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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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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Treats at CCM

Treat those little trick-or-treaters, and then dash over to CCM, where maestro Mark Gibson continues his Brahms Festival, 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in Corbett Auditorium.

On Wednesday, it's the "Neues Liebeslieder Walzer" and "Schicksalslied." CCM piano prof Eugene Pridonoff performs Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor. This concert is performed by the CCM Concert Orchestra and Choirs, with conductors Gibson and Brett Scott.

On Thursday, Gibson conducts the Philharmonia in Brahms Tragic Overture and Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, with Anna Reider, violinist in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, as soloist in the Violin Concerto in D Minor.

It's all free.

Not your average space odyssey

Here's the review that ran online after Friday's CSO concert.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Unique ticket offers

Here's what one orchestra is doing to put more bodies in seats. According to, the St. Louis Symphony has a deal where anyone who buys a ticket to a concert and attends may turn in their ticket stub to come again on another night.

Music director David Robertson points out that performances of the same repertoire on different nights can be slightly different, something that I've noticed here with Paavo Jarvi.

Do you think that idea could work in Cincy?

Here's another great idea I heard at Chamber Music Cincinnati last night. Any ticket for their series may be exchanged for a ticket to the Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, CSO Chamber Players, Linton Series ... and vice versa. Now that is marketing genius, finally!!

Enthusiastic crowd for Pressler and American String Quartet

Here's the review. Did you know you can now write your own review? Just follow the links on the review.

Photo: American String Quartet

Beethoven's Ninth in Zero Gravity

When the Space Shuttle mission STS-120 lifted off yesterday morning, it had in its payload a page from the conducting score of Beethoven's Ninth -- specifically the choral finale, "Ode to Joy" -- owned and signed by Cincinnati's celebrity maestro James Levine. Levine and members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra autographed the page for Astronaut Stephanie Wilson, a Pittsfield, Mass., native.

The orchestra says she once worked at a store at Tanglewood, summer home of the BSO, which performs the "Ode to Joy" there annually. The astronaut will present it back to Levine and the BSO after her 14-day mission in space.

Ironically, the main mission this time is to deliver a new module to the International Space Station, named "Harmony."

Visit for the latest updates, to see video or view images of the California wildfires from space.

Photo: NASA

Monday, October 22, 2007

Candidates sound off on the arts

What did you think about the arts package that ran in Sunday's A&E section, with the views of City Council candidates on the arts?

This was a joint package by the arts and entertainment staff: Jackie Demaline, Sara Pearce and myself, edited by Julie Gaw and produced online by Mandy Jenkins.

I was surprised at how few of them mentioned the Cincinnati Symphony or Music Hall, and only one claims to have a CSO subscription (Chris Bortz). There are also some funny revelations, such as that many of them claim to be good actors (surprise!) and one (Brian Garry) says that he is a "20th-century composer."

Take a look at their answers to all 12 questions that ran online only, and tell us what you think!

Pressler and American Quartet open season

The remarkable Menahem Pressler, pianist and founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio, returns to open the 78th season of Chamber Music Cincinnati Tuesday in Corbett Auditorium. Pressler will join the American String Quartet for Dvorak’s tuneful Piano Quintet. The program includes Mozart’s Quartet in C Major, K. 465, "Dissonance," and Alban Berg's Quartet No. 3.

(The photo is of a concert earlier this month at IU, with Alex Kerr, former concertmaster of the Cincinnati Symphony now on the IU faculty; with Mark Kaplan, cellist Sharon Robinson and Atar Arad. With thanks to Indiana University)

As a teenager, Pressler fled the Nazis from his native Germany to Israel, barely escaping the Holocaust. Pressler’s career has spanned six decades, beginning with winning the 1946 Debussy Piano Competition and soon after, making his American debut with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

In 1955, Pressler made his first appearance with the Beaux Arts Trio, a chamber group that would record more than 50 albums and become the benchmark for piano trios worldwide. The trio, now with violinist Daniel Hope and cellist Antonio Meneses, is celebrating its final season.

The same year, Pressler began teaching at Indiana University. Now an IU Distinguished Professor, the 83-year-old artist teacher still presides over a busy piano studio. On Thursday, he will receive the Performing Artist and Arts Educator Award in the 2007 Governor's Arts Awards ceremony to be held on the Bloomington campus. (Others being honored are saxophonist Jamey Aebersold and choral conductor Henry Leck.)

The Chamber Music Cincinnati concert is 8 p.m. Tuesday in Corbett Auditorium. A preconcert lecture begins at 7 p.m. Tickets: $25; $10 students. CCM students and students 18 and under are free. 859-581-6877,

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Wayne Brady at the Pops

Here's the review. Scroll to the bottom for a link to post your own opinion at, or write it here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cincinnati-born organ virtuoso releases sixth CD

Robert Delcamp, born and raised in Clifton and an organ student of Wayne Fisher at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, has had his sixth album released on Naxos Records. The music is Charles-Marie Widor's ten organ symphonies, inspired by the magnificent Cavaillé-Coll organ at Saint-Sulpice in Paris. This music, the album jacket says, "revolutionized the art of organ playing and composition in France."

"Widor is the 19th-century, early 20th-century French composer who wrote the famous Toccata played at weddings, from his Fifth Organ Symphony," says Delcamp, reached Sewanee, Tenn., where he chairs the music department at University of the South. "It's really a 'highlights' disc. You couldn't do Widor without putting that on it."

Naxos is one of the few remaining labels still devoted to classical music, and it has an ongoing series specific to organ repertoire. Delcamp has already recorded three volumes in the Organ Encyclopedia Series of the complete organ works of Marcel Dupre, and CDs of organ music by Camille Saint-Saens and Alexandre Guilmant.

Delcamp was a member of the last freshman class in CCM's old building on Highland Place.

"We called the first building (on the UC campus) the great white whale," he says.

During his Cincinnati years, Delcamp was organist at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, and also at Rockdale Temple. He succeeded his teacher Wayne Fisher at Rockdale, before it moved to Amberley Village. He also recalls recording the Brubeck oratorio with Erich Kunzel and the CSO at Westminster Choir College for Decca Records.

"It was my first experience with a recording session, with everything blanketed with mics and watching Kunzel saying, 'We need more French horn here!'" he recalls. "Kunzel was the conductor at CCM back then, and my minor was bassoon."

After CCM, Delcamp was drafted into the 19th Army Band, stationed in New Jersey -- not a bad gig, considering the US was still embroiled in Vietnam.

At University of the South, he is organist of All Saints' Chapel and directs the University Choir "on the style of Oxford and Cambridge chapel choirs," he says.

Last spring, he took his choir on their ninth tour to Europe. Each tour is a week's residency at a major cathedral in England, such as Westminster Abbey. While there this time, he was invited to play on a prestigious organ series in Trier, Germany, and three days later, gave a recital at the cathedral in Dudelange, Luxembourg, where a few years earlier, he had recorded the Saint-Saens disc.

"In Europe, the audience for organ music is truly amazing. When you do something like I did at Trier, the Romanesque cathedral has a famous organ by Johannes Klais one of the big German builders. It was quite extraordinary.

"You're the artist; you don't have to explain yourself. Probably 450 people came, each paying 5 Euros. It's a big deal there, and it's the same thing in Luxembourg, where I played in an enormous church with an and incredible organ. They have an organ club, and it's like you're a god because you're the artist."

Speaking of his former church, acclaimed organist Alan Morrison (pictured) kicks off the Organ Concert Series at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church at 4 p.m. Sunday. Morrison's varied program includes J.S. Bach, Maurice Duruflé and Cesar Franck.

Morrison has performed everywhere from Lincoln Center to the Crystal Cathedral, and has appeared on television on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." He's made radio broadcasts from Philadelphia’s famed Wanamaker Organ, and recently, he was in the news for inaugurating the new organ in Verizon Hall, new home of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The organ concerts are free. The public is encouraged to get there early for a seat. 513-871-1345,

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Opera returning to Middletown

Here's the news. However, trustees are not so sure about performing opera amid the trappings of "Rocky Horror Picture Show." Now that the historic opera house has new owners, where do you think they should mount their operas?

Photos: The new owners of Sorg Opera House, and Marshall Weis, as Tevye.

More CCM feedback

Today I heard from Eiji Hashimoto, professor emeritus of harpsichord, who led the Ensemble for Eighteenth-Century Music at CCM (remember that??) for many years and was the founding conductor of the Lucca program.

"Yesterday you wrote that the Lucca Opera and Music Festival will no longer be a part of CCM's summer study program, and I was quite surprised and saddened. I was the music director of the festival during the first three years of its existence (1996-98) and have many wonderful memories of the beautiful city and of the kind people who were generous and warm to us and whose hearts we touched through music. Some of my former students who participated in the festival still write to me about their experiences."

And Joshua S. Nemith, piano instructor at Slater Music Academy, wrote an essay "from a student participant's point of view" about the summer program cuts, that can be accessed at his blog by clicking here.

Photos: Joel Hoffman leading an improvisation class at Accent06, a week-long comprehensive music program that is to be discontinued; and Clare Callahan leading a guitar workshop.

P.S. Eiji Hashimoto is still performing and writing. The fourth edition of his book, "A Performer's Guide to Baroque and Post-Baroque Music," published in Tokyo in late 2005, will be coming out soon here. He is at work on another book about baroque keyboard fingering.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Budget ax at CCM

Here's the news about latest cuts at the University of Cincinnati -- this time summer programs at the prestigious College-Conservatory of Music. Will you be affected by these cuts? Did you ever visit the Opera Theatre and Music Festival in Lucca, Italy?

Are you a rising composer or musician who will miss the festival of new music that brought in guest composers such as Michael Nyman ("The Piano") and Fred Rzewski, or the Classical Guitar or Flute workshops? Weigh in and tell us what you think.

Apparently the Lucca festival only cost about $400,000. I'm wondering if there's an opera angel out there who would like to see it continue...

Photo from Lucca's "La Cenerentola"

Friday, October 12, 2007

Violin phenom at the symphony this weekend

Here's a link to the review.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Put this on your radar screen

Dinner and a show

On Thursday, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra presents its first Thursday concert of the season, which includes a free buffet dinner (with concert ticket) in Music Hall's glamorous Ballroom, followed by a symphony concert.

Violinist Vadim Repin, one of the greatest violinists now touring, performs the Beethoven Violin Concerto, called the "king of concertos." Paavo Järvi conducts music by Gustav Mahler, including the "Adagio" from Symphony No. 10. Dinner (Thursday only) starts at 6:15 p.m.; 7:30 p.m. concert. Concerts repeat 11 a.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday in Music Hall. $12-$83.50; $10 students. 513-381-3300,

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Declining symphony audiences, revisited

Continuing the marketing discussion, I was leafing through a summer Symphony magazine and saw an article about the Knight report, "The Search for Shining Eyes," and thought a few points might be worth noting again. This was the 10-year, $13 million report aimed at tackling a few of the "systemic problems facing American orchestras."

For the article, the American Symphony Orchestra League assembled a round table of symphony execs and an orchestra musician to reflect. There were some telling comments, such as from John Forsyte, president of the Pacific Symphony, who wondered "what provoked the initial spark... Was it really a concern for diminishing audiences? or was it a concern for the budget deficit challenges facing orchestras...?"

Three findings of the report:

1. Free programming and outreach do not turn people into ticket buyers.
2. Audience education efforts, designed to serve novices, are mainly used by those who are already involved with the orchestra.
3. Orchestras need to do more research on people who do NOT attend their concerts.

Do you agree with these?

What should orchestras be doing NOW to increase their audiences?

Photo: Peter Frampton narrating "Peter and the Wolf" last March with the Kentucky Symphony at Kenton County Library

Monday, October 08, 2007

Keith ties the knot -- again!

Keith Lockhart, 47, remarried yesterday in Boston, according to the New York Times Style section on Sunday.

She's Emiley Elizabeth Zalesky, a 30-year-old assistant attorney general in the health care division of the office of the Massachusetts attorney general. They met in 2005, according to the Times, at a Boston restaurant where Zalesky was enduring a boring date and Lockhart was having a post-concert dinner. She got up the nerve to say hello to Boston's biggest celebrity, and Keith managed to get her phone number. The rest is history...

Keith is in his 13th season as Boston Pops conductor. He got his start with the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops. His two previous marriages ended in divorce. He has a son, Aaron, 4.

Slatkin takes the Detroit baton

Leonard Slatkin has been named music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, succeeding -- after a two-year search -- the popular Neeme Jarvi (Paavo's dad).

"Five months ago, this wasn't even on my radar," Slatkin told Larry Johnson for the Detroit News, "and now I could not be more excited."

Here's the story.

Cincinnati's music mogul

OK, he's not the former drummer I usually write about (Paavo). But today's story about Cincinnati native Antonio "L.A." Reid has already prompted some feedback from local musicians, who would like to be discovered, too.

Jayson Dunn, of Cincinnati's Thin Ice Entertainment, says there's an annual talent showcase at UC every year:

"I know first-hand of the wealth of talent here in Cincinnati in all genres; R&B, Hip-Hop, Pop, Techno, and Rock. For the past 10 years we have been trying to shine a spotlight on that talent and gain exposure for local artists. We have had some success, one of our hip-hop artists participated in "Free-style Friday" on 106 & Park and another participated in a similar event on MTV," he says.

"We know first-hand where all of the talent in Cincinnati can be found if he is indeed interested in finding it. We have been trying desperately to put Cincinnati on the map..."

Click here for a cool photo gallery.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Symphony weekend

Here's the review:

Occasionally an artist appears out of the blue and performs so magnificently that you are unexpectedly swept off your feet. That was the case Friday night, when Italian cellist Enrico Dindo took the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra stage and wowed with Haydn's Cello Concerto in C Major.

If Dindo wasn’t a household name to most in the small crowd Friday night, the Italian program led by the gifted conductor William Eddins was a sleeper, too. The guest conductor opened with Rossini's Overture to "La gazza ladra" (The Thieving Magpie), not played here in two decades, and closed with the orchestra's first performance of the Second Symphony of Nino Rota – better known as a composer of film scores.

Dindo, 1997 winner of the Rostropovich Competition, has focused his career in Europe, with only rare appearances in North America. As he played, first the Haydn and then an "Adagio and Variations" by Respighi, his face was as expressive as his sound, projecting pure, unmitigated joy. If only all musicians communicated with such heart and soul.

In Haydn’s C Major Concerto, one was struck immediately by the ease, beauty and lightness of his playing. Scales were tossed off like glissandos; virtuosities were effortless. He played with pinpoint precision, but his phrasing also smiled with affection.

The slow movement was lyrical and deeply interior, with a radiant cadenza. The finale was a feat of breathtaking speed and spontaneity, yet never at the expense of classical style.

Eddins and the orchestra supported him well. I only wished for more lightness of spirit in the first movement.

Respighi's "Adagio and Variations," also a first performance, offered a chance to hear Dindo project a fuller sound and a seamless, beautifully shaded line. This piece is more fantasy-like than theme-and-variations, with a lovely English horn solo (nicely played by Christopher Philpotts) and cascades for the harp.
Here the cellist called upon a big vibrato for an especially soulful sound. It was one of the most ravishing pieces you’ve never heard.

Rota is known for his Oscar-winning score to "Godfather II" and the love theme to Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet." But he also studied in the United States, meeting Aaron Copland and Samuel Barber, whose influences one can sense in his Symphony No. 2, heard after intermission.

It's sort of a postcard of Taranto, Italy, with folk themes, a "tarantella" and brilliant orchestral color.

Eddins, music director of the Edmonton Symphony, has a precise, clear technique and is a dynamic leader on the podium. He led an engaging performance, inspiring unusual lightness in the strings in Rota's sweeping, almost cinematic themes, and whipping up momentum in the exuberant moments. The orchestra responded with excellent playing, with some stunning contributions from the five horns.

Rossini's Overture to "The Thieving Magpie" made a spirited opening. Go to this one.
The concert repeats at 8 p.m. Saturday in Music Hall. 513-381-3300.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Marketing the symphony

Did anyone see the Cincinnati Symphony's TV spots or billboards this fall? I saw some of the TV ads, which I thought were well-done, but the billboard on I-75 puzzles me. It showed pictures of clouds and said something about hearing music in heaven... ??

What's your opinion?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Visiting a Freedom Station with Cincinnati Opera

On Sunday, I drove to Ripley to meet up with cast members, the creative team and their families to tour the John P. Parker House and the Rev. John Rankin House in Ripley, as a prelude to "Rise for Freedom: The John P. Parker Story," premiering Oct. 13-21 at the Aronoff Center. Here are some of my photo impressions.

Top to bottom:
Terry Cook (John P. Parker); Cook with David Gonzalez, the librettist at the John Rankin home; Andrea Jones-Sojola (Miranda Parker) pauses to read a marker at the Parker home; a surprise visitor at the Parker House -- Elizabeth Rankin Fulcher, a great-great-granddaughter of Rev. Rankin, with Ariss Payne, 10, an SCPA student who is in the cast; stage director Sheila Ramsey enjoys a quiet moment; C.J. Hughes, 9, climbs up all 131 stairs once used by fugitive slaves; the canoe in center of this photo carries David Gonzalez, a free spirit who hitched a ride, and then jumped into the river (it wasn't his first time...); the whole cast.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

How does it feel to be a woman conductor?

Someone once asked that question of Nadia Boulanger, who replied that it didn't feel much different, since she'd been a woman for more than 50 years.

Lots of people are asking the same question of Marin Alsop these days, including Martin Goldsmith, who posed it just before a broadcast of her debut as music director of the Baltimore Symphony, aired over XM radio, which I heard in my car on Sunday.

Then, in my e-mail this morning, I heard from Alan Flaherty of Cincinnati who asks,

"Is Marin Alsop getting an affirmative action boost because she's the first female music director of a major US orchestra, or is she more than Paavo Jarvi the future of U.S. classical music?"

It's true, she's getting lots of print, including the New York Times. Frankly, it's been a long time coming for women, and many of us who have watched her progress are cheering because she is talented, deserving AND is finally getting recognition in what has for too long been considered the domain of mostly white males. Think about it: This is the 21st century, and she is the ONLY woman who has ever won music director of a major American orchestra.

Women have come a long way in overcoming old prejudices. Yet, there are still only a few women among thousands of conductors on national rosters, Jarvi told me last year. Marin told me in 2004, "As I look around now, I still feel quite lonely. I'm surprised."

But all of the female conductors that I've interviewed -- Alsop, Sarah Ioannides, Xian Zhang, Keri-Lynn Wilson, to name a few -- have said that they focus only on doing their work well and passionately, and not on drawing attention to themselves because they are women. Certainly, they have never sought "an affirmative action boost."

Alsop said in that interview on Sunday that she hopes her position will be an inspiration to other young women coming up -- showing them that indeed, it is possible. And yes, Alan, I am hoping that Marin's success, as well as more diversity across the board, is the future of classical music in America.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Around town

A good-sized crowd was at the Blue Wisp Friday night to hear Brazilian pianist Jovino Santos-Nato in his trio with Jamey Haddad and Roberto Ochipinti. What an amazing journey -- it was a combination of progressive jazz and samba, and Santos-Nato seemed to draw from everything but the kitchen sink. His playing was imaginative and rhythmic and Haddad's contributions could only be described as electrifying. The keyboard seemed to have sparks coming off of it -- whether from the pianist's playing or reflections from the Blue Wisp sign outside.

For the first set, Haddad was late, so the great Art Gore sat in for the first set, and played wonderfully. Let's hope that the Blue Wisp survives.

After watching the Reds get destroyed by the Cubs Saturday, I followed hoards of Cubs fans to Fountain Square for the kickoff of Downtown HopAround -- with Grand Marshals Mayor Mark Mallory, former Bengal Ickey Woods and funk-music legend Bootsy Collins, with very cool music from The Addisons.

Photo: Keyboardist Jacob Addison, drummer Eric Cieslewicz, guitarist Greg Hanson, and guitarist Charlie Sommers (bassist Brian Goodpastor was behind a speaker...)

The idea was to fan out into downtown restaurants and bars to hear local music. I went to the Cincinnatian, where I heard the Billie Walker Trio, featuring legendary drummer Philip Paul. Billie Walker is one of Cincinnati's great treasures, a simply elegant pianist who has perfected the art of soft jazz in her longtime stint in the Cricket Lounge. (Carl Lindner was dining in the Palace...)

We headed out and noticed mobs of Cubs fans lining up outside restaurants, hanging out everywhere. Hmm, is that what we need for downtown revival?

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