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.
Bryce Dessner collaborates with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for this year’s MusicNOW fest
0 Comments · Tuesday, March 18, 2014
On the eve of its ninth festival, MusicNOW founder and The National guitarist Bryce Dessner says after next year he’ll re-evaluate continuing the fest in its current state.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Louis Langrée on his debut concert, Cincinnati and LumenoCity's afterglow
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 6, 2013
During our conversation (in French), it becomes clear that the CSO’s
marketing blast, “Louis + CSO + You,” sums up Langrée’s vision for the
orchestra and the community: He frequently uses partager, French for “to share.”
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and local businesses collaborate on a groundbreaking visual and musical experience
2 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Over-the-Rhine and Washington Park are gearing up for LumenoCity, a musical and visual collaboration
that is the first of its kind in the world, featuring the Cincinnati
Symphony Orchestra and Music Hall itself.
by Jac Kern
Tattoos and body
art have been a part of various cultures for thousands of years. The concept
came to the States in the late 19th century, when ink could be found
on soldiers and people living on the fringe of society. Today, the medium’s
popularity makes it more difficult to find people without any tattoos. While we’ve all witnessed unfortunate ink, the
real pros exhibit amazing talent. Ink is now a celebrated art form (and, oddly,
the basis of several TV shows) and tonight, fans of both visual art and tattoos
have a chance to meet legendary tattoo artist and historian Lyle Tuttle.
Beelistic Tattoo on Short Vine welcomes Tuttle for an art show of his iconic work. Tuttle began tattooing at
age 18 in 1949 and has inked the likes of Janis Joplin, The Allman Brothers,
Paul Stanley and countless others. Meet the artist, peruse his work, enjoy free
drinks and plan your next tat from 5-10 p.m.
This past summer’s
World Choir Games brought a whirlwind of music and visitors from across the
globe to our back yard. Cincinnati’s own MUSE women’s choir was awarded a gold
medal at the Games and tonight the group makes its first public appearance
since that award-winning performance. “Keep Yo’ Lamps Burnin” features African-American traditional
songs and spirituals to be performed at various venues Friday-Sunday. Go here for the full schedule and ticket
This weekend, Cincinnati Symphony
Orchestra welcomes Louis
Langrée for his first concert as Music Director Designate. The French conductor
is also Chief Conductor of the Camerata Salzburg and the music director of the
Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. The concert (11 a.m. Friday and 8 p.m.
Saturday) is, fittingly, an all-French program featuring César Franck’s Symphony in D minor, Olivier Messiaen’s Les Offrandes
Oubliées and Camille Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No. 2. For tickets and more information, go here.
Music Festival brings more than 40 area acts to the UC area
Friday and Saturday. The Frankl Project, The Guitars, Oui Si Yes and lots more
local talent will fill Rohs Street Café (all ages), Baba
Budan’s, Mac’s Pizza Pub and Christy’s Biergarten. Single-night tickets are $5
in advance/$8 at the door; full weekend passes are $10/$12.
If you’ve been looking for an excuse to
break out your Goodwill’ed tweed suit, you’re in luck! Sounding like something
straight out of Portlandia, The City
of Cincinnati Bike Program is organizing an old-school Tweed Ride
Saturday. Grab your wool skirts, wax your handlebar mustache and dust off your
newsboy cap for a dapper ride about town. Riders should meet at O’Bryonville’s
Owls Next Park at 2 p.m. for the 8-mile, slow-paced flat ride.
The Moerlein Lager House is
ready to kick off the holiday season Saturday with a Beer and Breweriana Extravaganza
noon-4 p.m. In what they’re calling “one part holiday beer tasting and one part
Antiques Roadshow,” guests can sip seasonal brews while getting free appraisals
on beer memorabilia and steins. Authors Mike Morgan and Don Tolzmann will be on
hand to sign their Cincinnati brewing books and Jim Effler will sell his beer label
artwork and posters. Stick around for lunch and dinner to enjoy a full
Check out our calendar
for a full list of theater shows, art exhibits, events, concerts and more to do
this weekend and beyond.
by Alli Walker
Posted In: Classical music
at 02:00 PM | Permalink
"One City, One Symphony" performances continue through Nov. 18
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) launched its new seven-week
initiative, “One City, One Symphony” earlier this month. The goal of the program
is to get the CSO engaged with people of all walks of life through nine
listening parties across the region. “One City, One Symphony” concludes with three concerts
Nov. 15, 17 and 18 at Music Hall featuring A Survivor From Warsaw by Arnold Shoenburg and Beethoven’s Ninth
The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and The Carol Ann and
Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation host the free listening parties across
Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. These parties are a chance for the
public to interact with CSO musicians and conductors while listening and
discussing the music from Schoenburg and Beethoven.
“I already feel a strong connection with our audiences, the
supportive community and of course the incredible musicians of the CSO, and I
am looking forward to deepening this relationship in the coming months and
years," Music Director Louis Langrée said in a press release.
If you haven’t attended a listening party yet, there are still several more chances to meet the players and discuss the music around town.
Tonight, Anderson High School welcomes CSO timpanist Patrick
Schleker to host a listening party from 7-8:30 p.m.
To attend one of these performances or learn more about the CSO and One City, One Symphony, click here.
The rest of the listening parties are as scheduled:
Thursday, Nov. 1,
7-8:30 p.m. at the Xavier University’s Bellarmine Chapel. This performance
is hosted by CSO violinist Sylvia Samis and XU Director of Interfaith Community
Engagement Abie Ingber.
Thursday, Nov. 8,
6-7:30 p.m. at Coffee Emporium. Associate Conductor Robert Treviño hosts.
Tuesday, Nov. 13,
2-3:30 p.m. at Mayerson Jewish Community Center. Again hosted
by Sylvia Samis and Abie Ingber.