Cincinnati’s best music: November 2017

A bountiful feast for the ears

It’s not unusual for our city to nearly burst with great music, but some months the intensity seems to burn a bit more fiercely, and this November is a hot one. Here’s a savory sampling.

Chamber music

Whether globe-trotting talent imported for the occasion or worthy hometown stars, each of eight (8!) November chamber concerts could qualify for “must-see” status. 

Barry Douglas (photo by Katya Kraynova)

Barry Douglas (photo by Katya Kraynova)

Among the imports, one legend looms large – pianist Barry Douglas, on the Xavier Music Series (Sunday, Nov. 12, 2:30 p.m., Gallagher Center Theater). A true giant of the keyboard, Douglas has been wowing audiences for three decades. Here’s your chance to experience him, solo, in a 360-seat theater, playing Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” plus much more.

Also performing solo is superb cellist Matt Haimovitz (Monday, Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m., Miami University Performing Arts Series, Oxford Community Arts Center), whose program pairs three Bach Solo Cello Suites with contemporary works inspired by Bach, by Philip Glass, Roberto Sierra, Du Yun, Vijay Iyer and others. Stay tuned to MUPAS social media posts, as Haimovitz will also perform three pop-up mini-concerts with the other three suites and paired works prior to the concert (day-before or day-of) in intimate public venues around town.

And rising star Claire Huangci makes a welcome encore performance (Nov. 9, 11 a.m., Matinee Musicale, Anderson Center) in a one-time, weekday return to the series’ longtime home in Anderson.

Chamber Music Cincinnati hosts the Tetzlaff String Quartet (Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m., Memorial Hall) anchored by world-class violinist Christian and his cello-playing sister, Tanya Tetzlaff. And the popular Linton Series continues its collaboration with the Cincinnati Symphony, keeping stellar cellist Truls Mørk around a couple of days for piano trios by Beethoven and Dvorák (Nov. 26, 4 p.m., First Unitarian and Nov. 27, 7:30 p.m., Congregation Beth Adam).,

Three marvelous local ensembles offer concerts in November: The College-Conservatory of Music’s Ariel Quartet and special guests perform music of Janacek, Mozart and Shostakovich (Nov. 14, 8 p.m., Werner Recital Hall). Concert:nova examines “Art of the Fugue,” music from Bach and beyond (Nov. 14 and 17, 7 p.m. Cincinnati Art Museum). And Catacoustic Consort shares a concert of Renaissance music that inspired reformist Martin Luther, performed by a consort of viols and voice (Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m., First Lutheran Church, Washington Park),,

Symphonic music

Still breaking in the new Music Hall, the CSO and Pops offer concerts every weekend in November. In addition to the May Festival’s “The Storm that Built Music Hall” concert, the CSO welcomes back music director laureate Paavo Järvi for his first test drive of the new acoustics.

Alice Sara Ott

Alice Sara Ott (Photo by Jonas Becker)

Pianist Alice Sara Ott performs the beloved Grieg concerto, along with richly-hewn “Mathis der Mahler” by Paul Hindemith and Symphony No. 3 by Schumann (Nov 17, 11 a.m. and Nov. 18, 8 p.m.). The orchestra continues its annual “One City, One Symphony” presentations with an evening honoring visionaries who use music to “Speak Truth.”

Louis Langrée leads Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique,” a world premiere by Emily Cooley, and the Cello Concerto No. 1 by Dmitri Shostakovich, featuring the previously mentioned Truls Mørk (Nov 24-25, 8 p.m.).


We can argue whether Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” is an opera or a musical, but there is no dispute as to its legendary status. CCM gets a jump on Bernstein’s 2018 centennial celebration with what should be an inventive staging of this unsettled, but oh-so-entertaining work of genius (Nov. 16-19, Patricia Corbett Theater). See it here, and then compare versions next summer at Cincinnati Opera.

Choral music

Three leading choral organizations perform this month. The venerable May Festival Chorus, conducted by Louis Langrée, joins the Cincinnati Symphony in a program of music (Bach, Brahms, plus a world premiere from Julia Adolphe) from the 1875 May Festival during which pounding rain reportedly drowned out the performers and inspired Reuben Springer to invest in what is now our newly renovated Music Hall (Nov. 4, 8 p.m. and Nov. 5, 2 p.m.).

CCM’s Earl Rivers mounts a performance by his CCM Chamber Choir and Philharmonia Orchestra of Bach’s seminal B Minor Mass the same weekend, but at different times, so you can squeeze it all in, should you wish (Nov. 4, 4 p.m., Christ Church, and Nov. 5, 5 p.m., Knox Church).

The following weekend, Grammy-winning conductor Craig Hella Johnson leads the combined Vocal Arts Ensemble and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra in more works by the masters: the revered Mozart Requiem, Bach’s “Ascension Oratorio” and a world premiere by Dominick DiOrio. VAE has named Memorial Hall as its first concert “home” after more than 35 years (Nov. 12, 5 p.m.).,

Blues and folk

♦ Two non-classical concerts merit mention here. John Morris Russell conducts the Cincinnati Pops in “American Originals, Vol. 2,” a sequel to the highly-successful live recording from 2015 (Nov. 10-12, Music Hall). Special guest this time around is singer/songwriter Rhiannon Giddens, recent recipient of a $625,000 “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation. Giddens explores African-American connections and influences amidst American roots music: country, folk and blues.

Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens

And speaking of roots music, next door, the Longworth-Anderson Series presents Justin Townes Earle, another powerful, creative voice of Americana, accompanied by violinist Joshua Headley (Nov. 10, 8 p.m., Memorial Hall). This series continues to probe the adult swim end of the pop music pool to great effect, plus the pre- and post-concert receptions offer a wonderful opportunity to make new friends and see old ones.

See Music listings for more November events.

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