Cincinnati 2015-2016 Season: Things to Come
Pianist Yefim Bronfman, violinist Karen Gomyo, and conductor Semyon Bychkov are among the guest artists who will visit the Queen City to perform with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. (In January of 2016, the orchestra will perform in New York as part of Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series.) Music Director Louis Langrée conducts ten of the twenty subscription programs, running through April 2016. Seven commissions will keep company with the usual suspects of the orchestral canon, along with rarities by Schoenberg (Pelleas und Mélisande), Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 4 (for left hand alone, with Leon Fleisher), and Rachmaninoff’s The Bells.
The British percussionist Colin Currie will be on stage January 22-23 to tap, clap, rap and snap everything in sight that can make sounds—including his own body—in Julia Wolfe’s body concerto, rISE & flY. Later on, Manuel de Falla’s rarely heard opera La Vida Breve gets a concert performance (April 8-9) with soloists yet to be announced and Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena.
In the still mostly all-male world of symphony and opera conductors, Simone Young, Artistic Director of both the Hamburg Opera and the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra, is a rarity. She arrives in Cincinnati in mid-October to put the CSO and the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus through their paces in Brahms’ Nänie and Schicksalslied, in the company of Liszt’s Dante Symphony.
There are several bows to 20th and 21st-century repertoire throughout the season, including many exceptionally adventurous choices, such as the late Gunther Schuller’s Symphonic Triptych (January 22-23), and Joaquin Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un Gentilhombre with guitarist Pablo Villegas.
Not one but three new concertos for orchestra commissioned by the CSO will have their world premieres on the Music Hall stage, by Sebastian Currier (Nov. 19 and 21), Thierry Escaich (May 6 and 7), and Zhou Tian (May 13 and 14). Three young composers will also offer notable premieres. Under the banner of One City, One Symphony, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Kristin Kuster and T. J. Cole (under the tutelage of Jennifer Higdon) will honor the late American poet Dr. Maya Angelou in two evenings on the theme of liberty. The concerts will include Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 2 and Dvořák’s New World Symphony.
The CSO is adding a third initiative with its Brahms Festival: the already-mentioned Nänie and Schicksalslied will be augmented with two pairs of concerts in January and March, featuring works by the German master along with compositions inspired by him, such as Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto. The Brahms Festival will culminate during the 2016-2017 season with performances of all four of the composer’s symphonies.
In addition to the large performing arts organizations, the Queen City is home to one of America’s top music schools, the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati (CCM). The campus includes two large theatres: Corbett Auditorium and the Patricia Corbett Auditorium. Both are named after the late philanthropic couple, Ralph and Pat Corbett, who underwrote the construction of these performance spaces, and also created an impressive scholarship fund. Three additional venues—a black-box flexible space and two recital halls—host hundreds of performances each year by faculty and students, as well as international guest ensembles and soloists. This season, CCM’s Mainstage Series features Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, Lehar’s The Merry Widow, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, in addition to plays and fully staged ballets.
One of many arts organizations performing at CCM is the long-established Chamber Music Cincinnati. This year’s season begins with the return to Cincinnati of eighth blackbird, one of the nation’s leading contemporary music ensembles, which was founded in Cincinnati and then held a three-year residency at CCM. Also appearing will be the ATOS and Díaz Trios, and the Arcanto, Artemis, and Momenta Quartets.
Now in its 103rd year, the venerable Matinee Musicale Cincinnati begins in October, offering five daytime concerts in various locations around town. This year includes the well-established Tempest Trio plus four young soloists: pianists Claire Huangci and Roman Rabinovich, classical saxophonist Ashu, and the fast-rising Cuban-American soprano, Nadine Sierra.
Catacoustic Consort is renowned for authoritative readings of Renaissance and Early Baroque repertoire, thanks to its flawless research and crisp performances. This season, Annalisa Pappano’s one-of-a-kind enterprise revisits Telemann’s Paris quartets for flute, violin, harpsichord, and viola da gamba; 17th-century Italian music by women composers played by a lirone, viol, Baroque harp, and theorbo ensemble; a collaboration with the Dark Horse Consort with music for trombones and viols; and violinist Krista Bennion Feeney in Bach, Biber, and Leclair. In May of 2016 the group will present the world premiere of a true rarity: Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s La Fête du Ruel, a Baroque opera that has not been performed for over three centuries.
Other seasons have yet to be announced, such as the ever-surprising concert:nova, whose director, Ixi Chen, offers unpredictable venues and daring artistic choices.
And last, Music for All Seasons Cincinnati is my own brainchild, for vocal and instrumental concerts at Peterloon Estate in Indian Hill, which also raise scholarship money for CCM. This year features four events: Mozart for the Voice; a holiday music celebration; a Valentine’s Day concert of Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes and Kurt Weill’s American songs; and Paris, City of Light, an array of 19th century French salon music, with Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals as its centerpiece.
Note: This article has been updated on August 29, 2015, to reflect program changes.
Rafael de Acha