New Work by Professor Douglas Knehans Premieres at New York Opera Fest

It’s been an exciting and busy year for CCM Norman Dinerstein Professor of Composition Scholar Douglas Knehans, a recent winner of the Ohio Arts Council’s 2018 Individual Excellence Award.

His most recent album Unfinished Earth, released on April 6, has already won five international awards including best classical album at the spring 2018 Clouzine International Music Awards, best contemporary classical album at the Independent Music Awards and three silver medals at the Global Music Awards.

Now, Knehans is preparing for the world premiere of his operatic monodrama Backwards from Winter during the New York Opera Fest. Directed by CCM alumna Jennifer Williams (AD Opera Stage Directing, 2012), the work premieres this Friday, May 25, 2018, presented by the Center for Contemporary Opera at Symphony Space.

With a libretto by Juanita Rockwell, Backwards from Winter explores a single woman’s reflection on love and grief after she loses her partner in an automobile crash. It uses live voice, live electronic/computer music and video streams to trace the unnamed woman’s past year with her beloved.

“We tell a story of love and loss, though do so in a way that constantly asks questions rather than gives answers,” Knehans says. “We follow the inception and ultimate tragic demise of a relationship but told in a reverse chronology and linked to a reverse cycling of the seasons — Backwards from Winter.”

Knehans and Rockwell began collaborating on Backwards from Winter in 2010. He completed the composition in 2013, using only the resources of electric cello, electronically processed soprano voice and computerized sound. Knehans says the cellist will also sing, hum and intone words throughout the production, adding an extra layer of dramatic friction to the music.

“Douglas is a truly interdisciplinary artist,” says Williams. “Backwards from Winter, like much of his work, brings together modern technology and timeless lyricism. His score puts a variety of musical styles and compositional techniques in conversation with each other.”

“He is a composer who is genuinely interested in the ideas of the artists performing his work. Working with him is a very collaborative and adventurous experience.”

Williams makes her New York directorial debut with the premiere of Backwards from Winter. The production features a set designed by CCM alumnus Ryan Howell (MFA Stage Design, 2013) and video projections created by Yee Eun Nam.

“A stark, dramatic Noh-like approach to stage will be used,” says Knehans, comparing Backwards from Winter’s staging to the Noh traditional Japanese theatrical form. “This element will also permeate the symbiotic lighting, set design and video creation to evoke the external natural world that stands as a counterpoint to the rich internal questions asked by the protagonist and the music.”

The video projections represent the character’s emotional process as she confronts her grief. The woman always initiates the images seen in the projections, Williams adds. The set is composed of car debris and white, ashen boxes that represent the compartments of her memory.

“She opens one – the inside is a vibrant color, different from the rest of the world of the set – and a sapling tree grows out of it, or a gust of leaves blows out of it,” Williams says describing how the set interacts with the video projections. “The videos are an expressive extension of her action.”

Williams says she brings a feminist perspective and an interest in new technology to the productions she directs. When she first came to opera, she didn’t like how the women were nearly always victims, so she works to dig deeper into the music and underlying story elements to present women as empowered and in control of their own destinies.

Other directors have chosen to invent a husband character as a looming presence in Backwards from Winter, but Williams says the woman’s conflict isn’t with her deceased partner — it is with her own grief. Additionally, the libretto for Backwards from Winter doesn’t specify that the woman’s lost love was male.

“I wanted to avoid inventing a husband character to keep the story inclusive,” Williams says. “I want everyone in the audience to be able to see themselves and their own experience in the story. A more expressive and less traditional, cinematic approach to video design leaves space for that — it invites more perspectives into the story.”

Knehans is very proud and excited that Backwards from Winter will premiere at New York Opera Fest this Friday, May 25. There will also be a new production of the monodrama presented at the Dark Mofo Festival in Australia on June 20-23.

Douglas Knehans.

Douglas Knehans. Photo by Tina Gutierrez.

About Douglas Knehans
Douglas Knehans has received awards from the American Music Center, the NEA, the Australia Council Performing Arts Board, Yale University, the MacDowell Colony, Opera Australia, The Cannes Film Festival, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The National Symphony Orchestra, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Meet the Composer and a host of others.

His music has been praised by the Washington Post as “beautiful,” by the Miami Herald as “wildly inventive,” by the Australian as “brilliantly catchy and eerily bright” and by Fanfare Magazine as “…effective…incisive… and hauntingly beautiful.”

Knehans’ music is available on ERM Media, Crystal Records, Move Records, New World Records and ABLAZE Records. His full biography is available online at douglasknehans.com.

For more information on CCM’s Division of Composition, Musicology and Theory visit ccm.uc.edu/music/cmt.

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Scott Linford, incoming Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at CCM.

CCM Welcomes Scott Linford as Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology

Scott Linford, incoming Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at CCM.

CCM Interim Dean bruce d. mcclung has announced the appointment of Scott Linford to the position of Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at CCM. Linford’s appointment will officially begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

A scholar, filmmaker and performing musician, Linford has conducted fieldwork in West Africa, Central America and the United States around themes of participation and musical experience, ethnicity, gender and politics. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he holds an MA and PhD in Ethnomusicology from UCLA and most recently served as Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts (Music History) at the Berklee College of Music.

In addition to his dissertation, “Interweaving Worlds: Jola Music and Relational Identity in Senegambia and Beyond,” Linford’s work has appeared in Ethnomusicology Review and the Yearbook for Traditional Music. He has presented papers at annual meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the African Studies Association, and has presented invited lectures at UCLA, Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, and Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City.

A guitarist, bassist, fiddler and award-winning banjoist, he directed the UCLA Bluegrass and Old Time String Band, which won numerous awards at regional music festivals. Linford has also directed three documentary films focusing on musical communities.

On the announcement of Linford’s appointment, mcclung commented:

“CCM students will benefit from Linford’s expertise as an ethnographic researcher, documentarian and performer. He makes an excellent addition to our Composition, Musicology and Theory Division. I am grateful to Search Committee Chair Jonathan Kregor and committee members Jenny Doctor, Stefan Fiol, Jeongwon Joe, Stephen Meyer, Matthew Peattie and Stephanie Schlagel for their collaborative effort on this successful search.”

Please join us in welcoming Scott Linford to the CCM family!

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Cover artwork for CCM's 2018-19 Mainstage Series Subscription Brochure.

CCM 2018-19 Mainstage Series Subscriptions On Sale Now!

New subscription packages are now on sale for CCM’s 2018-19 Mainstage Series of Acting, Dance, Musical Theatre and Opera Productions. With CCM’s streamlined subscriptions, it has never been easier to get the best seats at the best prices. Arts lovers can simply mix and match the shows they want to see with customizable eight, six, four or three-show packages. Subscription orders placed before Sept. 10 will get seated before any single ticket buyers!

Cover artwork for CCM's 2018-19 Mainstage Series Subscription Brochure.

About CCM’s 2018-19 Mainstage Series
CCM was recently declared “Best of Cincinnati” in CityBeat‘s annual readers’ choice poll, but the best is yet to come with CCM’s 2018-19 Mainstage SeriesFrom October 2018 through April 2019, CCM presents eight masterworks spanning the spectrum of theatrical arts, including:

  • the best of comedic and dramatic acting with The Government Inspector and Our Country’s Good,
  • classic and contemporary musicals with Guys and Dolls and The Hunchback of Notre Dame,
  • great operas from master composers with Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito,
  • and innovative dance programs with Birthday Variations and Cinderella!

Last season, single ticket buyers missed out on sold-out performances of Hamlet, Seussical (voted the year’s “Best Play” by CityBeat readers), Candide and Jesus Christ Superstar. Subscribers have a guaranteed seat to see the phenomenal talent and polished professionalism of CCM’s young performers. Download CCM’s 2018-19 Mainstage Subscription Brochure to learn even more about our upcoming productions!

Ordering Your Subscriptions
CCM’s customizable subscription packages range in price from $81-$192. Download our 2018-19 Mainstage Subscription price sheet, seating chart and order form for complete details. Then choose your shows and select whether you want seats in Section A (the best views) or Section B (the lowest prices). To pay by check, simply return your order form by mail or drop it off at the CCM Box Office in the Atrium of CCM’s Corbett Center for the Performing Arts. For credit card transactions, call the Box Office.

The CCM Box Office staff is always ready to answer your questions by phone at 513-556-4183 or by email at boxoff@uc.edu.

Don’t wait to get the best seats at the best prices!
Single tickets go on sale Sept. 10, 2018.

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

CCM Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

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CCM Offers New Summer Master’s in Music Education Degree for Active Teachers

CCM is now accepting applications for a new master’s degree in Music Education that will be offered beginning in June 2018. Designed for those who want to remain active in the classroom while continuing their education, the practical degree program can be completed in three summers and provides a high-quality, individualized curriculum for all music teachers.

CCM Associate Professor of Music Education Eva Floyd.

CCM Associate Professor of Music Education Eva Floyd.

Core music education course work focuses on the development of music mastery and advanced pedagogy, and students can choose from a wide range of electives to expand their areas of expertise. Each summer course load consists of a 5-week term with schedules that provide free time in the afternoon to study, practice and maintain personal or professional commitments.

CCM Master’s in Music Education students have the opportunity to refresh their piano skills, study conducting, or advance their performance techniques through applied study. All courses are led by CCM’s world-renowned faculty, with experts from multiple divisions of the college.

The master’s in Music Education program also features enrichment opportunities unique to the summer curriculum, including Orff-Schulwerk or Kodály certifications for music teachers and study-abroad experiences.

PROGRAM SNAPSHOT
All courses occur in person and require residency in Cincinnati for five weeks each summer.

Core Music Education:

  • Curriculum and Assessment
  • Sociology and Psychology
  • History and Philosophy
  • Intro to Scholarship (Research)

Core Music Studies:

  • Theory Fundamentals (Piano-based)
  • Graduate Musicianship
  • Intro to Ethnomusicology
  • School Music Literature
  • Ensembles or Applied Lessons

Specialized Electives:

  • Choral Music
  • Conducting
  • Classroom Music (K-12)
  • Instrumental (Band, Orchestra, Jazz)
  • Musical Theatre
  • Pedagogy
  • Strings
  • Technology for Music Teaching
  • Urban Music Education

Capstone Project or Exam

  • Curriculum Design Project
  • Oral and Comprehensive Exam

APPLICATION INFORMATION
Apply by June 1, 2018 in order to enroll in the inaugural semester of CCM’s new master’s in Music Education program; courses begin in June 2018.

Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree in music education (or equivalent) and have a minimum of two years full-time teaching experience.

Application materials include a copy of current teaching license as certified music teacher, a current curriculum vitae or resume, a written philosophy of teaching, submission of “best piece” writing sample, a teaching video or a live/recorded audition and two letters of recommendation. Learn more at grad.catalyst.uc.edu/apply/

For application information, please contact CCM Admissions at 513-556-9478 or email ccmadmis@uc.edu.

For more information about the new graduate program, contact CCM Music Education Division Head Ann Porter at 513-556-9527 or email ann.porter@uc.edu.
____________________

Nationally ranked and internationally renowned, CCM is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts. Learn more at ccm.uc.edu

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CCM Welcomes Kathleen Kelly as New Associate Professor of Opera Coaching

CCM Interim Dean bruce d. mcclung has announced the addition of Kathleen Kelly as the college’s new Associate Professor of Opera Coaching. An accomplished opera coach, conductor, pianist and teacher, Kelly’s appointment begins on Aug. 15, 2018.

Kelly currently serves as an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance. She joined the faculty in 2015 as the school’s first coach/conductor of opera. While there, she conducted performances of Giulio Cesare, Così fan tutte, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dinner at Eight, the difficulty of crossing a field and L’heure espagnole/Gianni Schicchi, which won the American Prize in Opera Performance. She also led workshops for The Dream of the Red Chamber, Kept and Black Clown and oversaw the musical preparation for the university-wide performances of the new critical edition of Porgy and Bess.

Kelly was the first woman and first American named as director of musical studies at Vienna State Opera, where she oversaw the daily musical life of more than 50 ensemble singers in more than 50 operas from 2010 to 2013. She also curated a recital series in the opera house’s famous Mahlersaal and served as the series’ principal pianist. She was the recitative accompanist for new productions of The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, and assisted Maestro Franz Welser-Möst on new productions of Kát’a Kabanová and Z mrtvého domu.

Before moving overseas, Kelly served as the music director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio as well as the company’s head of music staff from 2006 to 2010. Highlights of these years include conducting her own chamber music arrangement of Hansel und Gretel in a remarkable production by Basil Twist, serving as pianist for the Eleanor McCollum competition and curating the HGOS recital series at Rienzi.

From 1997 to 2006, Kelly served as an assistant to the music director at the Metropolitan Opera, specializing in the works of Wagner, Strauss and Berg. During that time, because of her success as a prompter and musical assistant, she was the focus of a Wall Street Journal article and a Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast feature. From 2005 to 2008 Kelly was also the music director of the Berkshire Opera, conducting two productions each summer and overseeing the young artist program.

As a conductor, Kelly has led the 2018 Schwabacher Concerts at the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Francesca Zambello’s critically acclaimed Ariadne auf Naxos at the Glimmerglass Festival (nominated for an International Opera Award), The Marriage of Figaro at Wolf Trap, the premiere of Emmerich Kálmán’s Arizona Lady at Arizona Opera, Carmen and Madama Butterfly at Opera Columbus, Hansel und Gretel at El Paso Opera and the Alexandria Symphony in Virginia. She also conducted the West Coast premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s A Coffin in Egypt, starring Frederica von Stade.

Kelly earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in piano performance from Arizona State University and received a Fulbright Scholarship in Music to study at the Musikhochschule Lübeck in Germany.

She has performed internationally as a recital pianist, including performances at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Vienna’s Musikverein and Tucson’s Desert Song Festival. Her recital partners have included Jamie Barton, Thomas Hampson, Renee Fleming, Christine Goerke, Albina Shagimuratova, Valentina Nafornita, Patrick Carfizzi, Michael Kelly, Jill Grove and Troy Cook.

Kelly has taught master classes in the United States and internationally, including at Interlochen Academy, CCM, Baylor University, Vanderbilt University, Arizona State University, Western Ontario University, Peabody Conservatory and Moscow Conservatory, among others. She is also a regular guest coach for Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz program, and works regularly with young artist programs nationally, notably at the Los Angeles Opera, the Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Seattle Opera and in the CoOperative Training Program at Westminster Choir College.

Additionally, Kelly is gaining recognition as a writer of articles, translations and original texts. She has written lead program articles for Wolf Trap, Houston Grand Opera and Arizona Opera. For the Arizona Lady performances, she created a new trilingual adaptation of the libretto. She also wrote the text Texanische Liebeslieder, a song cycle by David Hanlon, which premiered in 2015.

Most recently, Kelly wrote a new English translation Hansel und Gretel for Tri-Cities Opera. She was also commissioned by Wolf Trap Opera to write the libretto for Listen Wilhelmina!, a children’s opera that premiered in May 2017.

Interim dean mcclung thanks the search committee, co-chaired by Alan Yaffe and Robin Guarino, and committee members Amy Johnson, Marie-France Lefebvre and Michelle Conda for their work on finding CCM’s new associate professor of opera coaching. He adds,

“Professor Kelly brings a wealth of experience and artistry both nationally at the Metropolitan Opera and internationally at the Vienna State Opera to CCM’s nationally ranked and internationally renowned opera program.”

Please join us in welcoming Kathleen Kelly to the CCM family!

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A portrait of CCM's incoming TAPAA Division Head, Denton Yockey.

Accomplished Producer and Administrator Denton Yockey is Named Head of CCM’s Division of Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration

A portrait of CCM's incoming TAPAA Division Head, Denton Yockey.

CCM Interim Dean bruce d. mcclung has announced the appointment of Denton Yockey to the position of Professor of Arts Administration and Head of the Division of Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration (TAPAA) at CCM. Yockey will arrive on campus this July to work with TAPAA’s Interim Division Head, Alan Yaffe, and his appointment will officially begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

In his new position, Yockey will oversee CCM’s Departments of Acting, Arts Administration, Dance, Musical Theatre, Opera, and Theatre Design and Production. He will also serve as producer of CCM’s Mainstage and Studio Series productions.

Yockey is one of the nation’s premier regional theatre producers and presenters of touring Broadway. During a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Yockey has produced or presented shows starring such luminaries as Jensen Ackles, Margaret Colin, Richard Kind, Jack Klugman, Lorenzo Lamas, Donna McKechnie, Lou Diamond Phillips, Tony Randall, Cathy Rigby, Sally Struthers, new Tony winner Rachel Bay Jones and Academy Award-winning June Squibb.

Yockey is currently the Executive Director of the Thrasher-Horne Center at St. Johns River State College in Orange Park, Florida. He is also a principal with A Rising Tide Theatrical Group, LLC, which independently produces theatrical entertainment and national tours while providing counsel for other projects.

Over the course of his career, Yockey has helmed four not-for-profit theatres including Lone Star Performing Arts Association in Galveston, Texas (Executive Director); Casa Mañana Theater in Fort Worth, TX (President and Executive Producer); and Starlight Theatre in Kansas City (President and Executive Producer). Under his leadership, Starlight Theatre received the 2013 Venue Excellence Award from the International Alliance of Venue Managers in the Performing Arts Centers category. Also in 2013, his mini-tour of Miss Saigon was cited in Playbill’s list of “Most Unforgettable Experiences.” During his tenure at Casa Mañana, the landmark theatre underwent its historic renovation and the theatre was the producer and presenter of all the Broadway shows at the newly opened Bass Performance Hall. Upon his departure from Casa Mañana, Yockey received the Silver Dome Award, the theatre’s highest award for meritorious individual accomplishment.  He is one of only three recipients in the 13-year history of the award.

Yockey received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University South Bend. He is a member of the Broadway League and a past Tony Awards voter for over 15 years. While in Texas he was a theatre panelist for the Cultural Arts Council of Houston and the Texas Commission on the Arts, and board member of the Live Theatre League of Tarrant County, Texas Nonprofit Theatres, Inc., and the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.

A native of Plymouth, Indiana, Yockey met his wife of 26 years, Gina, on stage in a production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. They are the proud parents of Gwyneth and Grayson Yockey, both whom are pursuing acting careers.

On the announcement of Yockey’s appointment, mcclung commented:

“Yockey’s impressive background in producing, presenting and administration, coupled with his dedication to artistic success, positions him as the ideal head of CCM’s Division of Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration. I am grateful to Search Committee Chair Alan Yaffe and committee members Rebecca Bromels, Lydia Brown, Vince DeGeorge, Susan Felder, Qi Jiang and Stirling Shelton for their work and dedication to find CCM’s next great division head.”

Please join us in welcoming Denton Yockey to the CCM family!

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Jiaen Zhang.

Piano Student’s Perseverance Takes Her from Hit and Run to Graduation

Jiaen Zhang.

Jiaen Zhang.

After being seriously injured by a hit-and-run in fall 2016, Jiaen Zhang was afraid she wouldn’t be able to fully recover to become a professional pianist. Thanks to her dedication, and the support of faculty and friends, the CCM piano student overcame her injuries and walked proudly with the Class of 2018 at this year’s Graduation Convocation on April 28.

Around 10 p.m. on Sept. 8, 2016, Zhang finished practicing piano in CCM’s Memorial Hall and began her walk home. As she crossed Calhoun Street, she was struck by an SUV, which threw her 20 feet and knocked her unconscious.

She woke up with fractures in her right hand and thigh, brain trauma and bruises on her lung and liver. After multiple surgeries on her thigh and hand, Zhang remained at the UC Medical Center for 20 days in recovery. Her thigh healed rapidly, but her hand remained in a plaster cast for three months.

“The flexibility of the joints in my third finger was completely lost,” Zhang remembers. “I had to start at zero, trying to at least move my injured finger. It took me two weeks before I could move it a single inch.”

While she recovered, her classmates and teachers at CCM sent her “heart-warming” messages, including a card with more than 60 signatures. Interim Dean bruce mcclung and Piano Department Chair Michael Chertock kept Zhang’s family in China updated throughout the ordeal. CCM Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of Graduate Studies Scott Lipscomb and the CCM College Office staff helped her make up missed classes so she would graduate on time. Zhang says her appreciation to them all “is beyond words.”

Chertock worked with Zhang to create a “back to piano” plan for her recovery. They began with simple pieces to rebuild the muscles in her injured hand. Chertock told her that the technical problems in her playing could be fixed with the right mindset.

“When you have the imagination and passion for music, your hands will find their own way to achieve whatever you want to do,” she says.

On Feb, 7, 2018 — year and a half after the hit and run — Zhang held her senior recital in CCM’s Robert J. Werner Recital Hall. She played a Mozart sonata, Alexander Scriabin’s Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand and Brahms’ challenging Op. 118. Chertock calls the recital a “heroic conclusion to a year and half of struggle.”

“She endured surgical screws in her right hand, multiple surgeries on her leg and a great deal of pain and scarring without the slightest trace of bitterness or anger,” Chertock says. “She rebuilt her piano playing and developed a style that is more broad, deeper into the keyboard and sustained.”

Zhang came to Cincinnati from her hometown of Guangzhou, China, to study at CCM. She says she was drawn to the college by its distinguished faculty and the artistry of its students.

“Since my first year here, I’ve learned a lot from the faculty and students,” she says. “In this environment, my studying and growth are not limited to only classrooms and lessons. It’s exciting to feel myself improve every minute. The friendly atmosphere encourages and reminds me to help my peers and people who haven’t had the advantage of studying music.”

Zhang was particularly fond of the piano repertoire class she took with instructor Andy Villemez, who recently won UC’s Outstanding Adjunct Instructor Award. The class gave her a broader understanding and knowledge of piano music, which helped her become more comfortable and confident when she gives lessons and presentations, she says.

“It taught me historical facts of piano music and how to better share this knowledge with audiences,” she says. “Rather than simply teaching my students how to play a nice sound, I can lead them to think about music in a more critical way by giving them the historical context of the pieces.”

She will continue studying with Chertock over the summer to prepare for her solo recital in China in September — it will be her debut in her home country after graduating from CCM with a bachelor of music in piano. After the recital, she plans to give piano lessons at a private music school in China.

“Jiaen’s calmness, courage and perseverance were ultimately able to overcome the reckless act that injured her,” Chertock says. “I will always remember her sincere desire to heal and refusal to live in despair.”

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