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

CCM News Faculty Fanfare

CCM Acting Alumnus Takes New Musical ‘Bandstand’ to Broadway

Five alumni from UC’s College-Conservatory of Music are involved in a swing-filled, all-American musical that opens on Broadway on April 26. Bandstand: The New American Musical features alumni from CCM’s Acting, Musical Theatre and Orchestral Conducting programs.

Bandstand, set in 1945, tells the story of Donny Novitski, a World War II veteran who decides to enter a national contest seeking America’s newest musical sensation. He quickly assembles a ragtag jazz band of fellow veterans, along with a beautiful young war widow to be the band’s lead singer, and enters the contest. It’s a post-war Cinderella story told in an era when young Americans were fighting for their identity in the face of a dramatically changed world.

Richard Oberacker (BFA Acting, 1993) wrote the music, book and lyrics for Bandstand. While Oberacker received his undergraduate degree in acting, he has become a successful conductor, composer and lyricist. He is currently the conductor of Cirque du Soleil’s in Las Vegas, and he composed the score for a new musical version of The Great Gatsby, which will premiere in Tokyo later this year.

Oberacker returned to CCM in 2015 to teach a "Singing Actor" master class.

Oberacker returned to CCM in 2015 to teach a “Singing Actor” master class.

“Richard Oberacker was born to make music. He is a storyteller by nature, and now America will get to enjoy just how good he is when Bandstand opens on Broadway,” said Richard Hess, Professor of Acting and the A.B., Dolly, Ralph and Julia Cohen Chair of Dramatic Performance.

“He has such a big heart, and he inspires excellence in everyone around him. Cincinnati taught Richard how to fly; now he’s ready to soar.”

Greg Anthony Rassen (MM Orchestral Conducting 2003) is co-orchestrator, music supervisor and music arranger for Bandstand.  During his time on Broadway, he has conducted An American in Paris, The Little Mermaid, The Book of Mormon and Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. He is also an accomplished pianist and was featured on the Grammy-nominated cast recording of An American in Paris. He currently holds a position with the New York Pops.

The vocal music arranger for the show is David Kreppel (BFA Musical Theatre, 1992), who is currently the Associate Music Supervisor for The Lion King worldwide and has conducted Aladdin, Sister Act, Rock of Ages and A Chorus Line on Broadway.

Two CCM alumni have roles on stage in this production. Geoff Packard (BFA Musical Theatre, 2004) plays Wayne Wright, the trombonist in the band. His Broadway credits include Matilda, Rock of Ages and Phantom of the Opera, and he has participated in national tours of Wicked and Phantom of the Opera.

Max Clayton (BFA Musical Theatre, 2014) is in the ensemble and is also an understudy for Donny Novitski, the male lead. On Broadway, he has been seen in Something Rotten!, On the Town and Gigi.

Bandstand opens on April 26 at Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 West 45th Street in New York City.  You can learn more about the show at bandstandbroadway.com.

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Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News
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

Faculty Fanfare Student Salutes
Children playing on tank drums made of repurposed propane tanks, which will be installed at Percussion Park.

CCM Jazz Alumnus Ben Sloan to Open Percussion Park in East Price Hill

If you build it, they will drum — East Price Hill is getting a new park that is built to make noise. Part playground, part instrument, Percussion Park opens in grand style on Friday, April 21, with a celebration at the corner of Warsaw and McPherson avenues.

Percussion Park is the creation of Ben Sloan, who graduated from UC’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in 2011 with a BM in Jazz Studies. It all began when Sloan watched a video of a child playing on a drum set made of paint cans and buckets. He thought, “I could build something like that” and set to work.

A bass marimba inspired by the marimbas commonly found in Zimbabwe. The instrument will soon be installed at Percussion Park. Photo provided by Ben Sloan.

A bass marimba inspired by the marimbas commonly found in Zimbabwe. The instrument will soon be installed at Percussion Park. Photo provided by Ben Sloan.

The park is a collection of outdoor percussion instruments; a brass marimba, tank drums made with propane tanks, suspended stainless tubes and wooden tongue drums. The instruments are easy to play, some are meditative and others are bouncy and playful. “It’s sculptural, it’s playful, it’s bright, it’s inviting,” Sloan says. “It’s a space for making noise.”

He hopes people will enjoy the instruments and make connections through music.

“Perhaps someone finds some clarity playing an instrument on their own on a dreary afternoon, or a couple of friends have a laugh while playing something as they pass by, or total strangers find themselves communicating through music,” Sloan says. “I would love to see the park become a gathering space for the community, a place for events, for impromptu performances — a place for creative expression.”

 

Sloan works as a teaching artist and site coordinator at MYCincinnati, an after school youth orchestra program directed by CCM alumnus Eddy Kwon (BM Jazz Studies, 2011). He teaches the pre-orchestra students, ages 5-10, in a class that combines singing, movement, percussion and “a lot of silliness.”

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and Price Hill Will help clean up the vacant lot, which will soon host the Percussion Park.

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and Price Hill Will help clean up the vacant lot, which will soon host the Percussion Park.

Last spring Sloan shared his idea for Percussion Park with MYCincinnati founder Laura Jekel, who is also the head of Creative Placemaking at Price Hill Will, a nonprofit focused on community development. She shared Sloan’s idea with Price Hill Will and a few days later there was space for Percussion Park in an empty lot at the corner of Warsaw and McPherson avenues.

Sloan received a $10,000 grant for the park from People’s Liberty, a philanthropic lab that brings together civic-minded talent to address challenges and uncover opportunities to accelerate the positive transformation of Greater Cincinnati. He also worked with Price Hill Will and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful to revitalize the vacant lot. They have added a rain garden, plants and trees in addition to Sloan’s outdoor instruments.

When he isn’t teaching or building a new community park, Sloan performs in a handful of other local music projects including A Delicate Motor, Lazy Heart and Fresh Funk.

“Many of the musicians I play regularly with are CCM alums,” Sloan says. “My biggest takeaway from CCM are the friendships forged over those four years.”

Sloan recently connected with fellow alums from CCM and UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) at an event hosted by the UC Alumni Association. He spoke about Percussion Park at the event, which was held at People’s Liberty.

Percussion Park’s opening celebration is from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, April 21 at the corner of Warsaw and McPherson avenues in East Price Hill. The celebration features short performances from MYCincinnati musicians and free catered food from local restaurants Veracruz Mexican Grill and Urban Grill.

For more information on Percussion Park, visit percussionpark.com.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News

CCM Studio Acting Presents World Premiere of ‘Very Dumb Kids’

CCM Presents "Very Dumb Kids" April 20-22. Photo by Adam Zeek.

CCM Presents ‘Very Dumb Kids’ April 20-22. Photo by Adam Zeek.

Written by rising New York playwright Gracie Gardner, Very Dumb Kids was workshopped by acting students last spring at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music. The CCM Studio Series presents the staged world premiere of the play on April 20-22 in Cohen Family Studio Theater. The play is directed by CCM Acting Professor Brant Russell.

The drama tells the tale of foreign correspondent Sarah Nehal, who is tragically murdered in New Delhi. While Sarah was busy confronting the world, her college friends sat calmly at home in the U.S., streaming T.V. shows on the internet and peddling their esoteric skill sets. One year after her funeral, Sarah’s friends meet for their annual Fourth of July reunion.

Very Dumb Kids explores entitlement and its effects on the disenfranchised as well as the privileged in the millennial era. The play also focuses on empowerment and how to live responsibly in an irresponsible universe.

This is the inaugural production of CCM Acting’s new play-commissioning initiative, which focuses on plays that speak to the unique experience of being young in America. The plays, written for and about students, will enrapture a new generation of artists and audiences. They will go on to be produced by educational institutions and professional theatre companies all over the country to expand CCM’s reach and reputation as a preeminent institution for the performing arts.

Very Dumb Kids runs from Thursday, April 20 through Saturday, April 22 in CCM’s Cohen Family Studio Theater. With free admission and limited seating, CCM’s Studio Series productions remain one of the hottest tickets in town. Learn more about how secure your tickets by visiting ccm.uc.edu/about/villagenews/did-you-know/how-to-studio-series.

You can read more about Very Dumb Kids online through the Cincinnati Enquirer and CityBeat.
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Cast List
Lauren Carter
Carter LaCava
Jacqueline Daaleman
Nick Heffelfinger
Isaac Hickox-Young
Madeline Page-Schmit
Olivia Passafiume
Graham Rogers

Performance Times

8 p.m. Thursday, April 20
8 p.m. Friday, April 21
2 & 8 p.m. Saturday, April 22

Location
Cohen Family Studio Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Tickets
Admission is free, but reservations are required. Tickets become available at noon on Monday, April 17. Visit the CCM Box Office or call 513-556-4183 to reserve. Limit two tickets per order.

Parking and Directions

Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit 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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Acting Studio Series Sponsor: Neil Artman & Margaret Straub

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Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

Photo by Adam Zeek

CCM News Student Salutes

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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