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Classic Sounds and New Twists

Classical musical season offers eclectic mix options

By Anne Arenstein · August 31st, 2011 · Onstage
This year’s classical music season promises more than the predictable lineup of Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms, as fledgling ensembles continue to offer edgy programming, top performers mix it up, a new music festival debuts and even the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) ventures into the world of new music.

In the absence of a full-time music director, the CSO appointed veteran conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, super-pianist Lang Lang and legendary composer Philip Glass to oversee programming, and the results are promising. CSO percussion-meisters Dick Jensen and Patrick Schleker perform Glass’ “Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra” Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Russian weekends take over in November with pianist Terrence Wilson performing Rachmoninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” Nov. 11-13, followed by the May Festival Chorus performing Prokofiev’s majestic cantata Alexander Nevsky. A few of the guest conductors will be vying for the music director’s job, but probably not Kristian Jarvi, who conducts Stravinsky’s Firebird in November. (www.cincinnatisymphony.org)

If there were a creative programming competition, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s Music Director Mischa Santora would be way out in front, with an entire season devoted to American Perspectives: music written by Americans, inspired by America and composers who influenced the nation’s founders. CCO’s season opens on Oct. 30 with “Jefferson in Paris” featuring music Thomas Jefferson, an accomplished violinist, would have heard or performed — along with Charles Ives “Three Places in New England” which certainly would have rendered Jefferson even more sphinx-like. Phillipe Quint is the violin soloist. In November, the orchestra performs American composer Eric Sessler’s “Flute Concerto” and Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony.

CCO’s move to the SCPA Mayerson Auditorium means superb acoustics and comfortable seats. ( HYPERLINK "http://www.ccocinnnati.org/"www.ccocinnnati.org).

Chamber music thrives in Cincinnati, and the two premiere chamber music series have outstanding lineups with virtually every group performing new works. Chamber Music Cincinnati’s series opens with the legendary Julliard String Quartet playing Stravinsky, Jana%u010Dek and Mozart on Sept.20, followed in October by the St. Lawrence String Quartet, whose program includes John Adams’ String Quartet written for the group in 2008.

The famed Linton Music Series continues its tradition of “making music among friends,” meaning CSO musicians and acclaimed soloists like pianist Menahem Pressler, featured in the first concert with former CSO first chair players, cellist Eric Kim and violinist Alexander Kerr, and violist Paul Neubauer, currently on the Julliard faculty. They perform piano quartets by Mozart, Dvoak and Turina on Oct. 23 and 24. Don’t miss the December performance of the suite from Stravinsky’s “L’histoire du soldat.” ( HYPERLINK "http://www.cincychamber.org/"www.cincychamber.org and HYPERLINK "http://www.lintonmusic.org/"www.lintonmusic.org).

Creative collaboration are hallmarks of concert:nova’s programs, which have yet to be announced, but you can count on this innovative ensemble for provocative music in unexpected venues. (www.concertnova.com)

There’s so much going on at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music that you need a separate iPad to keep track of everything: choral, orchestral, opera, electronic, world music and more, with performances that are always first-rate. The extraordinary Philharmonia Orchestra directed by Mark Gibson offers a Shostakovich and Prokofiev Festival on Oct. 6 and Nov. 4; hear the winner of CCM’s piano competition perform Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto in October. At $12 a ticket and $5 for non-UC students, how can you lose?

You’ll have to wait until the winter to catch CCM’s award-winning opera mainstage offerings, but the opera studio series in the Cohen Family Theater presents inventive productions and fine singing. The series has yet to be announced but be ready to pounce — the free tickets for performances get snatched up within hours. Check the website for listings and be amazed. ( HYPERLINK "http://www.ccm.uc.edu/"www.ccm.uc.edu)

Finally, the Constella Festival makes its debut in October, led by violinist and concert:nova member Tatiana Berman. The festival is an ambitious attempt to create fusions of musical and visual artistic events across the city. The star attraction is renowned violinist Joshua Bell, who performs at a post-festival gala Nov. 8. (www.constellafestival.org).



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