Saturday, April 28, 2001

CSO branches out in summer program

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        This summer, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will be dividing its summer season between concerts at Riverbend Music Center and a new chamber orchestra series in Corbett Auditorium at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

        The new Tuesday night series, called Bach & Beyond and headed by violinist Jaime Laredo, was announced earlier this month. The CSO also announced its classical Riverbend series would move from weekends to weeknights.

        The Enquirer talked with CSO president Steven Monder last week about the summer season, including Bach & Beyond and its just-announced offshoot called Bach Yard Community Concerts, that will take the CSO to the suburbs.

        Question: Why start something like the CSO's new Bach & Beyond chamber orchestra series in Corbett Auditorium?

Answer: Actually, the change has been a long time in the making. We've been wanting to bring the orchestra to more people in a more intimate environment, more personal if you will.

        We think it offers a better mix for our audience during the summer. We still have the Pops concerts at Riverbend; we still have a full orchestra at Riverbend, and we're adding the Bach & Beyond series, as well as some new neighborhood and outreach programs with that orchestra.

        Q: How will the community concerts be different from the former Area Artist Series, that went to regional towns such as Lebanon?

A: That was a winter program, and we did something called mini-festivals in the summer, which were audience development more than artistic. They'll be short, with interesting repertoire and talking to people. We'll be performing in St. Barnabas Church (Montgomery), Mason and NKU during the same three weeks we are at Corbett Auditorium.

        Q: Does moving the CSO Riverbend concerts to midweek free up more weekends for SFX's contemporary (pop) series?

A: It frees up those weekends, it does. But if we felt weekends were the right thing to do for us, we would have stuck with it. We wanted to give this a try. We think it will accommodate our public and be good for Riverbend as well.

        Q: Were you disappointed with classical ticket sales at Riverbend?

A: We weren't disappointed. The difficult thing is that the shed itself seats 6,000 people. So if we have 1,500 to 2,000 people in the pavilion, psychologically it's very tough, particularly for the audience. ... We think we have plenty of product for the Riverbend CSO concerts, and we're adding a new concert series. So I see it as a plus.


        Q: Riverbend was originally built to be the CSO summer home. Is it going to remain the CSO summer home?

        A: Absolutely. We will maintain a presence there. ... Things change over time, and we try to adjust.


        Q: Has music director designate Paavo Jarvi had input in the new plans?

A: We're in a transition period, obviously. Jesus (Lopez-Cobos) is music director. So we certainly spoke to Jesus ... At the same time, we talked to Paavo as the incoming music director, because we hope these to be ongoing programs and we wanted his participation from the beginning.


        Q: What kinds of events are planned for bringing in the new maestro with a big splash in September?

        A: There will be a gala opening weekend to welcome him. The details are being worked out now. ... We're going to do our best to make sure everyone knows who Paavo Jarvi is, what he looks like, and (that he) wants them here in Music Hall.
       Bach Yard concerts
       The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's Bach Yard Community Concerts:
        June 8 — Andreas Delfs, guest conductor; Esther Heideman, soprano. St. Barnabas Church, Montgomery.
        June 15 — Jaime Laredo, violinist and conductor. Mason High School.
        June 18 — Jaime Laredo, violinist and conductor. Greaves Hall, Northern Kentucky University.
        Concerts will be at 7:30 p.m. Cost: $10.
        Programs correspond to those in theBach & Beyond series to be held in Corbett Auditorium. For information call 381-3300.
        July 11 — CSO Community Family Concert, John Morris Russell, conductor. Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church. The concert will be free.


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