May Festival in full swing

View of the stage on Opening Night at the May Festival

Here are last weekend’s reviews:

Friday night’s review of Mark Simpson’s “The Immortal” is published on the national website, Classical Voice North America, free to read by clicking here.

And Saturday’s review is published locally by the Cincinnati Business Courier. Remember that the Arts Front is always free, but you may need to register for a FREE subscription. Click here for the review, and click here to read the season preview.

Tonight, May 23: Craig Hella Johnson leads Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble in a performance of his own oratorio, “Considering Matthew Shepard.” The work provides “a space for reflection, consideration and unity around (Matthew Shepard’s) life and legacy,” Johnson says. Rod Caspers, stage director. 7 p.m., Corbett Auditorium, CCM. (Note the show is moved from PCT due to ticket demand.)

Herald trumpets hail the season

Friday, May 24: Music director laureate James Conlon returns to the Festival for the first time since 2016 to lead Mussorgsky’s Prologue and Farewell Scene from “Boris Godunov,” Boito’s Prologue from “Mefistofele” and Mahler’s “Das Klagende Lied,” with soloists Morris Robinson, Sarah Vautour, Taylor Raven, Richard Trey Smagur, John Siarris and Donnie Ray Albert. Conlon gives the preconcert lecture at 7 p.m. in Springer Auditorium.

NOTE THE EARLY START TIME, Saturday, May 25: Juanjo Mena leads J.S. Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” with soloists Berit Norbakken Solset, Carlos Mena, Werner Güra, James Newby, Andrew Stenson and Hanno Müller-Brachmann and the May Festival Youth Chorus.  7 p.m., Music Hall (Note the early start time).

And here’s the review of the second weekend.

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.)

 

 

Neil Armstrong’s son to perform with Harry James Orchestra

Mark Armstrong/Photo provided

“Fly Me to the Moon” is one of the songs Mark Armstrong, the youngest son of Janet and the late Neil Armstrong, will perform with the Harry James Orchestra on April 2 at the Music Hall Ballroom.

The moon-themed songs in Mark’s repertoire honor his father, who made history in 1969 as the first man to walk on the moon.

The Harry James Orchestra is led by Fred Radke, who played trumpet for James and has been the current orchestra’s director since James’ death in 1983.  Radke and Mark Armstrong struck up a friendship over their shared interest in the music and aerospace.

Armstrong, who lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children, has had a 30-year career as a software engineer and was instrumental in the development of several successful startup companies, such as WebTV Networks.  In addition, Mark was a senior engineering leader for both Symantec and Microsoft and also wrote system software for Apple Computer.

He’s also a singer/songwriter as well as an actor, and serves on the board of trustees to several non-profit organizations.

The Harry James Orchestra plays original charts of such hits asI’ve Heard That Song Before,” “I Had the Craziest Dream”, “Sleepy Lagoon”, “I Don’t Want to Walk without You”, and “I’m Beginning to See the Light.” 

The concert and dance is Tuesday, April 2, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Music Hall Ballroom.  Tickets are $30 ($20 for students with ID) and $35 on the day of the concert.

Tickets can be purchased at the Aronoff Center and Music Hall Ticket Offices, by calling (513)621-2787, or online atwww.cincinnatiarts.org.  The three-hour concert and dance will benefit public radio WMKV 89.3FM and WLHS 89.9FM.

 

Harry James Orchestra

In memoriam: Don Siekmann

Don Siekmann, immediate past president of the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall, had a big smile and a booming voice. A champion of Music Hall, he was most enthusiastic about the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ, and established a concert series in the Ballroom, a popular series still sells out quickly.

Mr. Siekmann died on Nov. 14.

Born in 1938 in St. Louis, Mr. Siekmann was the longtime managing partner of Arthur Anderson & Co.. His involvement with Cincinnati arts and civic groups was widespread. Besides, SPMH, Mr. Siekmann served as president of the Greater Cincinnati Arts and Education Center (the organization led by Erich Kunzel that spearheaded the new School for Creative and Performing Arts) and was a Cincinnati United Way Campaign chair.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Linda, and son Brian, as well as a sister, Ruth Ann Yorg and two grandchildren.

Visitation is 5 pm to 8 pm Nov. 19 at Spring Grove Funeral Homes, 4389 Spring Grove Ave. Services are at 10:30 am Nov. 20 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Milford, preceded by visitation at 9 am.

To read more, visit bizjournals.com/cincinnati.

Review: Terrific all-Russian concert at CSO

Click here to read the review of pianist Yevgeny Sudbin with the Cincinnati Symphony, led by guest maestro Hannu Lintu this morning in Music Hall.

Yevgeny Sudbin wowed in his CSO debut, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Photo by Lee Snow

Reviews on the Cincinnati Business Courier website are supported by the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

My picks in the coming week

As always, Cincinnati offers myriad choices of things to do in the fall season. Here are just a few options that you might want to try.

Cincinnati Ballet’s “Peter Pan,” with a charming musical score composed by Carmon DeLeone, honors the maestro in its performances this weekend for his unprecedented 50 years as the Ballet’s music director. The dancing crocodile is one of my personal favorites. Thursday through Sunday in Music Hall. Tickets: cballet.org or call 513-621-5282.

Christian McBride. Photo provided

The great jazz bassist Christian McBride has shared the stage with jazz legends like Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock or Pat Metheny; pop giants like James Brown, Sting andThe Roots; and classical artists like Kathleen Battle, Edgar Meyer or the Shanghai Quartet. He visits the Xavier Jazz Series, 8 p.m. Oct. 27 in Gallagher Theater on the XU campus. Tickets: xavier.edu/musicseries

Cincinnati native and rising conductor Isaac Selya has just returned from making his debut with the Deustche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (yes, Paavo’s orchestra).

Next, he says, “I’m jumping straight into the next Queen City Opera program.” This one will be operatic selections featuring 11 emerging artists, accompanied by full orchestra. Eight of them trained at CCM; the other three trained at Indiana University, University of Kentucky, and Miami University in Oxford.

The concert will also feature the Xavier University Concert Choir,

Isaac Selya

singing in “Habanera” from Carmen. There will be a rare chance to hear the Council Chamber Scene from Simon Boccanegra, which ends with a soft entreaty for peace.

Just one performance: 3 p.m. Sunday, October 28 at the Sanctuary at Community Matters (2110 Saint Michael Street, 45204). To read the details on the repertoire and the performers click here.
Tessa Lark
Violinist Tessa Lark returns to the Queen City (where she trained at CCM) to star in Matinee Musicale’s 106th season, 2 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Anderson Center, 7850 Five Mile Road. Since her concerto debut with the Cincinnati Symphony at age 16, the Kentucky native is the recipient of a coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant and was silver medalist in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis and winner of the 2012 Naumberg International Violin Competition. She recently acquired a very special new violin from the Stradivari Society of Chicago. Read about it here. Andrew Armstrong collaborates at the piano. Here’s the program:
Suite Italienne……………………Igor Stravisky (1882-1971)

Appalachian Fantasy…………….Tessa Lark

Sonata in A major………………..César Franck (1822-1890)

Sonata No. 9, Op. 47 “Kreutzer”.. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Visit matineemusicalecincinnati.org for tickets or purchase at the door.

 

An unusual concerto at the symphony

Photo provided/Lee Snow

Principal violist Christian Colberg performed his own viola concerto, an ambitious, 30-minute work on the theme of “Don Quixote” with the Cincinnati Symphony in last weekend’s concerts.

The notes said he was the first CSO musician in recent memory to perform his own work with the CSO.

But I do recall bassist Frank Proto performing his own music with the orchestra in years past.

Do you remember any others?

Click here to read the review.