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Classical Music
Janelle Gelfand on the classical music scene

Janelle's pen has taken her to Japan, China, Carnegie Hall, Europe (twice), East and West Coasts, and Florida. In fact, Janelle was the first Enquirer reporter to report from Europe via e-mail -- in 1995.

Janelle began writing for the Cincinnati Enquirer as a stringer in 1991 while writing a Ph.D. dissertation in musicology at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She joined the Enquirer staff in 1993.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she graduated from Stanford University, Janelle has lived in Cincinnati for more than 30 years. In her free time, this pianist plays chamber music with her circle of musical friends in Cincinnati.

She covers the Cincinnati Symphony, May Festival and Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, chamber music ensembles, and as many recitals and events at CCM and NKU as possible.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu

Regretfully they tell us,
But firmly they compel us
To say goodbye to you...

Yes, my musical friends, we are moving! But this blog will live on, at least for a little while.

You'll be glad to know that our new improved Web site will have lots of bells and whistles, and more chance for YOUR participation. For instance, you'll be able to create your own blogs and persona pages.

You will need to register, and I've provided a link there for you to do it.

So, take a look at the new Classical Music and More blog and be sure to update your bookmarks!

If you subscribe to this blog via an RSS reader, the new RSS feed is located

I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye -- Goodbye!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Berlin Philharmonie fire out

More than 170 firefighters battled a blaze in the famous Berlin Philharmonie Tuesday, home of the Berlin Philharmonic. The fire broke out around 2 p.m. in the roof of the historic, 1962-building, which is known for its excellent acoustics and is one of the first of Europe's modern-era concert halls. Luckily, a real disaster was averted. This was shortly before 420 musicians and singers -- including children -- were to arrive for a rehearsal of Berlioz' Te Deum conducted by Claudio Abbado, said general manager Pamela Rosenberg.

Musicians rushed in to save their priceless instruments, but of course pianos and timpani were too large to move.

Much of the roof was destroyed, but no one was hurt and the orchestra may even hold concerts in a few days, Reutters reports. Smoke billowed over the German city, and nearby Postdamer Platz.

Blogger has not allowed us to post photos all week, so I am linking to an AP story with a photo gallery.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Conlon adds another award to his heap

James Conlon, music director of the Cincinnati May Festival, will be awarded the Medal of the American Liszt Society on May 30 in a ceremony at the United States Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the society has announced. The American Liszt Society chose Conlon for his commitment to the arts, as well as to the music of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt.

In 2004, Conlon conducted and recorded with the May Festival Chorus and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra the world premiere of Liszt's oratorio, "St. Stanislaus" for Telarc. That recording also won the 3oth International F. Liszt Record Grand Prix by the Liszt Society of Budapest, Hungary.

Conlon will be conducting in Florence Italy at the time of the presentation, so his wife, Jennifer Ringo Conlon, will accept the medal on his behalf.

CCM singers sweep Dayton vocal competition

Singers from the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music swept the awards at the Opera Guild of Dayton Tri-State College Vocal Competition, organizers announced today.

Andrea Shokery, a senior from Columbus, won first prize and $2,500, and was also the audience favorite, earning another $400. Soprano Katelyn Lee, a junior from Springfield, Mo., won second place and $1,500. CCM students Marshall Dean and Megan Aylward were finalists, winning $150 each.

All four students study with Barbara Paver at CCM.

The other finalists winning $150 each were Adam Cioffari from Indiana University and Alyssa Cox from Oberlin College. The six singers were winnowed from a field of 32.

The competition, now in its 20th year, was held in the NCR Renaissance Auditorium at the Dayton Art Institute. Judges were Thomas Bankston, general and artistic director of Dayton Opera; Andreas Melinat, artistic administrator of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Brian Horne, associate professor at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Columbus musicians pitch plan

Can this orchestra be saved? Columbus Symphony musicians are reportedly holding a news conference today with a financial plan of their own to try to save the symphony.

Conlon: Thoughts about culture in our country

Yesterday, I sat down with James Conlon at Music Hall to discuss many things, among them, the state of culture in our country today. One of the ironic things, he noted, is that we have thousands of excellent musicians and singers graduating each year from conservatories such as CCM, more orchestras and opera companies than ever -- yet there seems to be an increasing apathy for great art -- literature included -- in our country.

I thought this was an important point that he made. He was not referring to the demise of the Columbus Symphony, but you could see it in the context of a city that seems to be abandoning something it has cultivated for more than a half century.

My question: Many orchestras struggle for audiences. How do you keep the public renewed and interested?

Conlon: "Education has failed us in that regard and many others as well. Those of us who devote our lives to classical music have to roll up our sleeves and figure things out. We are carrying an unfair burden – when the federal government has let us down, when many local governments have let us down, and when, to be honest, churches have let us down.

"All communities should be playing a role in the preservation of great values from our civilization, and I consider all the classical arts and literature great accomplishments of our civilization, which need to be kept alive by a constant contact of the greater population.

"It has come to be in the last generation and half, that the political message has been that this is elite and therefore unworthy of widespread support.

"To me this is my big mission. I have the mission about the 'Recovered Voices,' but my big mission is to do whatever I can as an American conductor and as an American artist, and most of all as an American citizen, to stem the tide of this very unhealthy development of the marginalization of classical arts and literature."

Monday, May 19, 2008

A New Blog is Coming

Very soon, within a day or two, the Enquirer will be moving all blogs to a new place hosted by rather than by Blogger. It will have a new look and new software. The entire site is being redesigned, and I think you'll like what you find there.

You'll still be able to access my old Classical Music blog, because I'll provide a link for you. I am hoping that it will not disappear, because I think it's an important archive. (Visit the archive under April to see my travels with the CSO to Europe, for instance.)

This blog won't change, but you'll find a lot of improvements. Once I start blogging there, I'll give you a link for a sneak peak.

This just in: You will have to register (it's free) in order to post comments on the new site. You can still be anonymous, but you'll need to register.

Night three at the May Festival

Here's the review. Feel free to post your own by clicking at the bottom of the review, or posting below.

Photo: James Conlon on opening night (Friday) in Music Hall, by Joseph Fuqua

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Large Fire damages Berlin Philharmonie

The AP and International Herald Tribune, BBC and other European papers are reporting that the famed Philharmonie, home of the Berlin Philharmonic, caught fire today, hours before 720 people were expected for a rehearsal of Berlioz' Te Deum, including children.

Musicians rushed to save their priceless instruments, but larger ones, such as pianos and timpani, had to be left behind.

The landmark building, built in 1963 and famed for its fine acoustics, was one of the first of Europe's modern concert halls. More than 100 firefighters were said to be battling the blaze.

Another setback for the Columbus Symphony

The Times picked up a story from the Columbus Dispatch yesterday that the Greater Columbus Arts Council, which gave the ensemble $261,417 last year, recommended last week that no more money be given to the orchestra, in light of the fact that the board wants to fold the orchestra on June 1.

Drew McManus has picked up others writing about the crisis, as well as this poignant cartoon by Cincinnatian Jeff Stahler, now working for the Dispatch.

Night Two at the May Festival

Here's the review from last night's May Festival.

May Festival opens with an operatic triumph

Here's the review. What did you think? Leave your own review below.

There is an interesting local connection to tonight's composer, Eric Zeisl, who died in 1959. He composed his Requiem Ebraico in memory of his father, a victim of the Holocaust. The son barely escaped, himself, and eventually made his way to L.A., with a host of other prominent composers and musicians who were fleeing Europe. (I remember seeing Darius Milhaud come down for concerts while I was a student at Stanford... )

So here's some interesting geneaology about Eric Zeisl, according to James Conlon:

After he came from Vienna to Southern California, Zeisl raised a family and his daughter, Barbara, married Ronald Schoenberg, now a retired judge and the son of composer Arnold Schoenberg (who by then was also living in L.A.).

Barbara and Ronald have a son, E. Randol Schoenberg, the prominent lawyer who fought to get the Gustav Klimt paintings in Vienna back to their rightful owners in L.A. Randol Schoenberg is married to a woman from Cincinnati, but no one can recall her name. If you know it, let us know!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Reviving a tired concert format

Are orchestras still relevant? Or are they, like the poster below quoted, "Old, stuffy, for snobs, and (the Columbus Symphony) doesn't fit the image of a city moving forward. Leave it to Cincinnati and Cleveland as "old" cities holding on to dying institutions, and public funding of sport teams."

I believe orchestras are relevant, but all orchestras -- pops and classical -- need to start collecting ideas of how they can relate better to their communities, and do it soon.

Here's one idea: The Boston Pops just received 200 applications from students in 120 cities in Mass. for a chance to sing in a high school sing-off. The grand prize is a chance to sing with the Boston Pops on the Fourth of July on the Charles River Esplanade...

Sorry, Blogger is giving me problems this week, or I would be posting lots more...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Winton Woods choir in China

Other local musicians are being represented in China during the Olympics, besides the Cincinnati Pops, which will performing during the opening weekend.

In March, the Winton Woods High School Choir, led by David Bell, participated in a festival called "Perform in Harmony with Olympic Spirit" and were one of five choirs from the U.S. invited to perform.

The Festival was organized in cooperation with the Musician's Association of China. The kids performed in the Oriental Art Center in Shanghai and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing.

Says Bell: "It was truly the trip of a lifetime. The food was excellent, the accommodations great and the concert halls superb. We were well received by the Chinese people and had a ball with the other choirs as well as haggling over prices in the retail settings. We really enjoyed the exchange concert with the Beijing High School. Walking on and performing at the Great Wall literally sent chills up and down my spine. My personal favorite place was shopping at the street markets near the Yuan Garden in Shanghai. Everywhere our students went, they were stopped for photos with the Chinese, as African-Americans are not frequently seen in China."

The only snafu was the censorship of sacred music in concerts, he says, due to the incident with Bjork in Shanghai.

"In Beijing several pieces, including "Elijah Rock" were removed from the concert by the Chinese authorities and we had to perform secular pieces that they selected from our repertoire in its place," he says. "The authorities would not even allow the printed programs to be handed out so that people might see that the music had been changed."

To see a photo gallery of the Winton Woods trip, click here.

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