CCM Voice Student Performs at Kennedy Center as a VSA International Young Soloist

Natalie Sheppard.

Natalie Sheppard.

As a winner of the VSA International Young Soloist Award, CCM voice student Natalie Sheppard performs at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 25. This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the VSA International Young Soloists Competition, a Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program that recognizes talented, emerging artists ages 14-25 with disabilities from all over the world.

In addition to Sheppard, the concert features her fellow award winners including pianist Elliot McClain of Tennessee, pianist Kohlin Sekizawa of California and classical saxophonist Jessica Tucker of Nevada. The award winners each receive $2,000 and the opportunity to perform at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. The performance will be live streamed on the Kennedy Center’s Facebook page and on kennedy-center.org.

Sheppard, a mezzo-soprano, begins her junior year at CCM in the fall, studying with Professor William McGraw. She praises McGraw for “his complete knowledge of the voice, the way he nurtures young artists and his kind heart.”

“He knows how to push his students toward success and gives us the tools we need, but never allows us to be too hard on ourselves,” Sheppard adds.

Sheppard says she has dealt with anxiety and depression for most of her life but that music has been a source of therapy for her. She studies voice and international human rights, and hopes to combine the two disciplines in her work. She currently works with children with disabilities and uses music to teach them life skills.

“I have always believed that as artists and musicians, it is our duty to use our unique medium for good,” Sheppard says. “As a singer, we carry grand responsibility. We posses a public voice. I really want to be a voice for minorities and those who have faced extreme hardships around the world. I plan to combine activism work with recitals.”

At the Kennedy Center concert, she plans to sing a song cycle titled Love After 1950 by Libby Larsen. It features collected poetry written by women. Sheppard will also work with Larsen this summer as a Colburn Fellow at SongFest in Los Angeles.

“Art is an outlet for many,” Sheppard says. “It is crucial that we become more accepting of those with mental illness, and come together as collaborators, not as competitors. I have many friends who suffer from very similar mental disorders. I encourage them to apply for this same award and to be a strong voice for those with all types of anxiety and depression.”

Visit the Kennedy Center’s Facebook page or website to watch Sheppard’s performance at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 25.

 

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CCM Horn Student Named 2017 Yamaha Young Performing Artist

CCM student Michelle Hembree is one of 10 winners of the 2017 Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) Competition. Hembree is a third-year undergraduate horn student who studies with CCM Winds and Percussion Department Chair Randy Gardner.

“Michelle Hembree is one of the most musically gifted and intellectually brilliant students I’ve had the privilege to teach during my long career,” says Gardner. “She is also an upbeat, friendly and enthusiastic person who is respected by and popular with her fellow students and faculty alike.”

As a winner of the competition, Hembree will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the YYPA Celebration Weekend June 24-27, 2017, which will take place during the Music for All Summer Symposium, to be held at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, from June 24-July 1, 2017. Winners will receive a once-in-a-lifetime performance opportunity in front of thousands, national press coverage and will participate in workshops designed to launch a professional music career.

Hembree will perform Eugene Bozza’s En Foret at Ball State this summer. As a Yamaha Young Performing Artist, Hembree will receive a professional recording of the performance, a professional photography session and services and support from Yamaha Artist Relations.

“I am excited to perform this summer,” says Hembree. “En Foret is a fun piece with a little bit of everything in it. This is a great opportunity to network and meet other musicians, as well as learn more about the performance and education industry.”

Hembree joins a distinguished company of more than 250 talented musicians who have been recognized since the program’s inception. CCM alumnus Austin Larson (BM Horn, 2012) became a Yamaha Young Performing Artist in 2011; he is now a member of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Many winners have established successful music careers, both as performers and educators, including Ricardo Morales, principal clarinetist of the Philadelphia Orchestra; Alex Han, saxophonist with Marcus Miller; Otis Murphy, professor, Indiana University; Conrad Jones, principal trumpeter with the Indianapolis Symphony; and Aaron Parks, acclaimed jazz pianist.

“The YYPA Program is a significant opportunity for young musicians who are embarking on careers as professionals, and one of the most visible and distinctive ways that Yamaha offers valuable support for music education,” said John Wittmann, director of education and artist relations, Yamaha Artist Services Indianapolis. “We are pleased to honor Michelle at this pivotal stage in her career.”

For more information about the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Program, visit http://4wrd.it/YYPA.

About Michelle Hembree
Hembree has received numerous awards and accolades during the course of her young career. She is the CCM Kemp Horn scholar of her class and has won numerous awards including second place in the Three Arts Scholarship Competition, the CCM Undergraduate Instrumentalist Solo Contest, YoungArts Merit award, Meridian Symphony Solo Competition and Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Solo Competition. She has participated in several ensembles including the Sarasota Music Festival, National Youth Orchestra of the U.S.A., Voksenasen Norwegian Summer Academy and Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. In the spring of 2016, Hembree performed first horn on Schumann’s “Konzertstück for Four Horns” with Seven Hills Sinfonietta. Hembree has played with renowned artists including Valery Gergiev, Larry Rachleff, Joshua Bell and Nicholas McGean. Her previous teachers include Dr. David Saunders and Lawrence Johnson.

About Yamaha
Yamaha Corporation of America (YCA) is one of the largest subsidiaries of Yamaha Corporation, Japan and offers a full line of award-winning musical instruments, sound reinforcement, commercial installation and home entertainment products to the U.S. market. Products include: Yamaha acoustic, digital and hybrid pianos, portable keyboards, guitars, acoustic and electronic drums, band and orchestral instruments, marching percussion products, synthesizers, professional digital and analog audio equipment, Steinberg recording products and NEXO commercial audio products, as well as AV receivers, amplifiers, MusicCast wireless multiroom audio systems, Blu-ray/CD players, earphones, headphones, home-theater-in-a-box systems, sound bars and its exclusive line of Digital Sound Projectors. YCA markets innovative, finely crafted technology and entertainment products and musical instruments targeted to the hobbyist, education, worship, music, professional audio installation and consumer markets.

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Story by CCM graduate assistant Charlotte Kies

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Alums and Students in #TheatreCompany Premiere Short Film Starring Diane Kvapil

For the past two years, alumni and students from UC’s College-Conservatory of Music have worked to write and produce a new short film starring one of Cincinnati’s most beloved artists, Emeritus Professor Diane Kvapil. Presented by the #TheatreCompany, A Thankless Child premieres on Thursday, April 27, at UC’s MainStreet Cinema in the Tangeman University Center.

A Thankless Child is the story of a family haunted by a huge secret and the victims left in its wake. It is an absurdist take on the burdens and responsibilities of being a part of a family. This film was made possible by the generous contributions to the #thedianemovie crowd-funding campaign and CCMpower.

The film gives Kvapil an opportunity to get back in front of the arts community that she has fostered and loved for more than 40 years. Locally, Kvapil has performed at Playhouse in the Park, Edgecliffe Theatre and the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in numerous productions since 1957. She was a treasured CCM Acting faculty member from 1977 until her retirement in 2015.

At CCM, Kvapil directed productions of Trojan Women (with original music by Richard Oberacker), Our Town, Three Sisters (Acclaim Award winner for Outstanding Ensemble) and Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. In 2011 she was named Outstanding Theatre Educator by the ACCLAIM Awards in Cincinnati.

Diane Kvapil throughout her years in the performing arts.

A sample of Diane Kvapil’s work throughout her years in the performing arts.

“Diane is the definition of a passionate life-long artist and educator,” says #TheatreCompany co-founder AC Horton (BFA Acting, 2015). “She is moved by her immense love of the work and storytelling and her dedication to passing that love on to her students.”

The idea for A Thankless Child started with a joke made by CCM Acting student Katie Langham during a performance at Kvapil’s home in March 2015.

“The energy was palpable,” remembers Langham, co-founder of #TheatreCompany. “Just a moment in her home and you can feel the stories around you. I asked Diane if she would be open to making a short film in the home upon her retirement. Thinking that it was never going to happen, she half-jokingly said ‘yes.’ Unfortunately for her, I never half-joke.”

At the time, Langham and AC Horton were working with fellow students and alumni in the #TheatreCompany, a new company of young theatre professionals dedicated to creating honest, exciting and contemporary work. The company was born at CCM when Horton used #TheatreCompany to refer to the one-night-only shows she directed in classrooms. The company grew to produce an original piece, The Gospel of Fat Kathy, which was performed in New York City.

Langham, Horton and John Patrick Maddock (BFA Acting, 2014) wrote the script for A Thankless Child as they worked on The Gospel of Fat Kathy in New York. The entire cast, crew and creative team for A Thankless Child is made of former and current students from CCM’s Acting, Theatre Design and Production, E-Media and Commercial Music Production programs.

“When Katie first asked me to do it, I almost said no,” Horton recalls. “The idea was absolutely terrifying. But, I agreed that if she could get Diane to do it, I would do it. One thing I learned during my time at CCM is that you have to follow the fear.”

Kate Wilford in "A Thankless Child."

Kate Wilford in “A Thankless Child.”

Horton directs the film, which stars Kvapil and her daughter, Kate Wilford. It marks the first time the mother-daughter duo have acted together. Langham plays Kvapil’s estranged granddaughter and serves as the film’s Executive Producer.

“I would not have had the courage or faith in myself to lead a project of this size without the lessons taught to me by my CCM professors, specifically Richard Hess,” Langham says. “He has taught me how to find the heart of a project and how to be fearless and generous every step of the way. Without CCM I would not be the ‘woman in art’ I am today.”

“Working on this film has been an incredible, life-changing learning experience,” Langham says. “Not only did I get to act alongside my mentor, teacher and very good friend Diane Kvapil, but I worked with a crew that was gifted, patient and eager to be in the room.”

A Thankless Child premieres at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 27 at UC’s MainStreet Cinema in the Tangeman University Center. The UC Alumni Association will host a reception with light snacks and refreshments at 6:30 p.m.

The reception and premiere are free; please RSVP online at alumni.uc.edu/ccm/thedianemovie.

PRODUCTION TEAM
Director/Writer – AC Horton (BFA Acting, 2015)
Executive Producer/Writer/Maddie Steele – Katie Langham* (CCM Acting)
Writer/Producer/Andy Steele – John Patrick Maddock (BFA Acting, 2014)
Genevieve Clark – Diane Kvapil
Cynthia Steele – Kate Wilford
V.O. David Steele – D’Arcy Smith, CCM Acting professor
Director of Photography – Zacharias Muller (BFA E-Media, 2015)
Camera 2 – Asa Featherstone IV (BA Communications, E-Media Minor, 2016)
Script Supervisor/Assistant Director – Danielle Kokochak* (E-Media Minor)
Lighting Designer – Josh Davenport (CCM Theatre Design and Production, 2014-2014)
Set Design/Props – Logan Greenwell* (CCM Theatre Design and Production)
Hair & Make-up – Danae Jimenez* (CCM Theatre Design and Production)
Production Assistant – Jacob Berry* (CCM E-Media)
Production Assistant – Clare Bradley Combest* (CCM Acting)
Audio Engineer – Haley Wolf (BFA E-Media, 2015)
Audio Engineer – Lauren Osinski (BFA E-Media, 2016)
Artistic Mentor – Shaun S. Sutton (BFA Acting, 2014)

POST PRODUCTION TEAM
Soundtrack – Jennifer Rowecamp (BFA Commercial Music Production, 2016)
Editor – Bradley Theodore Thompson* (CCM E-Media)
Editor – Sam Medert (BFA E-Media, 2016)
Audio Editor – Lindsey Singleton Ballou* (CCM E-Media)

*CCM student

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Summer scenes on campus, CCM.

Thank You: CCM Celebrates Faculty and Staff Retirements

As the academic year comes to a close, we celebrate the careers of nine retiring faculty and staff members who have given nearly 250 years of combined service to UC’s College-Conservatory of Music. These members of the CCM family have dedicated themselves to continuing the college’s legacy as a leading training center for the performing and media arts.

View photos of their time at CCM:

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Retiring Faculty Members Share Memories:

This year marks my 48th year of continuous work — 21 years as a singer/actress, and another 20 years as a college professor and theatre producer. In 2009 my husband and I retired to Cincinnati, where I received an unexpected invitation to return to CCM — my alma mater — to teach musical theatre voice as an adjunct professor. These past seven years have been a total joy. I call it simply “the gift I gave myself.” As an older professional, it means so much to continue to contribute and feel appreciated. I’ve been truly honored to work with wonderful colleagues, and to have been given the opportunity to teach and mentor my talented and remarkable students. A number of my students surprised me in New York with a champagne brunch on April 2 to celebrate my retirement. I have no words to express what that meant to me, and the joy I feel, seeing them claim their places on Broadway and other stages, following their dreams. I would like to thank UC for recognizing and honoring the work of adjunct faculty. It is rare for a university to recognize adjunct contributions, and I salute UC for doing so. I’ll be forever grateful that I have been able to come full circle, and share the training I received at CCM with another generation of students. CCM is about to celebrate its 150th anniversary. I look forward to continuing to serve on the CCMPower board, raising money for scholarships, and helping to ensure that CCM will be here for another 150 years, training and graduating outstanding music professionals. – Kimberly Daniel de Acha
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Some of my favorite times at CCM revolve around hearing and interacting with such a wonderful faculty, be it at their concerts, at committee meetings, or in day by day interaction. I feel honored to have worked with such stellar teachers and artists! – Mary Stucky
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When I started fall 1975, DVAC was the Schmidlapp Gymnasium, Memorial was a women’s dorm, the main way to the garage was from Calhoun down to CCM garage — the connector tunnel didn’t exist. Werner Hall and Starbucks weren’t here and CCM had about half of the students it does now. It was an exciting time for me, as I was starting in LaSalle Quartet. We did four concerts a year in Corbett and two to four international tours a year. I worked with so many wonderful colleagues over all these years, some are sadly no longer with us. Almost my whole professional life has been at CCM, more than four decades worth of experiences. – Lee Fiser
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In 1999, I received a call asking me to teach at CCM. Who would have thought that almost two decades later my passion for teaching has only increased because of the talented students and faculty that I have had the pleasure of working with! Thank you all so much! – Patti James
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There’s something a touch poetic for me about retiring along with Lee Fiser — the final retirement from the LaSalle String Quartet. I came to the CCM faculty as a quite young person. It was the Quartet who were instrumental in getting Percussion Group Cincinnati the appointment to CCM. Some of my strongest memories of that first decade here are the Quartet’s concerts on Corbett stage, and I endeavored to live up to the beautiful standards that they had set. I wanted a percussion group in the late 20th century to be able to function just as the greatest string quartets always had, and I am grateful to CCM for giving me and my colleagues that opportunity and support. – Allen Otte

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Preparatory Ballet Concert. Photography by Kyuran Ann Choe.

CCM Preparatory Presents the Spring Youth Ballet Concert

CCM Preparatory students perform traditional and contemporary works at the annual Spring Youth Ballet Concert. Directed by Jonnie Lynn Jacobs-Percer, the ballet concert is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, in CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater.

The program features a partially restaged performance of Act III of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty, with choreography by Marius Petipa and restaging by CCM Prep Ballet faculty.

Other highlights include three works performed and choreographed by graduating high school seniors in the CCM Prep Ballet program.

The CCM Prep Youth Ballet program is open to any dancer ages 9-18. “Our goal is to expose our young dancers to many of the classic ballets, which helps develop their performance skills and ballet technique,” said Jacobs-Percer, who teaches in CCM’s collegiate Dance Department and serves as the ballet director in CCM Prep.

For more information about CCM Prep Dance, visit ccm.uc.edu/prep/dance.

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Performance Times
7:30 p.m. Friday, April 28
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29

Location
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to CCM Prep’s Spring Youth Ballet Concert are $15 general, $10 non-UC students and FREE for UC students with a valid ID. Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online now through our e-Box Office! Visit ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice for CCM Box Office hours and location.

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 uc.edu/parking for information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. 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.uc.edu/about/directions.

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Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle

Photography by Kyuran Ann Choe

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CCM Behind-the-Scenes: Dancing in Masterworks and Beyond

Shae Combs, a photojournalism student from UC’s McMicken College, films behind-the-scenes as CCM Dance faculty and students prepare for the Mainstage production of Masterworks and Beyond. Co-directed by Dance Department Chair Jiang Qi and Professor Deirdre Carberry, performances run Thursday, April 13-Saturday, April 15, in CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater.

Masterworks and Beyond is a collection of diverse works, which showcase the versatility of the students and faculty in CCM’s Department of Dance. Combs focuses her lens on the creation of Day of Wakening Over the Sea of Night, which premieres during Masterworks and Beyond. The new ballet is choreographed by CCM Professor André Megerdichian and set to music by CCM composition alumnus and accompanist Bradley Harris. CCM Dance student Dominique Neff is featured in Combs’ work.

“Working with everyone in CCM has been a dream,” said Combs, who interns at the Cincinnati Enquirer this summer. “From the stage manager Chelsea Taylor, to André, Dominique and the rest of the dancers, I’ve received nothing but warm welcomes and excitement. I’ve loved getting to watch and document everything come together in the last couple of weeks. You can truly see the hard work and dedication that went into the piece.”

View Combs’ photos and video for an inside look at the final 2016-17 CCM Mainstage Series production. Masterworks and Beyond opens at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 13 and continues through Saturday at CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater.

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Performance Times
8 p.m. Thursday, April 13
8 p.m. Friday, April 14
2 & 8 p.m. Saturday, April 15

Please note: UC’s Nippert Stadium will also host an FC|Cincinnati game at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 15, 2017. The full FC|Cincinnati Soccer game schedule can be found at www.fccincinnati.com/2017-schedule.

Location
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Masterworks and Beyond are $27-31 for adults, $17-20 for non-UC students and $15-18 for UC students with a valid ID. Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/masterworks-and-beyond.html.

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. Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.
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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Dance Sponsor: Rosemary & Mark Schlachter

The Dance Department gratefully acknowledges the support of the Corbett Endowment at CCM

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Brett Scott leading CCM's Chorale at this year's Moveable Feast gala event.

Professor Douglas Knehans’ New Choral Music Album Receives Rave Reviews

Lux Dei features new works for choir composed by CCM Norman Dinerstein Professor of Composition Scholar Douglas Knehans and sung by the CCM Chorale, under the direction of CCM Professor Brett Scott. Recently released by ABLAZE Records, the new album has garnered praise in multiple music reviews for its accessibility and beauty. 

Knehans' "Lux Dei" choral music album is available for purchase through Ablaze Records.

Knehans’ “Lux Dei” choral music album is available for purchase through ABLAZE Records.

“I’ve always admired composers who can write music that sounds modern but feels ancient,” wrote Jean-Yves Duperron in a review of Lux Dei published by the Classical Music Sentinel. “The contemporary style and technique make it seem new, different and fresh, while the general character of the writing allows for an overall outlook that takes you back through the centuries to the days of early music.”

The review applauds Knehans’ music for being “well rooted and accessible and always seems to hit an emotional nerve.” Duperron concludes that the new album “should be of great appeal to anyone interested in new choral music.”

Fanfare Magazine published Colin Clarke’s glowing review of Lux Dei in the March/April edition of the magazine. The review spotlights the CCM Chorale for its “rich, sonorous blend” in the “beautifully balanced recording.”

Clarke praises each of the album’s six stellar works, which includes Knehans’ Three Psalms — a prizewinner at the First International Sacred Choral Music Festival in the Czech Republic. Lux Dei also showcases Knehans’ Panis Angelicus, Epicideum Hathumode, Two Looks at Silence and Symbolum Apostolorum. Organist Christina Haan joins the CCM Chorale on Missa brevis, the album’s only accompanied piece.

“This is a radiant disc of music by a composer who is blessed with a tremendous imagination and who clearly has great affinity with writing for choir,” Clarke wrote. “There is a huge amount of beauty to be found here. Put simply, Knehans locates and amplifies the spiritual within the religious.”

Click to read the full reviews by Classical Music Sentinel and Fanfare Magazine.

Douglas Knehans. Photo by Tina Gutierrez.

Douglas Knehans. Photo by Tina Gutierrez.

About Douglas Knehans
Douglas Knehans is the Norman Dinerstein Professor of Composition Scholar at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He 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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Story by CCM graduate assistant Charlotte Kies

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