CCM/CSO Fellowship award winners, a cooperative program between CCM and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Andrew Higley.

CCM and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Announce the Inaugural Class of Diversity Fellows

Following a rigorous application and audition process, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have selected five outstanding string musicians for the inaugural class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows. Born out of a mutual desire to make American orchestras more inclusive, this groundbreaking fellowship program is made possible by a generous $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The inaugural CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows are: Emilio Carlo, 21 (viola); Diana Flores, 26 (cello); Blake-Anthony Johnson, 25 (cello); Vijeta Sathyaraj, 27 (violin); and Maurice Todd, 37 (double bass). The Fellows were selected through a rigorous series of auditions, which saw more than 100 talented musicians audition for CCM faculty members. Twelve string players were invited back to Cincinnati for a final round of auditions for CSO musicians on March 14, 2016.

“For this inaugural class, we have selected a cohort of astonishingly talented musicians, who come to us from a wide variety of backgrounds,” said CCM Dean Peter Landgren. “Our Fellows hail from New York, Georgia, Kentucky, Costa Rica and Hong Kong, and represent the future of American orchestras. Working in close collaboration with our partners at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, we will prepare these Fellows for long and fruitful artistic careers, while challenging the status quo of our industry.”

With this innovative Fellowship program, CCM and the CSO are providing new opportunities for underrepresented musicians, while simultaneously fostering a more inclusive environment in the world of professional orchestras. According to the League of American Orchestras, just over four percent of orchestra musicians are African-American or Latino. With that statistic in mind, the CSO and CCM want to foster an environment that promotes greater diversity on the stages of American orchestras. The program’s tagline – Bravos Without Barriers – gets to the heart of this mission.

This new two-year program, that is already garnering attention among leaders throughout the music world, consists of frequent performances with the CSO, focused mentorship by professional CSO musicians, and simultaneous instruction by CCM’s illustrious faculty.

“The level of musicianship on display during our final round of auditions is a testament to the merit of this program,” said CSO President Trey Devey. “Through our partnership with CCM and with the extraordinary support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we can provide a truly transformative experience for these exceptional performers at a crucial time in their careers. We look forward to welcoming our inaugural Fellows to Cincinnati this fall and we can’t wait to share their talents with the Greater Cincinnati community.”

How the Fellowship works

The inaugural class of Diversity Fellows will officially arrive in Cincinnati this August. CCM and the CSO will welcome a second class of five Diversity Fellows in the fall of 2017, bringing the number of Fellows in the program to ten during the 2017-18 academic year and orchestra season.

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 Dean’s Excellence Award of $3,000. Each Fellow also receives compensation of $8,000 per season while performing with the CSO. They will perform the equivalent of five weeks per season with the CSO in a progressive sequence of concert weeks based on program difficulty, with one week focused on community engagement and educational activities.

This unique educational opportunity is the first of its kind to pair a major conservatory with a major orchestra, bridging the pre-professional gap while also fostering a more inclusive environment within professional orchestras. The Sphinx Organization, a Detroit-based national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, will serve as an external evaluator and advisor.

Along with the professional performance experience, Fellows will receive focused mentorship from CSO musicians on top of regular instruction and guidance from CCM’s illustrious faculty. Their mentorship includes coaching sessions before each rehearsal cycle, ongoing stand partner coaching and post-performance feedback. There will also be non- performance related career counseling to prepare the Fellows for their future.

When asked about what made this new program so distinctive, incoming Fellow Emilio Carlo commented:

“Being raised in the Bronx, I would’ve never thought my future would involve classical music. When I attend orchestra concerts, there aren’t many musicians of color seen on stage. In fact, it’s always an ‘aha’ moment when I see a Latino or African American musician playing in a symphony. I knew the Fellowship was my top choice as soon as I read their mission statement: ‘We want to change the face of the American symphony.’”

Meet the Fellows

Emilio Carlo

Emilio Carlo. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Emilio Carlo, Artist Diploma Viola
Emilio Carlo is a native of the Bronx, New York, and currently resides in Washington D.C. He is a first-year Artist Diploma student at CCM and recently graduated from the conservatory with a Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance. He previously studied with Catharine Carroll-Lees and Masao Kawasaki and is currently under the tutelage of Jan Grüning of the Ariel Quartet.

In previous years, he has attended the Aspen Music Festival and Japan’s Pacific Music Festival. He was also appointed as Principal Viola for a concert tour under the direction of Maestro Yutaka Sado. Outside of music, his hobbies include attending jazz concerts, cooking and exercising.

Carlo is a 2012 recipient of the Brewster Award for young artists from the John. F Kennedy Center for the performing arts. He is honored to be a member of the inaugural class of the Diversity Fellowship, which he feels will prepare him to win a professional orchestra audition in the near future.

Diana Flores

Diana Flores. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Diana Flores, Artist Diploma Cello
Cellist Diana Flores has performed extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Brazil, China and her home country of Costa Rica. At age nine, she started playing cello at the Instituto Nacional de Musica in San José. Ten years later, Flores moved to Boston to complete her undergraduate studies at the Longy School of Music, where she studied under Mihail Jojatu.

During her years in Boston she performed with the Boston Pops and Boston Philharmonic Orchestras. She was a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in the summers of 2012 and 2013 and is a former member of Youth Orchestra of the Americas. She also traveled to Japan to participate in the Pacific Music Festival.

After moving to Chicago in 2013, she became a member of the Civic Orchestra, a two-year training program with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. While there, she joined the MusiCorps String Quartet, a music education and advocacy program in which she performed in many Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Park Districts. Flores is finishing her Masters Degree at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, studying under Richard Hirschl.

Blake-Anthony Johnson

Blake-Anthony Johnson. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Blake-Anthony Johnson, Artist Diploma Cello
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Blake-Anthony Johnson began playing cello at age 12 and was self-taught until the age of 18. He has performed and recorded works by Richard Danielpour, Claudio Gabriele, Adam Schoenberg and Poul Ruders. As a soloist and guest Principal cellist, he has worked with conductors across the United States including JoAnn Falletta, David S. Wiley and Carl Topilow. Passionate about chamber music, Johnson is a founding member and former cellist in the Läc Quartet. As the recipient of the Vanderbilt Music Académie grant, the quartet received commissions and residency in Festival d’Aix held in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Additional performances include both orchestral and chamber music at the Spoleto Music Festival, Lev Aronson Legacy Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, National Music Festival and Brevard Music Festival. He is the former chair and founding member of the Music Education and Youth Initiative, which served underprivileged children in the greater Metropolitan area of Nashville, Tennessee. Johnson was a prizewinner in the MTNA Young Artist Competition, the World Competition; the Daniel Rains, and Brevard Music Festival Concerto competitions.

Johnson received his Bachelor of Music degree under Felix Wang and Kathryn Plummer at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University and later studied under Bryan Dumm and Alan Harrell of the Cleveland Orchestra for his Master of Music diploma. His most recent education was in the prestigious Orchestral Program at the Manhattan School of Music studying with Alan Stepansky with additional studies under David Geber and Wolfram Koessel.

Vijeta Sathyaraj

Vijeta Sathyaraj. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Vijeta Sathyaraj, Artist Diploma Violin
Born in Macau, China, Vijeta Sathyaraj began violin studies in the Philippines at the age of 3.  By age 6, she was featured on the Philippine National Broadcast and was studying with Basilio Manalo.  She went on to study with Fan Ting at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, and later took lessons from Dennis Kim. Sathyaraj graduated from Idyllwild Arts Academy, where she studied with Vesna Gruppman. She later earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory and her Master of Music degree from Lynn Conservatory.

Sathyaraj has performed solo recitals in Denmark, India, Hong Kong and the United States. In 2001, she was featured in a CNN broadcast, and in 2004, she organized and performed in a piano trio to raise $3,000 for development work in Hanoi, Vietnam. She has performed in the Idyllwild Arts Festival Orchestra and she joined the Oberlin Symphony for a performance in Carnegie Hall under Robert Spano in 2007. She has attended the Meadowmount School of Music, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival.

Sathyaraj recently completed her Professional Performance Certificate at Lynn University where she studies under Carol Cole. Former mentors include Milan Vitek, Andrew Jennings, Sally Thomas, Ann Setzer, and Midori. Sathyaraj’s commitment to outreach and diversifying audiences to Western classical music led her to apply to CCM.

Maurice Todd

Maurice Todd. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Maurice Todd, Artist Diploma Double Bass
Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Maurice Todd received his Bachelor of Music in Double Bass Performance from CCM. He is a current section bassist in the Lexington Philharmonic. In addition to being a seven-time Aspen Fellowship recipient, Todd previously won the Dayton Philharmonic Minority Fellowship, was the low string winner of the CCM concerto competition, earned the National Symphony Orchestra League Scholarship and was a fellowship recipient in the Spoleto Italy Opera Festival. Most recently, he received the distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award from the UC Graduate School.

Todd has performed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic, Grand Rapids Symphony, Richmond Symphony and Kentucky Symphony. He has been a soloist with the Louisville Orchestra, Seven Hills Sinfonietta, Wired and the CCM Concert Orchestra.

This year, Todd will graduate from CCM with a Master’s Degree in Double Bass Performance, where he serves as the graduate assistant for the double bass studio under the tutelage of Professor Albert Laszlo. His former mentors include Owen Lee, Edgar Meyer, Chris Hanulik, Bruce Bransby, Rob Oppelt, Eugene Levinson and Hal Robinson.

CCM News Student Salutes
Corbett Center Night Fisheye

CCM Alumnus Ty Olwin stars with Kristen Stewart in International film ‘Personal Shopper’

Ty Olwin in CCM's production of 'Coram Boy.'

Ty Olwin in CCM’s production of ‘Coram Boy.’

Ty Olwin has had a busy and successful career since he graduated from CCM with a BFA in Drama in 2013. He has appeared in plays, television shows, and will soon co-star with actress Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper, an international film about a ghost story that takes place in the fashion underworld of Paris.

Personal Shopper is set to appear in the Cannes Film Festival in France May 11-22. Olwin, 25, was cast to play Stewart’s boyfriend, Gary, in the film. The film reunites Stewart with French Director, Oliver Assayas — the two worked together in Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria (2014). Stewart became the first American actress to win a Cesar award for her role in Clouds of Sils Maria, which went on to receive five additional Ceasar nominations.

Olwin is a Chicago-based actor who has made his mark in the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s productions of Lord of the Flies, East of Eden and Russian Transport. He has also appeared in Brilliant Adventures at Steep Theatre Company, Season on the Line at The House Theatre of Chicago, and the Raven Theatre’s production of Tennessee Williams’ Vieux Carre. In addition, Ty has landed guest starring roles on Crisis and Chicago Fire on NBC.

While enrolled at CCM, Olwin was recognized by the League of Cincinnati Theatres with an award for Leading Actor in a Play for his role in the conservatory’s production of Coram Boy. As a sophomore, he earned an Acclaim Award nomination for his role in CCM’s production of Red Light Winter. Olwin’s other CCM credits include The Three Sisters, Picnic, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Time of Your Life.

Most recently, he has worked with playwright Rebecca Gilman and Director Robert Falls in a new play Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976, which will run from May 21- June 19 at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. The play examines workers’ rights and the effects of big business on small town lives.

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CCM Doctoral Candidate wins $15,000 award from International Organization

Congrats to CCM doctoral candidate Alyssa Morris, who is one of 90 students in the U.S. and Canada selected to receive this year’s Scholar Award from the P.E.O. Sisterhood. This one-time merit-based award in the amount of $15,000 is for women in pursuit of a doctoral-level degree who have high academic achievement and potential for having positive impacts on society.

Alyssa Morris is pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree under CCM Professor of Oboe, Dr. Mark Ostoich. She received her undergraduate and masters degrees in oboe performance from Brigham Young University, where she studied with Dr. Geralyn Giovannetti.

As a performer, Morris has achieved national acclaim. She was awarded first place in the Utah State Fair Young Artist Performance Competition in 2004, 2005 and 2006. She received first place in the Utah MTNA Young Artists performance competition in 2005, and second place in the Western United States Regional MTNA Young Artists performance competition in 2005. In August of 2014, Morris performed one of her own compositions at the International Double Reed Convention in New York City. Morris has frequently played with the Utah Lyric Opera, the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra, the Utah Baroque Ensemble, the Wasatch Winds and the Orchestra at Temple Square. Morris was also a member of the Utah Wind Symphony, a professional wind band based in Salt Lake City.

As a composer, Morris has been commissioned to write music for the Arizona State University faculty wind quartet, the Eastern Kentucky University faculty wind trio, Brigham Young University’s Sundance Trio, Ohio University’s Athenia Chamber Ensemble, a Trevco Music Publishing consortium of bassoonists from around the world and the Brigham Young University Symphonic Band. Her piece Four Personalities for oboe and piano has been performed at three of the International Double Reed Conventions since 2008. Her works have been presented at the Society of Composers Inc. National Convention and the International Double Reed Convention. Morris had three of her compositions performed at the 2014 IDRS convention in New York City. Morris’ music has been recorded on the Centaur and MSR Classics labels and published by Trevco Music Publishing.

About the P.E.O. Scholars Award

Founded in 1869 at the Iowa Wesleyan College, the P.E.O. Sisterhood is a philanthropic educational organization dedicated to supporting higher education for women. The P.E.O. Scholar Awards were established in 1991 and are one-time, competitive, merit-based awards for women of the United States and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral level degree at an accredited college or university. In addition to recognizing and encouraging excellence in higher education, these awards provide partial support for study and research for women who will make significant contributions in their varied fields of endeavor. Priority is given to women who are well established in their programs, study or research. The numbers of awards are determined each year in accordance with the funds available. The current maximum award is $15,000.

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Story by CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies

CCM News Student Salutes
Lotte Lenya Competition Graphic.

CCM Students Talya Lieberman and Reilly Nelson Win Top Prizes in 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition

We are delighted to report that current CCM students Talya Lieberman and Reilly Nelson took home top prizes during the final round of the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition. Sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the prestigious competition was held on April 16 in Kilbourn Hall of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Lieberman won a Third Prize, which includes a cash award of $7,500. Nelson received a Carolyn Weber Award in recognition of outstanding creativity in the design of a diverse program and exceptional sensitivity to text/music relationships, which includes a $3,500 prize.

Nine awards and a total prize purse of $79,000 were given in the competition’s most competitive year yet. Foundation President and founder of the competition Kim Kowalke said of this year’s competition:

“The total amount and number of prizes awarded reflects the high level displayed at this year’s contest. It is a testament to the competition’s growth over nearly two decades.”

You can learn more about all of this year’s winners by visiting www.kwf.org.

Winners of the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition, including CCM student Talya Lieberman (second from right).

Winners of the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition, including CCM student Talya Lieberman (second from right).

Both Lieberman and Nelson also made strong showings in last year’s Lotte Lenya Competition. Nelson advanced to the semifinal round of the competition (along with three other CCM-trained singers), while Lieberman won the Lys Symonette Award for Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number during 2015’s final round.

Lieberman and Nelson are the latest in a long line of CCM students and alumni who have reached the final rounds of the Lotte Lenya Competition. CCM alumna Lauren Roesner (BFA Musical Theatre, 2013) took Third Prize in the 2013 installment of this prestigious international theatre singing contest. CCM alumna Caitlin Mathes (MM Voice, 2009; Artist Diploma in Opera, 2010) earned First Prize in 2011 and fellow alumna Alisa Suzanne Jordheim (BM Voice, 2008; MM Voice, 2010; DMA candidate) progressed to the final round of the competition that same year.

For this year’s competition, each finalist presented a 15 minute program of four selections in the daytime round. An evening concert followed, in which contestants sang only a segment of their programs.

All finalists received a minimum cash award of $1,000, with additional discretionary awards of $3,500 each, and top prizes ranging from $7,500 to $15,000.

The panel of judges included international opera star Teresa Stratas, Rodgers & Hammerstein President Theodore S. Chapin and Broadway music director and conductor Andy Einhorn. Finalists were selected from an initial pool of 224 contestants later narrowed to 31 semi-finalists, who were adjudicated and coached in the semi-final round by Tony Award-winners Jeanine Tesori and Victoria Clark. Clark, who last judged the competition in 2012, noted:

“I can feel the leap in overall talent from the last time I judged.”

Now in its 19th year, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes exceptionally talented singers/actors, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Since 1998, the Kurt Weill Foundation has awarded more than $750,000 in prize money and continues to support previous winners with professional development grants.

Previous Lenya Competition winners enjoy successful careers performing in major theaters and opera houses around the globe.

About the Kurt Weill Foundation
The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc. is dedicated to promoting understanding of the life and works of composer Kurt Weill (1900-50) and preserving the legacies of Weill and his wife, actress-singer Lotte Lenya (1898-1981). The Foundation administers the Weill-Lenya Research Center, a Grant Program, the Kurt Weill Book Prize and the Lotte Lenya Competition, and publishes the Kurt Weill Edition and the Kurt Weill Newsletter. Learn more by visiting www.kwf.org.

CCM student Talya Lieberman.

CCM student Talya Lieberman.

About Talya Lieberman
Originally from Forest Hills, New York, soprano Talya Ilana Lieberman is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at CCM as a student of Professor William McGraw.

Recently described by Opera News as “poetically compelling,” “delectably stylish” and “technically refined,” Lieberman is equally at home with operatic, art song and musical theatre repertoire. Starting in September 2016 she will be seen frequently on stage at Komische Oper Berlin, where she will be assuming the soprano position in the Opernstudio. Her upcoming performances include debuts with Cincinnati Opera and Opera Columbus, as well as the title role in CCM’s Mainstage Series production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen.

Lieberman returned to Cincinnati this fall after completing a summer as a Filene Young Artist with Wolf Trap Opera, where her ability to “make a point with the merest flick of a finger” (Washington Post) shined in a highly lauded run as Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She also appeared in concert with Steven Blier at Wolf Trap in a program celebrating the Broadway legacy of the Rodgers family (The Rodgers Family – A Century of Musicals).

Lieberman is a convert from the orchestra pit and started singing after receiving her master’s degree in trumpet performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under the tutelage of Judith Saxton. She completed her BA at Duke University with highest distinction in linguistics (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude). She is a two-time winner of full tuition and stipend—winning the Russell-Seybold and Italo Tajo Awards, respectively—at CCM’s Opera Scholarship Competition.

CCM student Reilly Nelson. Photography by Kate Lemmon (http://www.katelphotography.com).

CCM student Reilly Nelson. Photography by Kate Lemmon (http://www.katelphotography.com).

About Reilly Nelson
Born in the coastal town of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada, Reilly Nelson attended the Eastman School of Music where she received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and CCM where she completed a Master of Music in Vocal Performance.

Nelson is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at CCM.

At CCM she performed Hansel in Hansel and Gretel and Mary in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star. She also performed Hansel, as well as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, at Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center.

The mezzo-soprano was a vocal fellow at the renowned Tanglewood Music Festival for the summers of 2014 and 2015, performing Les nuits d’été, Op. 7 and Folk Songs by Bernard Rands.

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Story by Curt Whitacre

CCM News Student Salutes
Rebecca Castillo performs in the Kentucky Bach Choir's Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition. Provided Photo.

CCM Singer Awarded in Kentucky Bach Choir’s Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition

We are thrilled to share that CCM Master of Music student Rebecca Castillo won the Encouragement Award after participating in Kentucky Bach Coir’s Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition on Saturday, April 9.

Singers Zackery Morris, Emily Yocum Black, Julius Cruse Miller III, Rebecca Castillo with vocal competition sponsor Audrey Rooney and Kentucky Bach Choir Artistic Director Marlon Hurst.

Singers Zackery Morris, Emily Yocum Black, Julius Cruse Miller III, Rebecca Castillo with vocal competition sponsor Audrey Rooney and Kentucky Bach Choir Artistic Director Marlon Hurst. Provided Photo.

Nine student singers from six different states and nine universities competed in the live vocal competition, held at the First Presbyterian Church in Lexington. The singers competed for a Grand Prize of $1,500, an Audience Choice Award of $750, and two Encouragement Awards. As a recipient of the Encouragement Award, Castillo was given $500 and the opportunity to return as a paid guest soloist in future Kentucky Bach choir concerts.

The Grand Prize winner was Emily Yocum Black, who is pursuing a Master’s in Vocal Performance at the University of Louisville. The Audience Choice Award went to Zackery Morris, who is in pursuit of a Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance at the University of Kentucky. Julius Cruse Miller III, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance at Indiana University, won the other Encouragement Award.

Castillo is a soprano studying under the tutelage of Amy Johnson, assistant professor of voice, as part of the Master of Music program at CCM. She recently performed in the ensemble of CCM’s production of Leos Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Last fall, Castillo performed J. S. Bach’s B Minor Mass with Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson.

She graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Music Education and previously taught choir at South Houston High School. While there, she performed with Houston’s Bach Society Choir including works B Minor Mass, St. Matthew’s Passion and Magnificat.

About the Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition
In its sixth year, the vocal competition was created to encourage exceptional student singers in the study of the solo repertoire of J. S. Bach, Franz Joseph Haydn, and W. A. Mozart. Singers are selected for the live competition in Lexington by submitting recordings to Kentucky Bach Choir Artistic Director, Marlon Hurst. The competition was adjudicated by Hurst, Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Opera at the University of Alamaba Dr. Krintine Hurst-Wajszczuk, and Zach Klobnak, director of music at The Presbyterian Church in Danville, Centre College organist and instructor of organ, harpsichord, and piano. Klobnak also serves as the accompanist for the Kentucky Bach Choir. All singers in the competition were accompanied by Nan McSwain, vocal coach and lecturer in opera with the University of Kentucky Opera Theater.

Ms. Audrey Heyman Rooney became the sponsor of the competition in 2013. A member of the Kentucky Bach Choir Board of Directors, Ms. Rooney has been a longtime advocate for the arts and for the encouragement of young artists, making significant contributions towards these ends in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Kentucky.

CCM News Student Salutes
Rehearsals for CCM's April 2016 production of SWAN LAKE.

Building a Ballet: E-Media students give inside look at CCM’s ‘Swan Lake’

CCM Electronic Media and UC journalism students take us behind-the-scenes with a look at the rehearsals for next week’s production of Swan Lake. The video series chronicles all of the work and dedication students, faculty and staff put into the lavish new production of Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet.

Students within the News Writing and Reporting class, taught by Assistant Professor of E-Media Hagit Limor and Journalism Professor Bob Jonason, created the videos, which star faculty and students within CCM’s Dance Department.

In the video above, Dance Department chair and Swan Lake co-director Jiang Qi discusses the work that goes into presenting such an iconic ballet. He explains:

Swan Lake is one of the top classical ballets in the repertoire. It’s almost textbook. You learn Swan Lake and then you get much stronger. This is an art form that requires a lot of physical and mental endurance to get through.”

The videos and photos, created by students Brevin Couch, Mark D’Andrea, Tyler Dunn, Daniel Honerkamp, Ailish Masterston and Andrew Wilkins, can be viewed on the Building a Ballet website. Visit the website to view interviews with dance students Madison Holschuh (Odette), Sam Jones (Prince Siegfried), and Kiahna Saneshige (Odile). The package was recently featured in Cincinnati Magazine.

Swan Lake is only the second story ballet ever presented as part of CCM’s Mainstage Series. The production runs April 22 – 24 in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium.

Co-directed by Jiang and Professor Deirdre Carberry, the production features students from CCM’s BFA Ballet program, which Dance Magazine has hailed as one of the country’s “top programs to consider.”

The lavishly staged spectacle features accompaniment by CCM’s lauded Concert Orchestra under the direction of Professor Aik Khai Pung.

This production marks the first time in CCM’s nearly 150-year history that a dance production has featured brand new costumes designed and built in-house. You can learn more about the work that went into costuming Swan Lake here.

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Friday, April 22
  • 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, April 24

Location
Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Swan Lake are $27-31 for adults, $17-20 for non-UC students and $15-18 for UC students with a valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/swan-lake.

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 more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the new 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 Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Production Sponsors: Rosemary & Mark Schlachter, Teri Jory & Seth Geiger and Graeter’s

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Story by Curt Whitacre

CCM News CCM Video Faculty Fanfare Student Salutes
Dean Mogle holds the white and black swan design sketches for CCM's production of Swan Lake.

From Sketch to Stage: The Making of CCM’s ‘Swan Lake’ Costumes

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There is a shortage of tutu makers in the world, said CCM Professor and Head of the Costume Design and Technology Program Dean Mogle, who faced the daunting task of designing costumes for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet.

CCM is working to fix that shortage by training the next generation of costume designers and technicians, whose work will debut on stage in the conservatory’s first ballet production to have costumes designed and built in-house.

A timeless tale of love, magic and mystery, Swan Lake will grace the Corbett Auditorium stage from April 22-24, marking the second time in CCM’s nearly 150-year history that a full-length story ballet has been included in the Mainstage Series.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Staff and students within the Costume Design and Technology program have worked on the ‘Swan Lake’ costumes for the past 18 months.

Presented by CCM’s Department of Dance, the ballet uses three different casts and the principal roles are all double cast ­— which is challenging for the costume shop students and staff responsible for ensuring the pieces fit each dancer correctly.

“You have to understand what dancers go through—what they need,” Mogle said. “Balance becomes really important.”

Costume designers and technicians must consider the weight of the fabrics and headpieces so the dancer can retain their natural balance. There is also limited “real estate” on the costume for artistic expression or characterization, Mogle said. If a female dancer needs to be lifted, safety dictates the fabric around her waist can’t be too slick and can’t get caught on anything.

“The ballet world is a totally different beast.”

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Newly designed costumes for the Hungarian Czardas in Act III of ‘Swan Lake,’ made by costume students and staff. To the far right is Prince Siegfried’s jacket, made by Jessica Barksdale.

Mogle, with a team of students and faculty within the Costume Design and Technology program, has worked on the Swan Lake costumes for the past 18 months. They’ve borrowed and modified some costumes from a previous CCM performance of Brigadoon and the Broadway production of Cyrano, The Musical. Costumes for the principal and specialty roles in the ballet are newly designed and made.

Iconic white tutus, bodices, vibrant dresses and rich fabrics have taken over their workshop. The costumes are designed in the traditional style typically associated with the classic ballet. CCM plans to reuse and rent out some of them after the performance.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Jessica Barksdale is building Mogle’s design for Prince Siegfried’s costume, which will be worn in Acts III and IV.

Mogle, who previously designed costumes for the Cincinnati Ballet’s The Nutcracker, watched five or six different productions of Swan Lake to prepare for his costume designs. The pieces are still evolving on a daily basis, he said.

“Since we are making the production to last about 30 or 40 years, we don’t ever want to get too wild and crazy with the concept because it is pretty traditional,” Mogle said. “The things that really change in a traditional ballet like this are going to be the specialty characters.”

Those include the newly designed and made pieces that will be worn at the ball in Act III, where the Queen invites potential wives from Poland, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Naples and Poland to match with her son, Prince Siegfried.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

A sketch and sleeve of Von Rothbart’s Act III costume, made by Erin Winslow.

At the ball, Prince Siegfried will wear a newly designed black and gold jacket made by Jessica Barksdale, first-year costume technology graduate student. Rothbart, the evil sorcerer who cursed the prince’s love Odette, will wear an intricately detailed costume made by senior costume technology student, Erin Winslow, as part of her capstone project.

Barskdale and Winslow are also making the iconic white and black swan costumes for leading female characters Odette and Odile. Associate Professor of Costume Technology Regina Truhart is managing all costume production for the ballet.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

The in-progress white and black swan costumes for characters Odette and Odile are being made by Jessica Barksdale and Erin Winslow, respectively.

After 27 years at CCM, Mogle is familiar with the 30,000 costume pieces the conservatory has in stock. Luckily, the costume department was able to pull pieces from past performances of Brigadoon and Cyrano to modify them for courtier and peasant costumes in Swan Lake.

The costume department dyed some of the costumes in bright jewel tones and added details such as sashes, sleeves, aprons and hats. Net petticoats were used to make the costumes lighter and easier to dance in.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Costumes from the CCM production of ‘Brigadoon’ are being modified for the female peasants in Act I of ‘Swan Lake.’

“Every time we do [Swan Lake], we’ll add more to it and rely less on our costume stock,” Mogle said, adding that when the ballet is performed again in 6 years they will likely build new peasant costumes.

“That’s how some companies do it anyway. They’ll use tutus from many kinds of shows. Pulling together a show like this from all of these different places is a great exercise.”

Acquiring materials is one hurdle but then, of course, the costumes must actually fit.

It helps that musical theatre bodies and dancer bodies are similar in stature, Mogle said. It would cost around $5,000 to reproduce one of the Cyrano costumes today.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Costume technicians included three clasp sizes on the ‘Swan Lake’ bodices so they can be adjusted for different dancers.

With three different casts, and double-cast principals, it was important to make the costumes interchangeable for different dancers. The technicians included three clasp sizes for the bodices to make them more adjustable and, in some cases, built extra costumes.

The process and pieces are evolving daily, with more adjustments expected after fittings and the dress rehearsals. A beautiful design can look perfect on a mannequin but flawed when put on a body that needs to breathe, dance and kick. That is why it’s important for the costuming students to learn each step in the creative process, said Mogle.

 “The whole focus of our program is teaching design and technology so designers know how to make stuff and makers know how to design stuff. So they all have the same sensibility as to how things should look and how they should be handled. If the knowledge base in those two roles isn’t strong then things fall apart.”

After the designs are sketched, the appropriate fabrics need to be found, Mogle said of the costuming process. Then there’s making the patterns and cutting them out of the cloth and stitching them together. There’s also fabric painting and dying and mask and jewelry making.

“Each one of those is a profession in itself,” Mogle said. “The more skills you have as a technician and the more kinds of plays and operas and ballets that you can design as a designer, your job market opens up. It’s a good part of training and real life experience.”

Co-directed by Dance Department Chair Jiang Qi and Associate Professor of Dance Deirdre Carberry, the Mainstage Series production features students from CCM’s BFA Ballet program. The lavishly staged spectacle features accompaniment by CCM’s lauded Concert Orchestra under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Aik Khai Pung.

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Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake runs April. 22 – 24 in Corbett Auditorium. Tickets are $27-31 for adults, $17-20 for non-UC students and $15-18 UC students with a valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/swan-lake.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Community Partner: ArtsWave

Production Sponsors: Rosemary & Mark Schlachter, Teri Jory & Seth Geiger and Graeter’s
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Story by Rebecca Butts

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