Sunday, July 16, 2000

CCM workshops strum up interest in classical guitar


Week attracts fans from across U.S.

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        Think of it as stress management. Classical guitar enthusiasts of all ages will convene at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for classical guitar workshops and concerts, July 24-30.

        “There's a huge segment of the population that loves to listen to classical guitar, because it's a soft instrument. There's an intimacy and low-stress profile that allows people to simply relax,” says director Clare Callahan, chairman of Classical Guitar Studies at CCM.

        “The average student will get a lot of inspiration. They'll get an incredible amount of information, and they'll get immersed in the joy of playing classical guitar,” she says.

        The workshop has “taken on a life of its own” since professor Callahan and other guitarists started it in 1983 to give their students something to do in the summer. Now guitar aficionados come from all corners of the country. Students range from age 8 through senior citizen, from computer gurus to architects.

        “There isn't anything like it for several states. We never dreamed that this is what it would be,” Ms. Callahan says.

        Students will be assigned to classes according to skill level. There are special activities for guitarists age 14 and under. Participants may register at the workshop for the full session ($185) or the weekend session ($95). For information call 556-9198.

        Free public recitals will take place at 8 p.m. in Watson Hall at CCM: July 27 — Faculty Guitar Ensemble Concert; July 28 — Louisville native Brian Luckett, a CCM grad, in solo recital; July 29 — Faculty and workshop participants.

        The guitar festival ends with a 2 p.m. concert on July 30. Information: 281-2865.

        Prizes for pianist: Here's a pianist to watch: Anna Polusmiak, 17, a sophomore at Northern Kentucky University, has won two first prizes in piano competitions in Ukraine and Canada.

        Last month, she performed Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, as an award for winning first prize of the Ludmila Knezkova-Hussey International Piano Competition held in New Brunswick, Canada.

        In May, she performed with the Lugansk Philharmonic as winner of the International Festival of the Muses in Lugansk, Ukraine.

        Ms. Polusmiak, who was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, is a student of her father, Sergei Polusmiak. Mr. Polusmiak was recently named the first recipient of the Tom and Christine Neyer Family Endowed Professorship of Music at NKU.

        Obo star: Boston Records has just released The Art of Robert Bloom, a set of seven CDs honoring the musical legacy of oboist Robert Bloom.

        The most recorded American oboist of the 20th century, Mr. Bloom was co-founder of the Bach Aria Group, an ensemble he played with for 34 years. The CDs capture 50 years of performances (1930-80), featuring Mr. Bloom with artists such as violinist Joseph Silverstein; pianists Earl Wild and Menahem Pressler; and singers Maureen Forrester, William Warfield, Benita Valente and Marian Anderson.

        Mr. Bloom, a prominent oboist, composer, teacher and conductor, died in 1994 in Cincinnati. During his career, he was principal oboist of the great recording orchestras of his day, including the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini and the RCA Victor Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein and others.

        Among the most fascinating performances is Handel's Sonata in C Minor, Op. 1 No. 8 with pianist Earl Wild (then a staff pianist at NBC), recorded by RCA Victor in 1948. Mr. Bloom's tone is exquisite, his phrasing is masterful, and the duo is beautifully balanced.

        The recordings are live and unedited. Mr. Bloom spins a beautiful line in Schumann's Romances in 1966, although a misplaced microphone throws off his balance with the piano. A movement from Mozart's Quintet in E-flat Major for Piano and Winds, K. 452, recorded at Town Hall in 1948, is the picture of wit and clarity.

        Mr. Bloom's widow, the oboist Sara Lambert Bloom, a former CCM faculty member, wrote the liner notes. She is at work on a book, A Time for Bach, about Mr. Bloom and the Bach Aria Group.

        The CDs, $100 for all seven, or $16 each, can be purchased through Amazon.com, robertbloom.com, bostonrecords.com and in retail stores.

        Saluting the Queen Mum: Raymond Leppard, outgoing music director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, will honor the Queen Mother's 100th birthday when he conducts the English Chamber Orchestra in a special concert on July 27. The concert will be in Castle Acre Priory, a 12th-century church in Castle Acre, Great Britain, near the royal summer estate.

        Although it's not officially billed as a birthday concert — the Queen Mum's birthday is Aug. 4 — Prince Charles, the Queen Mother and ther royals are expected to attend. The program includes Handel's “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” from Solomon; Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 27, with Maria Joao Pires, and Haydn's Symphony No. 85, “La Reine.”

        Maestro Leppard spends two weeks each summer with the royal family at their summer estate, Sandringham, and has conducted concerts at Buckingham Palace.

        The concert is part of the Music in the Country Churches Series, which raises money to assist rural churches in maintenance and restoration.

        Maestro's plans: So far, outgoing Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra music director Jesus Lopez-Cobos has been mum about his plans after he leaves Cincinnati in 2001. But Mr. Lopez-Cobos indicated in an interview with Juan Torreiro of La Voz de Galicia that he hopes to return to Spain.

        In early June, he conducted the Symphony Orchestra of Galicia for the opera, The Marriage of Figaro, at the Mozart Festival of Coruna, Spain.

        “Yes, I do prefer to work in Spain,” Mr. Lopez-Cobos told La Voz. “Since I left the (Spanish) National Orchestra, I've been too removed from the musical environment of the country of my birth.”

        Mr. Lopez-Cobos praised the Galicia Symphony as being “one of the best in Spain.” When asked if he had been offered the position of principal guest conductor, he answered, “I was told that they would like my participation on a regular basis.”

        Mr. Lopez-Cobos was music director of the Spanish National Orchestra 1984-88. He plans to conduct Galicia's orchestra again in August, and hopes to return at least two or three times a year, he said. In the past year, he has also worked with orchestras in Barcelona and Tenerife.

        DeLay's genius: Ever wonder what gives master teacher Dorothy DeLay the Midas touch? Author Barbara Lourie Sand writes about the renowned violin teacher of artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Midori and Sarah Chang in a new book: Teaching Genius: Dorothy DeLay and the Making of a Musician (Amadeus Press; $24.95).

        The book includes personal insights from violinists Mr. Perlman, Isaac Stern and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.

        Choral season: Cincinnati pianist Michael Chertock will join the Cincinnati Choral Society as associate conductor, under artistic director Douglas Belland.

        The Choral Society's 2000-01 season will open on Dec. 3 with a holiday concert, featuring Mr. Chertock performing selections from his CD, Christmas at the Movies, J.S. Bach's Magnificat in D, and carols arranged by Alfred Burt.

        March 25 will be a Young Person's Concert, with selections by the Mason High School Concert Choir, Elaine Santos, director. On May 21, the Society will perform a program of American anthems, folk songs, spirituals and contemporary music.

        Auditions begin in August. Interested singers may call 784-2379.

        Music at Miami: There will be good reason to travel to Oxford, Ohio, for classical music next season. Violinist Itzhak Perlman, clarinet virtuoso Richard Stoltzman, the avant-garde Kronos Quartet and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra are a few of the artists coming to the Miami University Performing Arts Series.

        New next year, performances will start at 7:30 p.m., and concertgoers can purchase catered dinners before Millett Hall concerts. A free shuttle service will be offered for Hall Auditorium events.

        The Millett Hall Series:

        Sept. 28 — “Children of the Passage,” Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

        Oct. 26 — The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Nicholas McGegan, conductor; Garrick Ohlsson, pianist.

        Nov. 9 — Dracula, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

        Feb. 22 — Bizet's Carmen, the London City Opera.

        April 4 — Violinist Itzhak Perlman, a Homage to Jascha Heifetz.

        Hall Auditorium Series:

        Sept. 17 — The Oxford Chamber Orchestra, Jose-Luis Novo, conductor; Richard Stoltzman, clarinetist (3 p.m.).

        Oct. 12 — The Klemperer Trio.

        Jan. 18 — The Kronos Quartet

        Feb. 13 — Jazz saxophonist Ilhan Ersahin; Sultana, vocalist.

        March 4 — Classical guitarist Robert Bluestone.

        March 24 — “The Diary of Anne Frank,” The Montana Repertory Theatre.

        Millett Hall Series: $94; $84 seniors; $46 MU students and youth under 18. The Hall Auditorium Series: $59; $48 seniors; $27 MU students and youth under 18. A Family Series package is available. For information call 513-529-6333.

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

       



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