Cincinnati Offers Sparkling 2014-2015 Season

Cincinnati Offers Sparkling 2014-2015 Season


Photo: Phillip Groshong
Cincinnati Music Hall Photo: Phillip Groshong

Cincinnati’s Music Hall, the city’s main venue for most of our large-scale musical performances, is badly in need of renovations. A tax initiative to underwrite a portion of renovation costs goes before the City Commission in the fall, and whether or not it passes, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will continue to play in the august but rickety century-old building, which is also home to the Cincinnati Ballet, the Cincinnati Opera and the Cincinnati May Festival. But all that said, the coming season looks vital for a mid-sized musical city (population c. 300,000).

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will give nineteen pairs or trios of concerts from mid-September through mid-May, playing typically on either Friday-Saturday or Thursday-Sunday. After a September 13 opening featuring Lang Lang in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Louis Langrée conducting, other pianists include Emmanuel Ax, Andre Watts, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Khatia Buniatishvili and Ingrid Flitter, along with clarinetist Martin Frost, and violinists Joshua Bell and Leila Josefowicz. The 2014-2015 season is heavily Romantic, with much emphasis on the German/Russian canon. At the opposite end of the spectrum there are a couple of John Adams pieces and some unusual premieres, such as Martin Grubinger’s Spices, Perfumes, Toxins! and André Previn’s Double Concerto for Cello and Violin, in addition to a two-concert weekend from MusicNOW. From the treasure trove of often forgotten, rarely performed works there are rarities by Lutoslawski, Nielsen, Lyadov, Turina and Granados.

For sheer vibrancy and daring in programming at very affordable prices one need look no further than the College Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati, with close to one thousand performances on its five stages over the next nine months. The CCM Busse Fund Guest Artist Series brings German countertenor Andreas Scholl to the conservatory’s Corbett Auditorium on October 1 for a recital of German lieder. Scholl, a Baroque music specialist, will be in new musical territory, accompanied by Tamar Halperin at the piano.

Later, the Academy of Ancient Music under the direction or Richard Egarr comes to Corbett on Sunday November 9 to play Bach’s Orchestral Suites. One week later, on Sunday November 16, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 will be sung by the CCM Chamber Choir, accompanied by the Conservatory’s Philharmonia Orchestra augmented with Baroque instruments and soloists. And in March 2015, the orchestra will present Berlioz’s Te Deum.  CCM’s Opera will present Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel in November and Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. The typical CCM cast in any of these productions features young singers who often go from an appearance at CCM to a professional debut with a regional opera company, theater, or Broadway. The CCM’s Musical Theatre program features Legally Blonde in October and Peter Pan in March.

Beyond the Music Hall and the five state-of-the-art facilities at CCM, Cincinnati offers a variety of musical offerings in unusual sites. Cincinnati’s Catacoustic Consort presents a five-concert season in various churches around the city that includes music from the European Renaissance and Baroque, in addition to a final concert that will include music of Tan Dun and—yes—Elvis Costello.

Chamber Music Cincinnati gives five concerts featuring Dawn Upshaw and Gilbert Kalish on September 23, the Jerusalem String Quartet on October 28, and Jeremy Denk on December 8. In 2015 they bring the Fauré Piano Quartet in February, the Catalyst String Quartet in March, and the Takács String Quartet in April.

Cincinnati’s Matinee Musicale entered its second century of imaginative programming last year and continues in 2014 with its 102nd season, with five concerts, all on Sunday afternoons or Thursday mornings, at the Anderson Center or the Mayerson Jewish Community Center. This organizationhas always set  its sights on up-and-coming vocalists and instrumentalists, and this year’s artists include soprano Jeanine De Bique, baritone Andrew Garland, violinist Ilya Kaler and pianist Alon Goldstein, and pianists Natasha Paremski and Yevgeny Sudbin.

The 2014-2015 season of the Cincinnati Bach Ensemble will feature Vespers performances on various Sundays between October and May, along with their traditional Abendmusik offerings throughout the season. Performances of multiple Bach cantatas, Arvo Pärt’s Passio, and vocal and instrumental recitals and concerts of Baroque music will be given in St. Thomas Church in Terrace Park, all featuring a who’s who of Cincinnati singers and instrumentalists, led by music directors Brett Scott and Carlton Monroe.

Lynton Music continues its dedication to chamber works with a seven pairs of concerts in its two locations, Avondale’s First Unitarian Church and Loveland’s Congregation Beth Adam. Highlights of the series include appearances by the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the young violinist Bella Hristova, and pianist Leon Fleisher.

The Cincinnati Opera has already announced its 2015 summer season, which will include Don Pasquale, Il Trovatore, Turandot, and the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star. Between September and May, a couple of new small opera companies offer some daring choices, among them Autumn West and Shawn Mlynek’s Cincinnati Chamber Opera, which will present Hans Krása’s Brundibar in the fall and Handel’s Ariodante in the spring, the latter as part of the city-wide Early Music Festival. Queen City Chamber Opera begins in October with a Cincinnati premiere: Act One of Siegfried done in conjunction with the Cincinnati Wagner Society. In March, Artistic Director Isaac Selya and his singers return with Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio.

Music for All Seasons in Cincinnati will present four concerts of vocal music at Peterloon Estate, beginning in October with Songs from Austria and Germany, and ending in April 2015 with Music from the British Isles. Making their debuts will be soprano Paola Gonzalez and mezzo-sopranos Leah Marie de Gruyl, Ryu Kyung Kim and Katherine Tombaugh, who will be joined by veteran pianists Kenneth Griffiths, Frank Weinstock, and Rachel Kay Zapata, and instrumentalists Ixi Chen, Mari Thomas, Suzanne Bona, Althea Kearney, William Willits and Sara Kim.

As of this writing, a number of organizations have not yet announced their seasons, including the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, which has also not yet named its new music director. Concert:nova will probably have its typical, unusual line-up in cafes,  warehouses, art galleries and private homes. And Craig Hella Johnson’s Vocal Arts Ensemble, a chamber choir, always manages to surprise with its imaginative choices.

Rafael de Acha

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