by Rick Pender
Hot night at the School for Creative and Performing Arts
Despite the 100-plus heat on Friday evening, on my way to a
World Choir Games concert at Over-the-Rhine's School for Creative and
Performing Arts (SCPA) I took an extra half-hour to wander through the
renovated Washington Park, which officially opened earlier in the day.
What an incredible scene! Hundreds of operagoers were streaming through
the park on their way to see Porgy and Bess at Music Hall, while
kids from the neighborhood — young and old, I must add — were playing in
the people-friendly fountain. Everyone was strolling around admiring
the views and the colorful "OTR Flags," another festive element of the
On from there to SCPA's Corbett Theater for another sold-out
"Celebration Concert." This one used the theme "Voices of Gold," because
each of the three choirs have won multiple honors in past World Choir
Games and other choral competitions. SCPA seemed like the perfect
setting, since each group was made up of youthful performers: Zvonky
Praha is a school group from a school in Prague in the Czech Republic
and some of its singers were obviously elementary school age kids; SKH
Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School were high schoolers; and the Mansfield
University Concert Choir was a mixed choir of young adults from the
university in Pennsylvania. It's fascinating to observe the differing
personalities of the choirs, here a product of age but also of directors
with very different styles of leading the singing.
Zvonky Praha begain with its 19-member chamber component, separately
named "Abbellimento," all high school age girls clad in black pants and
shirts, with scarlet sashes, some worn as belts, others as scarves and
one as a head band. Their female voices were reedy but strong for their
program, virtually all sung in Czech, so I can't tell you much of what
the music was about. But I can say it was delivered with passion and
clarity, accompanied in most cases by a blonde-haired pianist who played
with expressive emotion. Several numbers were enhanced by one of the
singers picking up a clarinet and offering soulful punctuation. When the
balance of the choir came on to join Abbellimento, the numbers were
roughly doubled, but again almost all girls wearing red choir capes.
(There were two young boys, but I suspect their voices had not yet
changed, and the feminine quality of the singing did not change.)
Director Jamila Noveknová kept the ensemble in tight control, but for
several final numbers had some soloists step forward, including one of
the younger performers with a gorgeous soprano voice. Their final
number, a choral replication of bells, was especially memorable.
Lam Woo's director, Siu Mei Lee, is a petite, beautiful woman with
shining, black hair. She conducted with the expressive grace of a
ballerina, using large gestures and physical movement to inspire her
very focused choristers. This was a big group, roughly 80 singers,
wearing school uniforms: The boys had white shirts with a school emblem
and ties while girls wore knee-length pale blue dresses with white
"sailor" collars and white knee socks. This group were serious in their
demeanor, totally focused on their animated director. Their wide ranging
program encompassed works by Mendelssohn as well as Asian composers;
their concluding number, "Zum Gali," was a rhythmic traditional number
from Israel that swung between soft and loud passages and up and down
energy, but with a beautiful fading elevation of tone as its conclusion.
The intense singers maintained their demeanor as the audience gave them
a standing ovation, but when a little boy entered from the wings to
hand a bouquet to Siu Mei Lee, the entire chorus burst into applause.
Their affection for her was evident.
Peggy Dettwiler is clearly a veteran conductor (she teaches the craft to
others at Mansfield University) and her work with her more mature
singers was the most satisfying component of the evening. A balanced
choir of about 60, the men wore traditional tuxedoes and black ties,
while the women were attired in floor-length gowns all cut the same way.
(The women also wore identical sparkling necklaces and earrings.)
According to the introductions made for this group, their repertoire is
generally drawn from religious works, but that did not mean it was a lot
of the same thing: They offered a beautiful piece with German lyrics
and music by Mendelssohn, followed by a solemn, stately song by Stephen
Paulus, "The Old Church." Next was a traditional Gospel number, "Hold
On!," delivered with relaxed energy. For a traditional Appalachian hymn,
"Every Night When the Sun Goes Down," the group formed an unorthodox
circle around Dettwiler, who conducted the entire program without music
from a small, square platform about six-inches in height. That meant
that some had their backs to the audience, but at one key moment, they
turned toward us, which elevated not only their volume but the intensity
of their heartfelt performance. Their finale, "Pal-so seong," was a
humorous number in which various solo singers burst into giggles, hoots
and chortles, culminating in gales of laughter — a truly unusual piece.
The group's encore, an infectious "Alleluia," had them file up the
aisles at Corbett Theater, surrounding the audience with joyous song. It
was a perfect conclusion to the varied program.
by Rick Pender
Masonic Center performances high quality and appreciated
On Thursday evening I slogged through the humid, 100 degree soup
of downtown Cincinnati to hear a World Choir Games concert at the
Masonic Center on Fourth Street (next door to the Taft Theatre). I've
lived in Cincinnati for 32 years and covered lots of arts events, but
I've never set foot inside this honeycomb of stages, halls and meeting
rooms. The sold-out event I attended, "Global Harmony," was in a steeply
sloped, floridly decorated auditorium that seats approximately 1,000
people. A four-step set of risers was set up in front of a proscenium
with a curtain; the scenery was provided by three choirs, two
international groups — the Diocesan Schools Choral Society from Hong
Kong and the Stellenbosch University Choir from South Africa — both
highly recognized ensembles at the 2010 World Choir Games in Shaoxing,
China. The third choir had a shorter trek to Cincinnati; the Capital
University Chapel Choir, about 80 singers strong, came from Columbus and
held its own with the two groups from other continents.
The Hong Kong group, roughly 120 high school boys and girls, offered a
beautiful, restrained program of earnestly conceived works performed
with polish, some religious and some literary (the latter included a
piece based on Robert Burns' poem, "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose").
The singers from Capital University had the men attired in black suits,
shirts and ties, the women in long dresses with identical bias-cut
necklines but in varying colors, bright blue, maroon and navy. Their
program was an interesting mixture of pieces, with several uptempo
numbers — a lovely song by Dolly Parton, "Light of a Clear Blue
Morning," that featured a crystalline solo by Annie Huckaba, and several
rhythmic works, "Hehehlooyuh" and "Tshotsholoza," both of which evoked
strong responses from the audience. The latter, a South African number,
featured two forceful soloists, Chris Bozeka and Nicholas Klein, as well
as percussive accompaniment on African drums by Emily Riggin and
another chorus member (not named in the program).
The Stellenbosch choir, constituted of approximately 120 white and black
college students and which earned three gold medals in the 2010 World
Choir Games in China, presented a half-dozen songs plus an encore.
"Kiasa-isa Niyan," described by conductor André van der Merwe as a
counting song from the Philippines, used catchy choreography and motion,
including chest thumping, vocal clicking, head snapping and a sharply
executed bow at the end. The most moving number of the program, a
traditional Zulu song, "African Prayer." It pulled six strong-voiced
soloists (again, not named in the program) to the front of the stage and
placed two more among the audience for an emotional call-and-response
counterpoint that evoked a standing ovation.
In fact, each group was greeted with sustained applause as its singers
filed on stage and cheered with a standing ovation after their
performance. The audience was appreciative and wildly enthusiastic; some
were parents of the Capital University performers, but many others were
clearly people who simply love choral performances that are delivered
with finesse, creativity and enthusiasm. Fifth Street was choked with
buses bringing people from various hotels beyond downtown, here as
tourists to listen to these performances.
Oh, yes: The auditorium was comfortably air-conditioned, a fact
appreciated by those in attendance as well as the singers. It was a fine
way to be introduced to the possibilities of the World Choir Games,
here in the United States — not to mention in Cincinnati — for the first
time ever. I was proud to be in attendance.
by Anne Mitchell
Posted In: News
at 12:23 PM | Permalink
There are plenty of restaurants downtown, but for the World Choir Games, the city has set up a Market Garden at the corner of Fifth and Race streets to provide additional options that are fast and affordable. It’s a great “Taste of Cincinnati” opportunity — without the crowds and long lines.Eats include local food trucks and Cincinnati’s own Mecklenburg Gardens, A Taste of Julia, sweets from Graeter's and Queen City Cookies (yay!) and more. There are also local gift and souvenir stands. They did a great job selecting vendors for this, so be sure to enjoy it during the Choir Games.
How Cincinnati came to acquire the 2012 World Choir Games
1 Comment · Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Sometimes the greatest discoveries in life arise from a Google search.That’s
exactly what led Todd Duesing to stumble upon the 2012 World Choir Games — a
fortuitous click of his mouse that, unbeknownst to him, would help pave
the way for an unparalleled boost in morale in the Cincinnati urban
Preparing to host international visitors has been a labor of love
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 3, 2012
More than 4,000 volunteers have stepped up to take on a
job no one asked them to do: welcome the expected 90,000 national and
international choirs, families and visitors to Cincinnati for the World
by Jac Kern
at 11:52 AM | Permalink
Have you ever
watched Sons of Anarchy and thought you’d make a mean addition to an MC or a
badass old lady? Well, stop because you’re crazy and that’s dangerous. But you can hang out with some
real, law-abiding bikers tonight at the Levee. Head out to the Newport Motorcycle Rally from 5-11 p.m. The festival runs through Sunday and features live music, games and food each day.
Geoff Tate and In Living Color alum Tommy Davidson
both perform in town this week. Tate made his national television debut this year on Craig Ferguson and recorded a CD/DVD at
MOTR in April. His show at Go Bananas begins at 8 p.m. Davidson performs at
Funny Bone on the Levee through Sunday; his show tonight also starts at 8.
With the World Choir
Games in full swing, there are lots of performances around the city today: Free
Friendship Concerts (5 p.m., Bellarmine Chapel; 7 p.m., Schmidlapp Event Lawn
at The Banks; 7 p.m., Village Green Park; 7:30 p.m. Newport on the Levee; 8
p.m., Blue Wisp)Folklore Open Competition ($15-$40, 4 p.m. Aronoff Center)Musica Sacra Celebration Concert ($28-$42, 7:30 p.m., Fountain Square)Youth
Choirs of Equal Voices Open Competition ($15-$40, 7:30 p.m., School for
Creative and Performing Arts - SCPA)Global Harmony Celebration Concert
($28-$42, 7:30 p.m., Cincinnati Masonic Center)Folklore Champions Competition
($15-$40, 8 p.m. SCPA).Go here
for a full schedule of WCG concerts, competitions and events.
by Anne Arenstein
Opening Ceremony involves welcoming by U.S. officials and lots of singing
It was quite the spectacle and in a good way. As I, along
with other members of MUSE, approached Great American Ballpark around 4
p.m., there were already hundreds of World Choir Games participants
thronging the entrance, and despite the stifling temperature, the
excitement was palpable. All the hype about this being an international
event was no hype at all. For the first time I can remember, Cincinnati
looked like an international city.
Choirs from West Chester, Loveland and Pleasant Ridge
chatted with groups from Japan, Colombia, Canada and Australia. Cheers
erupted from all parts of the plaza, spontaneous singing and dancing
were everywhere. The plaza was a riot of color: the Colombians in vivid
red, orange, and yellow; Japanese women in blue and pink kimonos; the
Nigerian choir in bright green dashikis and caps; and the Costa Rican
women's choir in flowing white dresses embroidered in bright red.
With no signage but a multitude of helpful volunteers,
5,000 of us were mustered into holding areas before marching over to
U.S. Bank Arena. Bottled water and mist sprayers relieved the heat, and
when the water ran out, there plenty of ice cubes — putting them down my
back never felt better.
We found ourselves in a shaded area along with a youth
choir from Erie, Pa. Suddenly they started chanting, "Sing! Sing! Sing!"
As we launched in the South African Xhosa song "Bambelela," their eyes
lit up in recognition and suddenly we were one big chorus. They
answered us with "The Storm is Passing Over," and this time, our eyes
lit up. Same arrangement we do. They sang a beautiful arrangement of "As
I Went Down to the River to Pray." When we sang Bernice Johnson
Reagon's "I'm Gon' Stand," with Lois Shegog belting out the solo, they
Once inside the arena, more cheering as groups saw
themselves on the JumboTrons. The soundtrack took in The Temptations,
The Jackson 5, Gloria Estafan, The Monkees, and I think Neil Diamond was
in there somewhere. The Aussies sitting below us started a beach ball
toss that would have gone on longer if an arena-wide wave hadn't taken
over. I didn't see many empty seats.
WCPO's Clyde Gray and Carol Williams were affable emcees
and the opening remarks by Mayor Mallory and Interkultur head Gunther
Titsch were mercifully brief (Titsch spoke in heavily accented English
and then reverted to his native German. That was fine — I'd rather look
at his translator any day. Williams read greetings from President Obama —
the letter was projected on the video screens to the accompaniment of
hundreds of camera flashes. Rob Portman didn't applaud. But he recovered
to declare the games open.
Cincinnati Pops conductor John Morris Russell paid tribute
to the late Erich Kunzel, who was the driving force behind bringing the
WCG to Cincinnati. And it was his vision to include the traditional
July 4th concert as part of the opening ceremony. I think he would have
been delighted and not at all surprised at the power of singing to bring
people together. Choruses rose with pride as their nation's flag was
announced, but they also cheered on their peers. I'll never forget the
group from Namibia turning to cheer South Africa.
As we left, I couldn't help singing India Arie's "There's Hope." MUSE sang that, too.
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 3, 2012
The hills — around here, anyway — are
alive with the sound of music! Everyone is singing this week in honor of
the World Choir Games, which, you’ve got to admit, have actually become
the Very Cool Thing that our civic leaders were predicting. It’s nice
to see the city filled with people, arriving from all over the globe,
enjoying Cincinnati and all it has to offer. I suspect that a choir, like an army,
travels on its stomach. These singers are going to need sustenance!
Art on the Streets wants World Choir Games visitors to remember Cincinnati’s arts scene
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 3, 2012
During a time when the many cultures of the world are
bombarding Cincinnati all at once, it’s important to keep in mind
locality. The World Choir Games is undoubtedly a sensational movement in
the artistic realm across the globe, but Cincinnati will attempt to make an impact on the
games equal to its impact on the city. Cincinnati and world, meet Art on the Streets. It’s the best thing that’ll ever happen to you.
by Danny Cross
Someone really smart in Todd Portune’s office warned his
or her superiors that the monthly first-Wednesday siren test might scare
the living hell out of tens of thousands of foreign people visiting
Cincinnati for the World Choir Games, so there will be no siren test
River Downs applied for some slot machines, the second racetrack in the state to do so.
Here’s the latest person to write about how screwed Mitt
Romney is due to the constitutional health care mandate or, more
importantly, the similar one he passed in Massachusetts. MSNBC says the Bain attacks are hurting Romney. And
Mother Jones says this: “Romney Invested in Medical-Waste Firm That
Disposed of Aborted Fetuses, Government Documents Show.”
And Obama is “feeling the pain” of campaign fundraising. Whatever that means.
Here’s all you need to know about torture in Syria. Thanks, Human Rights Watch.
Anderson Cooper publicly announced that he’s gay after a discussion with friend
and journalist Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Beast regarding celebrities
coming out. Cooper emailed Sullivan about the matter and gave him
permission to print it. “I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society
we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the
tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible.
There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young
people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all
ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in
making clear where I stand.
“The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.”
Chrysler’s sales are up 20 percent, but the company hasn’t specifically thanked JLo for boosting the Fiat marketshare.
Scientists are saying that recent heat waves, wild fires
and other seemingly random natural disasters are due to global warming.
And we thought it was only going to be our kids’ problem. :(
Meanwhile, European physicists hope to find the God
particle by the end of the year, explaining the creation of the world.
Here’s video of a British guy trying to explain what the particle is
using a plastic tray and ping pong balls.
The NFL is going to back off some of its local blackout
rules. Teams now must only hit 85 percent of their ticket sales goal
rather than 100 percent to avoid making local markets watch crappy
regional games instead of their favorite teams. That means more Bengals games, less crappy Browns broadcasts.