When one considers that things really kick into gear from January on and well into the summer, in Cincinnati we are not even half-way through the season. Our only full-timer in the trenches of music criticism, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Janelle Gelfand does wonders keeping up with the number of offerings in classical music, as does the irreplaceable Mary Ellyn Hutton, whose Music in Cincinnati blog covers much of what goes on here year around.

Here in my blog, Music for All Seasons in Cincinnati, and in my frequent contributions to Seen and Heard-International (www.seenandheard-international.com) I try to focus on the work of the off-the-beaten path groups that lack the marketing dollars so needed to stay aloft above the culture radar and that nevertheless make a vital impact on music in the Queen City.

1) MAMLUFT&CO. DANCE continues to provoke and quite often dazzle with its inventive choreographic work and the technical work of its company of dancers. Look out for them on the weekend of January 14-17 with a new work, Double/Sided, at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center and later on May 20 and 21 with Susan Honer’s The Double, an evening-long choreographic take on Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same title. Information: www.mamluftcodance.org

2) The ever-growing CINCINNATI CHAMBER OPERA offers up a pairing in February that promises to keep Church and Stage separate but equal: Pergolesi’s one-act comic intermezzo La Serva Padrona (the fuse that lit the notoriously silly War of the Buffoons between Italian and French opera fans in 18th century Paris) in a double bill with the peaceful sacred choral piece Stabat Mater, also by Signor Pergolesi. In addition to programming rarely heard chamber works, the group provides a terrific showcase for up and coming singers at the start of their young careers.
Information: www.cincinnatichamberopera.com

3) CCM, the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati still holds the record as the largest producer/presenter of music, drama, dance and musical theater in the State of Ohio. On January 29 they do a concert-staging of Richard Strauss’ Salome. It is remarkable, though not surprising that CCM is taking on this one-act musical Mount Everest with three faculty members in the leads: Amy Johnson, soprano in the title role, bass-baritone Ken Shaw as Jochanaan, and tenor Tom Baresel as Herod. Then, later on in the semester, there is more Opera: Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, Rossini’s Il Signor Bruschino, Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, and Arthur Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake. Information: www.ccm.uc.edu.

4) concert:nova (all in lower case letters) equals Ixi Chen plus some of Cincinnati’s finest musicians. There is never a dull moment with any of Ms. Chen’s programs, as I am sure there will not be with their upcoming “Les Six”, a celebration of the heady days of Poulenc, Auric, Honegger, Durey and Tailleferre in the Paris of the decades between the wars. Visit the composers’ tombs someday in Paris at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, and meanwhile enjoy their very much alive music next February 16 at the Ensemble Theater in OTR. In the desert menu later in the season is Lee Hoiby’s one-woman opera/cooking-lesson, Bon Appetit! in which soprano Ellen Graham will prepare a “gateau au chocolat” that can be enjoyed by all the “chockoholics” in the audience right after the show. The group’s season closes on May 1 and 2 with two performances of a program of music by Gyorgy Ligeti, the Hungarian contrarian of 20th century cutting edge music who wrote the film score for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. Information: www.concertnova.com

5) Calendar Sunday May 1st, 3 PM and get tickets in advance (at $15 they will go fast) for what may just turn out to be the vocal recital of the year, when the fast-rising soprano, Nadine Sierra, fresh from a recent Met debut appears in Cincinnati as the closing artist of Cincinnati Matinee Musicale’s 103rd season. At Westwood’s First Presbyterian Church. Information: www.matinee-musicalecincinnati.org

6) La Fête du Ruel was never performed when composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s biggest fan (Louis XIV, the Sun King) failed to show up and pick up his ticket at the premiere, leaving producer-host the Duke of Richelieu stuck with all the production costs. Leave it to Annalisa Pappano to program the world premiere of this 330 year old rarity as their season closer next June 4th at 7:30 PM at the First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati. Pappano’s Catacoustic Consort season also includes Baroque violinist Krista Bennion Feeney playing Bach, Biber and Leclair at 3 PM on Valentine’s Day at the Church of the Advent and The Dark Horse trombone trio in a dialogue with viols at 3 PM on April 10 at Old St. Mary’s Church in OTR. Information : www.catacoustic.com

That is but part of the contents in my musical bucket list for the coming months of 2016. How about yours?

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