Alumni Spotlight: Brian Katona, MM Choral Conducting 2002

Story by CCM Associate Director of Alumni Relations Jamie Muenzer. Originally published online at alumni.uc.edu/ccm/katona.

Choose a college. Get through courses, tests and performances. Graduate and never look back. Right?

Well, we hope not.

And we are especially fortunate that Brian Katona (MM Choral Conducting, 2002) keeps choosing to look back. “I worked with conducting alumni while I was in school, had access to all kinds of professors, and wasn’t restricted to only doing one thing,” Brian says. “The College-Conservatory of Music was an incredible resource to both learn and play.” And as an Emmy Award-winning documentary film score composer, Brian felt it was important to eventually come “home” and pay it forward.

Similar to many students going into the creative or performing arts, Brian started his Master’s at CCM somewhat unsure of his ultimate path. Documentary filmmaking wasn’t even on his radar. But as a true testament to the well-rounded nature of CCM’s programs, there was an incredible amount of crossover with many other departments — Musical Theatre, Dance, Acting, Opera — and he found himself conducting many of the shows in Corbett Auditorium while expanding his own personal preference and repertoire.

And thanks to a master class he attended, Brian caught the bug for documentary film scoring. Soon after the workshop, he traveled to the renowned Aspen Music Festival for The Susan and Ford Schumann Composition Film Score program, and the field has been his driving passion ever since. Thinking back on this time, he says the faculty at CCM were especially encouraging, helping to develop both his composing and conducting craft.

CCM to Film: Coming Full Circle
Having worked on award-winning films ranging from The Town that Disappeared Overnight to The Builder, Brian says film scoring is about creating a connection with the imagery through sound. “As a film composer, you’re trying to capture moments through music, sometimes in scenes with very little dialogue. It’s a challenge, but you become so drawn to the story.”

Spending most of his time composing in his home studio in Newtown, Pennsylvania, Brian works with footage provided by the production companies and uses both computer-based and live instruments to create the musical score. He says each project is a brand new adventure and challenge. When he approached CCM to teach a master class, he hoped to share some of the same trials and joys of film scoring that he’s encountered. “And selfishly, it’s so nice to connect with younger composers,” he adds. “By sharing their thoughts and fresh creative ideas they often teach me as much as I teach them.

After connecting with Professor of Commercial Music Production professor Tom Haines and learning of his advanced Film Scoring class, Brian saw the perfect match. And for seniors pursuing their Bachelor of Music in Commercial Music Production, it was the perfect opportunity. Students would work with Brian over the course of a three-session Skype master class to develop their own scores for a documentary film. The catch: It was a film Brian had already worked on, stripped of the music.

“It was up to the students to create their own interpretation of the mood the film should take on,” Brian says. “By the third session, they were presenting to me and I was providing feedback on some really amazing scores. The students demonstrated a wide variety of musical styles ranging from the traditional classical approach to scores that had elements of jazz and pop. Regardless of style, each score fit very well and gave a unique and powerful emotional subtext to the film.” The workshop has gone so well that Brian says there might be one more session in the works.

If Brian’s career path is any indication, all it takes is one workshop or master class to alter the trajectory for the rest of your life. His hope for students? Find that spark.


Brian Katona is an Emmy® Award-winning composer, orchestrator, arranger, and conductor. Recent film/television credits: The Builder (Emmy Winner for best musical composition), A Hope For Hartly (Best Melodic Theme, Garden State Film Festival), PEI Kids: Generation Change (Film: Broader Vision Award, Garden State Film Festival), The Town That Disappeared Overnight (Film: Two time Emmy Winner, Garden State Film Festival Winner), Biserici De Lemn Din Romania (SEEFest Official Selection), I Throw Rocks (Film: Maumee Film Festival Winner), My Spirited Sister (Sitcom). Theater credits: Jesse James: Dead or Alive. Commercial recordings: The Voice of Christmas: “The Night Before Christmas,” A Christmas Journey: “I Wonder What I’ll Get for Christmas.” Published concert music (Imagine Music): Anthem for the Patriots, Space Battle, Space Fantasy, When I Hear Music, An Irish Blessing.

Soundcloud: @emlaproductions
Homepage: www.facebook.com/emlaproductions/

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CCM Preparatory Presents Fall Youth Ballet Concert This Weekend

CCM Prep presents its annual Fall Youth Ballet Concert on Dec. 14-15, 2018 at Patricia Corbett Theater.

CCM Preparatory and Community Engagement presents the Fall Youth Ballet Concert at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14 and Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. Directed by Jonnie Lynn Jacobs-Percer, CCM Prep’s dancers exhibit their skills by performing excerpts from the ballet repertoire and new works.

The annual dance concert features CCM Prep students from ages nine through adult performing works choreographed by CCM Prep faculty and students. Tickets are available through the CCM Box Office.

The program begins with For the Beauty of the Earth, choreographed by CCM Prep student Emilie Hatton to music by Folliott S. Pierpoint. Hatton also choreographs I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, based on the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and set to music by Casting Crowns.

CCM Prep’s Mini Ballet Company will also perform Visions of Sugarplums, with choreography by CCM Prep instructor Heather Cameron-Johnson and music by Tchaikovsky. The Adult Ballet Company will perform Orion, with choreography by Jacobs-Percer and music by Metallica.

The program also includes The Little Match Girl, with choreography by Jacobs-Percer and CCM Prep instructor Ana Bird set to Antonín Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings, and excepts of Act II of Swan Lake, based on the original choreography by Marius Petipa and restaged by instructors Thomas Bell, Isabele Elefson and Tricia Sundbeck.

You can see the CCM Fall Youth Ballet Concert this weekend in CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater. Single tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for non-UC students and FREE for UC students with valid ID. Visit the CCM Box Office website or call 513-556-4183 for more information.

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Performance Times:

  • 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14
  • 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec.15

Location:
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets:
Tickets to CCM Prep’s Fall Youth Ballet Concert are $15 general, $10 non-UC students, UC students FREE.

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 campus of the University of Cincinnati. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more 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

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Santa Claus makes a surprise appearance at CCM's 2010 'Feast of Carols.' Photography by UC Photographic Services.

Celebrate the Season with CCM’s Annual Feast of Carols This Weekend

Bring family and friends to enjoy a concert of festive choral favorites on Dec. 8 and 9 at CCM’s Corbett Auditorium.

CCM ushers in the holidays on Dec. 8 and 9, 2018, with Feast of Carols, an annual concert featuring festive choral favorites performed by the CCM Chamber Choir, Chorale and Concert Orchestra; UC Men’s and Women’s Choruses, Cincinnati Youth Choir and outstanding guest choirs from local high schools.

A tradition that dates back decades, Feast of Carols showcases an eclectic mix of holiday songs including classics like “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” “Deck the Halls,” and many more.

Conductors Earl Rivers, Brett Scott, Robyn Lana, Matthew Coffey, Molly Getsinger, Amy Thompson, Laurie Wyant, Hope Milthaler and Tracy Carpenter lead the choirs on stage and invite audience members to join in for “carol sings” throughout the performance.

The featured guest choir at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, is the Oak Hills High School Varsity Singers, conducted by Amy Thompson. The Milford High School Choir, led by Tracy Carpenter, is the featured guest choir at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8.

The 2 p.m. concert on Sunday, Dec. 9, features the School for the Creative and Performing Arts Chorale, led by Laurie Wyant. Kings High School Chamber Choir, led by Hope Milthaler, is featured in the 5 p.m. concert on Sunday, Dec. 9.

Performance Times
2 and 5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8
2 and 5 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9

Please note: UC’s Fifth Third Arena is hosting the Crosstown Shootout basketball game at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. Traffic on and around campus may be heavier than usual. Arrive early to secure your parking.

Location
Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets range from $15-20 for adults, $10-$15 for non-UC students and free for UC students with a valid student ID.

Tickets are available for purchase through the CCM Box Office in person, over the phone at 513-556-4183 or online at https://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase?orgid=47789&schedule=list.

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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Choral Studies Sponsors: Jan Rogers and Willard and Jean Mulford Charitable Fund of the Cambridge Charitable Foundation

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CCM’s Music for Food Concert Benefits Cincinnati’s Freestore Foodbank on Dec. 3

Join CCM student musicians in the fight against hunger in this benefit concert for Cincinnati’s Freestore Foodbank.

CCM’s annual Music For Food benefit concert features an evening of vocal chamber music at 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018 at CCM’s Dieterle Vocal Arts Center. With performances by a variety of student ensembles, the program includes Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock and John Harbison’s Book of Hours and Seasons.

Part of a national musician-led initiative to support local hunger relief, all proceeds from the concert will benefit Cincinnati’s Freestore Foodbank. In lieu of paid admission, audience members are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items or a cash donation in exchange for a feast of chamber music.

Now in its fifth year, the concert is coordinated by the Ariel Quartet and CCM faculty member Gwen Coleman Detwiler.

About Music For Food
Music for Food is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on hunger relief. It’s concert series that strives to raise resources and awareness in the fight against hunger. The organization is in its seventh season and has local chapters in ten U.S. cities. Over 335,000 meals have been provided as a direct result of Music for Food concerts. Learn more by visiting www.musicforfood.net.

About Cincinnati’s Freestore Foodbank
Recognized as non-profit of the year at the 2016 Cincinnati USA Business Awards, the Freestore Foodbank serves 23 million meals each year across 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. As one of Ohio’s largest foodbanks, the non-profit organization distributes meals through a network of 350 community partner agencies, which includes food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, community centers, senior centers and daycare facilities. Ninety-four percent of donations to the foodbank go directly to programs and services. The Freestore Foodbank is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity and a member of Feeding America and United Way. Learn more by visiting www.freestorefoodbank.org.

Performance Time
8:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3

Location
Dieterle Vocal Arts Center, Room 300
CCM Village, University of Cincinnati

Admission
Non-perishable food items or cash donation. Suggested donation is $20 general, $15 students.

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

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Anita Graef performs with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as a CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow.

Bravos Without Barriers: Inside the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship

CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow Anita Graef performing with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow Anita Graef performing with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Anita Graef really wanted a cello for her birthday when she turned two years old. She remembers being frustrated when her parents made her wait until she was four. Now the 24-year-old graduate student plays cello with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Graef is in her second year of the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship, which connects students with paid professional performance experiences with the CSO while they receive full tuition scholarships to pursue graduate degrees at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). The program is currently accepting applications for Fall 2019.

Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship aims to change the face of American orchestras by making them more inclusive. It provides new opportunities for exceptional violin, viola, cello and double bass players from populations that are historically underrepresented in classical music. The program utilizes a broad definition of diversity that encompasses race and culture while also including first-generation college students and individuals who took non-traditional pathways to higher education.

The program’s tagline — “Bravos Without Barriers” — gets to the heart of its mission: eliminating obstacles that can prevent extraordinary musicians from achieving their full potential.

“All of these people running the program have invested in me, believe in me and support me,” Graef says about her time in the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship. “It’s incredibly moving that all of these people want to see me succeed and are in my corner.”

Anita Graef plays her cello at age four.

Anita Graef plays her cello at age four.

Obviously, Graef eventually received the cello she so coveted. She began studying cello when she was four years old and made her concerto debut at age 12. Her parents are both professional musicians — her father, Richard Graef, is the assistant principal flutist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and her mother, Emily Seaberry Graef, is the founder and flutist of Chicago’s Juliani Ensemble. They encouraged her to pursue any career she desired and did not want to pressure her to follow in their musical footsteps — but she did anyway.

Graef was home schooled until junior high school, which gave her a flexible schedule to practice cello, explore Chicago and get involved in a number of other activities. She was a competitive horseback rider until college, played volleyball for six years, trained in ballet for seven years and studied piano for 10 years. She was also involved in sports, art classes, photography and worked on her high school year book.

“There were a lot of other things that I really enjoyed doing, but I never seriously considered anything else,” Graef says. “I feel like most of my formative years were me planning for the future and banking on becoming a professional musician.”

She was able to sample what life was like for professional musicians through her parents. When her father went on tours with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Graef, her mother and siblings went with him. Together, they visited Europe and China.

Graef earned her bachelor’s degree in cello from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance. When she arrived at CCM to audition for the college’s graduate cello program, a few professors encouraged her to attend an introductory meeting about the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship.

“I was blown away,” she remembers. “It sounded like an incredible opportunity at a great place while getting a degree, which was really important to me.”

“I think it’s definitely accomplishing its goal in helping prepare you for the future through academic training and professional experience,” Graef adds about her experience in the program so far. “Getting a master’s degree debt-free is amazing.”

The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship accepts up to five fellows each year, and is currently accepting applications for the 2019-21 class. Fellows perform the equivalent of five weeks per season with the CSO while enrolled in a two-year Master of Music or Artist Diploma degree program at CCM. Each Fellow receives full tuition scholarship support from CCM, in addition to a $10,000 per year graduate stipend and a one-time Graduate School Deans Excellence Award of $3,000. Each Fellow also receives compensation of $8,000 per season while performing with the CSO.

As a master’s student, Graef balances her time between course work and performance work. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays tend to be busier days where she is usually at school from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in a mix of classes and ensemble meetings. Her fall semester at CCM includes courses in music theory, music history, a chamber music seminar with the Ariel Quartet and more. After class, she practices cello or works on school projects.

Shannon Lock, violin, Hyeji Park Miranda, piano, and Anita Graef, cello, after their trio recital.

Shannon Lock, violin, Hyeji Park Miranda, piano, and Anita Graef, cello, after their trio recital.

She is the principal cellist in the CCM Philharmonia and she performs in a trio with CCM students Shannon Lock, violin, and Hyeji Park Miranda, piano. Graef’s favorite concert at CCM was when she performed works by Haydn and Shostakovich with the trio.

“I’m always busy, but busy in the way I want to be — working as a musician,” Graef says. “I’m really grateful to be here and am really inspired on a daily basis.”

When she isn’t in class or at the CSO, Graef enjoys exploring Cincinnati and spending time with friends. She has visited many of Cincinnati’s museums and parks — she loves Eden Park — and is always looking for restaurant recommendations. Graef is also passionate about weight lifting, which helps her posture as a musician, and loves cooking and reading.

She stays on top of everything by looking ahead, staying goal-oriented and communicating with her professors, she says. Graef takes private cello lessons with CCM professor Ilya Finkelshteyn, principal cellist of the CSO, who also mentors her at the orchestra.

“One of the most beneficial parts for me has been the one-on-one lessons I get with my teacher,” Graef says.

“Playing with the CSO is really eye opening. It will push you to be even better than you were before and more alert. It teaches you the ins and outs of what it takes to be in a professional orchestra and the kind of skills you need for that kind of work.”

She most recently performed in the CSO’s “One City: Beethoven 9” concert at Cincinnati’s Music Hall. Last year, during her first year as a Diversity Fellow, Graef performed Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 with the CSO. Graef is looking forward to performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 at the CSO’s 2018-19 season finale in May.

The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship program is currently accepting applications for its 2019-21 class of fellows. Now in her final year of the program, Graef has some words of wisdom for future fellows:

“It’s a very rigorous program but it’s incredibly rewarding. You learn a lot about music, about yourself, about the process of working and obtaining a permanent job in a symphony orchestra and you’ll meet incredible people along the way and make lifelong relationships.”

Join the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship
CCM and the CSO are now accepting applications for the 2019-21 class of Fellows. The application deadline is Dec. 1, 2018. For application and audition requirements, visit us at ccm.uc.edu/chance2perform.

Apply online now at ccm.uc.edu/admissions/application/gradapplication.

Questions? Email us at ccmadmis@uc.edu.

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CCM Jazz and Musical Theatre Present Duke Ellington’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’ this Sunday

Ellington’s remarkable adaptation of “The Nutcracker Suite” is brought to life with stunning choreography from CCM Musical Theatre. Tickets on sale now.

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music presents a special seasonal treat at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, as the departments of Jazz Studies and Musical Theatre unite to present Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite in Corbett Auditorium.

One of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century, Duke Ellington recorded The Nutcracker Suite for the Columbia record label in 1960. The album featured jazz interpretations of well-known melodies by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arranged by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

Under the musical direction of Scott Belck, dancers from CCM’s Musical Theatre program will join the Jazz Orchestra to transform The Nutcracker Suite’s romantic orchestrations into jumping jazz melodies, including “Toot Toot Tootie Toot (Dance of the Reed-Pipes),” “Peanut Brittle Brigade” and “Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy).” Featuring choreography by Diane Lala, a classical ballet becomes cool-cat jazz, infused with Vegas glitz, Hollywood glamour and a little New York razzmatazz.

Performance Time
4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2

Location
Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite are $20 general, $15 non-UC students and free for UC students with a valid student ID.

Tickets are available for purchase through the CCM Box Office in person, over the phone at 513-556-4183 or online at https://bit.ly/2Dx702U.

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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CCM Mainstage Dance Presents Arpino’s ‘Birthday Variations’

CCM Dance celebrates the art of motion with a mixed-repertoire dance concert on Dec. 6-9, 2018. Tickets on sale now.

CCM presents a mixed-repertoire dance production culminating with Birthday Variations, choreographed by Gerald Arpino, co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet, and restaged by Nicole Duffy Robertson of the New York Dance Project. Directed by CCM Dance Professor Deirdre Carberry, the performance runs Dec. 6-9, 2018 in Patricia Corbett Theater.

Arpino’s Birthday Variations features music by Giuseppe Verdi and was restaged for CCM by Duffy, a répétiteur for the Gerald Arpino Foundation. This ballet premiered in 1986, just two years before Arpino took over the Joffrey Ballet as artistic director upon Robert Joffrey’s death. Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times describes the work as “a sparkling showpiece of classical dancing” that is “set to some of Verdi’s infectious opera-ballet music.”

The mixed-repertoire performance also showcases “Kitri’s Wedding” from Act III of Ludwig Minkus’ Don Quixote, which premiered at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre in 1869, with choreography by Marius Petipa and restaged by Carberry.

“This work is one of the most famous, enduring and exciting ballet adaptations in the classical repertoire,” says Jiang Qi, chair of CCM’s Dance Department, in his program notes for the production.

Three short pieces originally choreographed by CCM Dance will also take place during this program. The first is Bridges, a work by CCM Dance Professor Michael Tevlin, with music by Benjamin Britten. This piece describes seven types of bridge, from truss to arch to suspension, through dance.

After Bridges is senior CCM Dance student Hope Friedman’s Volume IV, which features original choreography to contemporary music like Marian Hill’s Down and Wax Tailor’s Que Sera. It is an “exploration of what it means to be ‘normal’ and our connections with those around us,” Qi says.

Then CCM Dance presents Apertures and Vistas, choreographed by Judith Mikita, visiting assistant professor of dance. Mikita has worked with CCM Percussion Professor and Percussion Group Cincinnati member James Culley to develop a landscape of inventive movement with improvised accompaniment by four CCM percussion students.

This scintillating production is on stage Dec. 6-9, 2018 in Patricia Corbett Theater. Tickets are on sale now through the CCM Box Office; student discounts are available. Birthday Variations will last one hour and 45 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.
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Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6
  • 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7
  • 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8
  • 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9

Location
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Ticket prices start at $28. Discounts are available for UC and non-UC students. Service charges may apply for online orders.

Single tickets are on sale now! Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online 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 campus of the University of Cincinnati. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more 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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Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Dance Department Supporter: The Corbett Endowment at CCM

The performance of Birthday Variations, an Arpino ballet, is presented with the permission of the Gerald Arpino Foundation and has been produced in accordance with the Foundation service standards established and provided by the Foundation.
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Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

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