CCM Village at night

CCMONSTAGE Online: Stay connected with the latest news from the college

Although we are still unable to perform for you live, you can continue to 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 even when we have to temporarily stay apart.

Sign up to receive CCM’s e-newsletter at ccm.uc.edu/subscribe.

Get the latest news from CCM:

CCMONSTAGE: Watch the CCM Philharmonia’s Sept. 12 performance

The virtual concert also features mezzo-soprano and CCM Professor Quinn Patrick Ankrum. Read more


CCM alumni in Tony Award-nominated productions

Watch Aaron Tveit and CCM alumna Karen Olivo sing “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge! musical. Read more.


CCM shares Spring 2021 registration details

Last week, CCM Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Stephanie P. Schlagel provided information on spring course registration and CCM’s online accommodation resources. Read more.


CCM piano professor featured in upcoming streamed performances

Awadagin Pratt will perform as a soloist with three symphony orchestras in the next two months. Read more.


Dada Rafiki honors CCM staff member for community engagement work

Anne Cushing-Reid has supported arts education in Greater Cincinnati for more than 25 years. Read more.


Students take spotlight in UC commercial

Meet the Bearcats behind the university’s latest TV spot, “Push Forward.” Read more.

 


Arts Engines: CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow graduate speaks to the power of music

Aaron Dworkin interviews alumnus Ian Saunders about his experience in the program and his career. Read more.


Classical Singer Magazine: CCM alumna harnesses girl power on the operatic stage

CCM Stage director Jennifer Williams discusses how to create empowered portrayals of women in opera. Read more.


Additional Resources

Bridging the divide

Meet the women tackling tough conversations about race at UC. Read more.

 


UC Answers: How can mindfulness help us cope?

UC Center for Integrative Health and Wellness Director Sian Cotton, expert in mindfulness and its benefits, offers advice to the UC community. Read more.


UC’s Center for Integrative Health and Wellness

The University of Cincinnati’s Center for Integrative Health and Wellness is providing information and resources to promote wellness. Learn more about the center’s wellness tips during times of stress and consider signing up for their email newsletter.


FAQs and Online Resources

Please continue to refer to CCM’s coronavirus resource website to help answer your frequently asked questions. This website is updated as new information develops, so please check back often.
For more information about the University of Cincinnati’s response to COVID-19, please visit uc.edu/publichealth.

Sign up to receive CCM’s bi-weekly e-newsletter at ccm.uc.edu/subscribe.
CCM Alumni Applause CCM News CCM Video CCMONSTAGE Faculty Fanfare Student Salutes

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.

Sign up to receive CCM’s e-newsletter at ccm.uc.edu/subscribe.

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.


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.


Sign up to receive CCM’s bi-weekly e-newsletter at ccm.uc.edu/subscribe.

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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.

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

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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CCM Arts Administration Student wins Gena Branscombe Project Award

In its inaugural year, the Gena Branscombe Project has awarded its 2020 scholarships to four women, including UC College-Conservatory of Music Arts Administration student Sydney Pepper. The scholarships support the winners in their continuing pursuit of undergraduate and graduate studies and shine “a light on exceptional emerging, talented, women in music.”

CCM Arts Administration student Sydney Pepper. Photo/Provided.

CCM Arts Administration student Sydney Pepper. Photo/Provided.

Named after influential composer and advocate of contemporary American music Gena Branscombe (1881-1977), the Project awarded Pepper the 2020 Emerging Arts Administrator scholarship. It also awarded the 2020 Emerging Composer scholarship to Catherine Willingham, the 2020 Emerging Conductor scholarship to Genevieve Welch and gave a 2020 Emerging Conductor Honorable Mention award to Michaela Gleason. Read more about the award winners in the online announcement.

Pepper will begin her second year in CCM’s MA/MBA Arts Administration program in August. Her experience in Cincinnati spans from working in CCM Preparatory and Community Engagement to the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. She was originally scheduled to serve as a development intern for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis this summer, but COVID-19 cancelled those plans. Instead, Pepper is doing development work for both the Portland Bach Experience in Maine and for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

“The [CCM] Arts Admin program has transformed and expanded my love of the field,” says Pepper, who previously attended Clark University to pursue a vocal performance degree. “A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined the amount of knowledge that I would have gained throughout this year, but I am so very grateful. Not only am I grateful for all of the learning opportunities, but I could never express enough my gratitude to Professors Jean Hamilton and Rebecca Bromels as well as my cohort, all of whom have made a year full of uncertainty and challenges so, so much easier.”

Pepper’s first experience as an arts administrator was with the Portland Bach Experience, where she began as an intern and worked her way to Festival Manager. In her senior year at Clark University, she served as the Marketing and Box Office Coordinator for Music Worcester, Inc. and as the President of the Clark University Choirs. Under her supervision, the Clark University Choirs performed a 21st century revival of lost composer Gena Branscombe’s Pilgrims of Destiny.

About the Gena Branscombe Project

The Gena Branscombe Project is dedicated to the revival and performance of the music of American composer and conductor Gena Branscombe. Founded by Branscombe experts and family members, the project seeks to continue the spirit of Branscombe’s lifelong example of inspiring women in music, by awarding three yearly scholarships in her honor. All proceeds of the revived music go to support the yearly scholarships. The project is run by Kathleen Shimeta, Daniel P. Ryan and Regan Siglin.

About Gena Branscombe

The legacy of Gena Branscombe (1881-1977) is that of composer, conductor and leader of women in music. Composing over 150 arts songs, chamber music, piano pieces and choral works, they were available from 23 different publishers. As a conductor she led MacDowell choruses, the Chicago Women’s Symphony, college choirs, women’s club choruses and her own Branscombe Choral. These groups under her direction performed music by American composers and in particular, American women composers. Holding national office Branscombe was a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, National League of American Pen Women, National Federation of Music Clubs, Society of American Women Composers, Altrusa International and more. At meetings on the state and local levels she encouraged women to be active in their communities’ music organizations and to perform at their own meetings. She organized and presented programs of American music for club members to use as guidelines for programming. Branscombe was a wife, mother of four, pianist, composer, conductor and leader of women whose legacy inspires the Gena Branscombe Project scholarships.

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

CCM Alumna Karen Zhang Wins Prestigious MTNA Teacher Fellowship

CCM alumna Karen Zhang (BM Piano Performance, ’16; MM Piano Performance, ’18) is the 2020 recipient of the Music Teachers National Association’s MarySue Harris Studio Teacher Fellowship. This $3,000 grant, funded by the MarySue Harris Endowment Fund, is presented annually to a recently graduated independent studio music teacher who demonstrates commitment to the music teaching profession and outstanding studio development.

Karen ZhangDuring her time at CCM, Zhang studied with CCM Professor of Piano Eugene Pridonoff and Associate Professor of Piano Soyeon Kate Lee. Zhang was a winner of CCM’s Van Cliburn Scholarship Competition and the Glenn Miller Society Scholarship Competition, as well as the first-place winner of the $9,400 prize at Three Arts Scholarship Competition. She also participated in the 2017 Pianofest, held in Hampton, New York. As a CCM master’s degree student, she was a graduate assistant in secondary piano.

After graduation, Zhang and her husband Jaesung Kim founded their Cincinnati-based piano studio, Musical Moments. Her students have been winners of numerous competitions, including the University of Kentucky’s Nathaniel Patch Piano Competition, OhioMTA Auditions Festival and the 88 Tri-State Piano Concerto Competition. Many of her students have also been recognized with Distinction-level certificates from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Zhang has been invited to teach and perform in numerous pre-colleges and venues in Asia, including those in Seoul, Chengdu, Chongqing, Taishan and Beijing.

Zhang has also taught through the City Gospel Mission’s Whiz Kids Music Program, an after-school program that gives music classes and lessons to students in the Cincinnati area whose schools do not offer music classes. CCM Preparatory and Community Engagement connects collegiate students with teaching and mentoring opportunities through the CCM AfterSchool program, which has partnered with Whiz Kids, Cincinnati Public Schools and other education and community organizations.

About MTNA and MarySue Harris

MTNA is a nonprofit organization of some 20,000 independent and collegiate music teachers committed to furthering the art of music through teaching, performance, composition and scholarly research. Founded in 1876, MTNA is the oldest professional music teachers’ association in the United States.

MarySue Harris, a long-time MTNA member from Nebraska, has devoted her teaching career to nurturing young music students. Her commitment to pedagogy and the beginning music teacher led to her establishment of the MarySue Harris Endowment Fund.


Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

Featured image at top: Memorial Hall, which is part of the CCM Village on UC’s campus. Photo/UC Creative + Brand.

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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.

CCM Acting Faculty, Alumni and Students Embrace Local and National Digital Theatre

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

Cincinnati Playhouse and the One-Minute Play Festival share creative monologues and short-plays featuring CCM Acting faculty, alumni and students

The pandemic isn’t stopping theatre artists from connecting and sharing their work. Although they can’t gather on stage or perform in front of an in-person audience right now, actors and directors are creating digital spaces to share theatre online.

CCM Acting Professor Brant Russell recently participated in two digital theatre efforts through Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s Monologues of Hope series and the national One-Minute Play Festival (1MPF).

“A bunch of us have refused to allow the lack of sanctioned or safe traditional theatre methods to hamper our practice. We can’t gather, we can’t even be near each other, but the need to make work still exists, and the audiences for it are there,” Russell says. “Zoom/digital theatre is a burgeoning practice, and I’m proud CCM is in the mix.”

The Playhouse’s series commissioned 10 local playwrights to write monologues on the theme of hope during the pandemic. Each monologue is performed by a local actor and shared on the Playhouse’s website and social media accounts. So far, the Monologues of Hope Series has shared nine new works, including Russell’s Play for Our Time and Hope Deconstructed by CCM Acting alumna Torie Wiggins (BFA, ’02).

In Play for Our Time, Russell travels back in time to the Yellow Fever outbreak of 1878 to get some advice from Cincinnati Chief Health Administrator Dr. Thomas C. Minor, portrayed by actor Barry Mulholland. The 19th-century doctor is a bit uncomfortable with Russell’s “rectangle device” (smart phone), but he manages to share some timely words of wisdom.

Wiggins’ Hope Deconstructed features actor Ernaisja Curry in a comedic monologue that examines how “we’ve been getting hope all wrong” by associating it with negativity. “Hope should be hopeful. It should sound hopeful; it should look hopeful. It should start in the eyes like smizing, then the rest of the face follows suit, then the tone of voice, then the positive words with a burst of energy,” the actor exclaims in the monologue.

Hope and creativity fuel these digital theatre projects and various online performances across the country. It is evident in the commitment of these teachers, students, actors, directors and theatre companies who are determined to stay connected and share their work in new ways.

“Theatre develops and strengthens community,” says CCM Acting student Anastasia Jacques. “Digital theatre and live performances over Zoom have made me feel so connected to people very far away.”

Jacques participated in the One Minute Play Festival’s (1MPF) Coronavirus Plays Project, which presented 625 plays via Zoom over 11 days. Russell directed 62 of the one-minute plays, which ranged in topic from “old married couples dealing with quarantine to pigeons deciding on whom they should poop,” he says.

Dominic D’Andrea is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of the 1MPF, which is the country’s largest and longest consistently running community-engaged theatre project. Russell directed 1MPF plays when it came to Chicago in 2011 and wrote/directed for the IMPF when it came to Cincinnati in 2015. He cast CCM students for the project and passed his directing duties to a CCM Acting student the next year. A CCM Acting student has been directing for the Cincinnati 1MPF each year ever since, and Russell continues to write plays for it.

“We produce about 1,000 plays a year in 15-20 cities and communities, in real life. We just moved what we do online, so it wasn’t that hard for us,” D’Andrea says of the 1MPF Coronavirus Plays Project. “In this case we did a partnership with The Dramatists Guild of America and, for the first time ever, did an open call. We had about 1,300 emails and 625 useable plays from that. We offered the work up to our partnering orgs and alumni directors to stage some of it. So we built a little online coalition.”

Brant Russell directs CCM Acting students, alumni and other actors through Zoom in the 1MPF's Coronavirus Plays Project. Photo/1MPF

Brant Russell directs CCM Acting students, alumni and other actors through Zoom in the 1MPF’s Coronavirus Plays Project. Photo/1MPF

Russell and D’Andrea have known each other for around 15 years, dating back to when they met at the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. When D’Andrea launched 1MPF’s Coronavirus Plays Project, he enlisted Russell to direct 62 of them.

D’Andrea estimates that a couple thousand audience members watched the plays through Zoom, and the project involved about 14 directors, 120 actors and 625 writers from 14 different countries.

Russell’s casts included Jacques as well as CCM Acting alumni Ella Eggold (BFA, ’19), Gabriella DiVincenzo (BFA, ’19) and Paige Jordan (BFA, ’20).

Jacques played various roles during the 1MPF project including a loving spouse, a poetic farmer and — her favorite — a doting New Jersey mother. This was the first digital theatre project she has worked on, but it won’t be the last. Jacques is planning to be a guest speaker on “Reliving Childhood,” a YouTube channel launched by CCM Acting students Carlee Coulehan, Sierra Coachman and Noah Buyak. “Reliving Childhood” centers around re-watching TV shows from the students’ youth, and the idea was brought to life when students were separated during quarantine.

“We are taught that live theatre is magical because the audience and the actors are in the same room breathing the same air, but I think it is important to recognize that storytelling is the best medicine — period,” Jacques says. “If we can’t breathe the same air at least we can see each other’s faces and see each other’s hearts.”


Featured image at top: The entrance to the CCM Atrium on UC’s campus. Photo/UC Creative + Brand.

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CCM Village at night

CCM E-Media professor and student help UC Emeriti Center launch new website

CCM Village at night

The University of Cincinnati Emeriti Association and Center, headed by College-Conservatory of Music E-Media Professor Peter DePietro, unveiled a new website in April that showcases the work of recent graduate Jonathan Kilberg (BFA E-Media, ’20). As the center’s multimedia intern, Kilberg’s work included web design/development, user experience design, videography and audio production — a grouping of disciplines that are unique to CCM’s E-Media program.

Assistant Professor of E-Media Peter DePietro.

Peter DePietro.

DePietro is the first non-interim executive director of the Emeriti Center, which advocates for the interests of emeriti, provides intellectual and social opportunities and strengthens ties between emeriti and the university, local, national and international communities. The new website includes videos from the Center’s YouTube channel as well as helpful resources for the university’s retired faculty members.

Since having a major role in the Center, DePietro has worked on creating connections between UC and community leaders as well as connecting deans from different colleges across campus. He is also focused on growth and expanding membership. At CCM he continues to educate his students through experience-based learning, which is why he recruited a student to help build the Center’s new website. DePietro enlisted the help of Kilberg because he believes that engaging students in practical learning is important.

“It was an amazing opportunity to be able to work for the Center,” Kilberg says. “I jumped at the opportunity. Every single member is supportive and kind and sociable. It was amazing to meet all these people from campus life and beyond campus life.”

Creating the UC Emeriti website was no small feat. The task required both Kilberg and DePietro to take classes and tests in order to train on the university’s web content management system and to meet the standards of UC’s Digital Communications office. In addition to the website, Kilberg and DePietro created a YouTube channel with original video content. The crown jewel of the YouTube channel is the EmeriTALKS series which Kilberg noted as one of the best parts of working on this project. The EmeriTALKS videos include a joint-venture between the Center and CCM, featuring the leadership of Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park, and another featuring former UC President Nancy Zimpher.

As an E-Media student at CCM, Kilberg has enjoyed multiple opportunities to participate in hands on learning experiences. In October 2019, Kilberg traveled to Germany and Poland with CCM E-Media Professor Hagit Limor’s multi-disciplinary Media Topics class. The group of 15 students set out to create “Hope After Hate,” an immersive play and virtual reality experience that shares Limor’s father’s experience during the Holocaust with lessons to inspire action against future acts of hatred.

CCM’s BFA E-Media program encompasses the integrated media arts of film and digital cinema, television and broadcast media news, audio production and new media design. Students are given the opportunity to study in the track of their choosing, including Broadcast and Media Production, Multimedia Production and Film and Television Production. Internships are a key part of the curriculum and take advantage of the professional resources in Cincinnati and other areas across the country. With its emphasis on experiential learning, students acquire the hands-on skills and a digital portfolio necessary to transition successfully into the professional world.

Kilberg plans on going into the film industry and feels that one of the biggest skills E-Media has taught him is how to effectively work with a team. “E-Media pushed me to work with other people, which is so necessary in the field that I want to go in. The program taught me the importance of working as a team.”

“The professors are talented and they work hard at creating community,” Kilberg says. “They also offer great resources and there is support from the alumni of E-Media. Going forward they are going to continue to do an amazing job preparing students.”


Story by CCM Graduate Student Kelly Barefield

Featured image at top: An aerial view of CCM Village. Photo/Jay Yocis

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Leo De La Cruz

CCM student oboist wins NFMC’s prestigious Carolyn Nelson Double Reed Award

Leo De La Cruz

CCM graduate student Leo De La Cruz turned heads in a variety of competitions during the 2019-20 season. Most recently, he won the National Federation of Music Clubs’ Carolyn Nelson Double Reed Award, which includes a $1,250 cash prize.

Leo De La Cruz rehearsing with CCM Chamber Winds. Photo/Provided.

Leo De La Cruz rehearsing with CCM Chamber Winds. Photo/Provided.

De La Cruz also won the CCM Wind Studies concerto competition, which culminated in a performance of Weber’s Concertino for Oboe and Wind Band with the CCM Chamber Winds on February 9, and he achieved an honorable mention at the 2020 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition.

To apply for the Carolyn Nelson Double Reed Award, De La Cruz submitted a 15-minute performance video, including the Weber Concertino he performed in February. His other selections were Dutilleux’s Oboe Sonata and Robert Schumann’s Three Romances, which he performed in chamber music recitals at CCM.

“I think the part that I’m most proud of about those recordings isn’t necessarily my own playing, but rather the back and forth between my partners and me,” De La Cruz says. “Both of them were fantastic collaborators and musicians, and I’m positive that my own playing improved drastically just through the work we did together.”

Before coming to CCM, De La Cruz attended high school in Spring, Texas (a suburb of Houston) and earned bachelor’s degrees in oboe performance and music theory from Furman University.

“I gravitated toward the oboe because it was unique; I was the only one in my middle school band who played it,” he remembers. “I never really planned on making music for a living, so I didn’t really take it very seriously until the end of high school, when I took a music theory class and really fell in love with the orchestral repertoire.”

De La Cruz is also working on two degrees at CCM — master’s degrees in oboe performance and music theory. In his oboe studies, he receives guidance from both of CCM’s oboe faculty, Professor of Oboe Mark Ostoich and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Oboe Dwight Parry, principal oboe at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

“I’m not quite sure what I want to do in the future quite honestly, because both of my interests bring me so much satisfaction,” De La Cruz says. “I can’t get enough of making music with other people, so if I could find a way to incorporate both chamber music and music theory into a career, I’d be happy.”


Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

Featured Image at top: Leo De La Cruz. Photo/Provided.

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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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