Stay Connected: CCMONSTAGE Online’s Latest Newsletter

Experience the artistry and expertise of our students, alumni, faculty and staff through our CCMONSTAGE Online e-newsletter. Our latest edition features performance videos, stories and other resources designed to help us stay connected.

UC plans to welcome back students to campus on Aug. 24 for the start of the fall semester. A thoughtful blend of in-person and virtual offerings, in addition to enhanced health and safety measures, will provide students with the best collegiate experience possible in this new era of living and learning. Learn more about UC’s Return to Campus.

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Get the latest news from CCM:

CCM Dance co-ops create pipeline from student to professional artist

The college’s co-op program connects students to professional ballet companies while they complete their BFA degrees, creating a pipeline that leads young artists to their future careers. Student Grace Mccutcheon and alumna Hannah Holtsclaw share how CCM Dance co-ops have impacted their careers so far. Read more.


WVXU and CCM Acting’s “O’Toole From Moscow” is available to stream on demand

Listen online to enjoy Rod Serling’s comedy about confusion between Russians and the Cincinnati Reds. Directed by CCM Professor Richard Hess, the radio play features a cast of CCM Acting students with narration by Serling’s daughter, Anne. Read more.


Internationally acclaimed stage director Greg Eldridge joins CCM’s opera faculty

Eldridge has worked across eight countries at some of the world’s most famous opera houses. His work has been praised by critics for its “thoughtful and effective” staging, with “detailed characterizations and considered through-lines” a hallmark of his directing style. Read more.


Theatre lighting and projection designer Steven Piechocki joins CCM’s theatre design and production faculty

An experienced designer and educator, Piechocki’s new appointment began on Aug. 15, 2020. As an educator, he is especially interested in projection and digital media production, and the integration of digital video, animation and motion graphics into event design and live performances. Read more.


Eight UC faculty recognized for excellence in mentoring undergraduate researchers

CCM Assistant Professor-Educator of Piano Andy Villemez was named one of this year’s outstanding research mentors. UC offers numerous opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in research and explore it as a possible career. Read more.


Arts for all: CCM offers mix of online, in-person electives in fall 2020

CCM offers dozens of different general studies and arts elective courses in fall 2020. These credit-granting courses are open to all UC students and cover a wide range of topics including dance, movies and media, music and theatre arts. Read more.


CCM Organ Professor spotlights C.B. Fisk Opus 148 Organ on “Around Cincinnati”

Cincinnati’s Christ Church Cathedral dedicated a new C.B. Fisk Organ Opus 148 in 2018. To learn more about this special instrument, WVXU’s Alexander Watson recently spoke with CCM Professor of Organ and Harpsichord Michael Unger and David Pike, head tonalist from C. B. Fisk Organ Builders. Read more.


CCM Sounds Design student wins Pat MacKay Diversity in Design Scholarship

BFA Sound Design student Alena Milos is a recipient of the 2020 Pat MacKay Diversity in Design Scholarship, presented by Questex’s Live Design International (LDI) in partnership with TSDCA and USITT. Live Design, a creative and technical resource for live design professionals, recently featured Milos in a Q&A published online. Read more.


FAQs and Online Resources

Please refer to our coronavirus resource website to help answer your frequently asked questions. This website is updated as new information develops, so please check back often. See more UC answers to your important questions.

For more information about the University of Cincinnati’s response to COVID-19, please visit uc.edu/publichealth.


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Watch CCM’s 2020 Musical Theatre Senior Showcase

A group shot of CCM Musical Theatre's Class of 2020

Although the theaters and concert halls at UC’s nationally ranked and internationally renowned College-Conservatory of Music are temporarily silent, audiences can still experience world-class performances through the CCMONSTAGE Online video series. This week’s release features the CCM Musical Theatre Class of 2020’s Senior Showcase, which was performed on March 12, 2020, in Patricia Corbett Theater.

Featuring hit songs from Broadway, Off-Broadway and pop music, the Senior Showcase was created by CCM’s Musical Theatre Class of 2020 under the supervision of faculty. This year’s showcase was directed by CCM Musical Theatre alumnus Justin Bohon and advised by Rachel Hoffman. The showcase was associate directed by Katie Johannigman and produced by Diane Lala and Denton Yockey. Musical direction by Julie Spangler. The showcase also features an original song by CCM Acting alumnus Todd Almond.

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Get to know the graduating seniors by reading their professional summaries! 


Get to know CCM Musical Theatre’s Class of 2020

Andrew Alstat: Originally from Pomona, Illinois. Regional credits: Chuck Cranston in Footloose (The Muny), Albert in Newsies (Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts), Emmett in Legally Blonde, Billy Crocker in AnythingGoes (McLeod Summer Playhouse). CCM credits: Rocky in The Rocky Horror Show, Frederick in TheHunchback of Notre Dame, Angie the Ox in Guys and Dolls, Jesus Christ Superstar. Proud member of AEA. For more, visit andrewalstat.com and follow @a12tat on Instagram.


Nick Berninger:Originally from Wayne, New Jersey. Regional credits: A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder (The D’Ysquith Family), Cabaret (Emcee), The Little Mermaid (Scuttle/Chef Louis) at Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, New Jersey Regional premier of School of Rock (Dewey Finn) at Union County PAC, South Pacific (Billis), Cats (Bustopher/Gus) at Interlakes Summer Theatre. CCM credits: 42nd Street (Julian Marsh), Guys and Dolls (Nicely Nicely Johnson), Mack and Mabel (Fatty Arbuckle) Seussical (Horton u/s) and The Secret Garden (Ben). Workshops/Readings: Home Street Home (Big John), Nasha America (Uncle Vadim) and Rocket Science (Doyle) with the CCM Musical Theatre Incubator Project. Proud member of the AEA. For more, visit nickberninger.com and follow @nick_berninger on Instagram. 

Kurtis Bradley Brown: Originally from Louisville, Kentucky. Regional credits: 42nd Street at Bucks County Playhouse, Sondheim on SondheimNewsies and Legally Blonde at the Lexington Theatre Company in the Euan Morton track, as the Crutchie understudy and as “Kiki, the colorist” (fierce!), respectively. CCM Credits: Dickon in The Secret Garden and many more. Currently training at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. For more, visit kurtisbradleybrown.com and follow @kurtisbradleybrown on Instagram.

Michael Canu: Originally from Rochester, Michigan. Regional credits: A Chorus Line (Mark) at the Cape Playhouse, Mamma Mia! (Sky) and West Side Story (Snowboy) at Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre, Footloose (Ren McCormack) and Newsies (Albert, Jack u/s) at the Clinton Showboat Theatre and The Nutcracker (Russian Soloist) with Michigan Ballet Theatre. He was also apart of the first symphonic version of Children of Eden (Adam) with Rochester Summer Music Theatre. CCM credits: 42nd Street (Andy Lee), Jesus Christ Superstar and Guys and Dolls (Harry The Horse). Michael won the Battaglia Scholarship Award for performance excellence in a musical. For more visit, michaelcanu.com and follow @michael_canu on Instagram.

Matt Copley: Originally from Detroit, Michigan. Regional credits: Grease and Oklahoma! at Pittsburgh CLO. Footloose (Ren) and Newsies at Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts. Hockey: The Musical! (World Premiere) at City Theatre Detroit. Thoroughly Modern Millie (Jimmy) at Riverbank Theatre. CCM credits: Guys and Dolls (Nathan Detroit), The Hunchback of Notre DameJesus Christ Superstar. Additional credits: Writer, Composer and Creator of blueprint the musical, Niko in Home Street Home workshop. Proud member of AEA. For more, visit matt-copley.com and follow @matt_copley on Instagram.

Madison Deadman: Originally from Ann Arbor, MI. Regional credits: Rock of Ages (Young Groupie) at PCLO, Cabaret (Sally Bowles) at Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, Les Miserables (Eponine), Joseph… Dreamcoat (Narrator) and Little Women (Amy) at Encore Musical Theatre Company, The Addams Family (Wednesday) at Thunder Bay Theatre. CCM credits: Godspell (Jesus), Theory of Relativity (Caroline). Workshops: Home Street Home (Mom) with Kevin McCollum, Jeff Marx and NOFX; Rocket Science (Jenny Ryerson) with Richard Israel. Television: PBS special: SciEngiMathePloration. Film: A Girl Like Her (Emily Sailler). Print: model for Kotex UBY. For more, visit madisondeadman.com and follow @mjdeadman on Instagram.

Bailee Endebrock: Originally from Herrin, Illinois. Regional credits: Mamma Mia (Sophie), Singin’ in the Rain (Kathy Selden), Oklahoma! (Dance Captain) at Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts. A Chorus Line (Maggie) and Sondheim on Sondheim (Leslie Kritzer Track) at The Lexington Theatre Company. The Sound of Music (Liesl) and Bring it On (Campbell) at McLeod Summer Playhouse. CCM credits: 42nd Street (Peggy Sawyer), The Secret Garden (Dance Captain/Alice), Yeast Nation (Jan-the-Sweet), Guys and Dolls (Hot Box Girl). For more, visit baileeendebrock.com and follow @bailee_endebrock on Instagram.

Zoë Grolnick: Originally fromBoulder, Colorado. Regional credits: Rock of Ages at Lake Dillon Theatre Company, Godspell at Center Stage Theatre Company. CCM credits: 42nd Street (Anytime Annie), Guys and Dolls (Hot Box Chick), Theory of Relativity (Jenny), A Chorus Line (Vicki/Swing), Hunchback of Notre Dame and Seussical. For more, visit zoegrolnick.com and follow @zoegrolnick on Instagram.

Delaney Guyer: Originally from Seattle, Washington. Delaney studied Meisner at the Maggie Flanigan Studio in New York for two months following her sophomore year. She has performed in regional theatres across the country including the 5th Avenue Theatre of Seattle, Village Theatre of Issaquah, Washington, the Lexington Theatre Company in Kentucky, the KNOW Theatre of Cincinnati and Sound Theatre Company of Seattle. CCM credits: The Rocky Horror Show (Magenta)and Yeast Nation (Jan The Sly) Secret Garden (Lily), Gruesome Playground Injuries (Kayleen). For more, visit delaneyguyer.com and follow @delaneyguyer on Instagram.

Madison Hagler: Originally from Rainsville, Alabama. Regional credits: Gabe in Next to Normal (Porthouse Theatre), Pastor Olgethorpe in Smoke on the Mountain and Ensemble/Brother in Joseph…Dreamcoat (Totem Pole Playhouse). CCM credits: Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden, Judas/John the Baptist in Godspell, Annas in Jesus Christ Superstar, Tap Ensemble in 42nd Street, Gargoyle/ King Louis XI in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Seussical the Musical, Children of Eden and Lewinsky in Rocket Science, a new musical workshop. As an expert magician, Madison has toured the southeast with his grand illusion show, and has appeared as Magic Consultant for shows such as Pippin, Godspell, Big Fish and The Bartered Bride. For more, visit madisonhagler.com or follow @MadisonAdamsHagler on Instagram. 

Elijah Lee King:Originally from Arlington, Virginia. Regional credits: Man of La Mancha (Pedro) and Music Man at Porthouse Theatre, Mamma Mia! at Totem Pole Playhouse and Joseph…Dreamcoat (Joseph) at City of Fairfax Theatre Co. CCM credtis: The Secret Garden (Ian Shaw), 42nd Street (Assistant Director), Yeast Nation (The Youngest), Guys and Dolls (Big Jule), Jesus Christ Superstar (Solider), The Little Mermaid Ballet (King Triton), Mack and Mabel (Ensemble). TV/Film: Power (STARZ), I Was Possessed (Lifetime), Copycat Killers (REELZ) and Evil Kin (Discovery ID). For more, visit elijahleeking.com and follow @Elijah_Lee_King on Instagram.

Kylie Liya Page:Originally adopted from China, from New York. Broadway credits: 2006 revival Les Miserables (Young Cosette/ Eponine) at the Broadhurst Theater. National Tours credits: How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Annie Who/ u.s. Cindy Lou), Les Miserables (Young Cosette/ Eponine) at Theater of the Stars. Readings/Workshops: The Nightingale by Duncan Shiek/Steven Sadar (Nightingale) NYSAF with James Lapine and at Vassar College with Moises Kaufman. Nasha America (Jackie) at CCM. Film/TV: Friends From College (Teenager) Netflix, Gossip Girl (Constance Girl) CW Network/ Netflix, Ninja Assassin (Young Kariko) Warner Bros., Step Up 3D (Ice Cream Truck Girl) Disney. Off Broadway: Carousel (Louise) NAAP at the Peter J. Sharp Theater. CCM credits: (Dance Ensemble) in Jesus Christ SuperstarThe Hunchback of Notre Dame42nd Street at CCM. She is a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. For more, visit kylieliya.com and follow @kylieliya on Instagram. 

Sam Pickart: Originally from Wisconsin. Regional credits: Anything Goes (Billy Crocker) and Saturday Night Fever (Gus) at Mac-Haydn Theatre, Mamma Mia (Sam Carmichael) and Bonnie & Clyde (Bob Alcorn) at Summer Repertory Theatre, Parade (Frankie Epps) at Greendale Theatre. CCM credits: The Secret Garden (Dr. Neville Craven), Guys and Dolls (Benny Southstreet), Theory of Relativity (Paul), 42nd Street (Pat Denning), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Tribunal/Gargoyle). For more, visit sampickart.com and follow @sampickart on Instagram.

Erich W. Schleck: Originally from Seattle, Washington. Regional credits: Jesus Christ Superstar (Peter) and Newsies (Finch) at NCC Summer Theatre, Spring Awakening (Melchior) and Cabaret (Emcee) at Ballyhoo Theatre and the Original Cast Recording of A Christmas Story: The Musical with the 5th Avenue Theatre. CCM credits: The Rocky Horror Show (Riff Raff), Yeast Nation (Jan-the-Wise), Guys and DollsJesus Christ SuperstarSondheim on SondheimChildren of Eden and the CCM Musical Theatre Incubator of Rocket Science (Heston). He originated the role of Rodrich in Nasha America in Cincinnati and NYC with Alchemation. Erich is also a choreographer with work that includes Big Fish (Village Theatre), Spring AwakeningWizard of OzRENT and Once on this Island (5th Avenue Award Recipient). His original dance show This Moment premiered at CCM during a workshop in Spring 2019. For more, visit erichschleck.com and follow @erichschleck on Instagram.

Hank von Kolnitz: Originally from Alexandria, Virginia. Regional credit: West Side Story (Big Deal) at The Lex; Little Mermaid (Prince Eric), Jesus Christ Superstar (Pontius Pilate) at the Clinton Area Showboat. West Side Story (Riff), Chicago and The Drowsy Chaperone at Santa Rosa Summer Rep; Mamma MiaBest Little Whorehouse in Texas at Totem Pole Playhouse. CCM credits: Rocky Horror Picture Show (Eddie/Dr. Scott), Hunchback of Notre Dame (Ensemble), Seussical (Ensemble U/S Wickershams), Guys and Dolls (Rusty Charlie) and more. For more, visit hankvonkolnitz.com and follow @hankvonko on Instagram.


About CCM Musical Theatre

The Musical Theatre program at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) is the oldest in the country and was the first of its kind. A four-year bachelor of fine arts (BFA) program, it was used by the National Association of Schools of Theatre in formulating the guidelines for the accreditation of Musical Theatre programs nationwide.

The program provides professional conservatory training designed to help singers, dancers and actors become accomplished musical theatre performers. Students participate in a number of productions while in residence and create a freshman and a senior showcase, the latter functioning as their New York debut for agents and casting directors. In addition, students undertake courses in English, history, psychology, dramatic literature, social and ethical issues and the humanities.

CCM Musical Theatre is widely recognized for its “triple-threat” approach to training and many of its graduates are following careers as performers and creative artists in every facet of the entertainment industry. CCM Musical Theatre graduates are working on Broadway and throughout the nation in such productions as AnastasiaHamiltonWaitressMoulin RougeThe Phantom of the OperaThe Book of Mormon, Pippin, WickedJersey BoysLes Misérables, Kinky Boots, Big Fish, Newsies and The Lion King. Students represent CCM in national and international touring productions, in dinner theatres and theme parks, on cruise ships, on television, in talent agencies, as producers and in many of the related entertainment fields.

The Musical Theatre program is part of a larger academic division known as TAPAA: Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration. At the time of its establishment in 1991, the Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre at CCM was the only academic chair of its kind in the United States, the American equivalent of the Chair in Musical Theatre endowed by Cameron Macintosh in honor of Stephen Sondheim at Oxford one year later.

Learn more about CCM’s BFA Musical Theatre program.

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The four members of the Ariel Quartet, string quartet-in-residence at CCM, pose on a couch with their musical instruments. Photo by Marco Borggreve.

Stream the Ariel Quartet’s Final CCM Concert of 2019

Although the theaters and concert halls at the University of Cincinnati’s nationally ranked and internationally renowned College-Conservatory of Music are temporarily silent, audiences can still experience world-class performances through CCM’s new CCMONSTAGE Online video series. This week’s release showcases the Ariel Quartet’s concert of fugues from Oct. 22, 2019.

The performance features W.A. Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K. 546; Bartok’s String Quartet No. 1, Op.7; and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Op. 130 and 133.

The concert from Oct. 22, 2019, features Beethoven’s Große Fuge (or “Great Fugue”), which the Ariel Quartet performed in its debut Beethoven cycle at CCM in the 2013-14 performance season. Arts reporter Janelle Gelfand praised the ensemble’s performance: “From start to finish, the musicians wonderfully captured Beethoven’s emotional grit and fire, coupled with some of the most sublime music ever written.”

Described by the American Record Guide as “a consummate ensemble gifted with utter musicality and remarkable interpretive power,” the Ariel Quartet has earned a glowing international reputation. The ensemble is comprised of Alexandra “Sasha” Kazovsky, violin; Amit Even-Tov, cello; Gershon Gerchikov, violin; and Jan Grüning, viola. The group was formed in Israel in 1998 and has served as CCM’s string quartet-in-residence since 2012.

The Ariel Quartet’s 2019-20 CCM concert series was made possible by the generous contributions of an anonymous donor, The Estate of Mr. William A. Friedlander, Mrs. William A. Friedlander, Dr. Randolph L. Wadsworth, Mr. & Mrs. J. David Rosenberg, Mr. & Mrs. Harry H. Santen, Elizabeth C. B. & Paul G. Sittenfeld, Mr. & Mrs. Thomas E. Stegman, Dr. & Mrs. Theodore W. Striker and Mrs. Harry M. Hoffheimer.

Receive updates on future CCMONSTAGE Online performances by subscribing to our mailing list.

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Featured image at top: Ariel Quartet members Jan Grüning, Amit Even-Tov, Gershon Gerchikov and Alexandra “Sasha” Kazovsky. Photo/Marco Borggreve

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Watch CCM Wind Symphony’s Performance of Omar Thomas’ “A Mother of a Revolution”

In November 2019, the UC College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony presented a special concert to commemorate the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Uprising. Exclusively featuring works by LGBTQ+ composers, the performance showcased Omar Thomas’ A Mother of a Revolutionwhich is available to watch online.

A Mother of a Revolution celebrates the bravery of trans women, particularly Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson, a pioneering leader of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and Stonewall Uprising. The Stonewall Uprising began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, an LGBTQ+ bar and, today, a National Historic Landmark. This raid sparked a series of riots and protests that served as a significant catalyst for the country’s modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. Pride Month, celebrated each year in the month of June, honors the Stonewall Uprising as well as the impact that LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history locally, nationally and internationally.

CCM Wind Symphony music director and conductor Kevin Michael Holzman looks to find relevant anniversaries of important events to share with students and the community, which inspired him to program the concert of all LGBTQ+ works. Other works featured in the concert included Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Higdon’s Mysterium, Clay Mettens’ Un-Masqued and Corigliano’s Mr. Tambourine Man.

“The contributions to music (and all of the fine arts) from LGBTQ+ artists are truly incredible; despite this fact, they are so rarely recognized explicitly,” says Holzman, CCM Interim Division Head of Ensembles and Conducting. “Many of these artists suffered tremendously and were treated as outcasts socially and professionally, particularly in the years prior to the turn of the millennium. An equal or greater number never felt safe coming out due to discrimination.”

The LGBTQ+ rights movement has seen significant success in recent years. Major milestones include when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in 2015 and ruled that existing federal law forbids job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status in a landmark case on June 15, 2020. Despite these victories, hate and prejudice towards the LGBTQ+ community remain prevalent in many parts of the U.S. and world.

CCM Wind Symphony’s performance was sponsored by the CCM Harmony Fund, which supports artistic works that fight hate and prejudice through the performing arts. This Fund was created based on the belief that the arts inspire imaginative thinking, encourage conversations, present contrasting attitudes and help us examine our own viewpoints. For the month of June, Eat Well Celebrations and Feasts in Newport, Kentucky, is selling pride cupcakes and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the CCM Harmony Fund.

Kevin Michael Holzman and Omar Thomas in front of CCM's booth at the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago in December 2019.

Kevin Michael Holzman and Omar Thomas in front of CCM’s booth at the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago in December 2019.

“I think it’s our job as music directors to recognize the powerful voice we have to amplify composers and musicians, particularly those who have been historically underrepresented,” Holzman says. “Our students at CCM represent so many diverse backgrounds and cultures, and it’s my responsibility to make sure they feel seen and heard. The first step, in my opinion, is to program works by composers with whom they identify. I also think it’s important that our audiences also feel seen and heard, and can relate to not only the music we perform but to the artists they see on stage and the composers on the program.”

Holzman has pledged that he will continue to program more works by female composers, Black composers and composers coming from other underrepresented populations in the future. Concert programming is just the start, though, and Holzman has formed a working group of graduate students to identify other ways to partner with the Black community and Cincinnati Public Schools.

Holzman first met A Mother of a Revolution composer Omar Thomas two years ago, when he programed Thomas’ Of Our New Day Begun on his first concert as Director of Wind Studies at CCM. Of Our New Day Begun honors the nine people who were murdered in a tragic mass shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (commonly referred to as “Mother Emanuel”) in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015.

“I knew I had to get to know the composer who wrote the work to be able to do it justice, and it turned into a great friendship,” Holzman says. “I’ll be a champion of Omar’s music and voice forever.”

Read about UC and CCM’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and a just community.

About Omar Thomas

Described as “elegant, beautiful, sophisticated, intense and crystal clear in emotional intent,” the music of Omar Thomas continues to move listeners everywhere it is performed. Born to Guyanese parents in Brooklyn, New York in 1984, Thomas moved to Boston in 2006 to pursue a Master of Music in Jazz Composition at the New England Conservatory of Music after studying Music Education at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He is the protégé of lauded composers and educators Ken Schaphorst and Frank Carlberg, and has studied under multiple Grammy-winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider.

Hailed by Herbie Hancock as showing “great promise as a new voice in the further development of jazz in the future,” educator, arranger and award-winning composer Thomas has created music extensively in the contemporary jazz ensemble idiom. It was while completing his Master of Music degree that he was appointed the position of Assistant Professor of Harmony at Berklee College of Music at the surprisingly young age of 23. He was awarded the ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award in 2008, and invited by the ASCAP Association to perform his music in their highly exclusive JaZzCap Showcase, held in New York City. In 2012, Thomas was named the Boston Music Award’s “Jazz Artist of the Year.” Following his Berklee tenure, he served on faculty of the Music Theory department at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Texas at Austin.

Thomas’ music has been performed in concert halls the world over. He has been commissioned to create works in both jazz and classical styles. His work has been performed by such diverse groups as the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble, the San Francisco and Boston Gay Mens’ Choruses, and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, in addition to a number of the country’s top collegiate music ensembles. Thomas has had a number of celebrated singers perform over his arrangements, including Stephanie Mills, Yolanda Adams, Nona Hendryx, BeBe Winans, Kenny Lattimore, Marsha Ambrosius, Sheila E., Raul Midon, Leela James, Dionne Warwick and Chaka Khan. His work is featured on Dianne Reeves’s Grammy Award-winning album, “Beautiful Life.”

Thomas’ first album, “I AM,” debuted at No. 1 on iTunes Jazz Charts and peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Albums Chart. His second release, ” We Will Know: An LGBT Civil Rights Piece in Four Movements,” has been hailed by Grammy Award-wining drummer, composer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington as being a “thought provoking, multi-layered masterpiece” which has “put him in the esteemed category of great artists.” “We Will Know” was awarded two OUTMusic Awards, including “Album of the Year.” For this work, Thomas was named the 2014 Lavender Rhino Award recipient by the History Project, acknowledging his work as an up-and-coming activist in the Boston LGBTQ community. Says Terri Lyne: “Omar Thomas will prove to be one of the more important composer/arrangers of his time.”

Learn more about Omar Thomas on his professional website.


Feature image at top: CCM Wind Symphony in rehearsal. Design/Mikki Graff. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services.

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Hope After Hate: E-Media Professor Shares Father’s Holocaust Experience

CCM E-Media Professor and Emmy Award-winning journalist Hagit Limor shares her father’s Holocaust survival story with lessons to inspire action against hatred and bigotry today

The spring 2020 edition of UC Magazine features a cover story about the ground-breaking “Hope After Hate” project launched by CCM E-Media Professor Hagit Limor. The story is available to read online.

Inspired by her father’s story of struggle and survival during the Holocaust, Limor set out to create “Hope After Hate: Moniek’s Legacy” to share his experience through immersive theatre and virtual reality. In October 2019, Limor’s Media Topics class of 15 students traveled to Poland and Germany to retrace her father’s journey. They will use the photos, videos and research collected during the trip to create an immersive play and virtual reality experience for the “Hope After Hate” project.

“Hope After Hate” will be an innovative, new kind of theatre — part play, part video and part virtual reality. Projections of historical settings will surround the audience during the immersive play, creating a virtual set in which they sit and interact with the actor portraying Moniek Limor. The “Hope After Hate” team is also creating a separate 15-minute virtual reality experience that will immerse users in Moniek’s story with goggles and hand sensors.

Viewers will be transported into the attic where he hid with his family as a child, into the Hasag-Pelcery labor camp where he was enslaved for more than a year as an adolescent, into the cattle-car train that transported him to the Buchenwald concentration camp when he was 14 and into the camp itself, where he was an inmate for four months. The project explores how people struggle to hold on to their humanity when surrounded by hate and fear. It also shares historical lessons in an effort to turn bystanders into upstanders who will speak out against hatred and bigotry today.

“Hope After Hate” unites students, faculty and staff from across UC, including undergraduate and graduate students majoring in E-Media, Acting, International Affairs, Political Science, Geography and History. CCM Acting Professor Susan Felder is adapting Limor’s memoir of her father’s experience into a script for the immersive play. Additionally, the “Hope After Hate” team is collaborating with CCM Lighting Design and Technology Professor Sharon Huizinga on how to create projections for the play. UC’s Center for Simulations and Virtual Environments Research (UCSIM) is building the VR experience with the 360-degree photos and videos that students captured while on the trip.

Read UC Magazine’s cover story on “Hope After Hate” to learn more about the project. Readers can also view photo galleries of images taken during the study abroad trip and watch a student-created documentary on the project.


“Hope After Hate” is sponsored by Cincinnati’s Holocaust and Humanity Center, and has already received support from private donors as well as Cincinnati’s Jewish Innovation Funds and the CCM Harmony Fund. This support offset travel expenses during the study abroad trip and funded some production expenses. However, the class is still actively collecting donations for projectors needed for the play and virtual reality equipment. Visit hopeafterhate.com for updates on the project and to learn how to get involved. 

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A photo of the entrance to the CCM Atrium on UC's campus. Photo/UC Creative + Brand.

Music at Home: Recent CCM graduates share senior recital performance video

The University of Cincinnati’s transition to remote learning put in-person public performances at the College-Conservatory of Music on pause, including senior recitals that graduating students typically present during the spring semester. However, harpist Anna Dunlap didn’t let that stop her from sharing a piece she planned to perform during her recital online.

Dunlap, who recently graduated with a Master of Music in Harp, planned to perform Marcel Tournier’s La lettre du Jardinier with fellow CCM student Sean McKay, who just graduated with a Master of Music in Trumpet. They were disappointed to lose the opportunity to perform the piece that they had already spent time practicing, so McKay suggested they present it digitally.

“Music, as it always does, provides comfort, joy and an escape from the more difficult times in life,“ says Anna Dunlap (MM Harp, ’20). “The arts are a vitally important part of everyone’s lives, so by sharing our music we are able to stay connected to our audiences, friends and colleagues.”

Dunlap, who studied with CCM Professor Gillian Benet Sella, is thankful that McKay was as excited about the performance video as she was. She was introduced to La lettre du Jardinier by her former teacher Kathleen Bride while she was an undergraduate student at Eastman School of Music.

“I never had the chance to program it there, so I was really happy about finding a friend to perform this piece with me here at CCM,” Dunlap says.

McKay, who studied with CCM Professor Alan Siebert, created the initial click track that the musicians used to record, then recorded the performances and edited the video. He says the recording part only took a couple of hours but that he probably spent around 4 hours editing the audio.

McKay is a self-taught video editor and used his experience as a performer, as well as the advice of experienced friends, for the audio recording and editing. He is using his free time during the pandemic to build a larger digital presence for himself as a freelance musician and educator.

“One of the biggest ‘silver linings’ that has come from this quarantine has been that I am moving in the right direction to expand my digital footprint, and that I have had a few opportunities to make music with friends,” McKay says. “I think that as musicians and students of music, we take for granted the simple and yet highly complex phenomena that is the experience of making music with other people.”

“I think that it is so very important for musicians to stay connected during this time, because each of us has a fire burning inside of us which drives our passion to make music; and when that fire is told to stay inside and stay healthy, that fire needs fuel to stay alive,“ says  Sean McKay (MM Trumpet, ’20). “These types of projects and collaborations with friends are what fuels our inner fire.”

Dunlap is using her time in quarantine to explore old hobbies like drawing and painting and she is staying connected with friends through video chats and virtual game nights. She is also working on new repertoire, updating her website and planning a virtual harp camp with a mentor.

She enjoys seeing the variety of creative ways musicians are continuing to perform and share music during this uncertain time. Dunlap is inspired by the orchestra videos, like the New York Philharmonic’s performance excerpt from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 “Adagietto and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Ravel’s “Le jardin féerique” (The Fairy Garden) from Ma mère l’Oye (Mother Goose Suite).

From Broadway stars to prestigious professional orchestras to student musicians, performing artists across the world are determined to share their work in new ways. Recently on May 16, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra presented “Live from Music Hall,” which featured a performance of Mahler’s Piano Quartet and the world premiere of the first piece for The Fanfare Project by CSO Creative Partner Matthias Pintscher. The performance featured CCM professors Dwight Parry, oboe; Michael Chertock, piano; Ilya Finkelshteyn, cello; and CSO concertmaster Stefani Matsuo and principal viola Christian Colberg.

“Music is a beautiful thing. Music heals. Music sparks creativity and passion. Music helps people in so many ways. Music can change the outcome of a person’s whole day,” McKay says. “My favorite quote about music is from Aldous Huxley: ‘After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’ When words fail, music speaks. When people are hurt, music is there to heal and soothe.“


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Playbill Streams Broadway’s ‘Bandstand’ Musical Film on April 10

Playbill will stream the 2017 Broadway musical Bandstand, written by CCM Acting alumnus Richard Oberacker (BFA, ’93) and Robert Taylor, beginning tonight, April 10, 2020. The Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of World War II veteran Donny Novitski, who forms a band with fellow veterans and enters a national contest to become America’s newest musical sensation.

Richard Oberacker with CCM Acting Professor Richard Hess at a preview performance of “Bandstand” on Broadway.

The first Playbill Playback, a new series in which old and recent favorite musicals can be streamed on Playbill.com, Bandstand will be streamed for the first time on April 10 and will be available through April 17. A portion of the proceeds raised with the stream will go to The Actors Fund.

The Bandstand stream will also feature an interview with co-stars Laura Osnes, Corey Cott and Beth Leavel as well as director-choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and co-creators Oberacker and Taylor.

In addition to Oberacker, alumni from across CCM are involved in this award-winning musical. Geoff Packard (BFA Musical Theatre, ’04) plays Wayne Wright, a trombonist in the veteran band; Max Clayton (BFA Musical Theatre, ’14) is in the ensemble; Greg Anthony Rassen (MM Orchestral Conducting, ’03) is the co-orchestrator, music supervisor and music arranger; and David Kreppel (BFA Musical Theatre, ’92) is the vocal music arranger.

Bandstand was the first theatrical production in history to be certified authentic by Got Your 6, an organization that advocates for authentic portrayal of the military across entertainment.

Learn more about the Bandstand stream on Playbill.

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Enjoy a Classic Jazz Performance from CCM’s Video Archives

Although the theaters and concert halls at the University of Cincinnati’s nationally ranked and internationally renowned College-Conservatory of Music are temporarily silent, audiences can still experience world-class performances through CCM’s new CCMONSTAGE Online video series. This week’s release features a classic jazz performance from CCM’s video archives.

On May 22, 2011, the CCM Jazz Ensemble was joined by Grammy Award-nominee, National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and Kennedy Center “Living Legend of Jazz” Gerald Wilson (1918-2014) for an unforgettable evening of big band music. The concert also featured the talents of Mary Ellen Tanner (1946-2014), a renowned jazz vocalist who taught at CCM for many years.

An acclaimed composer, arranger and band leader of modern jazz who was in his 92nd year at the time of this recording, Wilson’s talent was legendary among jazz insiders. His classic compositions include “Blues for Count Basie” written for Basie while Wilson was in his band and “Blues for Yna Yna,” which was the second jazz waltz ever written.

“Gerald Wilson is a living legend and a part of the golden age of the big band as a writer, arranger and trumpet player,” CCM Professor and Jazz department head Scott Belck commented in 2011, adding that Wilson was also “one of the most interesting cats you will ever meet.” Wilson passed away in Los Angeles in September 2014.

Wilson’s groundbreaking compositions, intricate arrangements and immediately recognizable sound put him in a league of his own. In his prolific seven-decade career as composer and arranger, Wilson was behind some of the greatest names in jazz, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, Nancy Wilson and Bobby Darin. Beyond his jazz accomplishments, Wilson’s symphonic compositions were performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Mehta. He even scored a top 40 pop hit with El Chicano’s 1970 version of his “Viva Tirado,” a song that has been recorded in at least 18 different versions, including a hip-hop rendition by Latino rapper Kid Frost.

This concert was originally streamed online with support provided by the Corbett Endowment for CCM and the Franklin L. Folger Trust. The performance was later broadcast on CET Cincinnati Public Television.

Receive updates on future CCMONSTAGE Online performances by subscribing to our mailing list at https://ccm.uc.edu/subscribe


Featured image at top: The CCM Jazz Ensemble in a March 2012 rehearsal. Photo/Dottie Stover/UC Creative Services.

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CCM Acting Class of 2020 Presents Virtual Senior Showcase

Watch a collection of five scenes showcasing the talents of CCM Acting’s Class of 2020

The Acting Department at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM Acting) proudly presents its first Virtual Senior Showcase. Although the COVID-19 novel coronavirus prevented CCM Acting from holding its customary Senior Showcases for agents and casting directors in New York and Los Angeles this spring, the program’s new Virtual Senior Showcase allows industry insiders and the general public to see this year’s seniors in action.

The video showcase includes five scenes showcasing the talents of CCM Acting’s Class of 2020. Directed by Professor D’Arcy Smith, the A.B., Dolly, Ralph and Julia Cohen Chair in Acting at CCM, the showcase features students performing excerpts from TV programs, films and plays including “227,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Pysch” and “Embers” along with an excerpt of “My So-Called Gay Life” written by CCM Acting student Abby Palen. A collaboration with CCM’s Electronic Media program, the CCM Acting Virtual Senior Showcase features the work of E-Media majors Caleb Smiley and Carlos Herriott II. Viewer discretion is advised; this video features strong language and mature content.

“Although we’ve transitioned to remote operations, we remain committed to our ongoing academic and artistic missions,” says Smith. “Our senior Acting students have put in countless hours preparing for their industry debuts in this year’s Senior Showcase and they deserve to have their time in the spotlight. They should be very proud of everything that they have accomplished, and we are happy to present this video snapshot of their talent for the entire world to enjoy.”

Get to know the graduating seniors by reading their professional summaries!

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CCM Voice Student Advances to Lotte Lenya Competition finals

CCM is delighted to announce that first-year artist diploma student Teresa Perrotta (MM Voice, ’19) reached the finals of the Lotte Lenya Competition, one of the most prestigious vocal competitions for young artists.

Composer John Corigliano and Teresa Perrotta at the French premiere of “The Ghosts of Versailles.” Photo/Gail Luna

A rising soprano, Perrotta won the Seybold-Russell Award at CCM’s 2019 Opera Scholarship Competition and advanced to the Upper Midwest Regional Auditions in this year’s Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In December 2019, she made her international debut as Marie Antoinette in the French premiere of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles at the Château de Versailles Royal Opera. She studies with CCM Voice Professor Gwendolyn Coleman.

Perrotta is one of 12 finalists in the 2020 Lotte Lenya Competition. These finalists were selected out of 282 applicants from 24 states after a preliminary video round and a semi-finals round in New York City. The finals were initially scheduled for May 2 at the Eastman School of Music, but the Kurt Weill Foundation, which holds the competition, is exploring other options in light of the current global health crisis.

Teresa Perrotta. Photo/Caitlin and Kevin Photography

Teresa Perrotta. Photo/Caitlin and Kevin Photography

CCM is often well-represented at the Lotte Lenya Competition. In 2017, Paulina Villarreal (DMA Voice, ‘18; MM Voice, ’15) won third prize, while Jasmin Habersham (AD Opera, ‘15; MM Voice, ‘13) and Lisa Marie Rogali (MM Voice, ’18) each received prizes of $3000. Talya Lieberman (AD Opera, ‘16) took Third Prize in the 2016 installment of this prestigious international theatre singing contest, while Lauren Roesner (BFA Musical Theatre, ‘13) won Third Prize in 2013 and alumna Caitlin Mathes (AD Opera, ’10, MM Voice, ‘09) won First Prize in 2011.

About the Lotte Lenya Competition

More than a vocal competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes talented young singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in repertoire ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary Broadway scores, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Since its inception in 1998, the Lotte Lenya Competition has grown into an internationally recognized leader in identifying and nurturing the next generation of “total-package performers” (Opera News) and rising stars in both the opera and musical theater worlds. The roster of prizewinners has likewise grown to over 100, many of whom have gone on to major performing careers. Visit kwf.org for more information about the Kurt Weill Foundation or the Lotte Lenya Competition.


Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

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