Cincinnati Song Initiative announces its sixth season beginning in October, and its return to live, in-person performances.
Cincinnati Song Initiative was founded “to bring a concentrated and cohesive source of art song to the greater Cincinnati area.” The term art song simply refers to fully composed “classical” songs typically set to poetry, which could be old or new. Accompaniment is often, but not always, provided by piano, to maintain an intimate focus on the setting of the text. Outside of area school, college and conservatory recitals, what CSI offers has a unique place in Cincinnati, as the only professional organization fully dedicated to art song performances.
Founding Artistic Director Samuel Martin explains, “Cincinnati Song Initiative’s sixth season is hugely significant in several ways. Firstly, we welcome live audiences back to in-person song, something desperately missed during the digital 2020-2021 season. Secondly, we are happy to launch our most ambitious and far-reaching project to date, The Belletrists. This four-season-long series surveys the greatest German-language poets throughout history, comprising a massive cornerstone of the art song repertoire.”
CSI features several singer-pianist duos in each performance, exposing audiences to a wide variety of voice types and artistic personalities. Regional talent is highlighted alongside performers of national and international renown.
The Great American Songbook: Season Opening Gala
Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m. Liberty Exhibition Hall (Northside)
Soprano Amy Burton and pianist John Musto help bring Cincinnati roaring back to live performance with selections from The Great American Songbook, some of the most classic and beloved American standards. The evening includes champagne and individually-packaged dessert treats, all with cabaret-style table seating.
The Belletrists: Heinrich Heine
Dec. 5, 4 p.m., Location TBA
In the first program of its new series, The Belletrists, soprano Elisabeth Marshall and tenor Daniel McGrew, and their pianistic partners Kelly Kuo and Samuel Martin, explore a wide array of settings from the influential German poet Heinrich Heine.
Winter Song Festival: The Andrée Expedition
Jan. 22, 7 p.m. ARCO (Price Hill)
In 1982, American composer Dominick Argento composed a 40-minute song cycle depicting the harrowing 1897 journey of a Swedish Arctic balloon expedition. For this semi-staged production, CSI joins forces with UC’s College-Conservatory of Music to bring this dramatic story to life. The creative team consists of baritone Edward Nelson, pianist Marie-France Lefebvre and stage director Vince DeGeorge.
Winter Song Festival: Cincinnati songSLAM
Jan. 23, 7 p.m. Liberty Exhibition Hall (Northside)
In the third annual Cincinnati songSLAM!, up to twelve teams present a single new song for voice and piano in any language. The voting audience – in the poetry slam tradition – votes for their favorite songs and awards a total of $2,000 in prize money. The 2022 songSLAM features text-to-donate voting, both for live and online audiences! Free admission for the live SLAM – just register to reserve your seat ahead of time. Details on team rules and registration. The songSLAM is a program conceived by the organization Sparks & Wiry Cries, with whom CSI is collaborates for the Cincinnati iteration.
Spotlight: Jeanine De Bique, Gerold Huber and Theron Shaw
March 30, 7:30 p.m. ARCO (Price Hill)
CSI and Cincinnati Opera proudly present soprano Jeanine De Bique, pianist Gerold Huber and guitarist Theron Shaw in a program ahead of the Trinidadian soprano’s Carnegie Hall debut. Works by R. Strauss, Mozart, Previn, plus Caribbean folk songs.
Americana: Carrying Gravity
May 7, 7:30 p.m. Location TBA
The season finale encapsulates the profound human stories of everyday people. Moments of joy, anger, love, fear, death, power and more. Anchored by Kurt Erickson’s cycle “Here, Bullet “– set to text by Brian Turner, an Iraq war veteran – this diverse program encompasses some of the most poignant and visceral moments of life. Here, Bullet was the winning composition of the 2020 Art Song Composition Competition by the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Soprano Katherine Jolly and baritone Andrew Garland and accompanied by pianists Donna Loewy and Evan Mack.
Plus, CSI takes its show on the road…
CSI Mobile: Houston, TX
March 13, 4 p.m. University of St. Thomas
CSI heads to the Lone Star State in collaboration with the Houston Saengerbund, the city’s oldest musical society. To celebrate the contributions of German music, language, and culture throughout Texas, CSI shares an exhilarating program of both Lieder and American song. Soprano Nicole Heaston and baritone Eric Heatley join forces with pianists Samuel Martin and Bethany Self.