Sunday, June 8, 2003

Chamber Orchestra teams with Ballet, Vocal Arts Ensemble

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

For 2003-04, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra will expand its season, play four of its concerts in Corbett Auditorium at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and join forces with the Cincinnati Ballet and the Vocal Arts Ensemble.

The biggest innovation is a new, contemporary music series, "Twentieth Century Classics," to be played in Fifth Third Bank Theater at the Aronoff Center.

It fits music director Mischa Santora's aim of doing things "outside of the box," he says. Besides that, he adds, "This is not contemporary any more. The 20th century is basically classical. We are in the 21st now."

The new series consists of two programs, in November and March. The will be Schoenberg's early romantic string sextet, Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night), and the spellbinding Pierrot Lunaire (1912), a melodrama for speaker and chamber ensemble.

Santora plans to use members of Cincinnati Ballet with artistic director Victoria Morgan as choreographer in the second program that includes Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun and Barber's Medea ballet suite.

"The Debussy was written as a ballet, so wouldn't that be great to have it choreographed in a small, intimate setting?" he says.

The season opens Sept. 28-29 with legendary pianist Claude Frank performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. Other soloists are young, up-and-coming artists such as soprano Indra Thomas (Dec. 7-8), hailed by the Philadelphia Inquirer as the next great Verdi soprano, in the footsteps of Leontyne Price.

In October, alto Megan Dey-Toth and rising star heldentenor Patrick Marques (he appeared with Houston Grand Opera as Walter in Tannhauser this year) will be soloists in a rarely heard chamber ensemble arrangement of Mahler's Song of the Earth.

Santora will conduct five of the six subscription concerts. Earl Rivers, professor at the College-Conservatory of Music, will visit in January to lead Haydn's Harmoniemesse and Mozart's Requiem, with his own Vocal Arts Ensemble.

The concert will be Vocal Arts Ensemble's fifth collaboration over 20 years with the orchestra.

"The CCO and Vocal Arts Ensemble are well-matched in size and mission to collaborate on a large repertory from the early baroque, classical and contemporary periods," Rivers says. "Mischa and I would both like to see future collaborations of commissions for new works."

The concert will feature the regional premiere of the newest edition of Mozart's Requiem by Robert Levin.

In February, Santora will bring CCM graduates Ping Gao, a pianist and composer, and violin virtuoso Yang Liu, to perform a concerto by Cincinnati composer Joel Hoffman, "Self Portrait with Mozart."

The season finale in April will feature Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier's Tale), performed by members of Cincinnati Ballet and narrated by WGUC-FM announcer Mark Perzel.

The orchestra will continue to branch out to new venues from its home in Memorial Hall. Next year, four of six Sunday concerts will be in Corbett Auditorium, and four Monday concerts will take place in Greaves Hall on the Northern Kentucky University campus.

The season

The Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra season, with Mischa Santora, conductor:

Sept. 28-29 - Claude Frank, piano. Berg, Lyric Suite; Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58; Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55, "Eroica." 3 p.m. Sunday, Corbett Auditorium; 7:30 p.m. Monday, Greaves Concert Hall.

Oct. 19-20 - Megan Dey-Toth, alto; Patrick Marques, tenor. Schubert, Symphony No. 2 in B-flat Major, D. 125; Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth), arr. by Schoenberg for chamber ensemble. 3 p.m. Sunday, Corbett Auditorium; 7:30 p.m. Monday, Greaves Concert Hall.

Dec. 7-8 - Indra Thomas, soprano. Wagner, Wesendonck Songs; Berlioz, Les nuits d'ete; Brahms, Serenade No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11. 3 p.m., Memorial Hall, Over-the-Rhine; 7:30 p.m. Monday, Gallagher Center Theatre, Xavier University (not a subscription concert).

Jan. 18-19 - Earl Rivers, guest conductor; Vocal Arts Ensemble, Earl Rivers, director; soloists to be announced. Haydn, Harmoniemesse; Mozart, Requiem, K. 626. 3 p.m. Sunday, Saint Peter in Chains Cathedral, downtown; 7:30 p.m. Monday, Greaves Concert Hall.

Feb. 22-23 - Ping Gao, piano; Yang Liu, violin. Mozart, Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183; Joel Hoffman, Self Portrait with Mozart; Mozart, Masonic Funeral Music, K. 477; Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550.

April 4 - Cincinnati Ballet, Victoria Morgan, director; Mark Perzel, narrator. Stravinsky, Concerto in D; Haydn, Symphony No. 100 in G Major, "Military"; Stravinsky, L'Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier's Tale), with narration and choreography. 3 p.m., Corbett Auditorium.

Twentieth Century Classics

Concerts are at 7:30 p.m., Fifth Third Bank Theater, Aronoff Center

Nov. 5 - Schoenberg, Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4 (Transfigured Night); Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21.

March 10 - Members of Cincinnati Ballet, Victoria Morgan, choreographer. Britten, Young Apollo, Op. 16; Debussy, Afternoon of a Faun; Barber, Medea, Op. 23.

Subscriptions: $70-$135; student discounts available. Tickets to the Twentieth Century Classics are $15 each; $25 for both. Renewals will be sent this week. 723-1182.


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