Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra Flying High

After a long stretch of lying low, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra revved up its


engines just under a year ago. It took our little orchestra that could no time to start flying high and to prove itself an indispensable member of the Cincinnati arts community.

Here they are again, in their first season under maestro Eckart Preu, comfortably ensconced in the Corbett Theatre at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts downtown for four of their main concerts, and all over the map of Cincinnati and Covington for their series of free outdoor concerts, their intimate Little Afternoon Music series and their kick-back evening Pub Crawls.

The CCO’s calendar is so densely packed in its month-long schedule of musical things to do during Cincinnati’s dog days of summer that I am breaking it down into a two-part post.

Trust that I mean to be thorough and accurate, but just to make sure, do check their website:

A word to the wise: their tickets are more than reasonably priced at $30 for general admission, $10 for kids. But they go fast. Plan diligently and get your tickets before the event you want to go to is sold out.

The Essential Information:
THE SCHOOL FOR CREATIVE & PERFORMING ARTS – 108 W. Central Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Easy free parking.
PRELUDE TALKS: always at 6:45 pm
TICKETS: $25 / $10 kids
CALL: 513.723.1182

Scottish Landscapes
Sat, August 5 7:30 pm Cincinnati School for Creative & Performing Arts

Felix Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 56 (“Scottish”)
W.A. Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216
Angelo Xiang Yu, violin
Peter Maxwell Davies An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise
Karen May, bagpipes

I like the Mendelssohn-Davies pairing of Scotland-inspired compositions and the inclusion of the Mozart G Major violin concerto as a refresher in between the two.

The young Angelo Xiang Yu is a violinist to sit up for and take notice. And after hearing many beefed up performances of the Mendelsohn and the Mozart it will be nice to hear the leaner and meaner forces of the CCO bring out the clarity and crispness for which these works cry out.

My only regret is that I will be out of town for this and their next concert, so I will depend on my readers’ feed back when I get back. Comments, please!
ran dank

Celestial Voyage
Sat, August 12 7:30 pm Cincinnati School for Creative & Performing Arts

Rebel – Le Chaos from Les Élémens
Hans-Peter Preu – Kepler’s Cosmos
Dean Regas, commentator
Saint-Saëns – Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22
Ran Dank, piano
Mozart – Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (“Jupiter”)
David Bowie, arr. Scot Woolley – Space Oddity

Music Director Eckart Preu is proving himself an imaginative programmer of musical fare with this astronomical assembly that reaches back to the French Baroque and travels across the galaxies to land on planet Earth with David Bowie’s Space Oditty.

Cincinnati musical treasure Ran Dank is a fit candidate to take on the mammoth Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto no. 2 and wrestle it into submission.

Venetian Madcap Musica
Sat, August 19 7:30 pm Cincinnati School for Creative & Performing Arts

Albinoni/Giazotto – Adagio in G Minor
Gabrieli – Canzon quarta
Monteverdi – L’Orfeo: Sinfonie e Ritornelli
Vivaldi – Concerto No. 3 in G Major for violin and strings
Gustav Mahler – Adagietto: Symphony No. 5
Stravinsky – Pulcinella Suite
Madcap Puppets, puppetry

Venice rivaled all other European cities with its musical and visual arts in the 17th and 18th centuries, and as proof of that the CCO offers up a moveable feast of Baroque and Classical Venetian gems in the first half of this concert that will then jump then forward in its second half to the post-Romantic and Modern eras with a little taste of Mahler and a full serving of Stravinsky . And Madcap Puppets will help the story of Pulcinella.

Immortal Beloved
Sat, August 26 7:30pm Cincinnati School for Creative & Performing Arts
Philip Glass – III. quarter-note = 112 from Symphony No. 3
MamLuft&Co. Dance, dancers

Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor
Alon Goldstein, piano
Silvestrov – The Messenger
Alon Goldstein, piano        MamLuft&Co. Dance, dancers
Beethoven – Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93

It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. And, for a big finish to its 2017 line up, the CCO brings out the big guns in a concert of music from across three centuries. The 8th is one of Beethoven’s happier symphonies, the D Minor yet another sunny composition by Mozart to be played this time by the superb Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein.

The Philip Glass an intriguing choice, and the Silvestrov a world premiere made all the more important by the original choreography of MamLuft&Co. Dance, the superb Cincinnati born and bred modern dance company which will also dance to the music of Philip Glass’s III. quarter-note = 112 .
The Essential Information:
THE SCHOOL FOR CREATIVE & PERFORMING ARTS – 108 W. Central Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Easy free parking.
PRELUDE TALKS: always at 6:45 pm
TICKETS: $25 / $10 kids
CALL: 513.723.1182
Rafael de Acha
All about the Arts



isabelle-eberhardt-portraitsIsabelle Eberhardt, Swiss-born explorer, world traveler, cross-dresser, Sufi Muslim….

Song from the Uproar is a joint effort between the Cincinnati Opera and concert:nova on stage at the Aronoff from the 17th through the 21st of this month.

With music by Missy Mazzoli and libretto by Royce Vavrek, mezzo-soprano Abigail Fisher in the title role, an ensemble that encompasses singers Melissa Harvey, Emma Sorenson, Benjamin Lee and Olusola Fadiran and concert:nova instrumentalists Ron Aufmann, Randy Bowman, Ric Hordinski, Julie Spangler, and Matt Zory, led by Keitaro Hirada, this promises to be an important musical event.

The music-theatre piece tells in a series of vignettes the life story and exploits of the mysterious Swiss woman Isabelle Eberhardt.


Rafael de Acha


boyd meets girl

In their latest CD, Rupert Boyd pairs up his guitar to the cello of Laura Metcalf. It is a musical match made in Heaven.

Reflexões No. 6 by Bolivian-born composer Jaime Zenamon is a three-part miniature for cello and guitar that announces its South American provenance in the first few bars of its first movement. Boyd and Metcalf play it with gusto and flair. Gabriel Faure’s Pavane. Op. 50 is next and played elegantly:

Boyd and Metcalf are purposeful musicians ideally equipped to tackle the severe intricacies of J.S. Bach’s two-part inventions, nos. 6, 8, 10 and 13. Originally written for the keyboard, the inventions are here divided up (left hand to the guitar, right hand to the cello) with unexpectedly felicitous sonorities.

Aratura Arioso, a work adapted by Australian composer Ross Edwards from his own concerto for guitar, is a a calmly evocative piece, sensitively delivered here by the Boyd-Metcalf duo.

A lively South American composition, Allegretto Comodo, by Brazilian composer, Radames Gnattali again evidences the artists’ penchant for the music of the Southern Hemisphere. It is later followed on the CD by Cafe 1930, a plangently moody piece by Astor Piazzolla.

I have heard the Siete Canciones Populares Españolas by Manuel de Falla played by any number of instrumental combinations in quite a variety of arrangements, and I was sure I was not going to like once more the absence of the lyrics De Falla assigned to what is essentially a set of folk songs.

But, as I listened to Boyd and Metcalf, I was won over by their way with the music and ended up immensely enjoying the seven songs that make up the little cycle.

Arvo Pärt ‘s Spiegel im Spiegel takes the duo far afield from their largely Romantic recital. It is a deceivingly simple composition based on a series of ascending and descending figures taken up by the solo cello while the guitar accompanies it with arpeggio chords. The overall effect is hauntingly hypnotic.

The album ends with Michael Jackson’s Human Nature. It is not the sort of composition one would expect to keep company with Bach, de Falla et al, but he Boyd-Metcalf duo accords it the same impeccable treatment that it gives to the rest of the music in the album.

The album (SONO LUMINUS DSL-92217) has been neatly packaged, accompanied by insightful notes by both the artists, and flawlessly engineered by Daniel Shores.    

Musicianly Entrepreneurs


Musicianly Entrepreneurs

I recently was sent several CD’s on the mail for reviewing on my blog. Just by happenchance they all had something in common. Either they were self-produced by the artists who recorded them or they featured ensembles whose members came together for the purpose of making music and making a living at it.

Some of these artists handle their own CD sales, some do their own bookings, some started their careers doing all of that and gradually achieved fame and, with it, the  benefit of having an agent or management firm handle their engagements.

With music conservatories here and abroad graduating dozens of well-qualified musicians every year the question comes to mind again and again: where are they going to go and where will they work?

I venture that those musicians with the initiative and imagination to become self-starters have the odds in their favor.

Here is the first of three capsule reviews of my most recent musical discoveries.

LIBERTANGO – Three: Kanako Shimasaki, violin; Luke Gillespie, piano; Mariko Shimasaki, violin. (

Piazzolla: Libertango; Traditional: Greensleeves; Carmichael: Stardust; Gillespie: Song for Pablo and Moving Mists; Izumi: Miagetegoran Yoruno Hoshiwo; Mitake: Kawano Nagareno Youni; Brahms: Hungarian Dance, no. 5

In Libertango, their imaginatively-programmed debut album (R-1750004), the sister violin duo of Kanako and Mariko Shimasaki is joined by pianist Luke Gillespie.

Adopting the simple name of THREE the artists play eight selections ranging from Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango to Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust to a couple of Japanese Folk Songs and a pair of charming compositions by the trio’s pianist, Luke Gillespie, who also provides a canonic setting of Greensleves for two violins.

The CD ends with a bravura rendering of Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5.

Throughout their program THREE’s threesome tackle the music with stylishness, playing idiomatically the work at hand, be it Piazzolla’s iconic Nuevo Tango or the jazz-inflected Carmichael standard or the mesmerizing Japanese folk tunes by Taku Izumi and Akira Mitake.

Germans would brand this album Schlag Musik and fastidious purists would label it “easy listening.” Not one to put labels on art, I simply call this debut album a delightfully eclectic sampler of the work of a resourceful new ensemble worth noting, worth welcoming and worth following.

Here is THREE at work: playing Libertango by  Piazzolla

Rafael de Acha