CCM Tribunal is selling branded hoodies, totes, sweats and T-shirts for it's fall merchandise campaign.

Fall “CCM Swag” Available for Purchase Online

Stay cozy in official UC College-Conservatory of Music apparel this fall. The CCM Tribunal is sponsoring the college’s fall merchandise campaign to help raise funds for students. CCM hoodies, sweatpants, T-shirts and tote bags are available for purchase online now through Oct. 19, 2018.

CCM’s fall line of officially branded merchandise is available online at

A portion of the funds raised by sales benefit CCM students. CCM Tribunal has provided funding for social gatherings, the undergraduate opera, master classes, music stands and more.

The fundraiser is going on now through Oct. 19, 2018, so be sure to order your new CCM swag and support CCM Tribunal’s initiatives while you still can!

CCM fall merchandise is available for purchase online at

About CCM Tribunal
CCM Tribunal is the undergraduate Student Government at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. The Tribunal is comprised of students from every department within CCM. The organization’s mission is to provide support for CCM students by sponsoring projects that would otherwise not come to fruition. In addition, CCM Tribunal hosts school-wide social events throughout the year, provides concessions for CCM’s Mainstage Series productions, holds fundraisers for community engagement programs like WhizKids and participates in UC’s Relay for Life.

You can learn more about the CCM Tribunal by visiting

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Cincinnati Song Initiative Receives $10,000 Stand for the Arts Award

CCM Collaborative Piano alumnus Samuel Martin (MM, 2016) founded the Cincinnati Song Initiative (CSI) in 2016 to bring a concentrated and cohesive source of art song to the greater Cincinnati area. Now in its third season, the organization’s efforts recently earned a Stand for the Arts Award from Ovation, an independent television and digital media company dedicated to celebrating and supporting all forms of arts and culture.

Ovation, in collaboration with Spectrum, awarded twelve Stand for the Arts Awards to exceptional arts and culture organizations in select Spectrum markets. The award includes a $10,000 grant, which Martin plans to use to hire artists from around the country to participate in CSI concerts, and to continue the organization’s mission to produce top-notch and innovative performances.

“As a new organization, we seek with every concert to bring more and more audience members into our family, and receiving this award is proof that CSI enriches the community it serves by connecting diverse audiences which might not otherwise be connected,” Martin says.

CCM alumnus Samuel Martin. Photo by Jackie Stevens.

CCM alumnus Samuel Martin, who is the Founding Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Song Initiative. Photo by Jackie Stevens.

Martin is originally from New York, and he earned his bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College before he pursued his master’s at CCM. He currently serves on the music staff of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he performs in numerous song recitals with graduate-level singers throughout the academic year.

Martin founded CSI in early 2016, and the organization had its first concert in October of that year. It focuses on the development and performance of art song; that is, songs that are not part of a larger opera or other work. They are often set to existing poetry and accompanied solely by piano, although some utilize other instruments as well.

“CSI was inspired by numerous factors,” Martin says. “Of note, the passion for art song my CCM mentor, Ken Griffiths, displayed in his teachings every single day was infectious. His reverence for the greatest poetry set to music by first-rate composers leaves his students with an equal appreciation for song.”

Griffiths, a Professor of Collaborative Piano at CCM, is on the CSI Board of Directors, which also includes CCM professor and Accompanist-in-Residence Donna Loewy and alumnus Paul Scholten (MM, 2009). Elena Villalón, who studies with CCM baritone William McGraw, is CSI’s Associate Artistic Director.

“With so many phenomenal singers and pianists based in Cincinnati, it was surprising to me that an organization devoted to art song didn’t already exist. If cities like Denver, Seattle, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and New York could all support the song genre, Cincinnati certainly could.”

Now in its third season, CSI’s season-opening benefit concert is on Sept. 22, 2018. Titled Alma de España: España 1, the concert features art song from Spanish-speaking nations, including works by Federico García Lorca and Manuel de Falla. Another feature of the upcoming season is Americana: Then and Now, a showcase of art song from the U.S. that includes pieces by Samuel Barber, Libby Larsen and Charles Ives.

The Cincinnati Song Initiative also has two less-traditional concerts planned for this season. On August 25, CSI presented a concert in Austin with both Cincinnati and Texas-based artists, and on Sept. 19 CSI presents a collaborative concert with the Lynx Project at Taft’s Ale House.

“The goal of this event is to maximize the accessibility of art song and expose people to the genre who may not normally think to attend an art song concert,” explained Martin, who hopes that the combination of brews and belting will spread the love of song to a new audience.

Learn more about the Cincinnati Song Initiative at


Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

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CCM Alumnus Receives Prestigious Award from Solti Foundation

Alumnus Stefano Sarzani (CCM 2012-2013) is one of eight recipients of the 2018 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, a grant prize given to help up-and-coming conductors to further their careers.

Stefano Sarzani.

Now in its 14th year of assisting outstanding young conductors, the Solti Foundation U.S. has awarded more than $500,000 in grants and is the foremost organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to helping young conductors.

Sarzani recently worked at the Lyric Opera of Chicago through the Solti Foundation U.S.’ opera residency program; he returns this fall as an Assistant Conductor and member of the music staff. Previously, he was Associate Conductor of the Des Moines Metro Opera where, he conducted a production of Maria de Buenos Aires. His upcoming engagements include assisting at OperaMaine, and guesting with Symphony New Hampshire. Past guesting engagements include Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana (Italy), Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo (Italy), Boise Philharmonic Orchestra, National Repertory Orchestra (CO), University of Memphis Opera and Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy. He has also collaborated with Atlanta Opera, Sarasota Opera, Den Jyske Opera (Denmark) and Opera National de Lorraine (France). In addition to the 2018 Career Assistance Award, Sarzani is also the recipient of a 2016 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, and 2nd prize in The American Prize 2012.

Lidiya Yankovskaya, who previously participated in CCM’s summer Opera Bootcamp program, also received the 2018 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award.

Learn more about the Solit Foundation at

CCM Opera Bootcamp is three-week summer program designed to develop career skills for conductors, singers and collaborative pianists/opera coaches. This year’s Opera Bootcamp culminates this week with three free performances at CCM. More information is below:

7 p.m. Thursday, July 26
• CCM Summer Opera Bootcamp •
CCM’s Opera Bootcamp 2018 has attracted a talented pool of conductors, singers and pianists from across the country and abroad who will work intensely for three weeks immersed in the craft of opera. They will present scenes from popular Mozart operas. These workshop-style performances are fully staged with orchestra.
Location: Cohen Family Studio Theater
Admission: FREE

7 p.m. Friday, July 27
• CCM Summer Opera Bootcamp •
FRENCH DOUBLE BILL: Le pauvre Matelot and L’lle de Tulipatan
CCM’s Opera Bootcamp 2018 will present fully staged performances of Milhaud’s Le pauvre Matelot and Offenbach’s L’lle de Tulipatan featuring singers, conductors and pianists from around the country and around the globe. These workshop style performances will be fully staged with orchestra.
Location: Cohen Family Studio Theater
Admission: FREE

4 p.m. Sunday, July 29
• CCM Summer Opera Bootcamp •
Featuring Vernon Hartman and student conductors and performers from CCM Summer’s Opera Bootcamp
Mark Gibson and Amy Johnson, artistic directors
CCM’s Opera Bootcamp presents Donizetti’s comedic love story “Don Pasquale”. Opera Bootcamp has attracted a talented pool of conductors, singers and pianists from across the country and around the globe who will work intensely for three weeks immersed in the craft of preparing an opera. This workshop style performance will be fully staged with orchestra.
Location: Corbett Auditorium
Admission: FREE

Learn more about CCM Summer’s Opera Bootcamp at

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Samson McCrady in the title role of CCM's Mainstage Production of "Gianni Schicchi," directed by Andreas Hager.

CCM Opera and Voice Alumni Win Prestigious Fellowships

Samson McCrady in the title role of CCM's Mainstage Production of "Gianni Schicchi," directed by Andreas Hager.

CCM Voice alumnus Samson McCrady in the title role of CCM’s Mainstage Production of Gianni Schicchi, directed by CCM Opera alumnus Andreas Hager.

Two of CCM’s stars of tomorrow recently received prestigious positions in the world of opera. Alumnus Andreas Hager (AD Opera Directing, 2018) was awarded one of two JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellowships from the National Opera Association. Additionally, Washington National Opera selected CCM Voice alumnus Samson McCrady, baritone, to fill one of only 11 spots for vocalists in its prestigious Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. Cincinnati audiences saw their artistry in action during CCM’s recent Mainstage production of Gianni Schicchi, in which McCrady performed the title role and Hager directed.

Hager was selected as a JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellow for his summer 2018 work with Wolf Trap Opera, during which he will assist on productions of Idomeneo and Rigoletto. The fellowship includes a stipend to attend an opera stage directing program, and the opportunity to offer a presentation on their fellowship experience at a subsequent NOA National Conference.

Hager’s directorial work spans opera, film, theatre and alternate reality games. Recent directing credits include Il barbiere di Siviglia (Houston Grand Opera), Gianni Schicchi (CCM) and La belle Hélène (Opera North). In addition, he has worked with Opera Philadelphia, the New York Philharmonic, Cincinnati Opera and Opera Columbus. He recently graduated from CCM with an Artist Diploma in Opera Directing and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Cinema Studies from Oberlin College, where he also studied piano performance. He is a winner of Opera America’s Director-Designer Showcase and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.

As a Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist, McCrady will perform the roles of Elk/Camel/Butcher in Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me, Wagner in Gounod’s Faust and Sciarrone in Puccini’s Tosca during the Washington National Opera’s 2018-19 season. McCrady will also sing in WNO’s “A Concert of Comic Masterpieces.”

Because many young artists return for a second season, the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program only accepts a handful of new vocalists each season. This year the program welcomed seven new singers and four returning singers, as well as one new and one returning pianist, out of hundreds of applicants.

The artists in this program have an abundance of performance opportunities, including extensive performances at the Kennedy Center and in community-oriented events. They participate in the WNO’s major performances as supporting characters, including free preview performances that will be live streamed on the Kennedy Center’s website.

McCrady and the other Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists will also perform in recitals in Washington, D.C. art galleries and museums, as well as a series of master classes at the Kennedy Center and elsewhere. They will be seen onstage during the WNO’s American Opera Initiative Festival, during which they will have the opportunity to work with living composers and librettists on brand-new works.

Additionally, the program has an exchange program with Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre Young Artists Opera Program, which includes a few students from each program visiting the other and performing with their newfound peers.  Next summer, the WNO will send several of its young artists to Moscow for this exchange, culminating in two concerts with the Bolshoi Theatre’s young artists.

During his time at CCM, McCrady studied with Voice Professor Bill McGraw. He performed the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, the King of Scotland in Handel’s Ariodante and Jesus in a staged version of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Outside of CCM, McCrady performed the Mandarin in a semi-staged version of Puccini’s Turandot (Kentucky Symphony Orchestra), Alidoro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Queen City Opera), Edward G. Robinson in Robert Xavier-Rodriguez’s Frida (Cincinnati Opera) and Geronimo in Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto (Cincinnati Chamber Opera). Before he came to CCM, McCrady received a Bachelor of Music from Roberts Wesleyan College.

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CCM Sound Design Alumnus Matthew Tibbs Named Visiting Assistant Professor

Matthew Tibbs

CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung has announced the appointment of Matthew Tibbs to the position of Visiting Assistant Professor of Sound Design. Tibbs’ appointment will officially begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

A sound designer with experience in live performance, film and advertising, Tibbs’ nearly 100 sound designs have been seen on stages nationally, including in New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Portland. His film work has been seen at national and international film festivals and his advertising work has been distributed on the West Coast in local and regional TV markets.

Tibbs’ theatrical sound design has been featured at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Theatre Company, the Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee, New York City’s Fresh Fruit Festival and Utah Shakespeare Festival. For the past seven years, Tibbs has regularly designed for the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Minnesota.

An experienced educator, Tibbs most recently served on the faculty of Ball State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance. He previously spent three years as Resident Sound Designer for the Pioneer Theatre Company and served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Utah. He has also taught as visiting faculty at Pacific University and as a graduate assistant at CCM.

Tibbs is a member of the designers’ union United Scenic Artists Local 829 and serves as a secretary for the Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association (TSDCA).

He holds a MFA in Sound Design from CCM (2007) and a BA in Communication Arts from George Fox University (2004).

On the announcement of Tibbs’ appointment, mcclung commented:

“CCM alumnus Matthew Tibbs’ extensive professional experience as a sound designer for such companies as the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Great River Shakespeare Festival and Indiana Repertory Theatre will be valuable for CCM’s BFA and MFA students.”

Please join us in welcoming Matthew Tibbs to the CCM family!

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CCM Welcomes Judith Mikita As Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance

Judith Mikita

CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung has announced the appointment of Judith Mikita to the position of Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance, with a focus in modern choreography. Mikita has served as an adjunct dance instructor at CCM for more than 20 years. Her new appointment will officially begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

Mikita is a choreographer and performer with more than 30 years of professional experience. Her choreography has been presented by the American Dance Festival, the New York International Independent Film Festival, Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center and the Biagiotti Art Gallery in Florence, Italy, among others. She has also choreographed for Cincinnati’s Contemporary Dance Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cleveland Fringe Festival, Covington’s Carnegie Art Center and New York’s White Mountain Dance Festival.

As an artist and educator, Mikita has served on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Columbia College and Antioch College and as artist-in-residence at Wright State University and the University of Utah. She has also choreographed at Miami University, Northern Kentucky University and Interlochen Center for the Arts.

As a performer, Mikita has toured nationally with the Chicago-based dance companies of Shirley Mordine, Jan Erkert and Bob Eisen. She has worked with Martha Clarke of Pilobolus Dance Theatre, Lucas Hoving of the José Limón Dance Company, Marnie Thomas of the Martha Graham Dance Company and Gus Solomons, Jr. of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Mikita is a founding member of the Greater Cincinnati Dance Alliance and has served on the board of directors for OhioDance and Cincinnati’s Contemporary Dance Theater. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance from Indiana University and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from University of Michigan.

On the announcement of Mikita’s appointment, mcclung commented:

“Judith Mikita’s extensive experience in modern dance and professional work with arts institutions, festivals and dance companies throughout the country will benefit CCM’s BFA students in refining their contemporary dance technique.”

Please join us in welcoming Judith Mikita to the CCM family!

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Sensory Percussion: Q&A with Alumnus Ben Sloan on His Work with The National

Ben Sloan is a musician, producer and teacher who is passionate about making music accessible to all. Last year People’s Liberty awarded the CCM alumnus with a $10,000 grant to build Percussion Park in East Price Hill. This year he’s experimenting with sensory percussion, which led to a performance as Artist-in-Residence at The National’s Homecoming Music Festival in April and a short tour with the rock band.

Ben Sloan. Photo by Ryan Back.

Ben Sloan. Photo by Ryan Back.

Sloan (BM Jazz Studies, 2011) is grateful for the opportunity to tour with The National and thinks they will work together again in the future. He’s now on a two-week tour with local ensemble A Delicate Motor, which releases a new album Fellover My Own on June 29. Later this summer, Sloan will travel to Berlin to participate in an experimental music festival called PEOPLE.

When he isn’t performing, Sloan works as a teaching artist at MYCincinnati, an after school youth orchestra program directed by CCM alumnus Eddy Kwon (BM Jazz Studies, 2011). He teaches the pre-orchestra students, ages 5-10, in a class that combines singing, movement and percussion.

We caught up with the busy alumnus to talk about his work with sensory percussion and his experience with The National.

What is sensory percussion? When did you start working it?
Sensory Percussion is amazing, and that’s about 90% of what you need to know. It was developed by Sunhouse, and though it’s making the rounds with musicians all over, it is still a relatively new technology. Sensory Percussion is essentially a collection of sensors (you can use up to four), which attach to a drum. Using a corresponding software, the sensors analyze the vibrations of the drum to determine where the player is hitting, i.e. the center, the rim, the shell, the edge, etc.

It’s up to the player to “teach” the sensors how and where one prefers to hit the drum — it is a very individualized system. This “mapping” of the drum allows the player to specifically pinpoint quadrants of the drum and assign samples, midi data, effects and a host of other functions. The result is a totally dynamic and fluid interplay between electronic, sample-based sound and acoustic drumming. I’ve had the sensors for about a year now, and over the past few months I’ve been really digging into them. They are so powerful, it’s incredible. I think the open ended nature of the software, makes the sensors so compelling. No one really sounds the same, because it’s up to the player to set the musical palette and craft the sounds.

How do you incorporate sensory percussion in your work with music groups and local projects?
Since they are still a bit new, I haven’t fully utilized them with any projects other than my own. For the longest time I sort of felt that the music I created through recording and manipulating samples wouldn’t or couldn’t be realized in a live context, but with the sensors, I can take a lot of that material and produce it live, or even embellish the sound. They are just really dynamic instruments.

I’ve brought them to MYCincinnati for our students to use, but because this technology is so new and exciting to play it makes normal drums less enticing. I have to win them back over by playing something really fast or loud — it only kind of works.

You also brought this percussion style to the National’s Homecoming Festival. How did you get involved in the festival?
I ended up using sensory percussion pretty heavily at Homecoming. I was working with A Delicate Motor ensemble to write a set of new music, but I knew I wanted to do something entirely on my own, which was impetus for writing some music with the sensors. The process was an endless tweaking of a sound palette until I could improvise an entire piece. From those improvisations, I would distill whatever I thought was good, and cut out the rest.

I got involved with the festival through Bryan Devendorf, drummer of The National. He’s always been inviting, and over the years we’ve gotten to know each other a bit. He reached out to meet while I was touring with the band WHY? and since then we’ve stayed in touch. He asked if I would be interested in being this year’s artist-in-residence at the Homecoming Music Festival, something they hadn’t done in the past, and I said ‘yes, like duh, of course!’

What was performing with The National at the festival like? Any plans to reconnect with The National in the future?
It was affirming. I spend a lot of time being critical of my work and my abilities, but when artists on that level invite me to play, it’s feels like a major validation of the hours put in. It’s also time to step up and not look like a doofus on stage! I mean, I totally ‘look’ like a doofus, cause that’s how drummers look when they play, but I think it sounded good.

Ben Sloan at The National's Homecoming Festival in April 2018.

Ben Sloan at The National’s Homecoming Festival in April 2018.

After the Sunday night show, The National invited me out for a short tour, so I ended up hopping on the bus for a few days with them. It was a treat to spend some time with the band, and see everything behind the scenes — touring on that scale is crazy! They had such a big crew, all of whom were kind and patient. I’m still reflecting on it all. I’m just grateful. I’m not sure how or when, but I think we will work together again!

What else are you working on right now?
A Delicate Motor started a two-week tour on June 18. We have a lot of momentum from the festival, and the record Fellover My Own is due to be released on Sofaburn later this month. Our album release is June 29 at Northside Tavern. I’m trying to invest as much time in my solo project as possible. It’s still so fresh, but I hope to put out an EP in the coming months.

Later this summer, Price Hill Will/MYCincinnati, in collaboration with The Contemporary Arts Center is hosting the third annual Price Hill Creative Community Festival, which is an ever-evolving and beautiful festival. Each year we host artists-in-residence to work collaboratively with MYC students for two very intense weeks. Along with the artists in residence, the festival curates a huge array of great performers to come do their thing. This year we are hosting cellist and composer Tomeka Reid, who has cultivated some powerful momentum in the Chicago improvisation and jazz scene. I strongly encourage you to go check her work immediately! We also have Josiah Wolf (CCM alum), multi-disciplinary arts collective Collaborative, Jarrod Cann and Paradox Teatro. The full list of artists, and their work is listed online at

That Price Hill Creative Community Festival usually consumes me in the best possible way. It’s happening on August 3-4, the performances are unique and sometimes challenging, it’s all ages, we have great local food and admission completely free!


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