CSO announces soloist for season finale

Stefani Matsuo
Photo by Jake Anderson

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has announced that Stefani Matsuo, its new associate concertmaster, will perform as soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in the season finale concerts, May 10 and 11 in Music Hall.

She replaces the originally announced concertmaster emeritus Timothy Lees, who recently retired from the orchestra due to an ongoing nerve injury affecting his left hand. 

The second half of the program led by Music Director Louis Langrée remains unchanged with Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

Matsuo joined the CSO in 2015 and was appointed associate concertmaster in 2018. With the orchestra undergoing a search for a concertmaster, she has performed a number of solos this season, including a sold-out Baroque program with Richard Egarr in January. (Here’s the review.)



At the CSO: Young composers’ works to be heard, and $15 ticket deal this weekend

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is teaming up with the League of American Orchestras to support “Orchestras Feeding America” this weekend. Bring a nonperishable food item to benefit Cincinnati’s Freestore Foodbank in bins at the Music Hall Box Office. Donations will be collected at the CSO’s Young Composers Concert on March 29, or the CSO on Saturday March 30 or Sunday March 31 in Music Hall.

Stop by the box office between now and Sunday to receive a $15 ticket to Sunday afternoon’s Beethoven concert.

About the Young Composers Concert: The CSO has held a Young Composers Workshop led by composer-in-residence Jonathan Bailey Holland. Five young composers will have their works performed by the CSO during a FREE concert, 8 p.m. Friday March 29 in Music Hall.

The composers, ages 17 through 22, are: Joshua Baerwald; Pierce Baruk, Mabie Lecrone, Walker Smith and Chanceloor Waye.

Get your complimentary ticket on the CSO website.

The CSO program for this weekend’s concerts, conducted by Louis Langrée: Jonathan Bailey Holland’s Halcyon Sun; Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2.  The soloist in the Prokofiev is Violinist Esther Yoo.

Information: cincinnatisymphony.org; 513-381-3300

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 »

The National wins Grammy for ‘Sleep Well Beast’

The homegrown band The National has won a Grammy Award for “Best Alternative Music Album” in early awards at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, broadcast Sunday night from New York’s Madison Square Garden. The brothers Bryce and Aaron Dessner thanked the Recording Academy via Twitter for the honor.

Hear NPR’s recording of “Sleep Well Beast” here.

Both the CSO and composer Zhou Tian, pictured, were nominated for the Concertos for Orchestra album and Zhou Tian’s composition on that disc. Photo provided/CSO

Among the other nominees with Cincinnati ties, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra did not win its first Grammy with maestro Louis Langrée, although it was nominated for two for its album recorded live in Music Hall, Concertos for Orchestra. The classical awards always trickle out during the day. After learning that the Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra won the Grammy for Best Orchestra Performance (Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Barber Adagio) as well as Best Engineered Album: Classical, Langree tweeted his “warm congratulations.”

Neither did Cincinnati-born jazz icon Fred Hersch make a win this year. But all agreed that they were thrilled to receive the recognition.

CSO, other locals hope for Grammy win

The CSO has been nominated for two Grammy Awards

Louis Langrée and The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will be waiting and watching on Sunday (Jan. 28) to see whether they win their first Grammy Award together when the Grammys air live on CBS from Madison Square Garden in New York City. The 60th Grammy Awards airs from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on CBS, in the first Grammy telecast from New York in 15 years.

The orchestra is up for two Grammy Awards for the groundbreaking album, “Concertos for Orchestra,” recorded live in Music Hall (before the renovation). It is nominated in the “Best Orchestral Performance” category, as well as for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition” for Zhou Tian’s score on the album.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 »

Clip and save: What to see this winter

The incomparable Jamie Barton performs Jan. 26 at Memorial Hall

Baby it’s cold outside – but Winter is the season when the arts heat up. In the coming weeks, there are many tempting concerts and events to warm you up. So, bundle up, because there are a few that you won’t want to miss.

Jan. 11-12: Canticle. The Vocal Arts Ensemble reprises Kile Smith’s gorgeous “Canticle,” a setting of the biblical Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs), 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11 and 12 in Memorial Hall. Tickets start at $25. 513-381-3300, vaecinci.org.

Jan. 12-13: Conlon returns. James Conlon, music director laureate of the Cincinnati May Festival, returns to conduct the CSO in Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. Violinist Jennifer Frautschi is soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Music Hall. Tickets: 513-381-3300, cincinnatisymphony.org.

James Conlon at the 2016 May Festival
Photo provided

Jan. 19: Star soloist at Moveable Feast. CCM’s biggest fundraiser, this year on Friday, Jan. 19, will feature a performance by alumnus and star trumpeter Brian Newman, who will solo with the CCM Jazz Orchestra as the “opening course” in the CCM Village.  Read More »