by Steven Rosen
at 02:16 PM | Permalink
Cincinnati gets shout-outs in both publications
Some interesting national/international coverage for Cincinnati.The Onion's Weekender edition for March 15 — the special travel issue — spotlights "Cincinnati in Just 300 Days" on its cover. However, it somehow overlooked publishing the itinerary. Check out the comical cover here.Meanwhile, the latest issue of The Economist — in its Prospero arts section — has a legitimate feature on the just-concluded MusicNow festival, featuring an interview with its founder, Bryce Dessner.It does offer some insight into what Dessner might be planning next. He's unsure of MusicNow's future after 10 years of growing success. Attendance was huge this year at Music Hall and Memorial Hall. Here's the except:After this anniversary festival is over, Mr Dessner plans to take full stock of what it has achieved before deciding which direction to take with future programmes. "I always saw it as a ten-year thing so I'm not sure what happens next," he says. "What I do know is that we'll continue to champion cutting-edge, progressive programming and hope that people will continue to be inspired by that."Read more here.
at 11:06 AM | Permalink
Ilene Ross hits up Nicola’s and tea time; Zula, Gaslight Cafe and snackin commence
Each week CityBeat staffers and dining writers
tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but
we definitely spend at least some money on food.
Ilene Ross: As a
food writer, I get to spend a lot of time with chefs. Sometimes it’s
work-related, and sometimes it’s not. Chef Jimmy Gibson and I meet for coffee
regularly to catch up on world news, local gossip and of course food ideas. The
surroundings aren’t fancy, our coffee shop of choice is Jimmy’s “office,” the
back hallway off the kitchen at Jimmy G’s, but the coffee is good and strong,
and the company is sublime. Thursday was off to a wonderful start.
Spring was in the air, so after a two-mile walk in Ault
Park, I decided that lunch should be something fresh and light in order to
match the mood of the weather. I’ve been meaning to give the new juice place in
Hyde Park, The Weekly Juicery, a try. I ordered Two Roots and a Fruit — carrot,
ginger and apple juice — and the teensiest salad comprised of jicama and kale I
have ever seen in my life. I left feeling sticker shock at the $17 price tag
and still starving. For the same price, I’ll stick to the lunch tray at
I love having friends in from out-of-town so I can show off
our locally owned restaurants. On Saturday night I took a Chicago native to Nicola’s
for dinner, and of course Chef Joel Molloy’s cuisine wowed the socks off of
him. We had the Scallops with spiced fumet, celery root and scallions, the
Roasted Beet salad with avocado, black quinoa and goat cheese, the Butternut
Squash Tortelloni with speck and fregolotta, the Short Ribs with sunchoke,
shiitake mushroom and sunflower seeds, the Duck with wild rice, lavender and
sweet potato, and the most delectable pistachio sfoglia. The service was exceptional,
and my friend was dually impressed. I, naturally, needed to be rolled home.
My friend Kelly is the consummate party giver. From her
son’s first birthday party — an elaborate backyard shindig which turned out to
be her own surprise (for us!) wedding — to opening up her home during a
snowstorm for all to be wined and dined, every day for Kelly is a celebration
of family, friends and love. Sunday was no exception. Afternoon Tea at The
Cincinnatian is a truly elegant affair complete with pots of perfectly brewed
tea, delightful little sandwiches, scones, pastries, Devonshire cream and of
course cocktails. Yesterday, Kelly decided to get a group of her best
girlfriends together to “take tea,” and thankfully I was included. It was the
perfect way to relax and unwind after a busy weekend with a great group of
Nick Swartsell: My
girlfriend and I went to Music NOW Saturday
night, but we forgot to eat dinner beforehand so we just had some beers and ate
a ton of that fancy chocolate they sell at Music Hall because you can do that
kind of thing when you're grownups at a big grownup event and one of you is
wearing a tie.
Jac Kern: I
went to a friend's St. Patrick's Day party and tried a bunch of homemade Irish
favorites: beef and potato stew made with Guinness, Irish soda bread, corned
beef sliders, grasshopper brownies (they're green, OK?), plus plenty of
Jameson. I think it's a definite sign of adulthood when you trade in kegs of
green Bud Lite for a Celtic-inspired dinner (also when you're partying in West
Chester), but don't worry, I still got pretty drunk. Sláinte!
Fox: I went to Chicago this weekend to see
my friend’s band The Orwells play and I consumed a lot of strawberry vodka and
High Life on Friday evening. On Saturday I went to The Chicago Diner for my
only proper meal that weekend. I got the vegan Poutine, a chocolate and peanut
butter milkshake and a Titanic BLT burger. The poutine was incredible and I kind
of wish I would have just got two orders of that because the burger, although
super filling, didn't have much flavor for being something made up a variety of
grains and veggies.
Sylvester: If you're 30-plus and want late night
pizza but know you're going to have night terrors if you call Adriadico’s,
there is a respectable solution for you: flatbread at Zula. They have a
late-night “flatbread” menu (flatbreat is adult for pizza). I recommend the
Bulgarian Feta. :)
Cross: A friend’s housewarming party in Pleasant
Ridge led my girlfriend and me to stop by Gaslight Café on the way, where we were met by many
people in full St. Paddy’s Day party mode. Gaslight has a super neighborhood
feel and the locals were plenty welcoming even if they were mostly shouting and
unabashedly dancing in very near proximity to our table. A girl asked us if her cell phone
was left at our table. It wasn’t but she found two quarters on the floor and a
guy with her asked me to hand him the green man suit sitting in the corner of
the booth, which I gladly passed along. Our burgers were pretty straightforward but I
tried an onion ring and it was better than I expected. Probably shouldn’t have
waited 15 or so years between eating them.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 11, 2015
As Steven Matijcio, curator of the
Contemporary Arts Center, puts it about the Icelandic artist Ragnar
Kjartansson, “Boy, he’s really taking Ohio venue by venue these days!”
For Bryce Dessner, 2015’s MusicNOW Festival is every bit as exhilarating as the first
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Dessner, guitarist for international Indie Rock stars The National,
founded the MusicNOW Festival in 2006, he didn’t necessarily envision
the three-day Indie Rock-meets-experimental/Classical music event’s
by Mike Breen
The National's Bryce Dessner celebrates 10th anniversary of his Cincinnati new music fest with live collection
MusicNOW, the popular new music festival founded by Cincinnatian Bryce Dessner of internationally acclaimed Indie Rock band The National, will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year when the fest returns March 11-15 at Music Hall, Memorial Hall and first-time venue Woodward Theatre.
On March 10, the Over-the-Rhine fest will be celebrated with the digital release of a compilation album featuring musical highlights from MusicNOW’s first nine years. MusicNOW- 10 Years will feature previously unreleased performances by Dirty Projectors, Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Grizzly Bear, My Brightest Diamond and others.
The album’s “Trials, Troubles, Tribulations” by Sounds of the South, a project featuring Vernon, Sharon Van Etten, Megafaun, Matthew E. White and Fight the Big Bull, was recently released as a preview.
“The first track ‘Trials, Troubles, Tribulations’ gets at the spirit of the compilation and the event. It is an American bluegrass gospel song written by Estil C. Ball. Here it is performed by Sounds of the South, a project featuring Justin Vernon (Bon Iver, Volcano Choir), Sharon Van Etten, Megafaun, Matthew E. White, and Fight the Big Bull. The project, organized by Megafaun, initially appeared at Duke Performances in North Carolina and MusicNOW in Cincinnati, Ohio, and subsequently traveled to Sydney Festival in Australia.”
In the press release for the album, Dessner says, ““Many of my most significant memories as a musician have taken place in Cincinnati during the MusicNOW Festival over the last 10 years. When we started, we were driven to create an intimate music festival that was as much a creative refuge for the artists as it is for the audience to partake in intimate and rare performances. We have celebrated works in progress and new commissions, new collaborations and detailed music of all kinds regardless of genre or popularity."
This year’s MusicNOW festival features appearances by Stevens, Nico Muhly, So Percussion, Timo Andres, concert:nova with Jeff Zeigler, Cloud Nothings, Will Butler and more. The National will also perform at the festival on March 13 at Music Hall with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Click here for full details and ticket info.Here is the full track listing for the compilation:Sounds of the South "Trials, Troubles, Tribulations"Robin Pecknold "Silver Dagger"Sufjan Stevens "The Owl & The Tanager"eighth blackbird "Omie Wise"My Brightest Diamond "I Have Never Loved Someone"Dirty Projectors "Emblem Of The World"Tinariwen "Imidiwan Ma Tenam"Tim Hecker "Chimeras (Live) 2011"Colin Stetson "Nobu Take"Owen Pallett "E Is For Estranged"Erik Friedlander "Airstream Envy"Bonnie 'Prince' Billy "Love Comes to Me"Grizzly Bear "While You Wait For The Others"The Books with Clogs "Classy Penguin"Andrew Bird "Section 8 City"Justin Vernon "Love More"
by Mike Breen
Annual new music fest founded by The National’s Bryce Dessner announces details for March concerts
The annual MusicNOW festival, founded by Cincinnati native and guitarist for Indie Rock superstars The National, returns to various venues in Over-the-Rhine this March for a celebration of the festival’s 10 successful years. The event will utilize Music Hall and Memorial Hall (past MusicNOW venues), as well as the new Woodward Theater (the Contemporary Arts Center will also host a related music/art installation March 11-20). Heavy on collaborations again this year, the shows will run March 11-15. Highlights from MusicNOW 2015 include a collaborative performance featuring The National and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The CSO will also perform “Songs from the Planetarium” with MusicNOW vets Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly and Dessner. Here is the full lineup announced this morning: Wednesday, March 11thWoodward Theater - 1404 Main St, Cincinnati, OHWill Butler Thursday, March 12thWoodward Theater - 1404 Main St, Cincinnati, OHconcert:nova with Jeffrey Zeigler Friday, March 13thCincinnati Music Hall - 1241 Elm St, Cincinnati, OHCincinnati Symphony Orchestra, The National with the CSO and new commission by Caroline Shaw Saturday, March 14thCincinnati Music Hall - 1241 Elm St, Cincinnati, OHCincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Songs from Planetarium featuring Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly & Bryce Dessner with the CSO, new commission by Daníel Bjarnasonand So Percussion
Sunday, March 15thMemorial Hall - 1225 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OHPerfume Genius, The Lone Bellow, Mina Tindle March 11th-20thContemporary Arts Center- 404 E. 6th St, Cincinnati, OHA Lot Of Sorrow - by Ragnar Kjartansson featuring The NationalAn ongoing Installation (see video below)"Many of my most significant memories as a musician have taken place in Cincinnati during the MusicNOW Festival over the last 10 years," founder Bryce Dessner says in the press release. "When we started, we were driven to create an intimate music festival that was as much a creative refuge for the artists as it is for the audience to partake in intimate and rare performances. We have celebrated works in progress and new commissions, new collaborations, and detailed music of all kinds regardless of genre or popularity."Click here for ticket and further info.
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.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The recent $46 million
restoration/reinvention of Over-the-Rhine’s Washington Park is already
reaping artistic dividends — it’s responsible for a new musical tribute
to the transformative powers of landscape architecture.
by Mike Breen
An overview and sampling of the adventurous sounds you'll hear at this weekend's MusicNOW festival
Tonight marks the kick-off of MusicNOW, an adventurous
weekend of music that was started in 2006 by Cincinnati native and
guitarist for successful Indie Rock band The National, Bryce Dessner. The festival's
mission is "to present the best in contemporary music; to offer artists'
an opportunity to take risks; to commission new work."
That's a fair but lacking description of the festival, but
only because the programming isn't bounded by much other than the
desire to explore. MusicNOW has showcased numerous flavors of World
music, often new avant Chamber/Classical works, a "who's who" of the top
names in "Indie" music (Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, The National, Bon
Iver, Andrew Bird, Grizzly Bear), a few legends (Philip Glass, Kronos
Quartet) and newer and/or more obscure artists, meshing together to
offer Cincinnati music fans (and the many who come in from out of town) a
truly unique musical experience. Sold out audiences have seen
one-off performances and collaborations, including commissioned
works and world premieres.
Below is a sampling of some of the artists featured this
weekend — though with MusicNOW's encouragement of experimentalism, take
it as merely a surface introduction. The artists will more likely go
beyond any pigeonhole you can come up with, which is the best thing
• Tonight's kick-off is headlined by Anti- recording
artists Tinariwen, a Malian ensemble whose creative North African sounds
resulted in a Grammy in 2012 for its fifth album, Tassili. Read
CityBeat's interview with Tinariwen founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabib (via
translated email exchange) here.
Here's the official video for Tassili track "Iswegh Attay" (with translation!):
• Arcade Fire member Richard Reed Parry has been a part of
several MusicNOW festivals, composing commissioned works and playing
with bands like Little Scream and Bell Orchestre. This year, Reed
Parry will perform the songs of his Indie Folk project, Quiet River of
Dust. The project made it's live debut at the National-curated All
Tomorrow's Parties fest in the U.K. late last year (where Reed Parry
performed three very different sets) and a recording is presently in the
works. A review from the music blog Let's Get Cynical described it as
"a quirky and engaging performance – the first song I hear is about a
boy who gets lost at sea and turns into a fish, if you want some sort of
indication of what we’re working with. The fact that this is the trio’s
first ever show also highlights ATP as the kind of festival where you
get to see things you don’t get anywhere else." Kinda like MusicNOW.
• Rounding out tonight's opener is Buse and Gase, the
Brooklyn duo of Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez, who make trippy avant grade
music on various handmade instruments. The group name actually comes
from two of those instruments — the "buke" is described as a "six-string
baritone ukulele" and the "gase" is a guitar/bass guitar combo.
Here's Buse and Gase's official clip for the tune "General Dome."
• Saturday's headliner is MusicNOW 2013's most known
performer, Glen Hansard. The Irish singer/songwriter began catching
attention as a member of the group The Frames, then broke out on his own
and won an Academy Award for "Best Original Song" in 2008 for "Falling
Slowly" from the film Once, in which he also starred. Hansard's first
solo album, Rhythm and Repose, was released last summer on the Anti-
label (album bonus track "Come Away to the Water" was, oddly enough,
covered by Maroon 5 and Rozzi Crane on the soundtrack to the blockbuster
film The Hunger Games).
Here's the video for "High Hope" off of Hansard's solo debut.
• Saturday will also feature the performance of new works
composed by Dessner, Reed Parry and Serbian composer Aleksanda Vreblov.
The new pieces will be performed by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, which has
collaborated with everyone from the New York Philharmonic and Cincinnati native (and Jazz piano
master) Fred Hersch to Lou Reed,
Barbara Streisand and Talib Kweli. The organization works often with composers on new
Here's a clip of Dessner working with the Chorus on the piece "Tell the Way" in 2011.
The Chorus will be joined by young string ensemble The
Ariel Quartet, which formed in Israel and moved to the States in 2004.
Last year, the group was named "quartet-in-residence" at the University
of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. The quartet has won
numerous international awards for its work and has performed all over
the world. Also lending a hand with the new works is Shara Worden of
MusicNOW vets My Brightest Diamond.
Below is a clip of the Ariel Quartet performing Mozart.
• Last year, music now featured pioneering composer Philip
Glass. This year, Steve Reich plays the role of "legend" on
the bill. The Guardian's Andrew Clements once wrote that "There's just a
handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered
the direction of musical history. Steve Reich is one of them," while
many others consider Reich one of the world's greatest living composers.
Reich's experiments have been fearless and creatively fruitful and
influential, be it his early work with tape loops or his interactive
"Clapping Music," a 1972 piece performed entirely with handclaps.
Reich will join Sō Percussion for a performance of that piece and more, including a new commission from Daníel Bjarnason (the annual Esme Kenney Commission, named for a young student from School for Creative and Performing Arts student who was murdered in 2009).
The Brooklyn-based modern percussion group (featuring Eric Beach, Josh
Quillen, Adam Sliwinski and Jason Treuting) formed about a decade ago
around the collective influence of pioneering NeoClassical
experimentalists like Reich, John Cage, Kronos Quartet and others. Sō
has commissioned works from numerous composers and has also been acclaimed
for its own compositions. Outside of the modern Classical world, the
ensemble has collaborated with artists like Medeski, Martin and Wood,
Matmos and Dan Deacon.
Here's a cool mini-documentary from PitchforkTV about Reich and featuring Sō Percussion.
The three days of music are held at Memorial Hall, next to
Music Hall, but this year there will also be an art exhibition at
another great, vintage Over-the-Rhine venue, The Emery Theatre. An
exhibit of works by Nathlie Provosty and Jessie Henson will be up at the
Theatre Friday, 4-7 p.m., Saturday, 12-4 p.m. and Sunday, 1-7 p.m. Bryce
Dessner will perform at a "gallery party" on Sunday 4-6 p.m. The Emery
happenings are free and open to the public.
Click here for ticketing and further info.