him on the spot. He served as co-principal clarinet starting in 1960. From 1961 until his retirement in 1994, he was the orchestra’s principal clarinetist.

During his later years, Mr. Waller took up painting, and had a gallery downtown.

Many of you will have stories to tell. Here’s mine:  When I was classical music critic for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Mr. Waller would do anything to get an article in the newspaper about his beloved Linton Series. He called me frequently. I told him that I needed to discuss it with my editor. But he beat me to it. He called my editor and serenaded her on his clarinet over the phone. I believe he got that story…

Mr. Waller’s family and Linton Music Series leaders are planning a celebration of his contributions and community to take place next year.





Linton Series remembers Joseph Kalichstein

A photo from the trio’s 40th anniversary: Sharon Robinson, cello, and Jaime Laredo, violin and Joseph Kalichstein, piano

Cincinnati’s Linton Chamber Music Series lost an important friend last week. Pianist Joseph Kalichstein died on Thursday, March 31 of pancreatic cancer. He was 76. Known to all affectionately as Yossi, he was revered by Cincinnati audiences, who had the joy of hearing him annually perform with the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio.

His colleagues of more than 45 years, Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson, are the series’ co-artistic directors.

Mr. Kalichstein was to have performed on Sunday with the trio. But when he became too ill to perform, the excellent pianist Ran Dank, a CCM faculty member who studied with him at Juilliard, stepped in on a week’s notice. The program was dedicated to his memory.

The Linton Series dedicated its program to Joseph Kalichstein’s memory. Photo thanks to Noriko Matsui

The concert included piano quartets by Mozart (E-flat Major, K. 493) and Brahms (No. 1 in G Minor), with Nokuthula Ngwenyama elegantly performing on viola. The centerpiece of the program was the world premiere of Ngwenyama’s “Elegy,” a commission of the KLR Trio and the Linton Series.Read More »

Hamilton County Commissioners and ArtsWave Announce COVID Relief Grants for Hard-hit Arts and Cultural Nonprofits

Melissa Gelfin De-Poli and Cervilio Miguel Amador dancing The Nutcracker from a previous Cincinnati Ballet season. Photography: Peter Mueller

Thanks to Covid-19, this has been a terrible time for everyone, including workers and performers in the arts, who have been among the hardest hit in the nation. And the new variants have not made their comeback any easier.

Hamilton County has teamed up with ArtsWave to announce that it will award $2 million in nonprofit arts and cultural grants funded through the County’s allocation of American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars.

The grants will be awarded to combat the negative economic impact of Covid-19 on the local arts community and to fuel the region’s economic restart. Links to the applications and funding guidelines are available on the County’s Covid relief site – and

The Covid-19 relief grants will cover costs incurred due to business disruption, in a two-year period in which performing arts venues and museums lost significant box office and admissions revenue. The grants can also cover costs of mitigation expenses for re-opening and adaptations required for digital programming. Total grant amounts will be based on operating revenue from the prior fiscal year.
ArtsWave will host a virtual information session on Wednesday, February 3, 2022, from 12–1 p.m. answering questions and outlining the eligibility and application process. To join the information session, visit and click on “Hamilton County ARP Arts and Culture Grants Information Session.”

Read More »

“Live from Linton” — Linton Chamber Music to return, livestreamed and with small audiences

Sharon Robinson and Jaime Laredo, married duo and co-artistic directors of the storied Linton Music Series

Linton Chamber Music will return to its devoted fans. But, like everything else these days, the 2020-21 season has been “re-imagined.”

Live performances will be streamed online from the Linton stage at First Unitarian Church. Besides that, Linton Chamber Music will be making a small, limited amount of seating available to subscribers and donors.

CSO concertmaster Stefani Matsuo, principal cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn and CCM faculty member pianist Sandra Rivers

Starting Oct. 4, concerts will be streamed Live on Sundays at 4 pm on the Linton Chamber Music YouTube Channel, with audio engineering performed by WGUC (90.9) FM. Artists include co-artistic directors Sharon Robinson and Jaime Laredo, violinist Jennifer Koh, the return of the New York Philharmonic Quartet, the Miami String Quartet, faculty members from CCM and principal players from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

The musical lineup — as always — is enticing, including an all-Bach program for solo violin (Jennifer Koh), piano trios by Mendelssohn and Schumann, Bartok “Contrasts,” the Beethoven Septet in E-flat major and the Cincinnati premiere of a work by Richard Danielpour, String Quintet, A Shattered Vessel.”

You’ll be able to view programs on your flat-screen TV or your computer. Scroll to the end of this post for instructions.

The online performances are FREE. Donations are welcome, with a support button for each program on the website.

More about the programs:Read More »

Watch for updates: Coronavirus causing cancellations in Cincy’s concert season

From a recent Linton Chamber concert. Linton has canceled concerts this weekend.

You’ve probably seen the cancellations across the country due to COVID-19 — of sporting events, parades and arts presentations in large theaters — from opera and ballet to “Hamilton” (canceled in San Francisco).

Just in: The Findlay Market Opening Day Parade on March 26 will be either canceled or postponed.

As far as the arts in Cincinnati, I’ve gotten official word that the Linton Chamber Music Series concerts on March 15-16 have been cancelled this weekend. In addition, there will be no “Peanut Butter & Jam Session” this week at Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church or next week at Sycamore Presbyterian Church. Information here.

Because the University of Cincinnati is canceling in-person classes from March 14 through April 13, I’m hearing from faculty members that performances at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) will be canceled through the end of the semester. It’s possible that some may be live-streamed, if you interpret the UC message below: Read More »

Service set for former CSO bassoonist William Winstead

Winstead performing on the Linton Music Series recently. Photos by Tina Guiterrez



A service is planned on Sunday, Feb. 23, at Music Hall for William Winstead, former principal bassoonist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Visitation will begin at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 23 with the funeral to follow at 6:30 p.m. in Corbett Tower at Music Hall.

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 »

André Watts, stellar artists to join Linton for 40th anniversary season

Andre watts8_print
André Watts

Superstar pianist André Watts and a stellar lineup of other artists will help Cincinnati’s Linton Music Series celebrate its 40th anniversary next season.

“In planning Linton’s 40th anniversary season, we wanted to uphold Dick Waller’s tradition of ‘music-making among friends’ that he established 40 years ago,” said co-artistic directors Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson, speaking of Linton’s founder Dick Waller.

“The season features so many world-class artists that are looking forward to gathering in Cincinnati to make great music together. It’s the combination of these artists, intimate settings, and captivated audiences that really makes Linton Chamber Music concerts so special.”Read More »

A jazzy, joyful premiere

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich/photo by Bill Keefrey
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich/photo by Bill Keefrey

“I don’t like the ivory tower,” said Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. “When I’m writing for musicians, I can hear them in my head.”

Indeed, there was no “ivory tower” here. On Sunday, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer was in the house — First Unitarian Church, home of the Linton Music Series — to hear the world premiere of her delightful “Pas de Trois,” honoring the 40th anniversary of the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, to whom the piece is dedicated. It was her sixth piece for the ensemble: Pianist Joseph Kalichstein, violinst Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson.

Her Piano Trio marked their 10th anniversary, and she has also written a Double Concerto (violin and cello), a Triple Concerto, a Septet and a Quintet for the musicians:

Creator and performers discuss their longtime collaboration.
Creator and performers discuss their longtime collaboration.

Admitting that she had “butterflies,” Zwilich said “When there’s a commission, I feel like people are betting on me, and that inspires me…. This is not my piece. This is their piece. Performance breathes life into music.”Read More »