• The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park ( opens its 2016-2016 Season with previews starting on September 3, 2016 and an opening night set for September 8, then running until October 1 with A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, based on John Irving’s novel. Adapted by Simon Bent the play is set in America during the turmoil-ridden 1960’s.
  • At the Playhouse’s Thompson Shelterhouse things start with previews on September 24 and an opening on September 29 of Ayad Akhtar’s DISGRACED, a Pulitzer-Prize winning drama about a Muslim couple – a lawyer and his artist wife – who host a dinner party during which table talk degenerates into an argument about ethnicity, faith and politics.



Most everyone who lives in Cincinnati and who loves music is aware of the presence in our community’s cultural life of CCM – the College Conservatory of Music at UC. What some may not know is that the school also operates as a performing arts center with more than four stages, presenting hundreds of performances every year. CCM is, in fact, the largest performing arts presenter in the State of Ohio.

The dancers, singers, actors and instrumentalists that appear day after day on stage at CCM are chosen from among thousands of applicants from whom only the very best are chosen and who, once admitted undergo rigorous training by a world-class faculty. As those students move upwardly through four years of undergraduate study and, in many cases, on to Master of Music, Artist Diploma or Doctor of Musical Arts graduate degrees, they continue to perfect their technique and grow as artists. They are guided by a faculty made up of artist-mentor-teachers who continue to pursue performing careers and to teach by example.

Sunday, September 11, 4 PM


Marie France Lefebvre, piano, with guest artists Donna Loewy, Mark Gibson and Nathaniel Chaitkin.  In the program:  Schubert Military Marches, opus 51/D 733; Mozart Theme and Variations in G Major, John Corigliano – Gazebo Dances; Rachmaninoff – Sonata for Cello and Piano, opus 19.

Tuesday September 20, 8 PMSTUCKY, ROD AND MARY

Mary Stucky, mezzo-soprano and Rodney Stucky, guitar and lute. Performing Airs de Cour and Airs de Boire (love and drinking songs) by Etienne Moulinié, Schubert songs arranged for guitar by Baron Schlechta, a poet-musician friend of Schubert’s, Five Children’s Songs by Paul Dessau with words by Berthold Brecht, Spanish Songs collected by Federico García Lorca and Stucky‘s arrangements of Spirituals.

Monday September 26, 8 PM


Amy Johnson, soprano and Thomas Baresel, tenor, with Kenneth Griffiths and Mark Gibson, pianists. Performing Alan Louis Smith‘s song cycle Windows, duets by Hüe, Duparc and Saint-Saëns, songs by Rachmaninoff, and Operetta selections by Lehár, Strauss and Millöker.






Since I started this blog this past April, I have had 2,900 visitors who have collectively viewed all of the 45 entries I have posted to date.

I plan to be covering a wide variety of subjects, not the least of which is music in Cincinnati, but also visual arts, dance, some film, theatre and the arts and culture in general, here in the Queen City and nation-wide.

If you’d like to have your arts events and or your organization covered in this blog, please send us a post for approval to our Facebook page: Music for All Seasons in Cincinnati and we’ll take it from there and help spread the word on his blog.


FullSizeRender (1)

This stunning image is of a painting by my good friend, artist, music entrepreneur, educator, Renaissance man James Slouffman. Jim has an art exhibit coming up very soon. More about it soon but meanwhile SAVE THE DATE for the opening on Friday September 2, when from 6 to 8 there will be a reception where Jim will speak about his work. This will be at St. John’s Universalist Church (320 Resor Avenue.)



James Gilmer and Maizyalet Velázquez

Director’s Cut is the first performance of Artistic Director Victoria Morgan’s 20th Season with Cincinnati Ballet. Cincinnati Ballet’s first series of the 2016-2017 Season, takes the stage Friday, September 16 at 8 pm and Saturday, September 17 at 2 pm and 8 pm at the Aronoff Center. Director’s Cut begins with the world premiere of Patriotic Pas, danced to the music of Morton Gould’s American Salute. Cincinnati Ballet’s Sarah Hairston and Zack Grubbs, will dance excerpts from the ballet Raymonda. A world premiere by choreographer Ma Cong set to the music of Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds will be followed by excerpts from Fusion, with choreography by Yuri Possokhov and music by Graham Fitkin. The program will close with James Cunningham’s Prohibition Condition danced to the music of Dmitri Shostakovich..

For more information call 513.621.5282 or visit


 CONCERT:NOVA prefers to be called concert:nova in lower case but their programming is CAPS. Not content with what anyone would call a full plate (a seat with the CSO, motherhood, teaching) Ixi Chen will lead the adventurous group in a series of five concerts and an additional “classics to clubs” series designed to attract a young crowd not traditionally associated with the kind of music concert:nova presents. Not all of this is set in stone yet, but Ixi OK’d my giving our readers a few hints.

There will be a first concert featuring music by coffee-loving composers accompanied by samples of the precious brew. A second offering will pair musicians with artists from other disciplines who will then create a work of art in response to the music. A Brahms/Dvorak concert will cater to devotees of 19th Romantic music and that will be followed by a play with music by Eric Westphal about a string quartet in the throes of rehearsing a Mozart piece. All I am allowed to say about the closing concert is that a multi-media work in the form of a chamber opera will bring the group’s season to a big finish.


More information soon at www.






DANIEL MEYERjoyce yang

Franz Joseph Haydn wrote enough symphonies –about 108 survive – to earn him the title of Father of the Symphony. Reputedly a favorite of Marie Antoinette, his Symphony No. 85 in Bb Major – French only by name and one of Haydn’s six Paris symphonies – is a lively, mature work never lacking in harmonic inventiveness and rhythmic bounce, offering the CCO superb string section plenty of opportunities to shine and lots of hard work which they made sound all too easy.

Ravel, a firm believer in perspiration vs. inspiration commented on his Piano Concerto in G Major that “writing music is seventy-five percent an intellectual activity…” The composer sets the first movement in motion with the crack of a whip, marking it allegramente to indicate to both soloist and conductor that things should be kept buoyant and fleet. The haunting second movement is a slow waltz in which Ravel’s inspiration matters more than his mental acuity. It allows the piano to hold center stage for a good three minutes before gradually letting the woodwinds enter, one at a time. It is as memorable as anything in Maurice Ravel’s entire oeuvre.

Korean-American pianist Joyce Yang, a past silver medalist of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition is a formidable technician capable of taking the concerto’s opening and closing movements at breakneck speed though not at the expense of clarity or accuracy. In the middle movement she played rapturously, with a singing tone just right for the momentarily languorous nature of the composition. In the mind-boggling third movement she played with Olympian power and brilliance. Deservedly Ms. Yang brought the audience to its feet.

All of the works in the program provided plenty of opportunities for the woodwinds to share the spotlight. Rebecca Tryon and Susan Magg, flutes, John Kurokawa and Miriam Culley, clarinets, Christopher Philpotts and Lorraine Dorsey, oboes, Hugh Michie and Amy Pollard, bassoons, and Elizabeth Porter and Josh Michal, French horns, all ten of them one third of the orchestra personnel did some truly magnificent playing.

In 1942 Aaron Copland assembled Music for Movies, a concert suite of works previously composed for several films. New England Countryside from The City is a serenely evocative scene for muted solo trumpet – here impeccably played by Ashley Hall -accompanied by woodwinds. Barley Wagons from Of Mice and Men is anchored in the open chords that abound in so much of the composer’s work. Sunday Traffic whimsically depicts the denizens of a large American city heading for an out-of-town weekend by any means of transportation available. Grovers Corner takes one to Thornton Wilder’s hilltop graveyard from the second act of Our Town. Threshing Machines, also from Of Mice and Men kicks things into high gear with an incessant ostinato in the lower strings pitted against short, energetic phrases from the brass and woodwinds, a big ending delivered with panache by the CCO musicians. Five young female dancers from the College Conservatory of Music moved with nobility to Copland’s music and Andre Merighian’s majestic choreography, an apt homage to Martha Graham’s early choreographic compositions.

Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite was born as a little collection of ditties inspired by children’s fairy tales. By the time Ravel had revised it, Ma mère l’Oye became a miniature suite for the sort of chamber orchestra in which each instrumentalist is a soloist in his or her own right: a work tailor-made for the CCO. The opening Prelude sets the scene for several tableaux: storybook visions by the 17th century French fabulist Charles Perrault that include Pavane for a Sleeping Beauty, Amusements for Beauty and the Beast, Little Thumb, Laideronnette, Empress of the Pagodas and The Garden of the Fairies. The work is harmonically luscious, rich in melody, imaginative in orchestration, and wondrously evocative of the enchantment and innocence of childhood.

Daniel Meyer conducted with elegance and precision. The young maestro pays unflagging attention to details that might escape the listener when these works are played by larger ensembles. Throughout the entire evening – from the classical sobriety of the Haydn to the Gallic élan of the Ravel to the all-American bravado of the Copland dance suite- Meyer elicited committed response from the players and earned generous applause from the capacity audience.  The CCO has conceived its 2016 season as a way of testing the Cincinnati musical waters with four different conductors in a search for a permanent music director. Based on this impressive opening concert, the management and board of the CCO will have the selection work cut out for them.

It was an altogether inspired, impassioned opening performance by the CCO, one that without words and only music said much about the estimable Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s indispensability during and beyond the music-less dog days of summer in the Queen City

Rafael de Acha




Soyeon Kate Lee                       Mark Gibson                        Daniel Weeks

The College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati (CCM for short) is widely recognized as one of America’s top music schools. But what is not known is that CCM is the largest presenter of arts events in the State of Ohio.

I asked Maestro Mark Gibson, Director of Orchestral Studies at the School and conductor of the CCM Philharmonia, how the idea of a festival of Polish music came about. With typical humor he answered that all of the compositions featured in the four-part project are worthy of attention but what keeps them below the radar of many orchestras is that the names of the composers are so hard to pronounce.

But hard as the pronunciation of the names of the composers might be, the discovery of the music of Lutoslawski, Szymanowski, Moniuszko and Penderecki should prove to be interesting and rewarding for many listeners unfamiliar with most of it.

Witold Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra, a mid-century, resolutely tonal and intensely Polish composition opens the Festival on Friday September 9 in CM’s Corbett Auditorium. It will keep company to Fredric Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. in F Minor. The concerto will feature as soloist, faculty artist Soyeon Kate Lee. The program will also include a world premiere work by CCM alumnus Piotr Szeweczyk.

Also on tap at the four-concert festival are evenings with CCM’s Concert Orchestra, led by its music director Aik Khai Pung and the CCM Jazz Orchestra and Faculty Jazztet led by Scott Belck, with jazz pianist Włodzimierz “Wlodek” Pawlik as the featured soloist.

The month-long festival wraps up on October 2 with an afternoon concert featuring faculty artist Daniel Weeks as tenor soloist in Karol Szymanowski’s Symphony No. 3 in Bb Major, Op.27 “Pieśń o nocy” (Song of Night), a setting of a 13TH century text by the Persian poet Rumi.

Also in the program will be the Overture to the opera, Halka by Stanislaw Moniuszko. Krzysztof Penderecki’s harrowing Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima and Stanisław Skrowaczewski’s rarely heard Concerto for English Horn and Orchestra. The instrumental forces of the orchestra will be augmented by the combined CCM Chamber Choir and Xavier University Concert Choir.

Links to some of the pieces in the Polish Music Festival

Lutoslawski’s – Concerto for Orchestra

Szymanowski’s – Symphony No. 3 in Bb Major, Song of Night

Moniuszko – Overture to Halka

PendereckiThrenody to the Victims of Hiroshima


In future posts I look forward to sharing with our readers some details about CCM’s many other concerts and its Mainstage Series of Acting, Dance, Musical Theatre and Opera, to prove that CCM is indeed where much of the musical action is in the Queen City.

Rafael de Acha

CCM’s season brochure, with its detailed schedule of events, may be obtained in person at the CCM box office during the school’s business hours and also on line at WWW.CCM.UC.EDU



slider-bg-15My good friend, Nathaniel “Nat” Chaikin is a visionary missionary. Not content with his intense schedule as a free-lance musician and cello instructor and member of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Nat has set out on a mission to quietly bring classical music down to the vast public that does not like it or thinks it will not like it. He is doing this, step-by-step, unpaid gig after low paying gig, dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt, often taken for a busker except that  he does not set out a tin cup.

Nat plays in places as quiet as a library or as noisy as Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, often surrounded by passersby  and inattentive children whose parents make no effort to teach them that music should be listened to quietly. But he plays on, and, as he plays, people fall silent and listen. That is the sort of minor musical miracles he can create.

Nat will play anywhere where there are a few chairs and an electrical outlet for his boombox. Nat’s mission has a name: BACH AND BOOMBOX (

Give Nathaniel Chaikin a listen. He’s one of those unassuming people who create miracles. And we all know that classical music needs some these days.

2016-2017: A LOOK FORWARD


2016-2017 A LOOK FORWARD     

First things first: what, when, where.

In Cincinnati, where there is so much going on year-round, it is hard to find an evening that gives one an excuse to chill out, nest, and watch some guilty-pleasure TV. Here I am, setting out to do a series of previews about the upcoming 2016-2017 arts season in Cincinnati, and I frankly don’t know how I can keep the length of each down to the number of words that an editor friend counsels every time I dispatch another item off for publication.

But this one is strictly for my blog, and you, dear readers, get to determine how long you can endure reading it before you press “delete” on your laptop screens. Here’s hoping you don’t.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

18 pairs of concerts, divided up into three series, typically performed on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and occasional Sundays. Half of them will be conducted by Louis Langrée , the CSO’s Music Director, the other half by a mix of “name” guest conductors – Neeme Järvi, Tom Koopman, Edo de Wart – and some up and coming ones – Juanjo Mena, James Darrah, Matthias Pintscher

Three ‘add-ons” (their language, not mine) are added to the schedule with Lang Lang, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman (program not announced for those) and a lineup of soloists that includes Gil Shaham, Emmanuel Ax, Midori, Alexander Gavryluk, Hilary Hahn – mostly pianists and violinists – and the all-too-rare: Branford Marsalis (saxophone), Dwight Parry (oboe.)

All this in a new digs: the Taft Theatre, while Music Hall enters its first year of major redesign.

Mostly 19th century Romantic repertory in all 18 pairs of concerts, out of which one randomly spots a couple of Stravinsky rarities, a Ligeti, an Essa-Pekka Salonen violin concerto, one Bartok, one John Williams, one world premiere, one Baroque composer, little Mozart, no Haydn.

I have been to concerts of the CSO where half of Music Hall was empty of an audience much inclined to staying away from anything remotely innovative or outside the traditional repertoire box.  Langrée has developed a large following in the community, after years during which some of his predecessors scored points with the musical elite but did not truly develop a loyal fan base in the Queen City.

Maestro Langrée has also the support of his players: he is a terrific conductor, he is warm and well liked. If he could only move his audience into the 21st century, no matter the kicking and screaming of diehards, he would see some big changes taking place, including the development of a new, younger audience walking through the doors of Music Hall a couple of years from now. We – the classical music audience – are greying down, and a new audience must be found and developed to take our place. It’s either that or it’s curtains for us, the audience, and for the orchestras, the theatres, the opera companies, the ballet troupes and all of the other large and small arts organizations.

My next post: CCM.



Most everyone I know in Cincinnati knows all about OLLI and has taken some of my classes. For those friends who have been asking me what courses I will be teaching, where and when, here is some basic information.

You must register. Register online at This is the fastest way to register. You can also call the office at 513-556-9186. When you speak to OLLI’s Cate O’Hara she will give you details about the costs.

My two six-week courses in the fall quarter begin November 1st and run through December 6th. I teach both back-to-back on Tuesdays, starting at 1:15 PM and going until 4:05 PM. They are:

3601 – The Great Italian Operas, Part 1: Mozart and Rossini.

3700 – Survey of Concert Music, Part 1: Medieval and Baroque music.

Both these courses are given at Temple Adath Israel: 3201 E. Galbraith Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45236 (in Amberley).

I will also be giving a lecture/visual presentation jointly with my friend Cliff Goosman at Llanfair Retirement Community: 1701 Llanfair Ave., 45224 (College Hill).   In Case You Wanted to Know a Few Things about Cuba will be given on Friday, Nov. 4, from 9:30 am to 12 pm. Word to the wise, for this free presentation you must still sign up following the directions above.

Here’s hoping to see some of you at any or all of these…