Long Beach Opera’s production of The Central Park Five. Photo credit: Long Beach Opera

CCM alumnus Leslie B. Dunner conducts Pulitzer Prize-winning opera ‘The Central Park Five’

Long Beach Opera’s production of The Central Park Five. Photo credit: Long Beach Opera

Anthony Davis’ opera won the prestigious prize after Dunner led the world premiere in June 2019

CCM graduate Leslie B. Dunner (DMA Orchestral Conducting, ’82) conducted the premiere of Anthony Davis’ The Central Park Five last June with California’s Long Beach Opera. In May, the opera won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Composed by Davis with a libretto by Richard Wesley, the opera was described by the jury of the prestigious award as, “a courageous operatic work, marked by powerful vocal writing and sensitive orchestration, that skillfully transforms a notorious example of contemporary injustice into something empathetic and hopeful.”

The Central Park Five’s musical style combines elements of jazz, hip-hop, blues and other historically African-American genres. The opera centers on the five African American and Latino teenagers who were unjustly convicted of a Central Park assault in the 1980s, but were exonerated through DNA evidence 13 years later.

CCM audiences may remember Dunner from his recent appearance on campus. In October 2019, Dunner returned to CCM to conduct the Philharmonia in its “CSI Halloween: Post-Mortem” performance. While on campus, Dunner connected with CCM conducting students over dinner and worked with them in studio class as well as in rehearsals to prepare for the performance.

An award-winning conductor with a glowing international reputation, Dunner is the Music Director of the South Shore Opera Company in Chicago and serves as the conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Interlochen Arts Camp.

Dunner began rehearsals for The Central Park Five shortly after his teaching and conducting work at the Interlochen Arts Academy ended for the 2018-19 school year. In an interview for Interlochen’s website, Dunner commented on the importance of telling the stories and struggles of black Americans through the lens of opera.

“Anthony Davis said something very interesting,” Dunner tells Interlochen. “He had an interview where he was asked what he thought was relevant with opera. Because the interviewer said, ‘Opera was becoming a dead medium.’ And Anthony replied, ‘No. It’s not a dead medium. It’s a dead medium for your stories. It’s not a dead medium for our stories because our stories have not been told in opera.’”

For Dunner, the story of the Central Park Five is very personal. “I grew up in the area where all of this took place,” Dunner tells Interlochen. “I lived eight blocks away. I used to go to that part of Central Park as a kid. All of what went on during that time I have been through.”

From the Central Park Five to today’s #BlackLivesMatter movement, stories of cultural, racial and socio-economic injustices regularly make headlines across the country. “The cycle is still being perpetuated,” Dunner tells Interlochen. “What happened to them should not be happening anymore. Yet it is still happening. That is the relevance. That’s why this was important.”

One month after Dunner led the world premiere of The Central Park Five at Long Beach Opera, another opera focused on wrongful convictions premiered at Cincinnati Opera. The stories of six people who were wrongfully imprisoned and then freed were told in Blind Injustice, a collaboration with CCM, UC’s Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) and the Young Professionals Choral Collective. Based on casework by the OIP and the book “Blind Injustice” by UC law professor and OIP Director Mark Godsey, the highly acclaimed opera was directed by CCM Professor of Opera Robin Guarino and featured several current and former CCM students in the cast.

Efforts to share diverse stories through the performing arts is not limited to tales of wrongful convictions and struggle. In February, Dunner conducted the Toledo Symphony in a program that highlighted classical musicians of color. Selections included excerpts from Nkeiru Okoye’s opera Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, Duke Ellington’s The River Suite, André Previn’s Honey and Rue and William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 1, among other pieces. As Music Director and Interim Artistic Director of Chicago’s South Shore Opera, Dunner furthers the company’s mission to provide greater opportunities for professional artists of color, especially local black artists, in performances of classic and contemporary operas.

“We are just now coming to the foreground,” Dunner tells Interlochen. “So we are using this medium to tell our stories, and we are modifying the medium so that it’s relevant to our population, and that’s what’s interesting, and that’s what’s exciting, and that’s what I want to be a part of.”

Read Dunner’s full interview on Interlochen’s website.

Learn more about Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, The Central Park Five.

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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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CCM Students, Alumni Unite in Virtual Performance of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’

Alumnus Harrison Sheckler organized 300 musicians from around the world for the special concert

CCM alumnus Harrison Sheckler (BM Piano, ’19) united 300 musicians from 15 countries for a virtual performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from CarouselThe performance is available to watch online.

Now a student at the Conservatory of Music of Brooklyn College, Sheckler spent over 200 hours promoting, organizing submissions and video editing the project. He collected tracks from countries all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Vietnam, Israel, Australia, South Africa and more.

The video features 30 CCM students and alumni representing multiple areas of the college including musical theatre, composition, music education, violin, violoncello, double bass, oboe, flute, piano, tuba, horn and more. It was produced by CCM Commercial Music Production alumni Josh Meyer and Grant Bayer, who are audio engineers at Cincinnati’s Zated Records. CCM students and alumni involved in the performance include:

  • Jenny Mollet (BFA Musical Theatre, ’19)
  • Giselle Haas (BM Music Education, ’19)
  • Kanako Shimasaki – current DMA Violin student
  • Maciej Latawiec (Matthew) – current DMA Violin student
  • Li-Han Eliza Tseng (DMA Violoncello, ’19)
  • Maksym Mahlay – current BM Composition and Piano student
  • Carolyn Regula – former DMA Violoncello student
  • Isabel Dimoff (BM Violoncello, ’18)
  • Jonathan Lin (BM Violoncello, ’18)
  • Micah Donar (BM Violoncello, ’17; MM Violoncello, ‘19)
  • Peter Ryan (MM Violoncello, ’19) – current DMA Violoncello current
  • Kimber Elayne Sprawl (BFA Musical Theatre, ’14)
  • Natalie Orth (BM Violin, ’20)
  • Taiga Benito – current BM Double Bass student
  • Dan Qiao (MM Violin, ’17) – current DMA Violin student
  • Taylor Overholt (BM Clarinet, ’19)
  • Collin Goff – current BM Music Education and Clarinet
  • Katie Riley – current BM Flute student
  • Ray Haim (BM Music Education, ’18)
  • Sarah Minneman – current DMA Oboe student
  • Bryan Lyons (BM Oboe, ’97) – current DMA Oboe student
  • Patrick Grimone (BM Oboe, ’19)
  • Eliza Edge (BM Horn, ’19)
  • Griffin Botts (BM Horn, ’17) – current MM Horn student
  • Ryan Penshorn – former BM Horn student
  • Phillip Palmore (BM Horn, ’20)
  • Evan Sacks-Wilner – current BM Tuba student
  • Harrison Sheckler (BM Piano, ’19)
  • Josh Meyer (BM Commercial Music Production, ’18)
  • Grant Bayer (BM Commercial Music Production, ’18)

The performance has garnered media attention from Broadway World and Musical America Worldwide.

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CCM Celebrates Class of 2020

CCM is so proud of our graduates and of the faculty and staff who helped guide their success

After investing countless hours in classrooms, practice rooms, studios, workshops and rehearsal halls, the Class of 2020 is graduating from UC’s College-Conservatory of Music. Congratulations!

Photo of CCM Village as the cover for the Graduation Convocation program.

Click the image to download CCM’s 2020 Graduation Convocation program. Design by Mikki Graff.

The CCM community is inspired by the Class of 2020’s resilience during this unprecedented crisis and is proud to welcome this year’s graduates to our global network of alumni. Graduates join a network of thousands of UC alumni including artists, entrepreneurs, researchers, leaders and professionals around the world.

“I wish we could gather in Corbett Auditorium to recognize and celebrate all you’ve achieved,” CCM Dean Stanley E. Romanstein says. “I’d like nothing more than to shake your hand, to look you in the eye and say, on behalf of CCM’s faculty and staff, ‘Congratulations! Well done!’ Unfortunately, COVID-19 has relegated us to a virtual celebration.”

“Please know how proud we are of you and of what you’ve done,” Romanstein adds. “CCM’s reputation as a nationally ranked and internationally renowned institution rests with you. The faculty and I look forward to following your journey, wherever it may take you.”

In addition to CCM’s degree recipients, we also acknowledge this year’s student and faculty award recipients:

  • Outstanding Undergraduate Student Achievement Award: Melinda Hunt
  • Sigma Alpha Iota Scholastic Award for Outstanding Achievement: Adelaide Young
  • Ernest N. Glover Award for Outstanding Teaching: Tricia Sundbeck

CCM also celebrates five retiring faculty members who have dedicated themselves to continuing the college’s legacy as a leading training center for the performing and media arts:

  • Earl Rivers, professor of music and director of choral studies, 1973-2020
  • Dean Mogle, professor and head of costume design and technology, 1989-2020
  • Alan Siebert, professor of trumpet, 1990-2020
  • Mark Williams, professor of lighting design and technology, 2009-2020
  • Stephen Allee, professor of music, 2015-2020

We look forward to a time in which we can all come together again to mark these momentous milestones in person. Until then, please accept our digital congratulations on behalf of CCM’s faculty, staff, friends and alumni.

Congratulations to CCM’s Class of 2020!

View the list of CCM’s 2020 graduates.

You can also download the online version of the Graduation Convocation program booklet.


#UCGrad2020

UC President Neville G. Pinto invites the university community to participate in a two-day virtual graduation celebration on May 1-2, 2020. To mark this important milestone, UC Student Affairs and its Commencement Office has planned the following digital activities, which will be based in their Twitter account @StuAffUC and use the hashtag #UCGrad20.

A Day of GRAD-itude

Every hour from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday, May 1, Student Affairs will share a sampling of thank you messages from graduates as they show their GRAD-itude to those who have been a part of their journey to graduation.

Celebration Saturday

Commemorate your achievement by taking a walk down memory lane. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, Student Affairs will tweet every half hour to celebrate the day with you. Follow along for fun flashbacks, interactive polls, lots of great GIFs and a chance to tell us about your memorable moments at UC. If you happen to be online at 4:30 p.m., you’ll catch a message from President Pinto and then finish the festivities at 5 p.m. with a virtual cap toss.

Until we can see one another again in person, please stay in touch and and stay connected at alumni.uc.edu


Featured images of CCM’s 2019 Graduation Convocation by Jay Yocis 

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Cincinnati Enquirer: CCM Alum Writes Custom Songs During Pandemic

As performing arts centers around the world announce event cancelations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, musicians are finding new ways to share and create their art. The Cincinnati Enquirer recently featured how one UC College-Conservatory of Music alumnus is sharing his work through a unique business model.

Ryan Fine. Photo/Ryan Fine

Ryan Fine (BFA Commercial Music Production, ’17) is a Nashville-based performer, songwriter, pianist and producer who suddenly found himself with an empty calendar when performances were canceled. So, he started Fine-Tuned Custom Songs to create original works for music lovers during the pandemic.

Fine will create an original song based on what the customer wants. Customers can request songs for any occasion, specify the tone and style of music. Prices for the songs start at $50.

Read the full article.

Fine has been writing and producing custom songs for kids going through traumatic experiences with the Songs of Love Foundation since 2016. He was voted Best Instrumentalist of 2019 by readers of the Nashville Scene. As an artist he has over 275,000 streams on Spotify. Cincinnati audiences may remember his jazz pop group Ryan Fine & The Media, which performed a set at the Midpoint Music Festival in 2016. Learn more about Fine on his professional website.


Feature image at top: Ryan Fine at the piano. Photo/Ryan Fine

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Registration is now open for all 2017-18 CCM Prep courses

CCM Announces Joe Miller as New Director of Choral Studies

UC College-Conservatory of Music Dean Stanley E. Romanstein has announced the addition of choral conductor Joe Miller, DMA, to the college’s roster of distinguished faculty members. A leading authority in the field of choral conducting, Miller is also a two-time graduate of CCM (MM, ‘92; DMA, ‘97). His appointment as professor and director of CCM’s lauded Choral Studies program begins on Aug. 15, 2020, pending approval of the University’s Board of Trustees.

A portrait of new CCM faculty member Joe Miller.Since 2006, Miller has served as conductor of two of the most renowned choral ensembles in the US: the Westminster Choir and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. He has also served as director of choral activities at Westminster Choir College of Rider University. In addition to his responsibilities at Westminster, Miller has been artistic director of choral activities for the renowned Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, since 2007. He has also served as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra Symphonic Choir since 2016.

“CCM has a distinguished history of choral performance and conductor training, and our alumni occupy leadership positions throughout the world,” said Romanstein. “Joe Miller has worked with the world’s leading ensembles, conductors and artists and I am proud to welcome him back to CCM as a colleague. Joe has a firm grasp of the immense opportunities available to 21st century artists and he will serve as a worthy successor to our illustrious colleague Professor Earl Rivers, who retires this spring after a nearly 50-year tenure at CCM.”

“As an alumnus, I owe much to this great institution,” said Miller. “My education at CCM has provided deep roots that have enabled me to grow a diverse and wide-reaching career, and I am honored to help lead the next chapter of this fine institution. I am excited to partner with my new CCM colleagues to find new ways to connect the dots between our ever-changing technology-minded world and our need for shared human experiences.”

Miller’s appointment concludes a national search that began when Earl Rivers, CCM’s long-time director of choral studies, announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2019-20 academic year. “I am grateful to our search committee chair Mark Gibson and committee members L. Brett Scott, Gwendolyn Coleman, Robyn Lana, Marie-France Lefebvreand Daniel Weeks for their work finding CCM’s next great ensembles and conducting professor,” said Romanstein.

About Joe Miller

Miller’s recent seasons leading the Westminster Choir have included concert tours in Beijing, China and in Spain, as well as participation in the World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona and groundbreaking performances of Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize winning Anthracite Fields at the historic Roebling WireWorks as part of Westminster’s Transforming Space project.

After viewing a staged performance of Joby Talbot’s demanding Path of Miracles at the 2019 Spoleto Festival USA, D.C. Theatre Scene wrote, “Joe Miller is a fearless artist. His bold leadership and trust in these young singers enabled his choristers to forego the ‘stand and deliver,’ score-bound habits of their genre and ‘walk with him’ on this special journey. Not only did the singers need to memorize their parts, no mean feat, but follow his baton’s bid from any part of the auditorium and sing in any body position. Miller constantly challenged them in the process and inspired them to work confidently, well outside their comfort zone.”

The New York Times described the Westminster Choir’s 2014 Festival performance of John Adams’ El Niño as “superb” and wrote, “Meticulously prepared … the chorus was remarkable for its precision, unanimity and power.” The Wall Street Journal praised the same performance, crediting “the fine Westminster Choir and the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, under the direction of Joe Miller.” The Post and Courier wrote about their performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, “This was an evening of near-flawless execution and many moments of ravishing beauty and power. It will go down as a highlight (maybe even THE highlight) of this year’s festival, and, I think, as the work with which Joe Miller established his credentials to lead an extended choral/orchestral masterwork, not just recreating Bach’s music but also putting his own interpretive stamp on the whole.”

Miller has made four recordings with the Westminster Choir. American Record Guide wrote about the choir’s newest CD, Frank Martin: Mass for Double Choir, “This is gorgeous singing … with perfect blend, intonation, diction, ensemble and musicality.” The Heart’s Reflection: Music of Daniel Elder was hailed by Minnesota Public Radio’s Classical Notes as “simply astounding.”  Miller’s debut recording with the ensemble, Flower of Beauty, received four stars from Choir & Organ magazine and earned critical praise from American Record Guide, which described the Westminster Choir as “the gold standard for academic choirs in America.”

As conductor of the Westminster Symphonic Choir, Miller has collaborated with some of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, earning him critical praise. The New York Timeswrote about Symphonic Choir’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Cleveland Orchestra, “Joe Miller’s Westminster Symphonic Choir was subtle when asked and powerful when turned loose.” Recent seasons have included performances with the Philharmoniker Berliner and Sir Simon Rattle; The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and Gustavo Dudamel.

Prior to his time at Westminster Choir College, Miller served on the faculty of Western Michigan University, California State University and Whitman College. He is the 2016 recipient of the Maynard Klein Award for Distinguished Service to Choral Music, which is presented by ACDA-Michigan in recognition of artistic excellence and a lifetime of leadership in the field of choral music.

Miller received his DMA in Choral Conducting with a cognate in Voice from CCM in 1997. He received his MM in Choral Conducting from CCM in 1992. In 1987, he graduated cum laude from the University of Tennessee with a BS in Music Education and Voice.

About CCM Choral Studies

Recognized by US News and World Report as one of this country’s leading conducting programs, CCM’s Department of Choral Studies is widely known for its excellence in training conductors for successful, lifelong careers in the choral arts.

CCM’s Master of Music and Doctor of Music Arts programs provide professional-level experiences in rehearsals and performances, developing musicianship and technique, and acquiring knowledge of styles, performance practices and repertoire.

MM and DMA graduates of CCM’s Choral Studies programs are conducting and administrating highly successful professional, collegiate, symphonic, secondary, children’s and church choir programs throughout the world.

For more information about CCM, please visit us online at ccm.uc.edu.

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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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CCM Named ‘Best of Cincinnati’ by CityBeat Readers and Staff

Three productions with CCM connections were voted “Best of Cincinnati” by CityBeat readers and staff. CityBeat’s Best of Cincinnati 2020 issue is available online now!

CCMONSTAGE Play Series presented “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” in October 2019. Photo/Richard Hess

CCM’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time won “Best Play (Student/Community)” in the magazine’s readers poll. Directed by CCM Acting Professor Richard E. Hess, the play was presented in October as part of the CCMONSTAGE Play Series.

Blind Injustice, CCM’s co-production with Cincinnati Opera and UC College of Law’s Ohio Innocence Project, received a special Best of Cincinnati staff pick award as “Best World Premiere Opera to Open Your Eyes.” Directed by CCM Opera Professor Robin Guarino, the opera featured stories of six wrongly incarcerated people who were aided by the OIP.

Blind Injustice, CCM’s co-production with Cincinnati Opera and the Ohio Innocence Project, was presented in July 2019 at Music Hall’s Wilks Studio. Photo/Philip Groshong

CityBeat staff wrote: “Robin Guarino’s terrific staging of the sold-out series of shows in the Wilks Studio in Music Hall in July 2019 drew excellent performances from a gifted cast that included members of Cincinnati’s Young Professionals Choral Collaborative. The five performances sold out months in advance, as did a free presentation at Allen Temple A.M.E. Church in Bond Hill. Blind Injustice is proof positive that opera can bear powerful witness to the social issues of our time, as well as to the strength of the human spirit in the face of mindless injustice. May it be seen again and again and again, here and throughout the country.”

CCM students self-produced “The Flick” at Clifton’s Esquire movie theater in July 2019. Photo/Ella Eggold

CityBeat staff also recognized CCM students who produced and acted in a unique presentation of The Flick, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Annie Baker, at Clifton’s Esquire movie theater. The production was dubbed “Best Play Held in an Unconventional Setting.” CCM Acting alumni and current students Ella Eggold, Gabriella DiVincenzo, Graham Rogers, Leonard Peterson and Kristina Steinmetz acted and produced the play, which was stage managed by CCM Theatre Design and Production student Jennelle John-Lewis. CityBeat staff praised the production team’s efforts as “spectacular” and “outstanding.”

Congratulations to all of our friends and partners also featured in this special issue of CityBeat! Read more on CityBeat’s website or view a digital version of the issue.


Featured image at top: Best of Cincinnati graphic by Taylor Speed/CityBeat

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Watch: CCM Alumnus Edward Nelson Wins Glyndebourne Opera Cup

CCM alumnus Edward Nelson (BM Voice, 2011; MM Voice, 2013) took home the first prize award at the 2020 Glyndebourne Opera Cup, an international competition designed to discover and spotlight the best young opera singers from around the world. Dame Janet Baker, the competition’s honorary president, gave Nelson his trophy, which was inspired by the golden lyre that Baker used in Glyndebourne’s 1982 production of Orfeo ed Euridice.

This prize includes £15,000 (about $18,400 in U.S. currency) and the guarantee of a professional role at a top international opera house. The members of the deciding jury included opera legends Sumi Jo, Sir Thomas Allen and Dame Felicity Lott, as well as other industry professionals.

Following preliminary rounds in Cape Town, Berlin, London, Milan, Paris, Vienna and New York, six singers advanced to compete in the Glyndebourne Opera Cup final, accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Nelson performed two dramatic arias from Ambroise Thomas’ Hamlet before sealing his win with a spectacular performance of “Largo al factotum” from The Barber of Seville. His winning performance is available to watch online at YouTube.

Nelson recently made his European debut with the Norwegian premiere of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande at the Norwegian National Opera. His performances were well-reviewed, despite his having learned the role in just four weeks. Bachtrack.com said that “Nelson impressed with a ringing baritone, excellent French diction and a surprisingly easy top [register].”

This season, Nelson appears with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Vancouver Opera as Figaro in The Barber of Seville, with San Francisco Opera as Bosun in Billy Budd and with the Saint Louis Symphony in Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem. Read more about Nelson’s professional accomplishments.


Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

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First Look: CCMONSTAGE ‘The Secret Garden’

The CCMONSTAGE Musicals Series presents “The Secret Garden” through March 8, 2020. Photos by Mark Lyons.

CCMONSTAGE Musical Series presents this award-winning story tonight, March 5-Sunday, March 8, 2020. Tickets available online.

Tony Award-winning musical The Secret Garden, opens at 7:30 p.m. tonight, March 5, and continues through Sunday, March 8, 2020 at CCM’s Corbett Auditorium. Presented by CCM’s Musical Theatre student stars of tomorrow, this “turn-of-the-century fairy tale” (Los Angeles Times) offers an enchanting evening of entertainment for the whole family.

The musical is brought to life on stage by director and choreographer Connor Gallagher (BFA Musical Theatre, ’06), who most recently created choreography for Broadway’s Beetlejuice. Get a sneak peek at the production in the slideshow below. Photos by Mark Lyons.

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The compelling tale of forgiveness and renewal centers on 11-year-old orphan Mary Lennox, who moves from India to Yorkshire to live with her reclusive uncle Archibald and his ailing son Colin. The estate’s many wonders include a magic garden which beckons the children with haunting melodies and the “Dreamers,” spirits from Mary’s past who guide her through her new life.

The 2019-20 CCMONSTAGE Musical Series presents The Secret Garden on March 5-8, 2020, at Corbett Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now through the CCM Box Office; student and group discounts are available.

CCM’s production of The Secret Garden will last two hours, plus a 15-minute intermission.

The Secret Garden Billing Credits

  • Book and Lyrics by Marsha Norman
  • Music by Lucy Simon
  • Based on the Novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

Creative Team

  • Connor Gallagher, director and choreographer
  • Jeremy Robin Lyons*, musical director
  • Joshua E. Gallagher, scenic designer
  • Evan Carlson*, lighting designer
  • Zach Buscher* and Seth Howard*, prop masters
  • Andrew Volzer*, production stage manager
  • Dean Mogle, costume designer
  • Marnee Porter*, wig and make-up designer
  • Zachory Ivans*, sound designer

* CCM Student

Cast List

  • Zoe Mezoff as Mary Lennox
  • Delaney Guyer as Lily
  • Madison Hagler as Archibald Craven
  • Sam Pickart as Dr. Neville Craven
  • Anna Chase Lanier as Martha
  • Kurtis Bradley Brown as Dickon
  • Jenna Bienvenue as Colin
  • Britta Cowan as Mrs. Medlock
  • Jamie Goodson as Mrs. Winthrop/Jane
  • Nick Berninger as Ben
  • Christian Feliciano as Fakir
  • Sofie Flores as Ayah
  • Mikayla Renfrow as Rose Lennox
  • Matt Copley as Captain Albert Lennox
  • Michael Canu as Lt. Peter Wright
  • Elijah King as Lt. Ian Shaw
  • Hank Von Kolnitz as Major Holmes
  • Veronica Stern as Claire Holmes
  • Jack Brewer as Major Shelley
  • Zoë Grolnick as Mrs. Shelley
  • Bailee Endebrock as Alice
  • Chip Hawver as William
  • Cassie Maurer as Betsy
  • David Littlefield as Timothy
  • Swings: Sasha Spitz and Cole Harksen
  • Dance Captains: Michael Canu and Bailee Endebrock

Performance Times

  • 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5
  • 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 6
  • 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8

Location

Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets

Single tickets prices start at $35.50. Student discounts and group rates are also available.

Learn about additional ticket options for current CCM students.

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.

Directions and Parking

CCM is located on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. Please visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions for detailed driving directions to CCM Village.

Parking is available in UC’s 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 more information on parking rates.

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


CCMONSTAGE Production Sponsors: Macy’s, Dr. & Mrs. Carl G. Fischer and Graeter’s Ice Cream

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