Art Academy president to speak at Xavier art exhibit “For a Better World”

Artwork by Tom Towhey

Joe Girandola, president of the Art Academy of Cincinnati, will be the first speaker at “Art and Poetry for a Better World,” 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday Nov. 16 at Xavier University.

The event is an afternoon of presentations and poetry readings exploring the role of art with peace and
justice, as part of an exhibition this month at the Xavier University Art Gallery, A. B. Cohen Center
1658 Musketeer Drive on the XU campus.

The exhibition, which opened on Nov. 1, features poems by 100 Cincinnati poets, culled from “For a Better World” 2004-15 editions. They’ll be displayed alongside artwork by 100 Cincinnati artists.

Other speakers on Saturday include Kelly & Kyle Phelps, professors and sculptors, who will speak on “Art for Workers’ Rights and Social Justice” at 2:30 p.m., followed by poetry readings by poets of the show.

“For a Better World,” now in its 17th year, is the product of SOS (Save Our Souls) ART, a
non profit organization, which has the mission to promote the arts as vehicles for peace and justice.

Information and to see the list of poets and artists, visit sosartcincinnati.com Gallery: (513) 745-3811.

Gallery Hours: Mon – Fri: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Closed university holidays

How pianist Frederic Chiu — at Xavier this week — fell in love with Prokofiev

Pianist Frederic Chiu/photo by Chris Craymer

I’m always inspired when I hear a recital by a remarkable pianist. Frederic Chiu returns to Cincinnati this Sunday, 2:30 p.m. April 28, in Xavier University’s Gallagher Center Theater for an all-Prokofiev program for the Xavier Piano Series.

Chiu’s early career followed a traditional path — such as winning an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and becoming perhaps more famous as a “non-winner” of the 1993 Van Cliburn Competition than the actual winner because of the uproar caused by his elimination.

Since then, his career has been anything but traditional. For starters, he’s a savvy marketer on the Internet. His Chopin Etudes have gone viral on YouTube, with more than 200,000 views.

Then, there’s Prokofiev’s music, to which he’s devoted a lifetime to performing and recording.  Here is his Q&A with me, where he explains how he developed his affinity for the Russian composer — and much more.

Q: When it comes to Prokofiev, have you made more recordings than anyone of his complete piano literature?

When you say complete piano recordings, it can be many different things. I think my complete Prokofiev is perhaps the most extensive collection, because I’ve included a number of transcriptions and added my own, so I feel like I’ve covered a lot more ground that most.Read More »

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 »

In the news: Local musicians win awards

Soprano Jessica Rivera (photo provided)

Cincinnati Song Initiative, established by Samuel Martin, is one of this year’s recipients of the arts network Ovation TV and Spectrum’s Stand for the Arts Awards. The new award is presented to arts organizations across the country who demonstrate efforts to be inclusive, accessible, and relevant to the needs of the communities they serve.

Cincinnati Song Initiative is one of 10 arts groups across the country to be honored. It will receive the award in a ceremony on Oct. 10 at Willis Music Steinway Gallery, 8118 Montgomery Rd.

Cincinnati Song Initiative kicks off its third season on Sept. 22 with Alma de España, a survey of art song from Spanish-speaking nations, 7:30 p.m. in Willis Music Steinway Gallery. The performers include Grammy Award-winning soprano Jessica Rivera, Mexican mezzo-soprano Paulina Villarreal, pianist Marie-France Lefebvre, and guitarist and lutenist William Willits. For information about the program and tickets, visit cincinnatisonginitiative.org.

Isaac Selya

Conductor Isaac Selya, known to local opera lovers as the founder of Queen City Opera, is the 2017-18 winner of The American Prize in Conducting in the professional opera division. He was recognized for Wagner’s Siegfried, in both Opera Production and Conducting.

Selya — who recently joined the music faculty as an orchestra conductor at Xavier Universitywas selected from applications reviewed recently from all across the United States. The American Prize recognizes the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings.

The American Prize has awarded more than $50,000 in prizes in all categories since 2010, and is presented annually in many areas of the performing arts.

David Katz, chief judge and creator of The American Prize, was selected as one of Musical America’s “Professionals of the Year, 2016.” To see the other winners in all divisions, click here.

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 »