In a landscape where we are bombarded with entertainment options and self-curated social media, it’s hard to imagine one singular story becoming a transcendent sensation, but that’s precisely what happened when The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, often regarded as the first modern novel, was published over 400 years ago. Miguel de Cervantes’ masterpiece is also considered by many, including leading authors of the 21st century, as the single most important literary work ever written. How is it still relevant today?
In a Financial Times article, scholar William Egginton contends that Cervantes’ novel is a “response to a media revolution that in some ways mirrors our own.” He writes, “Cervantes’ disillusionment with his society led him to create not just a picture of the world, but a picture of how people pictured the world and got it wrong.” It was only a century before the publication of Cervantes’ novel that Europeans had begun to see the widespread availability of literature and the “democratization” of books. Cervantes sought not only to entertain readers, but also to undermine the influence of what he deemed as “vain and empty books of chivalry” that were prevalent at the time.
In 2018, social media has many positive attributes and connects people around the world, but is it also giving us a false sense of reality about ourselves and others? I’m reminded of a 2016 episode of the sci-fi series Black Mirror, where a character is desperate to change how she’s perceived, and it’s all tied to a social media “score” in a dystopia where that’s all that seems to matter.
Ultimately Cervantes’ novel is not just about Don Quixote and how he perceives the world, but really about how the characters around Don Quixote perceive him.
This timeless classic has inspired music and art for centuries, and the CSO concerts on October 20 and 21 showcase how composers from different centuries—Georg Philipp Telemann, Richard Strauss and our own Principal Viola Christian Colberg—bring The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha to life through distinct musical lenses.
Albert Einstein once wrote, “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination....” I am on a perpetual quest to flex that creative imagination by engaging in conversations that raise new questions, considering new possibilities, and initiating conversations that do not shy away from challenging topics. As a musician and avid consumer of music, I also really enjoy simply talking about music. For all of these reasons, we launched the Fanfare Cincinnati Podcast. This half-hour, bi-monthly podcast program emanating from Cincinnati Music Hall provides an opportunity for listeners to explore the world of music, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops and the region’s vibrant cultural life, through conversations with performers, conductors and the people behind the scenes who make the music possible.
Why a podcast? Some readers may be asking what a podcast is, and that’s okay. A podcast is an audio program organized into a series, and just like radio and television shows, podcasts are made up of episodes. These episodes are downloaded or streamed via the internet and consumed on smart phones, computers, tablets and other digital streaming devices like an Apple TV, for instance. Given that there are more than half a million podcasts out there, available subscriptions make it so listeners can automatically download new episodes or have those episodes automatically populate their podcast playlists, breaking through the clutter.
According to Edison Research, “Podcasting continues to steadily grow, as 44 percent of Americans 12+ now say they have listened to a podcast, up from 40 percent from last year.” It’s an information source and form of media that provides opportunities for in-depth conversations. According to a 2017 Inc. magazine article, “In a world of information overload, we are bombarded with short-term content.... A podcast allows you to go deeper into your content.” For the Fanfare Cincinnati Podcast, we present engaging conversations covering myriad topics—all centered on the music we love. Subscriptions are available for free through the iTunes store, or you can simply stream by visiting cincinnatisymphony.org/podcast.
Star Wars is an accepted cultural phenomenon. It is everywhere and often lampooned, but if you were a kid when those words—“Star Wars”—first burst onto the screen accompanied by that matching burst of sound from the orchestra in 1977, it was truly awe-inspiring. I was five years old, going on six, when the movie came out, and I dragged my parents to see it four times that year alone. The brilliant marketing and merchandising around the movie also landed me my first job. That’s right. I was a Star Wars toy tester for Kenner right here in the Queen City. The responsibilities were enormous. Just think about it…. The happiness of Star Wars-loving children everywhere rested on my shoulders. Of course as a Star Wars-loving kid myself, I was blissfully unaware of that tremendous burden.
The first action figures to be released were the “usual suspects,” including Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Obi-Wan, C-3PO, R2-D2, Sand People, Stormtrooper, a Jawa, Death Squad Commander and, of course, Darth Vader. Additional figures were released in 1978, and some may have expected another important character like the villainous Grand Moff Tarkin (as a child I thought it strange his name was “Grandma”), played brilliantly in the movie by Peter Cushing. That would have made sense for acting out scenes of the movie with the figures, but my six-year-old self was fixated on the infamous Cantina scene and that no doubt contributed to the additions of the Greedo, Hammerhead, Snaggletooth and Walrus Man figures in 1978. Apologies to all the Tarkin fans out there.
My obsession with Star Wars transcended the movie and even the toys. I also loved the music. John Williams’ Academy Award-winning score is as iconic as the rest of the components, and let’s be honest, Star Wars would not be the spectacle it is without it. I was always a kid really into music, constantly “borrowing” my Mom and Dad’s records and starting to build my own little collection at a very early age. I received the two-LP Star Wars soundtrack as a gift and played it repeatedly. It was the first orchestral album I ever owned and I still love this music.
When John Williams conducted the Cincinnati Pops at Riverbend in 2010, I had the chance to tell him, “John Williams, you wrote the soundtrack of my life.” He smiled, opened his arms and said, “Give me a hug.”
May The Force be with you. Always.
In the original Star Wars film, Obi-Wan Kenobi introduces the concept of “the Force” to the young Luke Skywalker, describing it as an energy field that “surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” I honestly can’t remember when I was introduced to Beethoven, but his music reminds me of the Force. The music of Beethoven is everywhere. I would venture to guess that most of us can at least hum a few bars of the most famous melodies coming out of his extraordinary body of work. The last time the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra offered a concentration of all nine symphonies over the span of a few seasons was the 1960s, so Louis Langrée’s three-season exploration, dubbed the “Beethoven Revolution,” is indeed a special event in the life of the CSO.
As the 2017–18 CSO season comes to a spectacular close with Louis Langrée conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 on May 11, 12 and 13, we look to the exciting 2018–19 season with great anticipation. Not only will we get to experience Beethoven’s Ninth, Third and Second symphonies, but Louis is pairing these iconic works with more contemporary compositions, including a world premiere commission from 2018–19 Composer-in-Residence Jonathan Bailey Holland.
So what is your favorite Beethoven symphony? Does his music bring back any special memories? Do you associate any of Beethoven’s symphonies with key moments in your life? In the spirit of the CSO’s mission to seek and share inspiration, we would love to hear from you. Share your stories by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Emeritus Jesús López-Cobos passed away on March 2 in Berlin at age 78 from cancer. His extraordinary tenure as Music Director here in Cincinnati from 1986 to 2001 had a lasting impact, and he forged so many wonderful friendships throughout the community. From his Cincinnati debut as a guest conductor in February of 1981, Maestro López-Cobos went on to lead the CSO in a record-setting 564 performances, as well as 26 recordings heard around the world.
As remembrances and tributes have poured in, we continue to keep his family, friends and former colleagues in our thoughts and prayers in this time of loss. Since my time on the administrative staff began shortly after Maestro López-Cobos’ tenure as Music Director concluded in 2001, I did not have the pleasure of working with him in that capacity. I did however perform with him as a member of the May Festival Chorus and had the privilege of speaking with him on occasion over the years, most recently in 2016. I knew him to be a kind, gracious human being who was admired and adored by many.
There were moments of silence before the March 2 and 3 concerts, and the CSO dedicated the performances on March 23 and 24 in Maestro López-Cobos’ memory. We are also preparing a feature story looking back at his remarkable musical life and legacy in the upcoming May 2018 edition of Fanfare Cincinnati.
From The New York Times to BBC Music magazine, Cincinnati’s vibrant arts and culture scene has captured the world's attention. This vibrancy did not happen by accident. It is possible thanks to visionaries, generations of stewards, and a supportive community. ArtsWave represents all three.
In 1927 visionaries Charles P. and Anna Sinton Taft put up $1 million to support the arts in Cincinnati if the community would match that extraordinary gift with another $2.5 million. Think about it.... In today’s dollars, a one million dollar contribution represents an investment of over $14 million. Of course, the community stepped up in 1927, matching those funds, and the rest they say is history. From the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts to the Fine Arts Fund to ArtsWave, this united arts fund—the largest in the nation—has been supporting Cincinnati’s vibrant arts and culture scene ever since.
To quote ArtsWave, which is the Orchestra’s largest annual supporter, “With the help of tens of thousands of donors, ArtsWave supports more than 100 arts and community organizations that make our region an amazing place to live.” I could not agree more.
This year’s ArtsWave Community Campaign runs through April 26 with the critically important goal of raising $12.25 million. It takes all of us to reach this goal, and we ask that everyone in the community support the arts in Cincinnati through ArtsWave.
I also invite you to participate in ArtsWave Days, brought to you by Macy’s and occurring every Saturday during this campaign period. It’s a wonderful way to sample a diverse array of arts offerings-all offered for free-and includes a special ArtsWave Day right here at Music Hall on March 24.
It’s been just over a year since we introduced CSO IN CONCERT, a streaming service providing live recordings of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performances presented in partnership with our friends at 90.9 WGUC. This initiative affirms the Orchestra’s core value to be Cincinnati’s Ambassador, and the response has been tremendous.
For decades, radio listeners enjoyed one-time broadcasts of CSO subscription concerts on WGUC, but starting last season, music fans from around the world are able to stream one CSO performance per week at inconcert.cincinnatisymphony.org. The current season is streaming now and available on your computer, tablet or smart phone, and the pages include photos and program notes.
Among the performances streaming on demand this month are Louis Langrée conducting the CSO and May Festival Chorus in Bach’s Magnificat and Brahms’ Triumphlied and Robert Porco conducting the world premiere of Julia Adolphe’s Equinox (available February 4–11). February also features Paavo Järvi conducting a program featuring Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony and the Grieg Piano Concerto with Alice Sara Ott (available February 12–18), and Louis leading this year’s One City, One Symphony program with the world premiere of Emily Cooley’s Abound, Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with Truls Mørk, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (available February 19–25). The final CSO IN CONCERT stream for February features Andrey Boreyko conducting the Cincinnati premiere of Stravinsky’s Funeral Song, Arutinian’s Trumpet Concerto with Tine Thing Helseth, and Ravel’s masterful orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (available February 26–March 4).
A new concert from this season recorded live at beautifully renovated Music Hall airs each Sunday at 8 pm on WGUC, and starting at 10 am the following day, that particular concert broadcast is available for you to listen any time for seven days on our website. When 10 am rolls around on Monday of the following week, that concert gets swapped out for the most recent concert broadcast.
The Recording Academy announced nominations for the 2018 Grammy Awards on November 28, which included two nominations for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra recording, Concertos for Orchestra. This acclaimed live album features world premieres of three works commissioned by the CSO and conducted by Music Director Louis Langrée.
The album received nominations for Best Orchestral Performance (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Louis Langrée, conductor) and Best Contemporary Classical Composition (Zhou Tian, Concerto for Orchestra). Awards will be announced and given on January 28 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Concertos for Orchestra is the culmination of a major commissioning project for the CSO that engaged three composers from three different continents, and the Grammy nominations are a testament to the artistry of the Orchestra and the significance of these works. It was recorded live at Music Hall during the world premiere performances of the works in November 2015 and May 2016. Each work showcases the virtuosity, style and sound of the CSO, furthering a genre championed by the likes of Béla Bartók and Witold Lutosławski.
The commissioned works of Zhou Tian’s Concerto for Orchestra, Thierry Escaich’s Psalmos and Sebastian Currier’s FLEX were made possible by a generous gift from Ann and Harry Santen. The recording of Zhou Tian’s Concerto for Orchestra was made possible by a generous gift from Mace Justice. The recording of Sebastian Currier’s FLEX and Thierry Escaich’s Psalmos were made possible by a generous gift from Tom and Dee Stegman.
Concertos for Orchestra is available to purchase, download and stream around the world. Be sure to check it out!
What are you doing New Year’s Eve? For my wife, Tasha, and me, in all the years we have been together, the answer has been enjoying a celebratory evening with good friends and an amazing orchestra, and this season New Year’s Eve comes home to the beautifully renovated Music Hall. This is an opportunity to create cherished memories filled with festive music and maybe a few glasses of champagne.
2017 was a big year for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops. Between the return to Music Hall, completing the renovation project itself, continuing big initiatives, and five weeks of international touring, the stakes were high, the intensity palpable and the successes many. The prospects for 2018 are exciting, and whether you had a great 2017 or not, I think everyone can relate to what Oprah Winfrey once said, at least at some level: “Cheers to a new year and a chance for us to get it right.”
On December 31, John Morris Russell and the Pops welcome an incredible singer, Morgan James, who is making her Pops debut for this New Year’s Eve concert at Music Hall. According to The New York Times, she is “a phenomenal talent whose feel for classic soul music is bone deep.... This woman is on fire.” Now imagine a singer that amazing performing with the hottest, most versatile orchestra on the planet. Now imagine yourself there! There will be magic at Music Hall on New Year’s Eve, my friends, and I want to personally invite you to join us.
So when someone asks, “What are you doing New Year’s Eve,” you can say with confidence, “I’m spending it with the Pops at Music Hall, and it’s going to be amazing.”
You know that feeling when you have butterflies in your stomach (figuratively, of course)? There are moments in your life when you truly feel part of something extraordinary—that’s much larger than yourself. In my time with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops, I have certainly had more than my fair share of these moments. As examples, I will never forget the sense of wonder and excitement when LUMENOCITY was introduced to Cincinnati in 2013 or when the beautifully renovated Music Hall opened to standing ovations and a spellbinding concert program last month.
Experiencing the Orchestra on tour and notably the CSO debut at the BBC Proms on August 27 (pictured) also represents such a moment. I wish all of Cincinnati could have been there to feel that energy and enthusiasm at London’s Royal Albert Hall. It’s just as much an arena as it is a concert hall, with hearty music fans standing on the floor in the middle. The BBC Proms, which hosts the finest artists from around the world, off ers an absolutely electrifying atmosphere with added sizzle provided by the live broadcast across the United Kingdom. Louis Langrée led a captivating program that included Bernstein’s On the Waterfront Suite, Copland’s Lincoln Portrait featuring acclaimed actor Charles Dance as the narrator, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. There was raucous cheering during the standing ovations, and the audience’s clamoring for more led to an encore of Bernstein’s Overture from Candide.
According to the glowing review from The Times of London, “The Ohio orchestra’s fi rst Prom is a touring programme of precision and sparkle that shows us exactly what we’ve been missing,” and Bachtrack declared the performance “a strong showing.”
The receptions for the Orchestra in Scotland, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium and France were equally enthusiastic, and affirm the CSO’s core value to be Cincinnati’s Ambassador. You can learn more about both of the Orchestra’s 2017 international tours at csoontour.com.
As we return to Music Hall following an historic renovation, I wanted to return to something I shared back in May of 2016. This treasured icon was about to shut down for 19 months to allow for critically important work, and for many, myself included, it was difficult to say "so long for now" to Music Hall.
I wrote back then, "Music Hall has played an important part of my life and I'd venture to guess many of you feel the same way.
"Like many Cincinnatians, I can recount coming to CSO Young People's Concerts with my elementary school class. As a child, I remember being awed by The Nutcracker at Music Hall and experiencing Bizet's spectacular opera Carmen for the first time. The May Festival's Carolfest afforded me a first experience 'singing' at Music Hall; thanks to a CSO subscription I was exposed to a dazzling sonic palette of orchestral colors starting at age 10. It all happened right here at Music Hall.
"As a younger adult, I had the privilege to be my late grandmother's 'date' for a Cincinnati Pops television show taping, and attended a diverse array of performances with friends and family - everything from rock concerts to operas to orchestra performances. I joined the May Festival Chorus in 1996 and really got to sing at Music Hall for the first of many times. What a thrill!
"As a member of the CSO staff since 2001, I've gotten to know virtually every nook of this grand old building, experienced more performances than I can easily count, stepped in to narrate a Young People's Concert performance of Peter and the Wolf with 10 minutes' notice, and even 'tied the knot' with my beautiful wife in the Grand Foyer while A Prairie Home Companion rehearsed in Springer Auditorium. (They did eventually 'take a break' so we could finish the ceremony.)
"The connection I feel with Music hall is palpable...and I'm confident this amazing renovation and restoration will ensure that my son and his children and their children will be able to create lasting memories in this beautiful place."
That was then and this is now. After months and months of hard work from so many, Music Hall is more welcoming, more accessible and more comfortable than ever, and the building's historic grandeur has been retained and even enhanced. A new chapter begins.
Thank you to the many people who made this renovation possible, and I want to especially thank Otto M. Budig Jr. for his tenacious leadership in seeing this project through. It truly is a time for celebration!