Barely 8 months have passed since on March 17 of this year I wrote our first post for In the ensuing months my blog has welcomed 3,242 visitors – 584 of them regulars who also follow my Music for All Seasons in Cincinnati Facebook group page, where they can also find postings by other colleagues involved in the arts.

Our followers have viewed 100 posts of ours 5,483 times. I have then shared those in other pages of CCM alumni and students. We’ve posted reviews of theatre, dance and musical performances given here in Cincinnati as well as recordings of music of all kinds made all over the world. We are happy to have helped promote the work of individual artists and arts organizations in our Queen City and as far afield as Cuba, Australia and Europe. Artists whose work I have loved have then quoted and thanked me in their own web pages and blogs. But it’s me who has to give thanks.

To say that I am thrilled is an understatement. And it is not all. I am above all immensely grateful to Cincinnati, a great city that welcomed Kimberly and me seven years ago. And, more than anything else, I want to wish my readers a joyous holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving and continuing through the coming months of holidays and celebrations. We are all of us in this together, celebrating the arts, one of the greatest gifts in life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rafael de Acha



pageimage-499659-4463461-3artscolorbannerThe 3 Arts Scholarship Fund will be awarding $240,000 in scholarships in 2017!  This notice is intended to make you aware of the opportunity for female students to apply for these scholarships.  The organization has been in existence since 1911 and is funded in part by the late Mrs. Louise Dieterle Nippert.
The women who may apply must be Greater Cincinnati area college juniors, seniors or masters degree candidates whose major area of study is Music (Vocal or Instrumental), Musical Theater/Drama or Visual Arts.  The applicants should submit an example of their work (requirements vary by discipline)  and the signed release form as instructed on the application form by Friday, January 20, 2017.    Applications are available on our website:  You can also contact Carol Kruse, Scholarship Coordinator at or 513-231-3064 with questions.
Please visit our website and pass this information along to anyone who you think may be interested in applying.



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Photographs clockwise: Mam-Luft&Co Dance / Samuel Martin / PauLina Villareal / Pedro Arroyo / Amy Johnson / Eckart Preu / Sara Vautour / The cast of They Were You / Aaron Blake and Joseph Lattanzi in Fellow Travelers / Kenneth Shaw / Nadine Sierra

Here, in more or less chronological order are our 2016 favorite Cincinnati arts events.

In January, in the latest creation by MamLuft&Co. Dance, nine dancers riveted attention during the two halves of Double/Sided, an evening-long exploration of the chaotic nature of human relationships.

In a concert performance of Strauss’ Salome, soprano Amy Johnson took on this volcanic assignment brilliantly, conquering its perils with an impressive command of the role’s vocal and dramatic complexities.

In the same performance bass-baritone Kenneth Shaw sang the role of John the Baptist with stentorian authority and portrayed the part of the doomed prophet with his usual attention to the subtleties of text.

In March the highlight was Kenneth Shaw‘s Opera d’Arte production of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda . In  the role of the doomed Mary, Queen of Scotland, the young  Sarah Vautour, under the direction of Amy Johnson, combined nobility of bearing, acting chops, and a voice and technical ease that bore an uncanny resemblance to the young Beverly Sills.

Tenor Rodrick Dixon sang a 30-minute pre-concert recital at the May Festival with the superb pianist Michael Chertok. Dixon’s singing was glorious and his artistic instincts precise and tasteful.

Art Song seems to be enjoying a welcome comeback. Samuel Martin‘s Cincinnati Song Initiative  had an auspicious start in an all-American song recital  featuring several very promising young singers in the gallery space at the Aronoff Center. Nadine Sierra sang the closing concert of Matinee Musicale with radiant tone and acute sensibility in a wide-ranging program with the support of the superb pianist Bryan Wagorn.  Pedro Arroyo in two recitals at CCM proved himself more than capable of handling a wide ranging repertory of songs in several languages and styles with finesse and assured vocalism. Mexican mezzo-soprano PauLina Villareal sounded perfectly at home in a couple of recitals also at CCM, impressively singing everything from Kurt Weill cabaret pieces to Cuban salon songs to a contemporary work in which she acted as both singer and percussionist.

The Cincinnati Opera season featured a very fine Fidelio and one of the best productions of Tosca in memory. But it was the astounding Fellow Travelers the one event that proved truly remarkable with an all-American cast of veteran pros and young singers that proved to the unbelievers that contemporary opera is alive and well.


At CCM, They Were You, Aubrey Berg’s gem of a revue of the works of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt was a sheer delight, featuring a cast of superb singing actors and the peerless Steve Goers at the piano.

The Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra came back in the summer with a four-concert season  The level of the work reassured us that the CCO is here to stay. Add to that the appointment of Eckard Preu as its musical director and rest assured that the future looks bright for our “second” orchestra

Rafael de Acha

Note: All of the events on this list were reviewed for and, in some cases, for








Sometime around 1695, the very serious Charles Perrault, decided to lighten up and write Mother Goose Tales, a collection of fairy tales for children that included among others Little Red Riding Hood, The Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

Sometime around 1899 Perrault’s tale about the scullery maid who becomes a princess inspired French composer Jules Massenet to compose Cendrillon.  Nothing in his output had prepared the public for something as delicate and humorous as Cendrillon.

At CCM Cendrillon is staged as a dream that becomes reality in a modern-dress production now on stage in Corbett Auditorium through Sunday.

Lucette (Grace Newberry) is a shy script girl working on a film shoot. She falls asleep on the set and dreams of meeting the prince of her dreams. Enter a friendly costume designer (Erica Intilangelo) who moonlights as a Fairy Godmother to script-girls in need. Yes, she can work things out for Lucette, get her a Dior couture party dress, a pair of golden high heel shoes, and even arrange a ride to the Prince’s ball in a scooter, the way they do in France. But there’s one condition: Lucette has to be back on the movie set by midnight.

When she awakens from her dream Lucette overhears the film crew discussing the starlet who not only stole the show the night before, but possibly even the handsome Prince’s heart.

As Cendrillon/Lucette Grace Newberry‘s stands out in voice and in poise, delivering a performance that balances humor and poignancy in equal measures. Picture-pretty Erica Intilangelo rides with ease the stratospheric heights of the role of the Fairy Godmother, dispensing perfect high notes like fairy dust. Kayleigh Decker, convincingly plays the pants role of the handsome movie idol turned Prince Charming and sings like a gossamer dream. Christian Pursell in the part of the henpecked Pandolphe, is note-perfect and poignant. The comical Nicole Hodgins as Noémie and Chelsea Melamed as Dorothée  play two untalented wannabe actresses, daughters to the daunting Madame de La Haltière, an older battle-ax character actress sung by Karis Tucker, whose descents into contralto territory are hilarious and impressive.

Director Robin Guarino stylish and expansive directorial vision drives the show on its happy journey. The stage set by Thomas Unfrid’s seamlessly transforms itelf from reality into dream and back. The costumes by deign student Maria Lenn manage to be 1970’s in accuracy, terribly French and wacky all at once. Eric McCandless lights the show with glitzy flair, and the terrific wigs and make up by Shannon Hutchins are perfect when pretty and perfectly awful when called for. Marie France Lefevbre keeps the cast’s French Parisian, intelligible and singer-friendly. And, finally, the choreography of several sequences by Vincent De George is whimsically inventive and elegant.

The orchestra plays the score of the opera with nuance, conviction and flair, led by Mark Gibson whose peerless work at CCM and elsewhere continues to earmark him as a great opera conductor, one perfectly at home in the very French, very Romantic, very beautiful music of Massenet.

Productions like this one should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind as to CCM’s preeminence as one of America’s great conservatories. This Cendrillon, a dream of a show, is proof palpable “for real.” Those interested in an enchanting trip into fantasyland, so much needed these days, have three more performances to hop the ride.






Wagner Society of Cincinnati
“New Voices”  Singer Showcase
Sunday, November 13, 2016, 2:00 PM
Ascension & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church,
334 Burns Ave. Wyoming, Ohio 45215
Students Free $10.00 WSC Members $15.00 Others
Ticket information Carolann Slouffman
513-871-8447 or,
Reservations preferred
Shareese Johnson Arnold, Soprano
Sarai Cole, Soprano
Andria Helm, Soprano
Chelsea Duval-Major, Mezzo Soprano
Rocky E. Sellers, Bass Baritone
Jacob Kincaide, Bass
Jesse Leong, Piano
Excerpts from The Essential Ring arranged by Jonathan McPhee, music by Richard Wagner
Arias from Die Walküre, Gotterdammerung, Lohengrin, Werther, Aida, Show Boat, La Forza del Destino, Die Zauberflöte


Divine Art Records is the best go-to on-line store for CDs that focus on new music by European composers.
This month they sent us four CD’s: all of them are impressively annotated, impeccably produced, neatly packaged and, most importantly, featuring intriguing music by composers heretofore unbeknownst to us and, I dare say, to the American record collector and concertgoer at large.
Time constraints prevent me from doing a separate review for each of the four, but, at the end of this preamble you shall have my overall appraisal of all four CDs.
Where could Vyacheslav Artyomov’s orchestral music be heard? Where would the Irish art songs of Elaine Agnew, Seóirse  Bodley, Ina Boyle, John Buckey, Rhona Clarke and Anne Marie O’Farrell be sung? Where are the enterprising chamber music ensembles that will step out of the box where so much music lies today and perform some of the sonatas for wind instruments of Peter Hope?
Is the neglect of so much music the fault of those who program concerts? If those who decide what gets played – often the artists themselves – were to program not one more Brahms First in the upcoming symphony concert but Vyacheslav Artyomov’s sprawling, mystical, mold-breaking, mood-setting, mysterious Tristia II (subtitled Fantasy for Piano and orchestra in 11 continuous episodes) and then invite a pianist who would be up for learning the piece to perform it before a public willing to ante up $20 or $50 or $90 for a ticket and that would be willing to sit through nearly 30 minutes of unfamiliar sonorities…If all of that were to happen, what then?
What goes for symphonic music often goes for chamber music or for vocal recitals.  Very little risk-taking, much middle-of-the-road programming and another nail on the coffin of classical music.
What is in store for the collector who will not buy digitally but likes to hold the CD in his or her hands and listen to it repeatedly on his sound system and, after listening, replace the CD on a shelf? Will there be CDS and CD players in the next decade or will they go the way of 78’s, LP’s, cassettes and 8-track?
Our heart goes out to musicians and composers who try to self-produce hand in hand with companies such as Divine Art Records and end up with boxes of unsold CD’s in their basements.
And that question extends to major artists (whose names will go unmentioned here) whom I have seen seated at tables in the lobbies of concert halls, selling autographed copies of their latest CD.
The concert music industry is undergoing  a stormy sea change. What looms at the other end of the sea journey no one knows

Wind Blown – Sonatas for wind instruments by Peter Hope. (dda25137)
The background – Peter Hope. Born 1930. Arranger and composer brought up on a music industry that was regrouping after WWII. At first immersed in light music and in the rough and tumble areas of the music industry, he has in the last two decades concentrated on writing larger-scale works .
The music – Melodic. Bucolic in feeling. Clearly a direct line descendant of the Vaughn-Williams, Fredrick Delius tradition.
The players – Top notch working musicians. Terrific ensemble players. BBC Symphony…Halle Orchestra…Royal Northern…City of Birmingham…Royal Liverpool…
Vyacheslav Artyomov music (dda 25143)
Symphony no. 2, “On the Threshold of a Bright World” in 18 continuous episodes; Ave Atque Vale (Hail and Farewell) for solo percussion and orchestra in 9 continuous episodes; Hymn – Ave, Crux Alba (Hail, White Cross)
The players – National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy. Rostislav Shatayevsky, percussion; Helikon Theatre Choir, Yevgeny Ilyin, conductor
Vyacheslav Artyomov music (dda 25144)
Symphony no. 3, “Gentle Emanation”; Tristia II, Fantasy for piano and orchestra in 11 episodes, with text by Nicolai Gogol.
The players: Russian National Orchestra, Teodor Currentzis, conductor (Symphony no. 3) ; Vladimir Ponkin, conductor (Tristia II) Mikhail Philippov, reader; Phillip Kopachevsky, piano


The background: The music in both these CD’s and the compoer deserve wider exposure outside Russia. Praised by compatriot musicians, Mstislav Rostropovich among them, Artyomov was born into a generation that saw the last decade of Stalin, the gradual easing up of restrictions on composers, the arrival of Perestroika and Glasnost and the impact of all of these political changes on the arts.


The music: Artyomov’s music is mystical, Russian at the core. He is a master of orchestral writing and of unusual instrumentation. Many of his melodies have their roots in old Slavonic chant. A most unusual talent whose day has yet to come insofar as the American concert-going audience is concerned.
I am Wind on Sea – Contemporary vocal music from Ireland (msv28558) – An eclectic collection of songs for female voice and piano by Irish composers, Ina Boyle, Elaine Agnew,  Seóirse Bodley, Rhona Clarke and John Buckley.
The musicians: Mezzo-soprano Aylish Kerrigan absolutely owns the material and has a solid, sensitive partner in Dearbhla Collins.
The results: A sensational discovery of gems from  Irish art song writers – Ina Boyle, among the older and Elaine Agnew and Anne Marie O’Farrell, among the contemporary.
The texts come from a great tradition of Celtic and English poetry and literature – Walter de la Mare…Christina Rosetti…James Joyce…
Hope springs eternal thanks to Divine Art Records, which not only sells but produces and distributes close to 400 titles through its several subsidiaries, including Metier, Diversions, Athene, Dunelm and Heritage Media.
Here’s a great big thanks to the good people at Divine Art Records for keeping the faith.
большое спасибо! Go raibh míle maith agat! Thank you very much, Divine Art Records!
Rafael de Acha