Tessa Lark dazzles in masterworks, bluegrass at Matinee Musicale

Tessa Lark

For Tessa Lark, performing in Cincinnati on Thursday was “basically coming home.” The violinist, who has appeared with dozens of American orchestras and is a Naumburg winner, among other prestigious awards, made an impressive recital debut at Matinee Musicale.

Cincinnati — specifically, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music — was a kind of second home during her early years. Between the ages of 11 and 18, her mother drove her two hours each way every Saturday from Richmond, KY, to work with master teacher Kurt Sassmannshaus in CCM’s Starling Preparatory String Project, a program for vastly talented kids. She made her Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra debut at age 16.

Now 29, she plays with an easy virtuosity. But she also charmed the audience at Anderson Center on Thursday with her down-to-earth personality and sense of humor as she spoke about each piece that she was performing with her pianist, Andrew Armstrong.Read More »

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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.

 

In memoriam: John Von Ohlen

Legendary jazz drummer John Von Ohlen, “The Baron,” died on Oct. 3 following a long illness. He was 77.

He was a drummer, bandleader and recording artist. You could only marvel at his effortless technique, his musicality and his seamless communication with his fellow musicians. Small wonder he was the drummer of choice for Rosemary Clooney, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Tony Bennett, Benny Goodman, Mel Torme and Perry Como. He toured and recorded with Kenton for two years.

Von Ohlen was one of the last big band drummers of his era.

“Performing with and discussing music — and philosophy — with John Von Ohlen has been one of the great joys of my life,” said Rick VanMatre, saxophonist and former director of Jazz Studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. “Asking John to join the CCM jazz faculty in 1985 was the best decision we could have made for the students, the faculty, and the legacy of the Jazz Studies Program.”

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Xavier Piano and Jazz Series to have virtuoso lineup

Christian McBride. Photo provided

Polina Bespalko, artistic director of Xavier University’s Piano and Jazz Series, has a fascinating lineup of artists coming to Gallagher Center Theater at XU this year. The season opens this Friday Sept. 21, with a free concert by a piano virtuoso who won the silver in the Liszt International Competition.

“This roster this year is top-notch,” Bespalko said. “And in jazz, they are all connected in some way.”

Xavier Jazz Series opens with bassist Christian McBride on Oct. 27. McBride has worked with everyone on this list, as well as legends from Herbie Hancock to Sting and even opera soprano Kathleen Battle.Read More »

Oratorio to be given Ohio premiere: ‘Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Dream’

full-choir1
Catherine Roma, artistic director, directing the World House Choir, which will perform the Ohio premiere of “Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Dream.” Photo provided.

A combined mass choir of 160 singers from 20 choirs in Cincinnati, Dayton and Yellow Springs have been rehearsing all summer for the premiere of an oratorio hailing the memory of a leading figure in the Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin (1912-87).

The choral work, “Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Dream,” was composed by Steve Milloy, a Cincinnati composer, conductor and an alumnus of Miami University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Four performances — three in the Yellow Springs/Dayton area and one in Cincinnati — and numerous events from Cincinnati to Yellow Springs will celebrate Rustin’s life as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, which took place Aug. 28 1963 — 55 years ago today. Read More »

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 »

Cincinnati Song Initiative wins ‘Stand for the Arts’ award

Cincinnati Song Initiative participants around the piano (L-R): Alex Hurd, Ahyoung Jung, Samuel Martin, Ivy Walz, Kenneth Griffiths, Marie Marquis

America’s only arts network, Ovation TV, in partnership with Spectrum, has awarded Cincinnati Song Initiative a 2018 Stand for the Arts award. The award includes $10,000 in funding. Officials will hold a formal award presentation in Cincinnati on Oct. 8.

Cincinnati Song Initiative is a three-year-old concert series devoted to art song. The project, led by founding artistic director Samuel Martin, presents beautifully-sung, well-researched programs on themes such as American song, the French group, Les Six, and the art song of Spanish-speaking nations, “Alma de España,” which kicks off the third season on Sept. 22.Read More »