Sunday, June 18, 2000

Starling strings together successes

        In the past month, the Starling String Project, directed by Kurt Sassmannshaus at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, has been featured in major articles in the Washington Post and The New York Times.

        In March, the orchestra took a three-week tour of China. “Consistently featured on local Chinese TV news, the orchestra enjoyed the sort of media attention that would be unimaginable in Cincinnati,” David Schoenbaum wrote in the Washington Post.

        Now the Starling Chamber Orchestra's educational video, Classical Quest, has just won its second award. This one is from the Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival in the “Educational/Instructional — Children” category.

        In April, Classical Quest won a Telly Award, which recognizes outstanding non-network and cable productions.

        The gifted 12- to 18-year-old musicians do not take the summer off. On June 28, the Starling Chamber Orchestra will put a new spin on Vivaldi's The Four Seasons at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, when they use four priceless Stradivari for the performance and a recording.

        Starling soloists Jessica Park, Tania Davison, Eun-Mee Jeong and Timothy O'Neill will play Strads provided by Machold Rare Violins, a global instrument dealer. (Tickets, $30, for the 8 p.m. concert in Aspen's Harris Concert Hall: 970-925-9042.)

        For more information, or to view photos from the group's China tour, visit

        Playing in Moscow: One year from now, pianist Richard Fields, a CCM professor, will be in Moscow, performing and recording three piano concertos by Howard Hanson with the Russian Federal Orchestra.

        The concerts will take place in Moscow's historic Tchaikovsky Hall. Baldwin Piano Co. is shipping a 9-foot grand to Moscow for the event.

        “These are undiscovered gems that deserve to be played. They will be attractive to both the lay person and the learned musician,” Mr. Fields says.

        The recording for Centaur Records will include Hanson's rarely heard Piano Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Fantasy-Variations on a Theme of Youth, and the Concerto da Camera for piano and string quartet.

        Harp convention: Here's a conference with heavenly overtones: The American Harp Society is holding its convention at CCM Wednesday through Saturday . It will include performances by distinguished harpists in concerts at 8 nightly in Corbett Auditorium.

        Wednesday, Judy Loman, principal harpist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, will play a recital of 20th-century works, including music by Paul Hindemith and Germaine Tailleferre. Thursday's program will highlight celtic harpist Laura Zaerr in her own “Celtic Concerto.”

        Friday's concert will feature six harpists from major orchestras in the United States and Europe, with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jose-Luis Novo.

        Included on the program, Gillian Benet Sella, CSO principal harpist, will perform Debussy's Danse Sacree et Danse Profane. Tickets at the door: $25, or call 751-1078.

        Kudos: The Cincinnati-based sextet eighth blackbird will benefit from a Meet The Composer grant awarded to composer Daniel Kellogg. Mr. Kellogg was one of 26 composers to receive a grant from the Commissioning Music/USA 2000 program, the nation's pre-eminent program to support new music.

        His 25-minute piece for eighth blackbird will be based on the 13th-century plainchant, “Divinum Mysterium.” Eighth blackbird, the first contemporary group ever to win first prize at the Concert Artists Guild International Competition, will premiere the piece in fall 2000.

        Janelle Gelfand is Enquirer classical music critic. Write her at Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati OH 45202; fax, 768-8330; e-mail,


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