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by Jason Gargano 07.13.2011
Posted In: Literary at 05:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Donald Ray Pollock: Badass Writer, Nice Guy

Donald Ray Pollock's debut short-story collection, 2008's Knockemstiff, was something of an unexpected sensation —unexpected in that Pollock was a first-time author at age 53; a sensation in that the stories were driven by a visceral, sharp-edged prose style and a narrative thrust as sensitive as it was savage.

Knockemstiffwas rightly praised by everyone from The New York Times to Chuck Palahniuk (“more engaging than any new fiction in years”) to literary savant Michael Silverblatt, whose incisive KCRW radio show Bookwormfeatured an interview with the author.

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by Matt Morris 07.21.2010
Posted In: Visual Art at 04:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Goodbye, Thom Shaw

It was sad news to hear that Thom Shaw, a well-known local printmaker and artist, passed away July 6 from complications due to diabetes. Unfortunately, I heard the news too late to write something in time for the memorial service that took place July 17.

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by Rick Pender 07.14.2012
Posted In: World Choir Games at 12:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

World Choir Games: Awards Ceremony

On Friday evening, I hiked down to U.S. Bank Arena for the World Choir Games awards ceremony. It was bustling at The Banks, since the Reds are back in town and playing the Cardinals. It was fun to see the WCG participants, many dressed in colorful team T-shirts, mingling with the crowds around Great American Ball Park in their Reds gear. Lots of folks from other nations had a chance to peer into the stadium and see American fans revving up.

But there was no lack of revving — or revelry — inside the arena for the program. This was not a musical event, but a ceremony in which choirs in eight categories were recognized for their performances and champions crowned. For 20 minutes before the event began, there was a ton of merriment going on as teams did the "wave" around the arena and cheered whenever their own choir showed up on the big video monitors.

Lots of awards are handed out at WCG, some simply for participating. Choirs can choose to compete in an open category, in which they are evaluated but not competing for medals (although they are ranked and can receive gold, silver or brionze "diplomas") or in the head-to-head competitions. By scoring within certain point ranges, singing groups are awarded bronze, silver or gold medals. The ultimate designation, "Champion," is bestowed on the choir that scores the highest point total among the gold medalists in each category. Other medalists send forward their director and one singer to receive the medal and a certificate. When the champions are named, the entire choir races jubilantly to the stage, hugging, screaming and celebrating. Once assembled there and the medal bestowed, the choir's national flag is raised and its national anthem sung, often with tear-streamed faces on the video screens.

Champions were named eight categories. Three were from the United States, including in two largely American categories included in the games for the first time, Barbershop and Show Choirs. Gospel was also broken out from Music of Religions. The most wildly celebrated champion was surely the Choraliers, from Fairfield, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati, which was named the champion Show Choir (amid choirs from other nations and several from universities). Also from Ohio, the Jeremy Winston Choir from Wilberforce University was named the champion Gospel group. The other American champion was a barbershop chorus from Pennsylvania, the Greater Harrisburg Chapter of Sweet Adelines.

The remaining five champions were: Female Chamber Choir: Latvian Voices from Riga, Latvia (where the 2014 World Choir Games will be held); Male Chamber Choir: Newman Sound (Canada); Music of Religions: Stellenberg Girls Choir (South Africa); and Young Children's Choir's: Wenzhou Children Art School Boys Choir (China). The latter category's winners of gold medals were all youth choirs from China, where it's clear such ensembles are prized and emphasized.

More champions are being announced on Saturday morning, and a selection of champions will perform in a concert at Music Hall on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. That concert, as well as the Closing Ceremony at U.S. Bank Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m., are both sold out.

by Rick Pender 03.20.2011
Posted In: Theater at 11:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Playhouse Announces Stern's Final Season

Ed Stern, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s producing artistic director, today announced the shows that will make up his 20th and final season for the city’s Tony Award-winning regional theater. It consists of several shows that have proven track records with audiences as well as a smattering of new works. The season is precisely the kind of mix that audiences have come to expect from Stern during his two decades at the Playhouse — that is, unpredictable selections with enough of the tried-and-true and the wait-til-you-see-this-one that will keep everyone eager to see what’s next.

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by Jayna Barker 06.03.2013
Posted In: Architecture at 08:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Park Board Accepting Design Ideas for Riverfront Carousel

New carousel at Smale Riverfront Park to express Cincinnati's character and history

Construction is underway for a 1,661-square-foot glass-enclosed carousel to sit at the foot of Vine Street overlooking the Ohio River, and ArtWorks is currently working with Cincinnati Parks and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to gather input from Cincinnati residents for possible design ideas.

The Carol Ann’s Carousel was named to honor the life and philanthropy of Carol Ann Haile, according to the information page at mysmaleriverfrontpark.org, and is being funded by a $5 million donation from the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. 

It will sit in a tree-lined plaza amongst a two-story staircase, water cascade and a series of water curtains. The plaza’s lower level will hold a conference center and offices, which will open up to Mehring Way and overlook the lower area of the park. The riverfront carousel is slated to open May 2015.

There will be 44 animals and characters featured on the carousel’s platform, and community engagement sessions are currently being hosted in order to gather as many ideas as possible. The public is invited to share their ideas until June 9, when later the park design team will decide on the final designs based on the city’s suggestions.

Carousel Works of Mansfield, Ohio, the world’s largest wooden carousel manufacturer, will hand carve and paint each animal and character chosen. Ideas are also being gathered for several mural scenes to be painted on the carousel. Jonathan Queen, a local artist, will paint based on what citizens deem what makes Cincinnati unique — its parks, traditions, landmarks. 

This riverfront icon will offer a standard two-minute ride and operate year-round.



by Rick Pender 11.19.2010
Posted In: Theater at 09:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage Door: CCM's Evita

So it's almost Thanksgiving and you need to find some good theater before you can begin working on all the preparations for the big meal later next week. My recommendation — Evita at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Aubrey Berg, who has headed the musical theater training program at the University of Cincinnati for 24 years, directs the show about Eva Duarte Peron's rise to fame and power in Argentina and subsequent fall from grace (she died from cancer at 33).

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by Maija Zummo 02.26.2013
Posted In: Architecture at 03:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cincinnati Public Library Ranks No. 28 on BuzzFeed List

Site lists library among “The 30 Best Places To Be If You Love Books”

BuzzFeed, the viral video and pop culture aggregate, loves lists. And Cincinnati has been mentioned in at least two of their “random number funny sentence” list posts this past week.

First, it’s always best to start with dessert … and chili. BuzzFeed contributor and former Cincinnatian Donna Dickens makes a list of all of her favorite Cincinnati foods that are better than food from other cities, claiming, “The worst part about moving away from Cincy is leaving behind this regional feast.”

Included on the list? Graeter’s ice cream, Skyline chili (sorry, Gold Star), Izzy’s giant rueben, Busken cookies, Glier’s Goetta, LaRosa’s, Montgomery Inn sauce and the unnaturally blue, unnaturally delicious, formerly Smurffy blueberry soft serve from King’s Island.

For those of us less interested in praising our meat products (although perhaps we should since they aren’t full of horse), can praise the beautiful history of our public library.

Listed at #28 on the 30 best places to be if you love books list, which includes Shakespeare and Company in Paris as well as the Oxford Union Library, is an image of the Cincinnati Public Library looking as most of us have never seen it — in black and white, yes, but also from its original location, “Old Main,” at 629 Vine Street. With stories and stories of shelves and shelves of books, each with a small catwalk, the expanse and whimsy of this literary wonderland is fantastic. (And really makes you wish it was still there.)

According the Main Library’s flickr page (where you can find more images of the original library location): 

“The Main Library has occupied a prominent position in downtown Cincinnati since 1874, when a new building was constructed at 629 Vine Street. Considered the most magnificent public library building in the country at the time, ‘Old Main’ featured one element similar to today’s library: a towering atrium with a skylight ceiling. Of the dramatic atrium, Harpers Weekly said, ‘The first impression made upon the mind on entering this hall is the immense capacity for storing books in its five tiers of alcoves, and then the eye is attracted and gratified by its graceful and carefully studied architecture.’ The building closed in 1955, when the ‘New Main Library,’ located at 800 Vine Street, opened.”

Find more historic photos of Cincinnati and learn more about the history of our library on the virtual library Facebook page

by Rick Pender 11.06.2009
Posted In: Theater at 02:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage Door: "Rhinoceros," "Orpheus Descending" Ending

There’s some very interesting theater onstage this weekend, from Cincinnati Shakespeare to the Cincinnati Playhouse, but I’m going to point you at productions on two local university stages, in part because they have short runs and will be over in the next few days.

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by Rick Pender 09.23.2012
Posted In: Theater at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

'Mormons' Are Coming to the Aronoff

Broadway Across America to produce Trey Parker and Matt Stone musical

The Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming! No, not the one running for president (although he's showing up pretty often). It's the award-winning irreverent musical The Book of Mormon, which Broadway Across America announced this morning will be part of its 2013-2014 season at the Aronoff Center. The winner of nine Tony Awards (including the best musical of 2011) is a satirical look at two naive and idealistic Mormon missionaries who are sent to a remote Ugandan location where a nasty warlord is oppressing the villagers. Their clueless devotion, good-hearted but misguided — with a lot of very off-color humor — has made The Book of Mormon an unusual hit.

It will come as no surprise to CityBeat readers that the guys behind this are Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of animated South Park, another outrageously irreverent look at contemporary life. Also involved was composer Robert Lopez, whose Avenue Q was another Broadway hit, this one featuring Sesame Street-styled puppets in very adult situations.

The Book of Mormon has been a big Broadway hit. It will be interesting to see how it plays at the Aronoff Center for audiences that tend to be very mainstream, if not downright conservative in what they'll line up to see. I'm eager to see this one! Broadway Across America has not announced specific dates for the engagement yet.
by 01.12.2010
Posted In: Arts community, Funding at 05:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Arts Study Is Roadmap to Wider Public Support

The Fine Arts Fund has released the results of a year-long study intended to start the process of building more collective responsibility in Greater Cincinnati for the arts. Despite the general public’s longstanding support for arts and culture in their communities, charitable giving to and public funding of the arts struggle to keep up with demand nationally and locally — and this study was undertaken to try to “change the conversation” here about the arts as a shared public good and to motivate Cincinnatians to increase support.

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