by Mike Breen
70 days ago
Riverfront music fest announces Florence + the Machine, The Killers and more for this year’s event
This morning, organizers of the Bunbury Music Festival — which returns to Cincinnati’s riverfront (on stages throughout Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove) June 3-5 — announced the lineup for this year’s event. This is Bunbury’s second year under the ownership of Columbus, Ohio-based concert promoters PromoWest Productions and its fifth overall. Scheduled to perform at the 2016 Bunbury festival: The Killers, Florence + the Machine, Mudcrutch (featuring Tom Petty), Tears for Fears, Haim, Ice Cube, Of Monsters and Men, Grimes, Big Grams, Umphrey’s McGee, The Neighbourhood, X Ambassadors, Elle King, G. Love & Special Sauce, Charles Bradley, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Bayside, The Wombats, The Dear Hunter, The Mowgli’s, Diarrhea Planet, Grizfolk, Cincinnati native Cal Scruby, Here Come the Mummies, Austin Plaine, Red Wanting Blue, Oddisee, Coleman Hell, Lany, Whilk & Misky, Connor Youngblood, PVRIS, Louis the Child, Foxing, Lydia, The Shelters and Holy White Hounds. Cincinnati-area acts booked to perform so far include Dead Man String Band, Dawg Yawp, Mad Anthony, Automagik, Leggy and Arlo McKinley & the Lonesome Sound.Three-day passes are available now for $169 (single day tickets will also be available for $89). VIP ticket options are also available. Click here for more info.
A pair of music festivals just northeast of downtown Cincy feature wide array of local talent
With the summer music-festival season winding down and Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival just two weeks away (did you pick up this week’s CityBeat for official guide, right? If not, you can find info here), you might think there’d be a music-fest lull this week. But two (very different) festivals northeast of Cincinnati are keeping the vibe alive this weekend — the Foxfire Freedom Festival in Morrow, Ohio, and the Longstone Street Festival in Milford, Ohio.
The Foxfire fest, dubbed a “music and sustainability festival,” takes place Friday and Saturday at Morgan’s Riverside Campground & Cabins in Morrow, along the Little Miami River (you can even go canoeing if you’re up for it!). The $45 two-day ticket, available at the gate, covers camping Friday and Saturday night (one-day, non-camping tickets are $15). Foxfire will feature vendors and information related to being an environmentally-friendly citizen (the “sustainability” mention), with live music from several area Roots/Americana/Bluegrass performers, as well as acts that play other genres (or a fusion of several). Friday’s Foxfire lineup kicks off at 6 p.m. and features Dead Man String Band, Easy Tom Eby, Jared Schaedle, Joe Wolf, Heather Hamlet and Richard Cisneros. On Saturday, music begins at noo. The Saturday lineup features Common Center, Baoku Moses And The Image Afro-Beat Band, Lawson Family Reunion, Simply Dan String Band, Aaron Hendrick Trio, Black Mountain Throwdown, Adam Singer, Little Miami String Band, Allen Talbott, Blue Caboose and a songwriters-in-the-round session with Greg Mahan, Wolfcryer and Achilles Tenderloin. Click here for links to more info on all of the artists. More on the campground can be found here. And further info on the Foxfire Freedom Festival is available at the fest’s official site and Facebook page.The Longstone Street Festival takes place Saturday along Main Street in Milford’s historic downtown district. The annual free event celebrates Milford with various food and arts and crafts vendors, plus a stage featuring a variety of musical acts all day long. This year, the music starts at noon with My Brother’s Keeper (featuring Andrew Hibbard). Other Longstone performers include Seabird, Harbour, Along the Shore, Taylor Shannon, Shiny and the Spoon, Daniel in Stereo, Static Wonder and a band featuring students from the School of Rock Mason. For full details (including info on vendors, kids’ activities and more), visit longstonestreetfestival.com. The times the various performers are playing the Longstone Street Festival can be found at the event’s Facebook page, which also includes music and video samples of several of the artists. The Foxfire Freedom Festival and the Longstone Street Festival are both open to all ages and are family friendly.
A belated look back at 2015's anticipated music fest on the river
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 1, 2015
A belated look back at June's big Bunbury Music Festival, from the music to the fans to the T-shirts.
by Mike Breen
Direct sunlight or potential rain will not be a problem for three local music festivals this weekend
When you think summer music festivals, you probably think about things like high-powered sunscreen, hydration and the chance that you might get drenched if a storm rolls through. But this weekend in Greater Cincinnati, there are three festival that spotlight our great music scene, and you won’t need an umbrella, SPF 500 or $8 bottles of water for any of them. (Two of them feature “patio stages” that are outside, but schedules will be adjusted if harsh weather strikes.) Click on the artists' names for more on each of the acts.
• Stanley’s Reggae Fest returns for its fifth year to Stanley’s Pub Saturday, showcasing some perfect summertime music with vendors, Jamaican food (from Ena's Jerkmania) and an outdoor patio stage (weather permitting; see above). Cincinnati faves The Cliftones head up the lineup, which also features fellow locals Know Prisoners, Nashville, Tenn.’s Roots of a Rebellion and Columbus, Ohio Reggae/Rap/Rock crew Shrub. Music starts at 6 p.m. Get a ticket today for $12 here, or pay $15 at the door. • The eclectic Folk/Americana scene in Greater Cincinnati is one of local music’s most thriving, and Saturday at Newport, Ky.’s Southgate House Revival, you’ll be able to catch some of its guiding lights (as well as a few touring acts). The inaugural Cincy Folk Festival is being presented by the local music website cincygroove.com and proceeds benefit local Northern Kentucky radio station WNKU. The fest will utilize all three stages at the Southgate. Tickets $20 (get yours in advance here). There are also VIP tickets available for $30 (VIPs will be treated to catered food and music from The Young Heirlooms and Honey and Houston at 5 p.m.).Here is the full schedule (visit cincyfolkfestival.com for updates and full info). Sanctuary stage
7:30 p.m. Bulletville
8:30 p.m. David Gans
9:30 p.m. Kim Taylor
10:30 p.m. AJ Ghent Band
12 a.m. Chicago FarmerRevival Room
8 p.m.Daniel Wayne and The Silver Lines
9 p.m. Mamadrones
10 p.m. Hickory Robot
11:15 p.m. Souse
12:30 a.m. Gabbard BrothersLounge stage
8 p.m. Carole Walker
9 p.m. Tracy Walker
10 p.m. Ma Crow & The Lady Slippers
11 p.m. My Brother The Bear
12:30 a.m. Wilder
• Tonight and tomorrow (Friday/Saturday), the Northside Tavern hosts the return of the Northside Music Festival on three stages, including one on its outdoor patio. The fest, now in its eighth year, features some of the city’s finest Indie and Rock acts of various shades and styles. And it’s all FREE. Visit the NMF’s Facebook event page here for the “in case of rain” schedule.
Back Room stage
10:45 p.m. Skeleton Hands
11:45 p.m. Artisan
12:45 a.m. Dream Tiger
Front Bar stage
10 p.m. Smut
11 p.m. Everyday Objects
7:30 p.m. The Slippery Lips
9 p.m. Subsets
10:30 p.m. Tweens
Back Room stage
10:45 p.m. The Harlequins
11:45 p.m. Temple
12:45 a.m. Soledad Brothers
Front Bar stage
10 p.m. New Strange
11 p.m. The Sundresses
7:30 p.m. Leggy
9 p.m. The Tigerlilies
10:30 p.m. Fairmount Girls
by Mike Breen
The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg and Avett Brothers headline fourth annual riverfront fest
The Bunbury Music Festival will present its fourth annual three-day event on Cincinnati’s riverfront (Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove) June 5-7 this year (moved up from the usual July dates due to Reds/All Star Game activities). This morning, organizers of the festival — which was purchased by Columbus-based PromoWest Productions late last year — officially announced the lineup this morning. Bunbury 2015 will feature headliners The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg and The Avett Brothers. The rest of the lineup includes Brand New, Tame Impala, The Decemberists, Old Crow Medicine Show, twenty one pilots, Walk the Moon, Matt and Kim, Bleachers, Royal Blood, Manchester Orchestra, Father John Misty, Atmosphere, Temples, Shakey Graves, Kacey Musgraves, The Devil Makes Three, Reverend Horton Heat, Lindsey Stirling, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Jamestown Revival, Mikky Ekko, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Mini Mansion, The Front Bottoms, Jessica Hernandez, Secret Sisters, Lil Dicky, machineheart, Go Analog, Bummers and Indigo Wild. So far, Cincinnati acts on the bill include Multimagic, Buggs Tha Rocka and RCA recording artists Walk the Moon, who have been touring relentlessly behind their sophomore major label release, Talking Is Hard (the band recently appeared on The Tonight Show; see video below). More artists are expected to be announced leading up to the festival.One-day and three-day tickets for the 2015 Bunbury fest are available now. Click here for pricing and links.
by Mike Breen
Bellevue Bluegrass/Americana festival cancels outdoor events, moves music to Moerlein Taproom
With cool, rainy weather in the forecast, this weekend’s planned Mayesfest Bluegrass & Americana Festival in Bellevue has been cancelled. But with artists traveling into Northern Kentucky for the outdoor, riverside event, and many fans excited for it, organizers have decided to present what they’ve called on their Facebook page a “mini Mayes,” moving the music indoors to Over-the-Rhine’s Christian Moerlein Taproom (1621 Moore St., near the Shell gas station on Liberty), which hosted two stages during the recent MidPoint Music Festival.
The event will now begin at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and feature a stripped-down but still excellent lineup of local and touring Bluegrass and Americana artists.
Here is the new lineup:
5 p.m. Price Hill Hustle
6:30 p.m. Al Scorch
8 p.m. Morgan O'Kane
9:30 p.m. Henhouse Prowlers
5 p.m. Honey & Houston
6:30 p.m. Jack Grelle
8 p.m. Woody Pines
9:30 p.m. Morgan O'Kane
Visit mayesfest.com or the event’s Facebook page for more info and further updates.
by Mike Breen
Local music lovers have three music festivals to choose from this weekend
Those jonesing for more music fest goodness after last weekend’s spectacular MidPoint Music Festival have some great options this weekend. Bluegrass fans should be especially excited for a couple of them.
• The Bend in the River Art & Music Festival debuts this Saturday and Sunday in Lower Price Hill (2104 St. Michael St., next to The Sanctuary: Center for Education and the Arts). The festival/fundraiser runs 5-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday with the goal of bringing the community together (and showcasing it to others) and raising money for the Community Matters (cmcincy.org) and Education Matters (emcincy.org) organizations.
Along with food trucks and booths, beer from MadTree Brewing and Rhinegeist and a variety of vendors and artists showing their wares, local musical acts from a variety of genres will provide live music. Tim Caudill, Pike 27, Blue Caboose, Under New Order, The Part-Time Gentlemen and Ohio Knife perform Saturday, while Wild Carrot, Sibling Rivalry, Matthew Schneider and Phoenix (the local Rock cover band, not the internationally famous French Indie Pop group) play Sunday.
Admission to the Bend in the River Art & Music Festival is $7 or $10 for a two-day pass (Lower Price Hill residents receive a coupon to attend for free).
For more information on “Bend Fest” and the cause, visit facebook.com/bendfest and cmcincy.org.
• The DevouGrass Festival presents its first-ever event Saturday at the Devou Park Bandshell (1700 Montague Road, Covington). The family friendly event runs noon-dusk, and while there is no admission charge (even free parking is available throughout the park), organizers are asking for donations to the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky.
Along with food trucks, other vendors, various children’s activities and performances by Circus Mojo and kids’ fave Joel the Singing Librarian, DevouGrass will also feature sets by area Roots/Bluegrass outfits Blue Caboose (noon), Ma Crow and the Lady Slippers (3 p.m.), Hickory Robot (3 p.m.) and the Downtown County Band (6 p.m.).
For complete festival info, visit devougrass.com.
• The Versailles State Park Bluegrass Festival returns with a new location and name: the Friendship Music Festival at the Old Mill Campground in Friendship, Ind. (facebook.com/oldmillcampground), which hosts the very popular Whispering Beard Folk Festival annually and is only about an hour drive southwest of Cincinnati. Despite moving from the state park and changing the moniker, the fest will continue to spotlight some of the region’s finest Bluegrass and Roots music practitioners.
On Saturday, the music starts at noon with a lineup featuring Mamadrones, Common Ground, Rural Route 2, Lee Sexton with John Haywood and Brett Ratliff, Whiskey Bent Valley Boys, The Tillers and Bradford Lee Folk & the Bluegrass Playboys. The music picks back up Sunday at 11 a.m. with Mt. Pleasant String Band, followed by James White & Deer Tick, Blue Mafia, Whipstitch Sallies, Rattlesnakin’ Daddies and Tony Holt and the Wildwood Valley Boys.
Weekend passes for the Friendship Music Festival are $10; one-day passes are $5. Camping is available. Visit friendshipmusicfestival.com for full details.
by Mike Breen
Washington Park and SCPA host events throughout the two-day fest presented by Learning Through Art, Inc.
The Crown Jewels of Jazz Festival returns Friday and Saturday with an adjusted format. While last year’s fest was spread out across the Over-the-Rhine area, this year’s Crown Jewels is more streamlined, with free events concentrated in OTR’s Washington Park.The fest kicks off Friday night with an 8 p.m. concert featuring unique and widely acclaimed Jazz singer Gregory Porter, as well as Cincinnati native Mandy Gaines (whose been busy performing throughout Europe and Asia). Saturday at Washington Park, the fest kicks up again with Phil DeGreg, Baba Charles Miller and Kathy Wade (whose Learning Through Art, Inc. presents the Crown Jewels fest) performing and telling the story of Jazz (and other music) in a program called “Journeys: A Black Anthology of Music” at 4 p.m. At 5 p.m., “Piano Picnic in the Park” will showcase area pianists; DeGreg, Jim Connerly, Billy Larkin, Charles Ramsey III, Cheryl Renee, Steve Schmidt and Erwin Stuckey will each perform their two favorite Jazz numbers during the hour and a half performance. Then it’s time to dance! The fest closes out at 8 p.m. with “Dancing Under the Stars” at the park’s bandstand, featuring music from the 18-piece Sound Body Jazz Orchestra and dancers/teachers from the Dare to Dance Ballroom Dance and Fitness Studio.Given that it is presented by Learning Through Art, Inc., it is fitting that the Crown Jewels of Jazz fest will also include an educational program Saturday morning for high school musicians at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, just across the street from Washington Park’s 12th Street entrance. The CJ2 Jazz Camp, which will feature clinics, classes and more with many of Cincinnati’s top Jazz musicians and educators (including DeGreg, Stuckey, Jim Anderson, Marc Fields, Ted Karas, Mike Wade, Art Gore, Brent Gallaher and many others), begins at 8:30 a.m. There is a $35 fee per student.For complete info on the Jazz Camp and all of the Crown Jewels of Jazz events, visit learningthroughart.com. And click here to read CityBeat's interview with Wade about the fest and her org's other work.
by Mike Breen
Late September fest adds new venues, more all-ages opportunities
This morning, the full schedule (with a few exceptions) for this year's MidPoint Music Festival, which returns to Cincy Sept. 25-27, was announced. You can start building your itinerary now here. This year's MPMF will remain centered around venues in the Over-the-Rhine and neighboring Downtown areas. A few new venues were announced — Memorial Hall, next to Music Hall, will be participating this year, as will the Christian Moerlein Brewery, which will feature showcases on a large outdoor stage (replacing the big-tent parking lot stage at Grammer's) and an indoor stage. MPMF 2014 will also offer under-drinking-age music lovers more opportunities to explore the festival than ever. The outdoor Moerlein Brewery stage, Memorial Hall, The Ballroom at the Taft Theatre, the MidPoint Midway, Washington Park and the Contemporary Arts Center will all be open to fans of all ages. Below is the full press release. Tickets are available now at mpmf.cincyticket.com. Stay tuned to MPMF.com (and corresponding social media pages) for the latest schedule additions and more.CINCINNATI, Ohio (August 6, 2014) — The long wait is over. Fans eager to see what artists are playing atMidPoint Music Festival will now find a full schedule online at MPMF.com. Approximately 150 acts from sevencountries, 57 cities, and across the tri-state region will perform in Cincinnati USA, September 25–27, 2014.For weeks now, festival organizers have been leaking some bands and details via social media, but venueand showcase times have been kept under wraps until today. All-access passes are on sale at mpmf.com forwhat is arguably the best music festival value in the nation.“We’ve always offered a wide array of music styles, but this year’s lineup has really developed into somethingspecial and diverse,” said Dan McCabe, creative director. “I think fans would be hard pressed to find anotherfestival that can give you a bigger bang for your buck.”Experience live music for three daysThe 13th annual festival will present three exciting days of live music on 14 stages in the Over-the-Rhine and Downtown neighborhoods. While the event maintains its status as a primary showcase for emerging independent talent, there’s no denying that this year’s edition has raised the bar in booking established artists.Cincinnati-music fans should take note that MidPoint welcomes one the most acclaimed local bands to break out in the 90s, The Afghan Whigs, who have stormed back better than ever with their first studio album in the past 16 years. MidPoint will be the only regional appearance for the band during their current world tour.MidPoint will also be the tour kickoff for Chromeo, the “funk lordz” from Toronto, who are contending for the song of the summer with their single Jealous (I ain’t with it). Washington Park should expect a dance party with the band’s huge lightshow. Consequence of Sound called them a “must-see live show for any festival.”Additionally, the festival will host some well-established names from the indie-music world over the past decade, including OK Go, The Raveonettes, Panda Bear, Sun Kil Moon and Joseph Arthur. Bands like Real Estate, St. Paul & the Broken Bones and Jessica Lea Mayfield are newer, but no less widely known.Longtime MidPoint fans might also notice a wider array of music styles. The lineup still features a healthyamount of pop and indie rock, but organizers have listened to fans’ suggestions, adding more:Country Nikki Lane, Margo & the Price Tags, Bulletville;Folk Lost in the Trees, Mutual Benefit, Woody Pines, Honey Locust, The Ridges;R&B St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Magnolia Sons, The Almighty Get Down;Blues Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, No Sinner, Left Lane Cruiser;Heavy Metal Deafheaven, Liturgy; as well as more dance-oriented sounds likeHip-hop/EDM Tycho, Dessa, WHY?, Body Language, and Parallels.Experience new venues for young and oldFestival venues continue to evolve with great new, larger stages at Memorial Hall and Christian Moerlein Brewery. Younger fans will able see more showcases than ever with all-ages stages at the Contemporary Arts Center, Taft Ballroom, Memorial Hall, the MidPoint Midway, Christian Moerlein Outdoor Stage and Washington Park. In fact, children under 10 years of age can attend our Washington Park showcases for free with a paying adult. With afternoon music programmed for Washington Park on Saturday that could be just what the doctor ordered for parents who seldom get out to concerts.Experience a unique festival atmosphereSince 2001, MidPoint's goal has been to help you discover your new favorite band. Our embrace of today'semerging artists is born of the same spirit employed by Cincinnati's celebrated musical pioneers, who alwaysreached for something new. This festival isn’t as much about the flavor-of-the-month, but rather atastemaker’s event where the bands performing will be what people are talking about next year.For three days, fans can walk easily between venues dotted throughout beautiful, resurgent Over-the-Rhine.This collection of young creative talent amongst an architecturally rich urban setting makes MidPoint a one-ofa-kind experience. Unlike some festivals on a farm or a huge fielded area that could be anywhere, MidPointcarries the heart of our city with intimate performances in smaller clubs and theaters. We think Cincinnati isone of the best music cities in the world. With MidPoint showcasing bands and our city’s center, we areputting our best foot forward towards showing this is a great place to live, work and play.Everything is on an upswing in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown Cincinnati and we expect the fans to not justenjoy the music, but the wonderfully reimagined Washington Park, our handsome German-heritage buildingsand all of the newer hip restaurants, cafés and hi-tech companies that are making this one of the hottestregions of the Midwest.Experience food and fun on the MidwayWe realize that not everyone can afford to attend a music festival, so we’ve tried to make a small part of itaccessible to everyone with our outdoor MidPoint Midway. All of the music programmed here is free, thanksin part to the help of festival sponsor P&G.The Midway takes up about two blocks on 12th Street in Over-the-Rhine. Fans at the Midway can find festivalessentials such as food and beer trucks, various vendors and the return of the artistic installations coordinatedwith the help of ArtWorks. (More on that in the coming weeks.)MidPoint’s box office is also at the Midway, where fans will purchase All-Access, VIP, or single-day passes.Bicycles encouragedIt is fairly easy to hop from show to show, but with 10 venues in Over-the-Rhine and four located downtown,not every showcase will be a quick walk. But it is a quick bike ride. Festival organizers will continue to partnerwith the City of Cincinnati to place a number of bike racks in strategic locations. We encourage everyone tosave their feet for the dance floor and bring their bike to get to those must-see bands faster.MidPoint Music Festival highlights to look for:Thursday September 25Chromeo; Panda Bear; St. Paul & the Broken Bones; Sun Kil Moon; Lost in the Trees; and Nikki LaneFriday September 26The Afghan Whigs; Tycho; Real Estate; Wussy; WHY?; Dessa; Rubblebucket; and Jessica Lea MayfieldSaturday September 27OK Go; The Raveonettes; Deafheaven; Empires; EMA; Earth; Saintseneca; and Speedy OrtizCincinnati USA represent:Automagik; Black Owls; Bulletville; Culture Queer; Darlene; Fathers; Fists of Love; Heavy Hinges; Honey &Houston; Honeyspiders; Injecting Strangers; Leggy; Molly Sullivan; Old City; Prim; Public; Smasherman; StateSong; The Afghan Whigs; The Almighty Get Down; The Ready Stance; Us, Today; WHY?; and WussyA full performance schedule is now online at MPMF.com/festival. All artists are subject to change withoutnotice. Schedule updates and further festival news will be available at MPMF.com, on Facebook and Twitter.2014 MIDPOINT MUSIC FESTIVAL VENUESArnolds Bar & Grill210 East Eighth StreetChristian Moerlein Brewery1621 Moore Street (2 stages)Contemporary Arts Center44 East Sixth Street (all ages)Bioré Stage at Know Theatre1120 Jackson Street (2 stages)Mainstay Rock Bar301 West Fifth StreetMemorial Hall1225 Elm Street (all ages)Midpoint Midway Presented by P>welfth Street, between Vine & Walnut (all ages)MOTR Pub1345 Main StreetMr. Pitiful’s1323 Main StreetTaft Ballroom317 East Fifth Street (all ages)The Drinkery1150 Main StreetWashington Park Presented by Dewey’s Pizza1230 Elm Street (all ages)TICKETS ON SALE AT MPMF.COMAll-Access Pass $69 ($79 after September 1)VIP Pass $179Single-Day Pass $40 (Limited quantities)All venues will offer the option of À la carte pricing at the door, which covers that night at that venue.Entry into any MidPoint venue is subject to legal capacity limits. All-Access Pass holders get admission to allMidPoint showcases, all three days. VIP pass holders get an enhanced experience with the ability to skiplines with priority admission, plus they receive access to catered VIP reception events each evening, withcomplimentary food and beverages. An exclusive VIP viewing area is included at the Washington Park stage.
by Jason Gargano
CSO's new music director talks collaboration with nine-year-old MusicNOW fest
Louis Langrée is well aware of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's rich history. The CSO's freshly minted music director also knows part of that history includes the nurturing of contemporary composers and their often unconventional works.
Enter MusicNOW, Bryce Dessner's 9-year-old festival of adventurous sounds. (Read our conversation with Dessner here.) This year's sonic extravaganza includes the CSO's take on new pieces by such esteemed composers as Nico Muhly and David Lang, as well as the title work from Dessner's new Classical album, St. Carolyn by the Sea.
CityBeat recently connected with the genial Langrée — who spoke in self-described "primitive" English by phone from Paris — to discuss the CSO's collaboration with MusicNOW.
CityBeat: Before we get into MusicNOW, I'm curious about your initial impressions of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Why were you interested in coming on as music director?
Louis Langrée: The fame the orchestra is really big. Everybody knows it's a major orchestra. But then making music with them was a completely different experience because, yes, they have the qualities of all major American orchestras — precision, clarity of the attack of the situation. But they have also from their heritage, in their DNA, this German conception of sound, that you build the sound from the base of the harmony. That means the density of the sound is something absolutely remarkable, and that's rare in the United States. I think it has to do with the tradition, the roots, of this orchestra and also, of course, about the quality and the spirit of the musicians, which is really wonderful.
CB: Why were you interested in collaborating with MusicNOW and taking on a festival of contemporary music?
LL: One of the strengths of the orchestra is to have supported and commissioned and performed contemporary music from their very early age. Having given the American premiere Mahler Third, Mahler Fifth, Stravinsky coming to Cincinnati before he was considered a giant, having premiered (Aaron Copland's ) "Lincoln Portrait," having commissioned (Copland's) "Fanfare for a Common Man" and many other pieces and many more recent pieces. That's why I wanted to open my tenure as music director with eighth blackbird and Jennifer Higdon concerto piece. It shows that we should support, play, commission and perform contemporary music — and, of course, contemporary American music.
CB: What was it like collaborating with Bryce?
LL: Meeting Bryce was a wonderful. His French is perfect. Especially compared to my primitive English. (Laughs). I like his attitude in making music and experimentation. And any strong institution should be also a place of experimentation. Music is not something you put in a museum. It's alive. And then we should perform contemporary music like Classical music and perform Beethoven music, not forgetting that he only composed contemporary music. All the composers — Mozart, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bartok — composed contemporary music, so we have to continue it. He's very focused and concentrated, but on the other hand the spectrum was quite bright. I think we have arrived on wonderful programs — very challenging, but very exciting.
CB: What makes him unique as a composer?
LL: He knows how to make an orchestra sound. It's a very clear and precise writing but at the same time there is so much flexibility in the variations of colors written and the flow of the music. It's always quite exciting to study a piece and hear it. Having the privilege of working with the composer is something wonderful because there are so many questions I would like to ask of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and of course it's impossible. So being able to ask the composer and to hear his answers is just wonderful.
Bryce is someone who has great harmonic taste, and I think for the orchestra it's wonderful because you can express yourself much easier. I think he's very much like his music — a very welcoming man, a very open, very luminous person. I see that in his music, which is not always the case with composers. With him, I get the feeling he's one with his music.
CB: How has the orchestra responded to playing these new, sometimes challenging pieces?
LL: Any new piece you don't know what to expect. What I've found is that these musicians are very open-minded, they are very generous and positive in their attitude and are eager to try any new experience. It's a privilege to perform these two concerts of new music, but it's also very challenging, so you have to be very practical.
CB: And what's the experience been like for you?
LL: It's a great responsibility when you conduct a piece, but it's also a great privilege that today's major American composers are willing to write for us. To be sharing this experiment and experience in concert, to be a part of MusicNOW, is really something beautiful. MusicNOW's 2014 festival begins tonight and continues tomorrow. Visit musicnowfestival.org for tickets and full programming details.