All of the Above

Group of CCM Musicians Named Ensemble-in-Residence at Xavier

A contemporary chamber music ensemble of six CCM students and alumni is now ensemble-in-residence at Xavier University. All of the Above will offer concerts and work with Xavier students in rehearsals and beyond as ensemble-in-residence. The residency also includes outreach performances in schools and throughout Cincinnati.

CCM students and alumni in All of the Above, a chamber music group recently named ensemble-in-residence at Xavier University.

CCM students and alumni in All of the Above, a chamber music group recently named ensemble-in-residence at Xavier University.

All of the Above musicians have made a name for their ensemble locally by performing with Classical Revolution Cincinnati and the MUSE concert series at the Cincinnati Art Museum. One of the goals of the ensemble is to create innovative musical experiences by challenging the aesthetics of the traditional classical concert, and the members believe that this new residency will enable their ensemble to bring their unique vision of art music to a wider audience.

The residency was in part created by the ensemble; All of the Above pianist Matthew Umphreys (MM Collaborative Piano 2014) is an adjunct professor at Xavier, and he approached the head of the music department to discuss the residency. Xavier has had ensembles-in-residence in the past, but not recently. The other members of All of the Above are CCM alumnus Walter Park (BM Violin Performance ’15) and CCM doctoral candidates Mikey Arbulu, clarinet; Caitlyn Chenault, cello; Nave Graham (MM Flute Performance ’14), flutist and David Abraham, percussion.

It can be difficult for students and young professional musicians to initiate a chamber ensemble, let alone a successful one. There are many constraints on their time, as young musicians often have multiple jobs, such as teaching lessons and freelance gigs, which lead to inconsistent availability.

The members of All of the Above have received the support of not only each other but also CCM faculty members, who coached the group on not only musical concerns but also the administrative challenges of running a music ensemble and creating cohesive artistic goals. However, Umphreys thinks that these concerns are secondary to the meat-and-potatoes of an ensemble: musical cohesion.

“I strongly believe that musical greatness is at the heart of any successful ensemble. Yes, we all are overloaded with ideas of business savvy and self-promotion, but this won’t get one very far if at the core there is an absence of intense capabilities and talent on one’s instrument,” Umphreys said.

“CCM has helped me become a better musician, no question. It has also taught me about hard work, dedication, tenacity, preparedness, how to collaborate with others, among many other skills– but this insatiable passion to be an incredible musician is the greatest thing I have taken from my time at CCM.”

All of the Above is a Pierrot-plus-percussion ensemble, which means that it uses the same instrumentation as Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire: flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano, plus percussion. In fact, there’s a good reason that All of the Above has the Pierrot ensemble at its core, aside from the broad range of contemporary music written for that instrumentation.

“One of my favorite projects as an ensemble was one of our first: we tackled Schoenberg’s famous Pierrot Lunaire,” Umphreys said. “Working on such a complex and difficult piece forced us to develop rehearsal and performance practices that we still use to this day, and we learned how to communicate effectively with each other.”

All of the Above’s first concert as ensemble-in-residence at Xavier University will take place at 4 p.m. on Oct. 30 in Xavier’s Long Recital Hall. Admission is free.

“This residency has definitely put our ensemble on the map within the (contemporary) music scene in Cincinnati,” Graham said. “Even if people aren’t familiar with contemporary classical music, they have likely heard of Xavier University. So now we have a springboard to reach out to people with our unique mission and music.

“I think the familiarity of an established academic institution will allow people to feel more comfortable coming out to our shows. If our prospective audiences believe in Xavier, and Xavier believes in us, then in some way, the Cincinnati community already believes in us.”
Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle


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'The Other Rhine' by Know Theatre and Hit the Lights.

Alumni, Students Unite to Create Lovecraftian Halloween Experience, ‘The Other Rhine’

Each year CCM graduates thousands of students who go on to work across the country in all facets of the arts. But it sure is nice when our stars return home to share their craft.

The Other Rhine, a haunting theatrical collaboration by Know Theatre and Hit The Lights! Theater Co., features the work of CCM alumni and even some current students as they unite to create an intriguing Halloween spectacle that is unique to the Queen City.

CCM students and alumni in co-production of 'The Other Rhine' by Know Theatre and Hit The Lights.

CCM students and alumni in co-production of ‘The Other Rhine’ by Know Theatre and Hit The Lights.

Part walking tour and part haunted house, The Other Rhine guides audience members through The Mockabee and the Reliance Metal building in Cincinnati’s Brewery District to create an immersive theater experience. The show opened Friday night and runs though Halloween. It begins with an invitation:

Join us for the Bring Bellevue Brewery and Beerhall Back tour! Our Executive Director Scott Kaufman will lead you on a journey back into Cincinnati history to learn about brewing and the intriguing story of those who made beer at the old brewery.

With your help, we can bring the Bellevue Brewery back to its former glory!

“Audiences should expect to have fun, be thrilled, uncover some dark secrets of Cincinnati history and have nightmares,” said Mikayla Stanley (BFA Drama, 2011), of The Other Rhine.

Stanley founded Hit the Lights with Casey Scott Leach (BFA Drama ’10) and Kristopher Dean (BFA Drama ‘12) in 2013. The group also includes Claron Hayden (BFA Drama, 2012) and Carli Rhoades (BFA Drama, 2015). Hit The Lights’ productions typically center around shadow puppetry and use darkness and light to tell stories.

“We were interested in building an artistic agreement using the tools we learned at CCM, specifically those learned in Transmigration, the CCM student-led theatre festival held each winter that began while we were in school,” Stanley said.

After Hit the Lights’ production, “dungeon,” won Audience Pick at Know Theatre’s Cincy Fringe Festival in 2015, the two groups began to develop The Other Rhine. “The Know Theatre has created such an engaging and welcoming community atmosphere with their Fringe that we soon became friends and colleagues,” Stanley said.

Know’s Artistic Director, Andrew Hungerford (MFA Lighting Design and Technology, 2005), approached Hit the Lights with the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired concept for The Other Rhine. Neither group has done a show quite like it before.

“It’s an immersive theatrical experience that will really blur the lines between the world of the show and reality,” said Michaela Tropeano, a senior CCM Acting student involved with the show. “No two experiences at The Other Rhine will be alike. The audience is truly a piece of the puzzle.”

Like Hit the Lights, Know Theatre has several CCM alumni in its ranks including Hungerford, Design & Production Associate Sarah Beth Hall (BFA Scenic Design, 2014), Managing Director Alice Flanders (BFA Stage Management 2012) and Technical Director Nick Koehlke (CCM, 2007-12).

 There are also seven current CCM students that are cast in The Other Rhine: Tropeano and her fellow Acting majors Sarah Durham, Ryan Garrett, Spencer Lackey, Julia Netzer and Josh Reiter, as well as Musical Theatre major Marissa Hecker.

“Working with CCM students is always amazing, particularly since we all went through the same training and have the same theatrical vocabulary,” Stanley said. “The students, mainly due to the training given to them by powerhouse instructor Richard Hess, have an incredible work ethic and are game to try anything. This is especially important in a project like this, given that it is so experimental.”

Tropeano felt the same kinship with the CCM alumni that Stanley experienced with the current students.

“Our similar training and kindred dispositions make it all come together very organically,” she said. “Working with Hit the Lights has been an invaluable opportunity to see how these four years of training fare outside of CCM, and witnessing the brilliance of Hit the Lights makes me excited to know that this is only the start.”

You can see these CCM students and alumni in The Other Rhine through Halloween. For performance and ticket information, visit Know Theatre’s website at

Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle

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Haoli Lin

Fanfare Magazine Critic Praises Violin Alum’s ‘Breathtaking’ New Album, ‘Romantic Journey’

Fanfare Magazine critic Robert Maxham heralds Romantic Journey, a new album from alumnus Haoli Lin (BM Violin Performance, 2013; MM Violin Performance, 2015), as both “breathtaking” and “urgently recommended.” Featuring music for violin and piano, Lin’s newest release was recorded in CCM’s own Robert J. Werner Recital Hall between October 2015 and March 2016.

Alumna and current Doctor of Musical Arts piano student Hai Jin (AD Piano Performance, 2013; MM Piano Performance, 2015) collaborates with Lin in Romantic Journey, which is available for purchase on

“Haoli Lin’s repertoire presents the meat and potatoes of old-time violin recitals with refreshing naturalness and grace,” critic Maxham wrote in his review of the album for Fanfare Magazine.

Lin’s album showcases some of the finest gems of the classical romantic period. Opening with the effortlessly sweet melodies of Manuel Ponce and Jascha Heifetz’s Estrellita and concluding with the virtuosic Carmen Fantasy by Pablo Sarasate, Romantic Journey offers a taste of an entire generation of music in just 60 brief minutes.

When discussing the standard repertory for his instrument, Lin praises that of the romantic era as the most affective and emotionally persuasive. Lin invites listeners to “sit back and enjoy the journey” in a written introduction to the album posted on his website:

“It is often claimed that modern ears, even after decades of acclimation to increasingly modern and harmonically dissonant music, still find their home in the sounds of romanticism. The emotional and sentimental qualities of romantic music, combined with its inherent virtuosity and brilliance, create an undeniable beauty of expression that few can resist. The violin, with its enormous palette of sounds, was a preferred solo instrumental voice of many romantic composers due to its capability to convey character ranging from the sweetest of lyrical singing tone to full-throated aggressive power. It is my hope that this recording elicits in the listener the same wide range of emotions that these pieces have evoked in me since my childhood. Sit back and enjoy the journey.”

Lin performs on not one, but two historic violins of the Neapolitan family Gagliano on this recording. One, provided by the Guadagnini Violin Shop in Chicago, was made by Nicolò Gagliano and dates back to 1732. He also performs on another exquisite instrument, made by Januarius Gagliano in 1750, provided by University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Collection.

About Haoli Lin
Born 1990 in Shantou, China, Lin became the youngest prizewinner in the history of China’s National violin competition at age 18. He also won first prize in Michigan’s Andrews International String competition in 2013. Lin has performed as a soloist, recitalist and chamber player throughout China and United States. His solo performances include concerto appearances with the China Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra, China Youth Symphony Orchestra, CCM Philharmonia Orchestra, Great Wall Soloists, Shenzhen Youth Symphony Orchestra, Andrews University Symphony Orchestra and the Shanxi Chamber orchestra. He has performed in prominent concert halls in China, including Beijing’s National Center for Performing Arts, Beijing Concert Hall, Hong Kong Sha Tin Music Hall, Tuen Wan Hall, Shenzhen Concert Hall and Shenzhen Poly Theatre.

Lin studied with Pei Feng, Pei-yan Liu and with the renowned Chinese violin pedagogue Yaoji Lin in the in Shenzhen Arts School. He has attended the Great Wall International Music Academy for four years, and he collaborated with renowned musicians such as Christopher O’Riley and Rohan De Silva. He has performed in master classes for Midori, Miriam Fried and the Tokyo Quartet. Lin earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees as a Starling scholarship recipient at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music studying with Professor Kurt Sassmannshaus.

Lin was recently chosen as the recipient of a career Grant from the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation. Lin concertizes on a Nicolò Gagliano violin from the year 1732, courtesy of the Guadagnini Violin shop in Chicago, and a Januarius Gagliano from the CCM collection.

About Hai Jin
Pianist Hai Jin graduated from the China Conservatory of Music in 2009, where she studied with Bing Han. She has received numerous awards and prizes in competitions, and has performed recitals and orchestral collaborations throughout China. She made her American debut at Boston University in 2010. As a collaborative pianist, Jin has served as faculty at the Great Wall Music Academy in Beijing and at the Cleveland International Music Festival. As a chamber musician, she has toured with the Sassmannshaus Piano Trio to critical acclaim in both the United States and Asia. She has studied with Lee Fiser and Sandra Rivers, and has worked with Rohan De Silva, Hiram Diaz, Erinn Frechette, Heather Verbeck Harrison and Gao Can. As a student of Awadagin Pratt, she earned an Artist Diploma and a Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she is currently completing doctoral studies with James Tocco.

You can learn more about Haoli Lin and Romantic Journey by visiting


Story by CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies

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The U.S. Air Force Band and Singing Sergeants. Photo by The United States Air Force Concert Band.

CCM Alumni Return in Concert with the US Air Force Band on Oct. 21

Several UC College-Conservatory of Music alumni will return to campus and perform as part of a community relations concert tour with the U.S. Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants at 8 p.m. Friday, October 21 in Corbett Auditorium.

The concert is free and open to the general public but ticket reservations are required. Tickets are available online at or in person at UC’s Veterans Programs and Services Office.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force Band, the premier musical organization of the U.S. Air Force, which includes the Concert Band, Singing Sergeants and four additional ensembles. For three consecutive years, the Concert Band and Singing Sergeants have been the featured performing ensemble of Macy’s nationally broadcast Fourth of July fireworks show in New York City.

The tour is part of the Air Force Band’s “Advancing Innovation Through Music” (AIM) educational outreach program; students will be invited to perform on stage during each concert of the tour. Band members will also host master classes and a panel discussion for CCM students.

CCM alumni in the USAFB. Photo provided by the U.S. Air Force Band.

CCM alumni in the USAFB. Photo provided by the U.S. Air Force Band.

Eight members of the Concert Band and Singing Sergeants are former CCM students who look forward to return to the stage of their alma mater — three other CCM alumni in the Air Force Band are not part of this tour.

“I am thrilled to be playing at CCM again after almost 17 years,” says Senior Master Sgt. Julianna Arnold (MM Clarinet Performance, 1999). “My experience there as a graduate student enriched my life in many ways and prepared me for a career in music in the Air Force.”

Also represented is an alumnus of CCM Preparatory and Community Engagement. Master Sgt. Adam Green attended the preparatory program between 1980-1985, which he credits for helping him to become a professional musician.

Technical Sgt. Kaitlin Taylor (BM Oboe Performance, 2010) remembers her years at CCM fondly. “I found myself surrounded by inspiring professors with high standards and student peers very committed to their studies,” she says. “The environment was, and is, constantly striving for creative excellence.”

Join us in welcoming the U.S. Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants in concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium. Performance details and ticketing information are listed below.

*There is a University of Cincinnati Homecoming Kickoff Party on Sigma Sigma Commons from 6-9 p.m. on Oct. 21. Please be aware there may be heavier-than-normal traffic in and around campus.

About the U.S. Air Force Band (USAFB)
The U.S. Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants are two of the six performing ensembles within the United States Air Force Band, the premier musical organization of the U.S. Air Force. Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Air Force Band honors those who have served, inspires American citizens to heightened patriotism and service and positively impacts the global community on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and the United States of America.

CCM Alumni in the USAFB:
Technical Sgt. Kaitlin Taylor (BM Oboe Performance, 2010)
Technical Sgt. Jilian McGreen (MM Vocal Performance, 2014 and DMA Vocal Performance ABD, anticipated 2017)
Technical Sgt. Benjamin M. Bowers (BM Clarinet Performance, 2003)
Technical Sgt. Val Lukashuk (BM Trumpet Performance, 1999)
Master Sgt. Christian Pagnard (MM Trumpet Performance, 1999)
Chief Master Sgt. Erica Ann Montgomery (MM Percussion Performance, 1990)
Master Sgt. Brooke Emery (MM Clarinet Performance, 2003)
Senior Master Sgt. Julianna Evans Arnold (MM Clarinet Performance, 1999)

Alumni in the USAFB not on tour:
Kathleen Leigh Fitzpatrick (French Horn, 1997-1998)
Technical Sgt. Jess Lightner (MM Tuba Performance, 2003)
Technical Sgt. Will Timmons (MM Trombone Performance, 2009)

Performance Time
8 p.m. Friday, October 21

Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Admission is free and open to the general public but ticket reservations are required. Tickets are available online at or in person at UC’s Veterans Programs and Services Office. Call 513-556-6811 for more information.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit for information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.
For directions to CCM Village, visit

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor & Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Story by CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies

Photography provided by the U.S. Air Force Band

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CCM presents THEY WERE YOU. Photo by Adam Zeek.

World Premiere of CCM’s “They Were You” Gets Rave Reviews

CCM presents THEY WERE YOU. Photos by Adam Zeek.

CCM presents THEY WERE YOU. Photo by Adam Zeek.

Critics praised CCM’s world premiere of They Were You, a musical revue of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt songs, which ran Oct. 5-9 in the Cohen Family Studio Theater. Devised and directed by Aubrey Berg, the Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre at CCM, They Were You featured musical arrangements by CCM faculty member Stephen Goers and choreography by alumna Katie Johannigman (BFA Musical Theatre, 2012).

In his review for The Sappy Critic, Kirk Sheppard called CCM’s They Were You “a magical night of theater.” He praised Berg’s direction, the “excellent” cast, Johannigman’s “fun, logical” choreography and Goers’ “beyond beautiful” musical arrangements. 

“There’s no need to single out any one of the six outrageously gifted young artists in the cast,” said Rafael de Acha in his review of the production on Rafael’s Music Notes. “Let me merely give you their names and entreat you to make mental note of them, with the assurance that, sooner than you think, you will be hearing these names: Gabe Wrobel, Emily Fink, Stavros Koumbaros, Aria Brasswell, Karl Amundsen and Michelle Coben.”

CCM presents THEY WERE YOU. Photo by Adam Zeek.

CCM presents THEY WERE YOU. Photo by Adam Zeek.

Teddy Gumbleton of the League of Cincinnati Theatres wrote that each of the six student performers sang “like a dream, navigating the lush harmonies and infusing each song with the necessary depth and wit. Together they work flawlessly as an ensemble, infusing the rich music with tremendous character.”

In a review for Talkin’ Broadway, Scott Cain said CCM’s Jones and Schmidt revue “revealed a thoughtful, varied and pleasant journey through pair’s exemplary work, and showcased some fine performances and design.” Cain praised the production’s “beautiful, night-sky mural” backdrop designed by CCM faculty member Thomas Umfrid. He also proposed that They Were You “will hopefully be licensed and made available for other theater companies to perform.”

CCM’s 2016-17 season continues with a production of Broadway hit, A Chorus Line, Oct. 20-30 in Patricia Corbett Theater. Tickets are on sale now.

They Were You photos by Adam Zeek,

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Musical Theatre Alumna Katie Johannigman Returns to Choreograph World Premiere at CCM

Katie Johannigman

Katie Johannigman

Since graduating from UC’s College Conservatory of Music, Katie Johannigman (BFA Musical Theatre, 2012) has worked in New York and started a non-profit, after-school musical theatre training program in Connecticut. She returns to her alma mater to share some tricks of the trade with current students and choreograph They Were You: The Songs of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, a new musical revue that runs Wednesday, Oct. 5-Sunday, Oct. 9 in CCM’s Cohen Family Studio Theater.

CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle got in touch with Johannigman to talk about how it feels to return to CCM and her experience working on They Were You.

What’s it like to come back to CCM as a teacher after having spent so much of your educational experience here as a CCM Preparatory student and then as an undergraduate?

It is so wonderful to come home to CCM, where I first started coming when I was 9 months old and my sister was taking ballet classes. It’s fun to reminisce about all of the exceptional training I had from fabulous CCM Prep teachers over my years here, starting when I was three with Jonnie Lynn Jacobs-Percer in the ballet department and continuing on to Dee Anne Bryll and Ed Cohen in the theatre department. I feel so lucky that my parents knew to send me to CCM Prep, and that I then moved on to such an outstanding college program in my own backyard — with so many fantastic professors from whom I learned so much. I also feel lucky to have the chance to pass on to the students what I learned both from going to school at CCM and from having spent a long time working in the business in New York.

When you were in school here, what did you gain from your experiences working with visiting professionals?
I think it was one of the most important parts of my training at CCM, because they kept us up-to-date with the trends in the business. Aubrey Berg and the rest of the faculty supplied us with strong acting, singing and dance training, and guest teachers taught us how that training is relevant and can be applied in New York today. I hope to do the same for these students.

What do you hope to pass along to the students who are currently in the same position that you were in not so long ago?
I hope to teach them that there is not one single definition of success in this business. We get really caught up while in school and are sometimes led to believe that you’re not successful unless you’re working on Broadway, but I have learned in the past four years that that is not true at all. There are so many ways to be successful in the arts, to use your training, to make an impact in the lives of others through the arts and to be a happy, healthy person working in the arts. I have participated in the arts in many ways in the past four years by performing professionally, choreographing shows and, most satisfyingly, helping to start a non-profit, after-school musical theatre training program with my fellow alumnus Connor Deane in Connecticut called Broadway Method Academy, where I am the artistic director. I wouldn’t have been able to do these things without my CCM training and connections.

What’s it been like to choreograph a new work? Have you felt more pressure to create a refined product that will set the show up for success and future productions, or do you feel freer because the audience doesn’t have any preconceived notions about how the show will look?
It has been both challenging and liberating. We are working with material that is mostly unknown, so people have no idea what they are about to see. It’s been very exciting and freeing to work collaboratively with Aubrey Berg, Steve Goers and the cast to decide what we want this show to be, since it can be anything we want it to be. Focusing on the process and not final product is something that I find very exciting. We have an unbelievably talented cast, so I know the audience will love it. We will see what Tom Jones thinks!

Are you borrowing choreography or dance styles from shows by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt or other cabaret-style works? What influenced you while you were creating this piece?
I have made sure not to watch any videos from Jones and Schmidt productions so that our staging and choreography can be completely original. We are using some standard conventions of revue-style works, such as the use of props to illustrate different scenes and styles. What really influenced me was Aubrey’s clever, smart and creative way of linking these vastly different songs together to make a show that reflects the human experience. I tried to focus on the lyrics, texts, themes and telling of stories in order to bring all these gorgeous songs to life. It has been so fun to work collaboratively alongside a professor whom I look up to and admire so much. Aubrey is really pushing and challenging me to become a better choreographer, so I am grateful and honored for this opportunity to come home to CCM. There is still so much learning to do inside this building!

Devised and directed by Aubrey Berg, the Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre, They Were You runs Oct. 5-9 in CCM’s Cohen Family Studio Theater. It features songs from some of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s most beloved musicals including The Fantasticks, Celebration and 110 in the Shade, with musical arrangements by CCM faculty member Stephen Goers.

Admission to They Were You is free, but tickets are required. CCM’s Studio Series productions often sell out quickly, so visit our guide to Studio Series tickets for tips on how to secure your seats.

The logo for THEY WERE YOU: The Songs of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt.THEY WERE YOU: The Songs of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt
Lyrics by Tom Jones
Music by Harvey Schmidt
Aubrey Berg, director
Stephen Goers, musical director
Katie Johannigman, choreographer

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5
  • 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6
  • 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7
  • 2 & 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9

Cohen Family Studio Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Admission is free. Reservations are required. Tickets are now available. Please visit the CCM Box Office or call 513-556-4183 to reserve. Limit two tickets per order.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit for information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor & Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation


Story by Alexandra Doyle

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Mark Gibson conducts the CCM Philharmonia at Moveable Feast.

Discussing CCM’s Polish Festival with Professor Mark Gibson

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music is proud to present an interdisciplinary collection of concerts in the month-long Polish Festival running Sept. 9 through Oct. 2.


The coat of arms of Poland.

Through a series of classical and jazz concerts, lectures and a special art installation, CCM’s Polish Festival celebrates the wealth of extraordinary music and creative expression of one of the world’s great cultures.

The festival’s opening concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, with a performance by the CCM Philharmonia in Corbett Auditorium. CCM Director of Orchestral Studies Mark Gibson will lead the Philharmonia in a concert featuring the world premiere of American Dreams by alumnus Piotr Szewczyk (BM Violin, 2000; MM Violin and Composition, 2003). The program will also include Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra. Naumburg Gold Medalist and CCM faculty artist Soyeon Kate Lee will join the Philharmonia for a performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Follow this link to the Polish Festival Schedule to view all of the events:

CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies sat down with Polish Festival Artistic Director Mark Gibson to learn more about the creation and inspiration behind the event.

What originally inspired you to create the Polish Festival?
The initial inspiration came through discussion with Polish friends on the wealth of extraordinary music from Poland, especially in the last century. I jokingly suggested that the only reason we don’t perform more of it is because the names are unfamiliar and daunting. After overcoming that minor stumbling block, the music on the other side – masterworks by Lutosławski, Szymanowski, Skrowaczewski, Penderecki and more – immediately rose to the level of challenge and quest.

What do you hope students will learn from participating in the Polish Festival concerts?
They are learning that there is so much beyond Chopin, even as we enjoy the rare opportunity to share both Chopin piano concertos with our students and public. Specifically, the Lutosławski Concerto for Orchestra takes its place next to, not beneath, its namesake by Bartók. The Szymanowski “Song of the Night” is nothing less than the most colorful Polish Impressionism, inspired by Ravel but uniquely crafted and painted in sound. And Penderecki’s magnum opus, “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima,” remains one of the most dramatic, powerful evocations of the horrors of war ever committed to paper.

Every score we have programmed, from the legendary opera composer Stanisław Moniuszko to the Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist and composer Włodek Pawlik, bears the mark of mastery and import. They all demand to be heard and experienced.

Besides the fact that the composers of the festival are Polish, how did you program all of the music? Could you tell me what led you to pair Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra for your opening concert?
The opening concert of the CCM Philharmonia season has more than once featured a faculty guest artist as a soloist. I had been looking for a chance to work with Soyeon Kate Lee, former Naumburg Competition winner, ever since her arrival at CCM several years ago. The Chopin was the ideal opportunity; when I asked which of the two concertos she preferred to play, she offered the F Minor. The Lutosławski leapt out as among the most celebratory, virtuosic scores I have never conducted, though I have admired it for decades. We perform Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra in November, so the Lutosławski was therefore an easy choice to open the season. The Philharmonia is eating it up!

As for the remainder of the programming, I had the difficult task of choosing between literally dozens of worthy composers and styles. A work such as Górecki’s gorgeous and moving “Symphony of Sad Songs” is by now part of the canon. Along with the Penderecki Threnody, a broad spectrum of Polish music will be performed. Skrowaczewski’s English Horn Concerto was selected to provide a venue to feature another of our superb students. The Szymanowski Third Symphony, the “Song of the Night,” has been on my wish list for at least 20 years. It will be an honor to share it not only with our students and public, but with the Xavier University Choir and tenor soloist CCM faculty artist Daniel Weeks as collaborators on this performance. Ultimately, there were too many scores to choose from and unfortunately we can’t devote an entire year to Polish music. I hope our public might be inspired to explore further by what they hear.

Did you have a strong relationship with the Cincinnati Polish community before planning this festival?
My primary contact with the Polish community in Cincinnati has been through my jazz colleague, Rick VanMatre, who is married to the brilliant Polish visual artist, Anna Socha VanMatre. In fact, she has donated a major art work, a dramatic piece from her “Metamorphosis” series, for display in Corbett Auditorium for the Festival concerts. Through my friendship with the VanMatre’s, I have been introduced to more members of the local community, notably the scientist Piotr Chomczynski and his wife, Dr. Judith Heiny, whose generous sponsorship makes this festival possible. It has been gratifying to see the support from the local community, in particular the Polish-American Society of Greater Cincinnati, led by Emilia Bacca.

Music making is about community after all, the creation of family through sound. Our family just became significantly bigger.

Is the Polish Festival a one-time event, or do you hope to make it into a recurring celebration of Polish music?
For the past 10 years, we have started our orchestral season with a festival dedicated either to a specific composer or a national style. I felt it was time that Polish music be celebrated in a similar fashion, and though I cannot anticipate another festival dedicated to Polish music, I know that we will continue to feature it in our programming. Next year, we are committing major resources to celebrate the centenary of Leonard Bernstein, one of my conducting teachers and a major influence on the lives of so many American musicians.

Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?
I promise those who come to our concerts will be delighted with and inspired by the music of Poland, and they will absolutely learn how to pronounce the names of the composers by the end! I encourage one and all to join us for this unique tribute to one of the world’s great musical traditions.


The Polish Festival runs Sept. 9-Oct. 2 throughout the CCM Village. You can learn more about the festival’s opening concert and other events here.

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