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CSO's Brahms Fest Kicks Off This Month


By Meghan Berneking


Many visitors to Music Hall marvel at the rich architecture of the building itself as well as the surrounding neighborhood. The CSO’s Brahms Festival, which spans two seasons and kicks off this month, seeks to draw inspiration from the region’s culture, which was being forged as these magnificent buildings were constructed and to which Johannes Brahms’ music seems to be the perfect soundtrack. “Brahms was composing his symphonies at the same time Over-the-Rhine was built,” said Music Director Louis Langrée. “OTR is a romantic place, as its soul resists the industrialization of that time. Although people came to the new world for the opportunities industry provided, people needed art and spirituality, the heart and soul of home, more than ever. So they built their temple for music—Music Hall—in the middle of that district.”

Brahms Fest officially kicks off Jan. 12 with a Brahms Sonata Recital at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) featuring CSO cellist Alan Rafferty and pianist and CSO Board member Sandra Rivers. Brahms Fest continues Jan. 14 and 16 with the CSO’s Brahms- Schumann program that pays homage to their muse, Clara Schumann. Closing the program is Brahms’ triumphant Symphony No. 1, which premiered in 1876, two years prior to the opening of Music Hall.

Other upcoming Brahms Fest events include a Linton Chamber Music Series program on Jan. 24 featuring acclaimed pianist Anna Polonsky and CSO principal players, as well as the Vocal Arts Ensemble’s “Brahms x2” concert on Feb. 5, featuring some of the composer’s motets and vocal quartets with piano. The CSO Chamber Players program at Music Hall on Feb. 21, “Love and Mirth,” will also showcase CSO musicians performing some of the composer’s most beloved chamber works.

The CSO’s Mar. 11–12 concerts continue the Festival with Brahms’ Symphony No. 2. The work, composed in 1877, one year before Music Hall opened to the public, is the link between the music of Brahms and the romantic heritage of Over-the-Rhine.

Brahms Fest will continue in the 2016–17 season. For more information and tickets to these programs, visit cincinnatisymphony.org/brahmsfest. Follow the action on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with #csobrahmsfest.