Soothing Sounds of Silence

NRR2013112553_1SOFT LIGHT is the title of a recent release by the métier label that has of recent been producing quite a great deal of new music. With the participation of SHONORITIES, a group that includes Shie Shoji on vocals, Naomi Sato on soprano saxophone and Japanese sho, Lin Lin on flutes, Stelios Chatziliosifidis on violin, and Jasmina Samssuli at the piano, composer Basil Athanasiadis offers a soothing sampling of seven of his compositions.

All ten tracks are nothing but mesmerizing quietude as their titles immediately and prior to listening indicate. Both Air Still and The Cat in Love are vocal settings of haikus, the first peaceful and meditative, the second whimsical. The instrumental tracks contain music that embraces both the western roots of the composer – Greek born, English-trained at Trinity College and at the Royal Academy of Music – and his study and complete assimilation of Japanese music acquired while living and doing research in Japan. The results are absolutely intriguing and immensely satisfying, leaving this listener in a state of completely peaceful relaxation.

Unlike western music with its frequent reliance on motif development, rhythmic drive and contrapuntal intricacy, this is music that hues closely to a Japanese aesthetic based on simplicity of utterance and purity of expression. Hence there is not one single moment of bombast in all of this CD. Instead Athanasiadis offers the listener a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of a world where noise has come to supplant the sort of soothing sounds of silence that Basil Athanasiadis embraces quietly and unobtrusively intersperses with his calming compositions.

Rafael de Acha                            April 7, 2018

ENRICO CHAPELA: music from the gut

enrico chapela

Music and mathematics have long been studied and written about as strongly connected to one another. For Mexican composer Enrico Chapela, music and mathematics seemed to be joined at the hip if we but look at the titles of many of his compositions. Chapela’s Radioaxial is having its world premiere at Music Hall on Friday April 6 and 7, and we had an intriguing visit with the composer on the morning of the concert.

We opened what had been planned as an interview but quickly developed into a laid-back conversation by asking how could a composer of such cutting edge music as his make a living in Mexico. Chapela’ response (and note I do not quote him verbatim) was as measured as our question was blunt. In his case, indeed, it has been possible to dedicate all his time during the last fifteen years to making, teaching, playing and composing music in his homeland and internationally.

There has been a great deal of support for all his dedication and hard work, and that has allowed the 42-year old composer to finally phase out a formerly heavy teaching load to devote all of his time to composing, as commissions keep coming in and with each new commitment weeks of intense labor that balances inspiration with perspiration.

Chapela mines forms and sounds as diverse as those of the national music of his homeland, heavy metal rock, jazz, electronics and above all the corners of an inexhaustibly creative imagination. The composer flat out rejects the label “classical music” which he rightly says can only be used to describe the compositions of 18th century masters. Instead he prefers the simpler label – if one need be used – of ‘contemporary’ music.

Much too busy with the here and now of his world to worry about the future of concert music, Chapela writes from the gut and from the intellect, crafting music that has blown off the roofs of many august institutions where his music has been conducted by the likes of Essa-Pekka Salonen and Gustavo Dudamel, and played by large ensembles – Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra – and small groupings of instrumentalists interested in what lies beyond rather than in what has preceded the music of today.

Enrico Chapela’s Radioaxial premieres as part of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Season 2017-2018.

Rafael de Acha April 6, 2018

Listen to: : The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Autonomous National University of Mexico plays Enrico Chapela’s Lunática, conducted by Niksa Bareza




In a 1994 New York Times piece titled, “Tonality is Dead: Long Live Tonality” musicologist Michael Beckerman cried out (I paraphrase ) that writing tonal music in the halls of Academia (Columbia University specifically in his case) in the 1960’s and 1970’s was tantamount to death. Imagine then, this being the second decade of the 21st century what composer Joshua Fineberg would encounter were he to write some innocuously pretty music that could inconspicuously play in the background while we visited with friends or played cards. Not to worry: Fineberg is safe. His music – not to say that it is ugly – is…well…not “pretty.” It demands for you to listen. Really listen. Daydreaming is not allowed.

Joshua Fineberg writes about his music as well as he composes it. His prose is dense and complex, and, once you are done reading his words you will want to settle down and listen to the music. Upon a first hearing one could wrongly ascribe the four selections in Sonic Fictions, a collection of compositions by this American composer, to just about any number of experimentalists. But make no mistake, this is quintessentially original music.

Absent harmony, melody and counterpoint – the centuries-old triumvirate of western music in operation from the Renaissance on, all we have left is pure sound: acoustic or electronic. And pure sound is delivered by Fineberg, in spades, in four exotically-titled compositions: “L’abime” (The abyss), “just as much entangled with other matter” (all in lower case, in case you wondered), “La Quintina”, and “Objets trouves” (Found objects). The four compositions clock in total at 63 minutes, averaging 10 to 18 minutes per, so, as I said before, plan on settling down before you put the metier (msv 28564) excellently engineered release on your CD player. You will be rewarded. I certainly was.

The players are beyond reproach: the Talea Ensemble on the first track, accordionist Pascal Contet on the second, the Arditi Quartet on the third and the Argento Chamber Ensemble on the closing one. All these artists walk dangerous territory bravely and elegantly.

Listening to this music reminds me of a Jorge Luis Borges short story that depicts an unending journey down a hallway lined up with doors on either side. The surrogate narrator/character (think Borges himself) would open any one of these dozens, hundreds, thousands of doors. Once opened. that door would reveal yet another hallway lined up with as many doors as the one before. The operation would be repeated ad infinitum leading not to nowhere but to unexplored new passageways down which the adventure seeker would wonder. That sort of journey to what is just beyond those doors is what Fineberg’s music evokes for me.

Rafael d Acha   April 4, 2018

Food for the Soul and food for the tummy

Some interesting events taking place this weekend in Cincinnati


Friday, from 5 to 8 pm at Wash Art Park at 1215 Elm Street
FELIX and HELMS | Out of the Park KURT GRANNAN | Out of the Dark
Come for the art, not for the complimentary refreshments…But do come! Once you are in the area, why not pop into…

Music Hall

Once there, pick up a ticket for as little as $15 for the evening concert, which starts at 8 pm.


Pianist James Gaffigan will tackle the gorgeous Piano Concerto of Samuel Barber, conductor Inon Barnatan will lead the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in Rachmaninoff’s romantic Symphonic Dances, and the concert will feature Radioaxial, a lively new composition by Mexican composer Enrico Chapela.

At 7 p.m. things get Latin  in honor of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Cincinnati. Come early and look at the dazzling display of art by Peruvian Alexandra Harcha-Montes.

Oh, and if you feel really Latin at heart, wear orange. Those who do are in for a possible nice surprise. And do not forget that ONE HOUR before the concert there is a Classical Conversation usually led by the evening’s conductor or one of the CSO musicians.

Sunday 8 at 5 pm at Immaculata Church in Mt. Adams

HOJOON LEEAn all-Mendelssohn chamber music concert helmed by cellist Hojoon Choi that will include the sublimely beautiful Octet in Eb, the Trio in C minor and the Quartet no. 2 in A minor. FREE ADMISSION. BUT…

Joon asks that people bring NON-PERISHABLE foodstuffs as a donation for St. George’s Food Pantry.

Food for the Soul followed by food for the tummy.

Rafael de Acha    April 3, 2018


Music for All Seasons: 2018-2019


Music for All Seasons: 2018-2019

October 14, 2018, 2 pmSports and Entertainments
Pianists Michael Delfin and Stephen Variannes, guitarist James Meade, cellist Carmine Miranda, vocalist Kimberly Daniel, and harpist Joseph Rebman will perform French and Spanish music from Europe’s romantic 1890’s.

December 9, 2018, 2 pmHappy Holidays
Surprise guest artists will appear in Music for All Seasons’ traditional holiday concert in a varied medley of traditional, folk, classical, and world music in celebration of the season. The afternoon will also feature a silent auction to benefit the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.

February 10, 2019, 2 pmMusic of Spain and France
A program of vocal and piano music by Claude Debussy, Paolo Tosti, Isaac Albéniz and Stephen Foster, highlighted by arias and duets from Jules Massenet’s Manon will feature tenor, Daniel Weeks and soprano, Katherine Jolly.

April 14, 2019, 2 pmSongs and arias of Mahler, Dvořák and Wagner
Produced in partnership with the Wagner Society of Cincinnati, the closing concert of our season will feature songs by Gustav Mahler, the Gypsy Songs of AntonÍn Dvořák, and operatic arias by Richard Wagner with soprano, Amy Yekel and pianist, Fabio Menchetti.
“It is the artists of the world, the feelers and the thinkers who will ultimately save us. They are the ones who can articulate, educate, defy, insist, sing and shout the big dreams” Leonard Bernstein
Music for All Seasons presents its events at Historic Peterloon Estate, 8605 Hopewell Road in the Village of Indian Hill in Cincinnati, Ohio. All of our events take place in the grand salons of the former home of Cincinnati arts patrons John J. and Irene Emery, and all proceeds from ticket sales are donated to the Scholarship Fund of the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music.

Flexible passes are now on sale for the 2018-2019 Season. Passes are $120 for 4 admissions. Single tickets are $35. For each flexible pass, please send a check for $120 to Music for all Seasons, PO Box 43172, Cincinnati, Ohio 45243.




This post to bring to the attention of our readers an extraordinary violinist, Irina Muresanu.

Rumanian by birth, she now lives in Maryland and teaches at the University of Maryland. Sono Luminus recently released the album Four Strings Around the World (DSL 92221) and forwarded to us a copy for review on our blog.

When you have a chance, email Sono Luminus for a digital link to Four Strings Around the World. Or even better, find a hard copy of this beautifully engineered CD. I promise you will be stunned by not only the virtuosic playing of Irina Muresanu’s playing but also by her deep commitment to exploring music for her instrument from musical cultures as diverse as Indian, Persian, Native American, Irish, Chinese and Argentine ones. Oh, and read her liner notes. This is a musical scholar who gives voice to her ideas both in words and in her playing.

In her album she mixes samples of an off-beat repertory with sundry pieces by Kreisler, Paganini, and JS Bach. The Caprice No. 24 of Niccolo Paganini, Fritz Kreisler’s Recitative and Scherzo, Op. 6 and JS Bach’s Chaconne from the D minor Partita are de rigueur test pieces for the best of violinists and Irina Muresanu quickly puts any doubts to rest: this is a superb artist in full command of her instrument. She plays the Italian master’s Caprice with Romantic bel canto singing tone. The Kreisler is all pure Viennese Schlagmusik here given a lively reading. The Bach Chaconne – a notoriously tricky musical mine-field is played by Muresanu with classical sobriety

None of the rest of the music in this album is strictly and traditionally classic, but grown from strong folk roots. Such is the case with Georges Enescu’s decidedly gypsy-flavored Airs in Romanian Style, which Muresanu plays with the dash and abandon of a village fiddler and with daunting technique.

In the Gaelic Tar éis an Caoineadh the composer and Ms. Muresanu employ all sorts of technically dazzling effects typical of Irish fiddle music. In Reza Vali’s Calligraphy No. 5 the inspiration for the composer is born out of ancient music for the Arab rebab and the Persian kemancheh, both ancestors to the western violin. In both these compositions Muresanu is nothing short of dazzling, as her violin imitates the bending of the pitch typical of much Iranian music with its modal, non-western sound.

In Shirih Korde’s three-part Vak for violin and electronic drone Muresanu’s playing is hauntingly redolent of the sound of Indian string instruments. In Bright Sheng’s lovely The Stream Flows: II, Mureanu adopts a percussive mode of playing that alternates with a plangent sound reminiscent of a Chinese erhu.

The music of Astor Piazzolla’s Tango Etude No. 3 is cool at times, red hot at others, recalling the sound of fiddles played in dimly-lit, smoke-filled dives near the docks of the River Plate. Muresanu cuts loose on this track fearlessly throwing all caution to the winds.

Entering the musically unknown territory of Native American composer Jerod Impichchaachaha’Tate, of the Chickasaw Nation, Irina Muresanu plays Oshta with intensity and respect for the spirituality inherent in this strangely haunting composition.

Mark O’Connor’s The Cricket Dance is Appalachian to the core and foot-tappin’ and fiddlin’ her way into a grand finale, Irina Muresanu convinces us there’s simply nothing in this world she cannot play.

Rafael de Acha April 2, 2018




Summermusik’s 2018 Lineup
Under the baton of Maestro Eckart Preu, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s Summermusik returns this year with a varied lineup of concerts in multiple venues.

British Invasion Saturday, August 4, 2018 7:30pm | SCPA Corbett Theater

HANDEL: The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba; BOYCE: Symphony No. 5 in D Major
ELGAR: Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85; JOHN LUNN: Downton Abbey: The Suite
FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN: Symphony No. 104 in D Major, London

An Afternoon with Jane Austen Sunday, August 5, 2018 4pm | Taft Museum of Art

Music by Pleyel, Gluck and Handel, popular music of the age, and music from both the movie and miniseries production of Pride and Prejudice. Special guest cellist Coleman Itzkoff will be featured on Haydn’s Divertimento in D Major for Solo Cello and Strings.

MicroBrass @ Fretboard Tuesday, August 7, 2018 7:30pm | Fretboard Brewing

Selections from operas by Monteverdi, Purcell, Wagner and Puccini, with special guest soprano Melissa Harvey

The Seasons: Reimagined Saturday, August 11, 2018 7:30pm | SCPA Corbett Theater

VALGEIR SIGURÐSSON: FROM Dreamland (CCO Premiere); MAX RICHTER: From Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons (CCO Premiere); ANTONIO VIVALDI: From The Four Seasons, Op. 8 Celeste Golden Boyer, violin

Postcards from the Sky Sunday, August 12, 2018 4pm | Carnegie Hall at Newport

Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra concertmaster Celeste Golden Boyer will be featured on several works, including Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Minor.

Film Screening of “The Red Violin” Thursday, August 16, 2018 | 7:30pm | Esquire Theatre

American Souvenirs Friday, August 17, 2018 7:30pm | Liberty Exhibition Hall

Music by Gershwin, Berlin,Vieuxtemps and Dvorak, with Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra concertmaster Celeste Golden Boyer

Voyage of the Red Violin Saturday, August 18, 2018 7:30pm | SCPA Corbett Theater

TAN DUN: FROM Death and Fire: Dialogue with Paul Klee; CHEN YI: FROM Chinese Folk Dance Suite
JOHN CORIGLIANO: The Red Violin: Suite (CCO Premiere) – Elizabeth Pitcairn, violin
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART: Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K. 385 (“Haffner”)

Balkan Rhythms Sunday, August 19, 2018 4pm | Cincinnati Art Museum

JOHANNES BRAHMS: Hungarian Dance No. 5 in F# Minor; PABLO DE SARASATE: Gypsy Airs
BÉLA BARTÓK: Selections from Romanian Folk Dances; JOHANNES BRAHMS: Rondo from Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25; JO KNÜMANN: Balkan; ZARKO JOVANOVIC: “Djelem Djelem“ (Romani Anthem); VITTORIO MONTI: Csárdás; GRIGORAŞ DINICU: Hora Staccato
Elizabeth Pitcairn, violin

The Roaring 20s Tuesday, August 21, 2018 7:30pm | The Library VIP Lounge at “Jack” CasinAlt Rock @ The Redmoor

Music by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Scott Joplin, Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill and Paul Hindemith

Friday, August 24, 2018 | 7:30pm | The Redmoor

CCO principal violist Heidi Yenney and pianist Christopher O’Riley, host of NPR’s popular From the Top program, will co-host an evening of Alternative Rock.

The Hero Within Saturday, August 25, 2018 7:30pm | SCPA Corbett Theater

SAMUEL BARBER: Adagio for Strings; DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH: Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra in C Minor, Op. 35; COLLABORATION WITH MUSIC RESOURCE CENTER, ARR. SCOT WOOLLEY: Heroes (World Premiere); LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (“Eroica”)
Christopher O’Riley, piano Ashley Hall, trumpet

Ticket Information:
The CCO is pleased to offer several ways to enjoy Summermusik concert events. Buy your passes before May 1 to receive last year’s rates before they go up on May 1!
For information and tickets Call 513-723-1182 or visit the CCO online at


CCM 2018-2019


If, like many of our readers, you like to plan your attendance of arts events well in advance, here is an overview of what’s being offered at CCM this upcoming Season 2018-2019. Subscriptions to CCM events are available now in 8, 6, 4 and 3 show deals, and they range from $81 to $192, which works out to an average of $24 to $27 per show, which is one of the best deals in Cincinnati. Performances usually run on the weekends for one or two weeks.

Here’s an overview of the season, from which you can flexibly choose from Musicals, Dance, Theatre and Opera:








CINDERELLA: APRIL 26 – 28, 2019

Subscription packages for new subscribers go on sale May 2, 2018, with packages ranging in price from $81-­$192. Single tickets go on sale beginning Sept. 10, 2018, but subscribing is the only way to guarantee your LOWER-PRICED seats To order subscriptions, contact the CCM Box Office at 513-­556-­4183 or

The Theory of Relativity

5abb0113c8ed3.imageKimberly and I saw The Theory of Relativity at CCM on Wednesday night. It was the dress rehearsal and, in fairness and in principle I will not ever review a dress rehearsal of anything, even if I absolutely love what I see. And that precisely was the case with this brilliant production of a show I had never heard of.

Seeing today’s post by our colleague Kirk Sheppard (“The Sappy Critic”) I was moved to post this “non-review” with kudos for, first and foremost, director-choreographer, Katie Johannigman, who is making a splash on her first year in the CCM Musical Theatre faculty. Johannigman delivered a first-class show on a bare stage save for a blackboard, some chairs, and a stairs leading to the upper level of the Cohen Studio space, which she used to 100% advantage.

Just the music, creatively helmed by Steve Goers and its urbanely witty lyrics about the whole gamut of human relationships: straight, gay, just friends, something more than friends, sufficed, neatly served up by an amazingly professional cast, all still students, with no costumes, no trappings, simple lighting.

The show sold out its entire run, but, word to the wise, you’d be crazy to miss anything CCM announces for next year, not only the main stage shows listed in its brochure, but the Cohen Studio musical theatre productions that often go by under the radar even for culture vultures looking for something interesting and free, which The Theory of Relativity was.

Just saying…

Music for All Seasons presents its FINAL CONCERT of 2017-2018

Music for All Seasons presents its FINAL CONCERT of 2017-2018 at Peterloon on April 29 at 2 pm (please note new date!)

Music for the Home and Stage, Music for All Seasons’ final concert of the Season 2017-2018 is fast approaching, and you won’t want to miss the music being sung and played by a superb group of artists in the intimate environment of Cincinnati’s historic Peterloon Estate.


 Allan Palacios’ sterling tenor voice and artistry will perfectly suit the Italian songs of Alessandro Scarlatti that he will sing in our April 29th program. Christopher Wilke will accompany Allan on the theorbo, and will also play a set of Renaissance dance tunes on the lute. Melisa Bonetti, a fast rising mezzo-soprano, will sing selections from Spanish zarzuelas, and arias from Bizet’s Carmen and Saint-Saens’ Samson et Dalila.

Melisa and Allan will then join their voices in selections from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.

EBEN 3South African pianist Eben Wagenstroom returns to Peterloon to collaborate with the other artists in the program and to play a group of 19th century contradanzas by Cuban composer Manuel Saumell.

Visual artist James Slouffman will exhibit a group of his works in the lobby of the Peterloon mansion.

An informal get-together with the artists, over tea, coffee and pastries will follow the concert.


WHAT and WHERE: Music for All Seasons at Peterloon on Sunday April 29th at 2 pm at Peterloon Estate at 8605 Hopewell Road, in the Village of Indian Hill.
INFORMATION: Visit us on Facebook.