MUST-SEE: Music & Opera, Fall 2019

This is a season for landmark anniversaries in the arts – Cincinnati Museum Center (200 years), Cincinnati Art Academy (150), Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (125) Cincinnati Opera (100), Chamber Music Cincinnati (90). Great events are on tap from those groups and more this fall. Here’s a look:

Pianist Stewart Goodyear performs the complete Beethoven sonata cycle in one day.
Stewart Goodyear

Chamber Music Cincinnati – Stewart Goodyear, pianist

No question. Hands down. Without a doubt. 

This is THE top pick of the fall: A spectacularly brilliant young pianist performing the complete Beethoven sonata cycle in one day. Think of it. One of the most profound achievements in the arts, Beethoven’s varied and challenging 32 piano sonatas, performed in a day-long marathon from 10 a.m. to nearly 11 p.m., with two meal breaks and three intermissions. Sonatapalooza!

This feat requires more endurance and athleticism than most sports stars could muster, not to mention musical prowess.

Goodyear has been there before. He has staged what he calls his “Sonatathon” in Toronto, Dallas and several other cities, and his 2012 recording of the cycle was highly acclaimed. Gramophone magazine put him on a par with past greats such as Artur Schnabel.

Also a composer (he has even written a fugue on the annoying “Baby Shark” theme) and improviser, Goodyear is a true musical force.

Sept. 7, 10 a.m., Memorial Hall;

Mark Gibson conducts the CCM Philharmonia
Mark Gibson conducts the CCM Philharmonia

CCM Philharmonia

‘Pride of Russia’ 

Plenty of Russian collusion here: The CCM Philharmonia, conducted by Mark Gibson, has a can’t-miss lineup for Oct. 3: Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Russian Easter” Overture, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (with faculty pianist Dror Biran) and Prokofiev’s epic Symphony No. 5 (stealing a march on CSO’s April 17-18 program). 

Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m., Corbett Auditorium;

‘CSI Halloween: Post-Mortem’ 

And then, for something different, spirit yourself to Corbett Auditorium for a post-Halloween Philharmonia/Chamber Orchestra program of dearly departed music by Liszt, Saint-Saens and Britten (yes, the “Dead Person’s Guide to the Orchestra”), conducted by Gibson with Leslie B. Dunner as “chief medical examiner.”

Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m., Corbett Auditorium;

CCO + VAE – The Cathedral Concert

Together again. Two premier Cincinnati groups, the Vocal Arts Ensemble and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, renew their collaboration in a concert led by CCO Music Director Eckart Preu. Fauré’s Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria are on the program, but most intriguing is a new arrangement of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ beloved “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.”

Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m., Christ Church Cathedral;,

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Most of the truly intriguing CSO programs in its 125th anniversary season don’t arrive until after the holidays: the anniversary concert and soprano Renée Fleming in January, the Beethoven Akademie 1808 at the end of February. Fall begins with more conventional programming, but two concerts stand out: 

‘Unlimited Color’

 In October, CSO presents the world premiere of a work it commissioned, Symphony No. 6 by Christopher Rouse, one of the finest living American composers. 

Oct. 18, 11 a.m., Oct. 19, 8 p.m., Music Hall;

Thomas Wilkins will conduct the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s “American Life” program.
Thomas Wilkins will conduct the CSO’s “American Life” program.

‘American Life’

In November, conductor Thomas Wilkins (Omaha Symphony, Hollywood Bowl, Indiana University faculty) leads a program of great music by African-Americans: Adolphus Hailstork’s “An American Port of Call,” William Grant Still’s landmark Symphony No. 1., Duke Ellington’s “Harlem” and more.

Nov. 15, 11 a.m., Nov. 16, 8 p.m., Music Hall;

Opera at CCM: Smetana’s “The Bartered Bride”
Opera at CCM: Smetana’s “The Bartered Bride”

CCM Opera – ‘The Bartered Bride’

If you’re in grand-opera withdrawal after the close of the Cincinnati Opera’s summer season, just Czech your anxiety at the door and take in the UC College-Conservatory of Music’s production of Smetana’s “The Bartered Bride.” One of the cheeriest and most colorful rom-com operas, this production is a new English translation by CCM faculty member Kathleen Kelly. CCM’s mainstage productions are typically well staged, acted and sung, and this promises to be an especially attractive one. 

Nov. 21-23, 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 24, 2 p.m.; Corbett Auditorium;

The Ariel Quartet is CCM’s quartet-in-residence.
The Ariel Quartet is CCM’s quartet-in-residence.


Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas – Bach Vespers

In the midst of a 20-year survey of the complete J.S. Bach sacred cantatas, the ensemble starts its ninth season led by Carlton Monroe in a program featuring both a cantata and Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 1.

Sept. 22, 5 p.m., St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Terrace Park;

Ariel Quartet – ‘The Fugue’

Beethoven’s “Grosse Fugue” is usually performed separately, even though it’s the original final movement of his String Quartet No. 13. Hear the whole shebang, plus quartets-with-fugues by Bartok and Mozart.

Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m., Robert J. Werner Recital Hall, CCM;

Variant 6 in Recital

The vocal sextet from Philadelphia goes for Baroque in a program for voices, violins and continuo. Free concert.

Oct. 20, 4 p.m., Christ Church Cathedral;

Cincinnati Song Initiative – ‘Americana’

This enterprising group advances the art song in innovative ways, and “Americana: On Life and Living” includes John Corigliano’s Bob Dylan song cycle “Mr. Tambourine Man,” an eclectic mashup of Walt Whitman settings in honor of the poet’s bicentennial, and an award-winning new cycle by Philip Lasser.

Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m., location TBA;

MUST-SEE: Theater & Dance, fall 2019
MUST-SEE: Visual Arts, fall 2019

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