Stay Connected: CCMONSTAGE Online’s Latest Newsletter

Experience the artistry and expertise of our students, alumni, faculty and staff through our CCMONSTAGE Online e-newsletter. Our latest edition features performance videos, stories and other resources designed to help us stay connected.

UC plans to welcome back students to campus on Aug. 24 for the start of the fall semester. A thoughtful blend of in-person and virtual offerings, in addition to enhanced health and safety measures, will provide students with the best collegiate experience possible in this new era of living and learning. Learn more about UC’s Return to Campus.

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Get the latest news from CCM:

CCM Dance co-ops create pipeline from student to professional artist

The college’s co-op program connects students to professional ballet companies while they complete their BFA degrees, creating a pipeline that leads young artists to their future careers. Student Grace Mccutcheon and alumna Hannah Holtsclaw share how CCM Dance co-ops have impacted their careers so far. Read more.


WVXU and CCM Acting’s “O’Toole From Moscow” is available to stream on demand

Listen online to enjoy Rod Serling’s comedy about confusion between Russians and the Cincinnati Reds. Directed by CCM Professor Richard Hess, the radio play features a cast of CCM Acting students with narration by Serling’s daughter, Anne. Read more.


Internationally acclaimed stage director Greg Eldridge joins CCM’s opera faculty

Eldridge has worked across eight countries at some of the world’s most famous opera houses. His work has been praised by critics for its “thoughtful and effective” staging, with “detailed characterizations and considered through-lines” a hallmark of his directing style. Read more.


Theatre lighting and projection designer Steven Piechocki joins CCM’s theatre design and production faculty

An experienced designer and educator, Piechocki’s new appointment began on Aug. 15, 2020. As an educator, he is especially interested in projection and digital media production, and the integration of digital video, animation and motion graphics into event design and live performances. Read more.


Eight UC faculty recognized for excellence in mentoring undergraduate researchers

CCM Assistant Professor-Educator of Piano Andy Villemez was named one of this year’s outstanding research mentors. UC offers numerous opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in research and explore it as a possible career. Read more.


Arts for all: CCM offers mix of online, in-person electives in fall 2020

CCM offers dozens of different general studies and arts elective courses in fall 2020. These credit-granting courses are open to all UC students and cover a wide range of topics including dance, movies and media, music and theatre arts. Read more.


CCM Organ Professor spotlights C.B. Fisk Opus 148 Organ on “Around Cincinnati”

Cincinnati’s Christ Church Cathedral dedicated a new C.B. Fisk Organ Opus 148 in 2018. To learn more about this special instrument, WVXU’s Alexander Watson recently spoke with CCM Professor of Organ and Harpsichord Michael Unger and David Pike, head tonalist from C. B. Fisk Organ Builders. Read more.


CCM Sounds Design student wins Pat MacKay Diversity in Design Scholarship

BFA Sound Design student Alena Milos is a recipient of the 2020 Pat MacKay Diversity in Design Scholarship, presented by Questex’s Live Design International (LDI) in partnership with TSDCA and USITT. Live Design, a creative and technical resource for live design professionals, recently featured Milos in a Q&A published online. Read more.


FAQs and Online Resources

Please refer to our coronavirus resource website to help answer your frequently asked questions. This website is updated as new information develops, so please check back often. See more UC answers to your important questions.

For more information about the University of Cincinnati’s response to COVID-19, please visit uc.edu/publichealth.


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Watch CCM’s 2020 Musical Theatre Senior Showcase

A group shot of CCM Musical Theatre's Class of 2020

Although the theaters and concert halls at UC’s nationally ranked and internationally renowned College-Conservatory of Music are temporarily silent, audiences can still experience world-class performances through the CCMONSTAGE Online video series. This week’s release features the CCM Musical Theatre Class of 2020’s Senior Showcase, which was performed on March 12, 2020, in Patricia Corbett Theater.

Featuring hit songs from Broadway, Off-Broadway and pop music, the Senior Showcase was created by CCM’s Musical Theatre Class of 2020 under the supervision of faculty. This year’s showcase was directed by CCM Musical Theatre alumnus Justin Bohon and advised by Rachel Hoffman. The showcase was associate directed by Katie Johannigman and produced by Diane Lala and Denton Yockey. Musical direction by Julie Spangler. The showcase also features an original song by CCM Acting alumnus Todd Almond.

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Get to know the graduating seniors by reading their professional summaries! 


Get to know CCM Musical Theatre’s Class of 2020

Andrew Alstat: Originally from Pomona, Illinois. Regional credits: Chuck Cranston in Footloose (The Muny), Albert in Newsies (Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts), Emmett in Legally Blonde, Billy Crocker in AnythingGoes (McLeod Summer Playhouse). CCM credits: Rocky in The Rocky Horror Show, Frederick in TheHunchback of Notre Dame, Angie the Ox in Guys and Dolls, Jesus Christ Superstar. Proud member of AEA. For more, visit andrewalstat.com and follow @a12tat on Instagram.


Nick Berninger:Originally from Wayne, New Jersey. Regional credits: A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder (The D’Ysquith Family), Cabaret (Emcee), The Little Mermaid (Scuttle/Chef Louis) at Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, New Jersey Regional premier of School of Rock (Dewey Finn) at Union County PAC, South Pacific (Billis), Cats (Bustopher/Gus) at Interlakes Summer Theatre. CCM credits: 42nd Street (Julian Marsh), Guys and Dolls (Nicely Nicely Johnson), Mack and Mabel (Fatty Arbuckle) Seussical (Horton u/s) and The Secret Garden (Ben). Workshops/Readings: Home Street Home (Big John), Nasha America (Uncle Vadim) and Rocket Science (Doyle) with the CCM Musical Theatre Incubator Project. Proud member of the AEA. For more, visit nickberninger.com and follow @nick_berninger on Instagram. 

Kurtis Bradley Brown: Originally from Louisville, Kentucky. Regional credits: 42nd Street at Bucks County Playhouse, Sondheim on SondheimNewsies and Legally Blonde at the Lexington Theatre Company in the Euan Morton track, as the Crutchie understudy and as “Kiki, the colorist” (fierce!), respectively. CCM Credits: Dickon in The Secret Garden and many more. Currently training at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. For more, visit kurtisbradleybrown.com and follow @kurtisbradleybrown on Instagram.

Michael Canu: Originally from Rochester, Michigan. Regional credits: A Chorus Line (Mark) at the Cape Playhouse, Mamma Mia! (Sky) and West Side Story (Snowboy) at Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre, Footloose (Ren McCormack) and Newsies (Albert, Jack u/s) at the Clinton Showboat Theatre and The Nutcracker (Russian Soloist) with Michigan Ballet Theatre. He was also apart of the first symphonic version of Children of Eden (Adam) with Rochester Summer Music Theatre. CCM credits: 42nd Street (Andy Lee), Jesus Christ Superstar and Guys and Dolls (Harry The Horse). Michael won the Battaglia Scholarship Award for performance excellence in a musical. For more visit, michaelcanu.com and follow @michael_canu on Instagram.

Matt Copley: Originally from Detroit, Michigan. Regional credits: Grease and Oklahoma! at Pittsburgh CLO. Footloose (Ren) and Newsies at Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts. Hockey: The Musical! (World Premiere) at City Theatre Detroit. Thoroughly Modern Millie (Jimmy) at Riverbank Theatre. CCM credits: Guys and Dolls (Nathan Detroit), The Hunchback of Notre DameJesus Christ Superstar. Additional credits: Writer, Composer and Creator of blueprint the musical, Niko in Home Street Home workshop. Proud member of AEA. For more, visit matt-copley.com and follow @matt_copley on Instagram.

Madison Deadman: Originally from Ann Arbor, MI. Regional credits: Rock of Ages (Young Groupie) at PCLO, Cabaret (Sally Bowles) at Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, Les Miserables (Eponine), Joseph… Dreamcoat (Narrator) and Little Women (Amy) at Encore Musical Theatre Company, The Addams Family (Wednesday) at Thunder Bay Theatre. CCM credits: Godspell (Jesus), Theory of Relativity (Caroline). Workshops: Home Street Home (Mom) with Kevin McCollum, Jeff Marx and NOFX; Rocket Science (Jenny Ryerson) with Richard Israel. Television: PBS special: SciEngiMathePloration. Film: A Girl Like Her (Emily Sailler). Print: model for Kotex UBY. For more, visit madisondeadman.com and follow @mjdeadman on Instagram.

Bailee Endebrock: Originally from Herrin, Illinois. Regional credits: Mamma Mia (Sophie), Singin’ in the Rain (Kathy Selden), Oklahoma! (Dance Captain) at Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts. A Chorus Line (Maggie) and Sondheim on Sondheim (Leslie Kritzer Track) at The Lexington Theatre Company. The Sound of Music (Liesl) and Bring it On (Campbell) at McLeod Summer Playhouse. CCM credits: 42nd Street (Peggy Sawyer), The Secret Garden (Dance Captain/Alice), Yeast Nation (Jan-the-Sweet), Guys and Dolls (Hot Box Girl). For more, visit baileeendebrock.com and follow @bailee_endebrock on Instagram.

Zoë Grolnick: Originally fromBoulder, Colorado. Regional credits: Rock of Ages at Lake Dillon Theatre Company, Godspell at Center Stage Theatre Company. CCM credits: 42nd Street (Anytime Annie), Guys and Dolls (Hot Box Chick), Theory of Relativity (Jenny), A Chorus Line (Vicki/Swing), Hunchback of Notre Dame and Seussical. For more, visit zoegrolnick.com and follow @zoegrolnick on Instagram.

Delaney Guyer: Originally from Seattle, Washington. Delaney studied Meisner at the Maggie Flanigan Studio in New York for two months following her sophomore year. She has performed in regional theatres across the country including the 5th Avenue Theatre of Seattle, Village Theatre of Issaquah, Washington, the Lexington Theatre Company in Kentucky, the KNOW Theatre of Cincinnati and Sound Theatre Company of Seattle. CCM credits: The Rocky Horror Show (Magenta)and Yeast Nation (Jan The Sly) Secret Garden (Lily), Gruesome Playground Injuries (Kayleen). For more, visit delaneyguyer.com and follow @delaneyguyer on Instagram.

Madison Hagler: Originally from Rainsville, Alabama. Regional credits: Gabe in Next to Normal (Porthouse Theatre), Pastor Olgethorpe in Smoke on the Mountain and Ensemble/Brother in Joseph…Dreamcoat (Totem Pole Playhouse). CCM credits: Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden, Judas/John the Baptist in Godspell, Annas in Jesus Christ Superstar, Tap Ensemble in 42nd Street, Gargoyle/ King Louis XI in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Seussical the Musical, Children of Eden and Lewinsky in Rocket Science, a new musical workshop. As an expert magician, Madison has toured the southeast with his grand illusion show, and has appeared as Magic Consultant for shows such as Pippin, Godspell, Big Fish and The Bartered Bride. For more, visit madisonhagler.com or follow @MadisonAdamsHagler on Instagram. 

Elijah Lee King:Originally from Arlington, Virginia. Regional credits: Man of La Mancha (Pedro) and Music Man at Porthouse Theatre, Mamma Mia! at Totem Pole Playhouse and Joseph…Dreamcoat (Joseph) at City of Fairfax Theatre Co. CCM credtis: The Secret Garden (Ian Shaw), 42nd Street (Assistant Director), Yeast Nation (The Youngest), Guys and Dolls (Big Jule), Jesus Christ Superstar (Solider), The Little Mermaid Ballet (King Triton), Mack and Mabel (Ensemble). TV/Film: Power (STARZ), I Was Possessed (Lifetime), Copycat Killers (REELZ) and Evil Kin (Discovery ID). For more, visit elijahleeking.com and follow @Elijah_Lee_King on Instagram.

Kylie Liya Page:Originally adopted from China, from New York. Broadway credits: 2006 revival Les Miserables (Young Cosette/ Eponine) at the Broadhurst Theater. National Tours credits: How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Annie Who/ u.s. Cindy Lou), Les Miserables (Young Cosette/ Eponine) at Theater of the Stars. Readings/Workshops: The Nightingale by Duncan Shiek/Steven Sadar (Nightingale) NYSAF with James Lapine and at Vassar College with Moises Kaufman. Nasha America (Jackie) at CCM. Film/TV: Friends From College (Teenager) Netflix, Gossip Girl (Constance Girl) CW Network/ Netflix, Ninja Assassin (Young Kariko) Warner Bros., Step Up 3D (Ice Cream Truck Girl) Disney. Off Broadway: Carousel (Louise) NAAP at the Peter J. Sharp Theater. CCM credits: (Dance Ensemble) in Jesus Christ SuperstarThe Hunchback of Notre Dame42nd Street at CCM. She is a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. For more, visit kylieliya.com and follow @kylieliya on Instagram. 

Sam Pickart: Originally from Wisconsin. Regional credits: Anything Goes (Billy Crocker) and Saturday Night Fever (Gus) at Mac-Haydn Theatre, Mamma Mia (Sam Carmichael) and Bonnie & Clyde (Bob Alcorn) at Summer Repertory Theatre, Parade (Frankie Epps) at Greendale Theatre. CCM credits: The Secret Garden (Dr. Neville Craven), Guys and Dolls (Benny Southstreet), Theory of Relativity (Paul), 42nd Street (Pat Denning), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Tribunal/Gargoyle). For more, visit sampickart.com and follow @sampickart on Instagram.

Erich W. Schleck: Originally from Seattle, Washington. Regional credits: Jesus Christ Superstar (Peter) and Newsies (Finch) at NCC Summer Theatre, Spring Awakening (Melchior) and Cabaret (Emcee) at Ballyhoo Theatre and the Original Cast Recording of A Christmas Story: The Musical with the 5th Avenue Theatre. CCM credits: The Rocky Horror Show (Riff Raff), Yeast Nation (Jan-the-Wise), Guys and DollsJesus Christ SuperstarSondheim on SondheimChildren of Eden and the CCM Musical Theatre Incubator of Rocket Science (Heston). He originated the role of Rodrich in Nasha America in Cincinnati and NYC with Alchemation. Erich is also a choreographer with work that includes Big Fish (Village Theatre), Spring AwakeningWizard of OzRENT and Once on this Island (5th Avenue Award Recipient). His original dance show This Moment premiered at CCM during a workshop in Spring 2019. For more, visit erichschleck.com and follow @erichschleck on Instagram.

Hank von Kolnitz: Originally from Alexandria, Virginia. Regional credit: West Side Story (Big Deal) at The Lex; Little Mermaid (Prince Eric), Jesus Christ Superstar (Pontius Pilate) at the Clinton Area Showboat. West Side Story (Riff), Chicago and The Drowsy Chaperone at Santa Rosa Summer Rep; Mamma MiaBest Little Whorehouse in Texas at Totem Pole Playhouse. CCM credits: Rocky Horror Picture Show (Eddie/Dr. Scott), Hunchback of Notre Dame (Ensemble), Seussical (Ensemble U/S Wickershams), Guys and Dolls (Rusty Charlie) and more. For more, visit hankvonkolnitz.com and follow @hankvonko on Instagram.


About CCM Musical Theatre

The Musical Theatre program at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) is the oldest in the country and was the first of its kind. A four-year bachelor of fine arts (BFA) program, it was used by the National Association of Schools of Theatre in formulating the guidelines for the accreditation of Musical Theatre programs nationwide.

The program provides professional conservatory training designed to help singers, dancers and actors become accomplished musical theatre performers. Students participate in a number of productions while in residence and create a freshman and a senior showcase, the latter functioning as their New York debut for agents and casting directors. In addition, students undertake courses in English, history, psychology, dramatic literature, social and ethical issues and the humanities.

CCM Musical Theatre is widely recognized for its “triple-threat” approach to training and many of its graduates are following careers as performers and creative artists in every facet of the entertainment industry. CCM Musical Theatre graduates are working on Broadway and throughout the nation in such productions as AnastasiaHamiltonWaitressMoulin RougeThe Phantom of the OperaThe Book of Mormon, Pippin, WickedJersey BoysLes Misérables, Kinky Boots, Big Fish, Newsies and The Lion King. Students represent CCM in national and international touring productions, in dinner theatres and theme parks, on cruise ships, on television, in talent agencies, as producers and in many of the related entertainment fields.

The Musical Theatre program is part of a larger academic division known as TAPAA: Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration. At the time of its establishment in 1991, the Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre at CCM was the only academic chair of its kind in the United States, the American equivalent of the Chair in Musical Theatre endowed by Cameron Macintosh in honor of Stephen Sondheim at Oxford one year later.

Learn more about CCM’s BFA Musical Theatre program.

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Alumnus recruits MLB stars and musicians for virtual rendition of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’

Warm up for the start of the Major League Baseball season with a special virtual performance of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” that showcases UC College-Conservatory of Music students and alumni with MLB players. The performance is available to watch online.

Alumnus Harrison Sheckler (BM Piano, ’19) brought 200 people together for the performance, which was professionally produced with help from former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo. The performance features singers and musicians from CCM and the Brooklyn College. Filling out the roster for the project are Bret Saberhagen (pitcher in the Royals Hall of Fame and 1985 World Series champion and former Met); Jim Day (FOX Red’s baseball announcer); Susan Roush Dellinger (author of “Red Legs and Black Sox” and granddaughter of Baseball Hall of Famer Edd Roush); Nick Martinez (pitcher for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball and former Ranger’s pitcher); Aristides Aquino (Red’s outfielder); Dale Scott (Former MLB umpire) and many others.

The video features 22 CCM students and alumni representing multiple areas of the college including violin, cello, clarinet, double bass, oboe, flute, piano, harp, horn and more. It also includes CCM Professor of Music (Tuba and Euphonium) Tim Northcut. It was produced by CCM Commercial Music Production alumni Armin Meyer and Grant Bayer, who are audio engineers at Cincinnati’s Zated Records. Many of these students and alumni also participated in Sheckler’s virtual performance of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” CCM students and alumni involved in the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” performance include:

  • Armin Meyer (BM Commercial Music Production, ’18)
  • Grant Bayer (BM Commercial Music Production, ’18)
  • Natalie Orth (BM Violin, ’20)
  • Jonathan Lin (BM Violoncello, ’18)
  • Carolyn Regula – former DMA Violoncello student
  • Peter Ryan (MM Violoncello, ’19) – current DMA Violoncello current
  • Sarah Minnemanm – current DMA Oboe student
  • Patrick Grimone (BM Oboe, ’19)
  • Taylor Overholt (BM Clarinet, ’19)
  • Collin Goff – current BM Music Education and Clarinet
  • David Goist (BM Violin, ’16; MM Violin, ’18)
  • Kanako Shimasaki – current DMA Violin student
  • Taylor Fleshman (BM Harp, ’18)
  • Evan Sacks-Wilner – current BM Tuba student
  • Li-han Eliza Tseng (DMA Violoncello, ’19)
  • Katie Riley – current BM Flute student
  • Ryan Penshorn – former BM Horn student
  • Eliza Edge (BM Horn, ’19)
  • Phillip Palmore (BM Horn, ’20)
  • Taiga Benito – current BM Double Bass student
  • Harrison Sheckler (BM Piano, ’19)
  • Tim Garner (BM Commercial Music Production, ’19)

The performance has earned media attention from the Cincinnati EnquirerWGN-TVBackstage and Spectrum News.

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CSO Diversity fellows performing at Music Hall

CSO and CCM announce 2020-22 class of Diversity Fellows

UC’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have selected four outstanding musicians for their next class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows. Born out of a mutual desire to help American orchestras be more inclusive and to better represent the communities they serve, the performance fellowship program was launched in 2015 with a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Through the collaborative program, CCM and the CSO provide graduate level academic study and professional development and performance opportunities for the Diversity Fellows while simultaneously catalyzing a more inclusive environment for underrepresented musicians in the orchestra field. 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.

“The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra exists to serve our community. Our entire community.” said CSO President Jonathan Martin. “But how can we authentically serve our entire community if a significant part of that community doesn’t see themselves reflected in our organization? The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship is one of many steps we are taking to address this disparity. By providing professional opportunities to a more diverse group of outstanding musicians, we hope to cultivate—and begin changing —the next generation of American orchestral musicians.”

“The University of Cincinnati’s ‘Next Lives Here initiative is built on the interdisciplinary pillars of innovation, inclusion and impact, and the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship program is a perfect example of how those three principles can lead us into a new era,” said CCM Dean Stanley Romanstein. “Our Fellowship is designed to remove the barriers that can prevent talented musicians from pursuing professional carriers in music, but the work to change the face of American orchestras is ongoing. If we’re serious about enhancing racial and ethnic diversity in the arts, orchestras and conservatories have to work together to become more accessible to a diverse population of artists, and we have to do everything possible to help prepare them for long-term success.”

Four exceptional string players will officially join the two-year fellowship program in August 2020, bringing the total number of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows to nine for the 2020-21 academic year and performance season. The new Fellows are:

  • Maalik Glover, violin
  • Amy Nickler, double bass
  • Max Oppeltz-Carroz, cello
  • Javier Otalora, viola

The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship Program is open to exceptional violin, viola, cello and double bass players coming from historically underrepresented populations in classical music. The program is highly competitive, and each class of Fellows is selected through a rigorous series of auditions. Every year, hundreds of candidates audition for CCM faculty members for admission to the Conservatory. From that pool a select group is then invited back to Cincinnati for Diversity Fellowship auditions with CSO musicians. The program saw its largest finalist group ever during the 2019-20 audition cycle, with 21 applicants invited to the final round of physically distanced auditions on March 14, 2020.

The Diversity Fellows perform the equivalent of five weeks per season with the CSO while enrolled in a two-year Master of Music (MM) or Artist Diploma (AD) graduate degree program at CCM. The program also includes private lessons, mock auditions, professional development and audition travel assistance, career development workshops and mentorship from CSO musicians.

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.

The program also partners with the Chautauqua Institution which offers Fellows a summer residency with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and professional development opportunities during its nine-week summer season.

Twelve musicians have graduated from the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship to date. The third class of Diversity Fellows, which is comprised of Camellia Aftahi (double bass), Yan Izquierdo (violin), Arman Nasrinpay (violin) and Alexis Shambley (violin), recently completed the program at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. Alumni have gone on to work with orchestras such as the Dallas, National, and Nashville Symphony Orchestras, as well as continuing as freelance artists and educators across the country.

Meet The Fellows

Maalik Glover

Maalik Glover

Maalik Glover

Master of Music (MM) student, Violin

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Maalik Glover has studied the violin since the age of 11. Glover’s first significant accomplishment was his acceptance into the Talent Development Program, an initiative launched by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra that targets gifted African-American and Latino music students to further develop their future careers as accomplished classical musicians. This program allowed him to meet and study with his first teacher, Justin Bruns (associate concertmaster of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), during his adolescence. In 2015, Glover graduated with a Fine Arts Diploma Seal from Martha Ellen Stilwell School of the Arts.

Glover has performed in Italy, Canada and throughout the U.S. He made his first professional orchestra debut in October 2017 when he subbed with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra under the baton of George Del Gobbo. Glover has also spent two summers performing with the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy in Powell River, British Columbia. While there, he received intense orchestral training from Dennis Kim and Richard Roberts, concertmasters of Pacific Symphony and Montreal Symphony Orchestra, respectively.

In May 2019, Glover graduated summa cum laude from Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music. During his time here, he studied with Boris Abramov, principal second violinist of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. While attending the Schwob School of Music, Glover received recognition at competitions such as being awarded an honorable mention in the Schwob School of Music Concerto Competition and was a finalist in Lagrange Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition.


Amy Nickler

Amy Nickler

Amy Nickler

Artist Diploma (AD) student, Double Bass

Born and raised in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Amy Nickler began playing the violin at age six. Six years later she switched to the double bass and has loved it ever since.

In recent years, Nickler has participated as a fellow in several festivals and orchestras such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, The Orchestra NOW, Oslo Kammerakademi, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and Miami Music Festival. In July 2016, Nickler was a winner of the Concerto Competition honoring Ida Haendel with the opportunity to perform as a soloist in the New World Center with the Miami Music Festival Orchestra. Aside from performing, Nickler enjoys her time as a teaching artist for the Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc. and the Volta Music Foundation in Havana, Cuba.

Nickler received her Bachelor of Music at Lynn Conservatory in 2017 with Professor Timothy Cobb and she received her Master of Music at Yale School of Music with Professor Donald Palma in 2019.


Maximiliano Oppeltz-Carroz

Maximiliano Oppeltz-Carroz

Maximiliano Oppeltz-Carroz

Artist Diploma (AD) student, Cello

Max Oppeltz-Carroz started playing the cello at the age of four as a student of El Sistema in Caracas, Venezuela. As a part of the world-renowned music program, Oppeltz-Carroz played in the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, the Chacao Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Caracas Municipal Orchestra. He studied with Cesar Noguera, Marek Gajzler and German Marcano. He also participated in numerous master classes with cellists such as Natalia Gutman and Phillip Muller.

In 2014, Oppeltz-Carroz moved to the U.S. to study at the Juilliard School with Professor Richard Aaron. As an undergraduate student, Oppeltz-Carroz participated in several lessons and master classes with cellist Franz Helmerson and studied chamber music with musicians such as Roger Tapping, Sam Rhoades, Sylvia Rosenberg and Jerome Lowenthal. In 2016, Oppeltz-Carroz was fortunate to attend the Music Academy of the West, the highlights of which were taking lessons with Lynn Harrel and performing alongside faculty Warren Jones and Kathleen Winkler.

In 2018, Oppeltz-Carroz moved to Denver to study at the Lamont School of Music as a Newman Graduate Fellow under Matthew Zalkind. While in Denver, he was fortunate to perform alongside faculty both at the University of Denver Lamont School of Music and at the Denver Chamber Music Festival.

Oppeltz-Carroz is extremely grateful to be playing on a 1880 French cello from the Caussin School, generously loaned by the Virtu Foundation.


Javier Otalora

Javier Otalora

Javier Otalora

Artist Diploma (AD) student, Viola

Javier Otalora was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida, and began playing violin at age six. In 2018, he graduated from Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he studied violin with Gregory Fulkerson and Sibbi Bernhardsson and viola with Kirsten Docter and Peter Slowik. Otalora is also a recent graduate of the University of Michigan where he received his Master of Music in viola performance with Caroline Coade on a full scholarship.

Otalora was an Orchestral Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival in 2019 and has attended summer festivals such as the Meadowmount School, the Red Rocks Chamber Festival, the Dali Chamber Festival and Spoleto Festival USA. Otalora is a passionate orchestra, chamber and contemporary music player. He has performed with musicians and groups such as the Lansing Symphony, the Aspen Conducting Orchestra, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, members of the International Contemporary Ensemble, the University of Michigan’s Contemporary Directions Ensemble and Sibbi Bernhardsson from the Pacifica Quartet.

Otalora is also involved in music education, having taught violin and viola in Panama for two consecutive years through Oberlin’s “Panama Project.” In addition, he has taught violin, viola and chamber music at the Oberlin Community Music School and was also a strings teacher at Mitchell Elementary School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In 2017, Otalora received the Martin L. King Career Grant which allowed him to return to Panama that summer and run his own chamber camp at the University of Panama. In his free time, Otalora  enjoys eating pizza with friends, reading about airplanes, and fixing computers and printers.


About the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

With a rich tradition that dates back 125 years, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is considered one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles. Led by Louis Langrée, the Orchestra’s distinguished roster of past music directors includes Frank van der Stucken, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ysaÿe, Fritz Reiner, Eugene Goossens, Max Rudolf, Thomas Schippers, Michael Gielen, Jesús López Cobos, and Paavo Järvi. Matthias Pintscher will be the Orchestra’s Creative Partner beginning with the 2020-21 season, and past Creative Directors include Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Lang Lanag, Philip Glass, Branford Marsalis and Jennifer Higdon. The Orchestra also performs as the Cincinnati Pops, founded by Erich Kunzel in 1977. John Morris Russell has led the Pops since 2010 and Damon Gupton is Principal Guest Conductor.

Since its beginnings, the CSO been a proponent of the music of its time, performing the American premieres of works by important composers including Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Maurice Ravel and Béla Bartók, and commissioning many works that have since become mainstays of the classical repertoire, including two iconic works by Aaron Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man and Lincoln Portrait. The Orchestra continues to commission works, amplifying new voices from a diverse array of backgrounds.

With groundbreaking initiatives including CSO Proof, CSO Look Around, LUMENOCITY and the MusicNOW Festival collaboration, the Orchestra champions innovation. As an ambassador for Cincinnati, the region, and for the U.S., the CSO has toured extensively, most recently to Asia and Europe in 2017. The CSO was the first American orchestra to be featured on a national radio broadcast and continues to reach millions of listeners across the country and around the world through the airwaves, digital streaming and commercial recordings on the CSO’s own Fanfare Cincinnati label.

The Orchestra also performs, records and tours as the Cincinnati Pops and elevates Cincinnati’s vibrant arts scene by serving as the official orchestra for the Cincinnati May Festival, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet.

Committed to inclusion and relevance and to enhancing and expanding music education for the children of Greater Cincinnati, the Orchestra works to bring music education, in its many different forms, to as broad a public as possible. Education and outreach programs currently serve more than 80,000 individuals annually. The groundbreaking CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship, a nationally recognized program in partnership with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, provides  Masters degree-level education and professional development and performance opportunities for extraordinary young musicians from  historically underrepresented populations in classical music.

About CCM

Nationally ranked and internationally renowned, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts. The school’s educational roots date back to 1867, and a solid, visionary instruction has been at its core since that time.

CCM offers nine degree types (BA, BM, BFA, MFA, MM, MA, AD, DMA, PhD) in nearly 120 possible majors. The synergy created by housing CCM within a comprehensive public university gives the college its unique character and defines its objective: to educate and inspire the whole artist and scholar for positions on the world stage.

CCM works to bring out the best in its students, faculty and staff by valuing their unique backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. CCM’s student population hails from 43 different US states and 32 different countries. The school’s roster of eminent faculty members regularly receives distinguished honors for creative and scholarly work, and its alumni have achieved notable success.

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


Featured image at top: CCM graduate students Jordan Curry and Magdiell Antequera perform with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows. Photo/Mark Lyons.

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The four members of the Ariel Quartet, string quartet-in-residence at CCM, pose on a couch with their musical instruments. Photo by Marco Borggreve.

Stream the Ariel Quartet’s Final CCM Concert of 2019

Although the theaters and concert halls at the University of Cincinnati’s nationally ranked and internationally renowned College-Conservatory of Music are temporarily silent, audiences can still experience world-class performances through CCM’s new CCMONSTAGE Online video series. This week’s release showcases the Ariel Quartet’s concert of fugues from Oct. 22, 2019.

The performance features W.A. Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K. 546; Bartok’s String Quartet No. 1, Op.7; and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Op. 130 and 133.

The concert from Oct. 22, 2019, features Beethoven’s Große Fuge (or “Great Fugue”), which the Ariel Quartet performed in its debut Beethoven cycle at CCM in the 2013-14 performance season. Arts reporter Janelle Gelfand praised the ensemble’s performance: “From start to finish, the musicians wonderfully captured Beethoven’s emotional grit and fire, coupled with some of the most sublime music ever written.”

Described by the American Record Guide as “a consummate ensemble gifted with utter musicality and remarkable interpretive power,” the Ariel Quartet has earned a glowing international reputation. The ensemble is comprised of Alexandra “Sasha” Kazovsky, violin; Amit Even-Tov, cello; Gershon Gerchikov, violin; and Jan Grüning, viola. The group was formed in Israel in 1998 and has served as CCM’s string quartet-in-residence since 2012.

The Ariel Quartet’s 2019-20 CCM concert series was made possible by the generous contributions of an anonymous donor, The Estate of Mr. William A. Friedlander, Mrs. William A. Friedlander, Dr. Randolph L. Wadsworth, Mr. & Mrs. J. David Rosenberg, Mr. & Mrs. Harry H. Santen, Elizabeth C. B. & Paul G. Sittenfeld, Mr. & Mrs. Thomas E. Stegman, Dr. & Mrs. Theodore W. Striker and Mrs. Harry M. Hoffheimer.

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

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Featured image at top: Ariel Quartet members Jan Grüning, Amit Even-Tov, Gershon Gerchikov and Alexandra “Sasha” Kazovsky. Photo/Marco Borggreve

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Watch CCM Wind Symphony’s Performance of Omar Thomas’ “A Mother of a Revolution”

In November 2019, the UC College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony presented a special concert to commemorate the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Uprising. Exclusively featuring works by LGBTQ+ composers, the performance showcased Omar Thomas’ A Mother of a Revolutionwhich is available to watch online.

A Mother of a Revolution celebrates the bravery of trans women, particularly Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson, a pioneering leader of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and Stonewall Uprising. The Stonewall Uprising began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, an LGBTQ+ bar and, today, a National Historic Landmark. This raid sparked a series of riots and protests that served as a significant catalyst for the country’s modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. Pride Month, celebrated each year in the month of June, honors the Stonewall Uprising as well as the impact that LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history locally, nationally and internationally.

CCM Wind Symphony music director and conductor Kevin Michael Holzman looks to find relevant anniversaries of important events to share with students and the community, which inspired him to program the concert of all LGBTQ+ works. Other works featured in the concert included Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Higdon’s Mysterium, Clay Mettens’ Un-Masqued and Corigliano’s Mr. Tambourine Man.

“The contributions to music (and all of the fine arts) from LGBTQ+ artists are truly incredible; despite this fact, they are so rarely recognized explicitly,” says Holzman, CCM Interim Division Head of Ensembles and Conducting. “Many of these artists suffered tremendously and were treated as outcasts socially and professionally, particularly in the years prior to the turn of the millennium. An equal or greater number never felt safe coming out due to discrimination.”

The LGBTQ+ rights movement has seen significant success in recent years. Major milestones include when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in 2015 and ruled that existing federal law forbids job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status in a landmark case on June 15, 2020. Despite these victories, hate and prejudice towards the LGBTQ+ community remain prevalent in many parts of the U.S. and world.

CCM Wind Symphony’s performance was sponsored by the CCM Harmony Fund, which supports artistic works that fight hate and prejudice through the performing arts. This Fund was created based on the belief that the arts inspire imaginative thinking, encourage conversations, present contrasting attitudes and help us examine our own viewpoints. For the month of June, Eat Well Celebrations and Feasts in Newport, Kentucky, is selling pride cupcakes and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the CCM Harmony Fund.

Kevin Michael Holzman and Omar Thomas in front of CCM's booth at the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago in December 2019.

Kevin Michael Holzman and Omar Thomas in front of CCM’s booth at the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago in December 2019.

“I think it’s our job as music directors to recognize the powerful voice we have to amplify composers and musicians, particularly those who have been historically underrepresented,” Holzman says. “Our students at CCM represent so many diverse backgrounds and cultures, and it’s my responsibility to make sure they feel seen and heard. The first step, in my opinion, is to program works by composers with whom they identify. I also think it’s important that our audiences also feel seen and heard, and can relate to not only the music we perform but to the artists they see on stage and the composers on the program.”

Holzman has pledged that he will continue to program more works by female composers, Black composers and composers coming from other underrepresented populations in the future. Concert programming is just the start, though, and Holzman has formed a working group of graduate students to identify other ways to partner with the Black community and Cincinnati Public Schools.

Holzman first met A Mother of a Revolution composer Omar Thomas two years ago, when he programed Thomas’ Of Our New Day Begun on his first concert as Director of Wind Studies at CCM. Of Our New Day Begun honors the nine people who were murdered in a tragic mass shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (commonly referred to as “Mother Emanuel”) in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015.

“I knew I had to get to know the composer who wrote the work to be able to do it justice, and it turned into a great friendship,” Holzman says. “I’ll be a champion of Omar’s music and voice forever.”

Read about UC and CCM’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and a just community.

About Omar Thomas

Described as “elegant, beautiful, sophisticated, intense and crystal clear in emotional intent,” the music of Omar Thomas continues to move listeners everywhere it is performed. Born to Guyanese parents in Brooklyn, New York in 1984, Thomas moved to Boston in 2006 to pursue a Master of Music in Jazz Composition at the New England Conservatory of Music after studying Music Education at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He is the protégé of lauded composers and educators Ken Schaphorst and Frank Carlberg, and has studied under multiple Grammy-winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider.

Hailed by Herbie Hancock as showing “great promise as a new voice in the further development of jazz in the future,” educator, arranger and award-winning composer Thomas has created music extensively in the contemporary jazz ensemble idiom. It was while completing his Master of Music degree that he was appointed the position of Assistant Professor of Harmony at Berklee College of Music at the surprisingly young age of 23. He was awarded the ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award in 2008, and invited by the ASCAP Association to perform his music in their highly exclusive JaZzCap Showcase, held in New York City. In 2012, Thomas was named the Boston Music Award’s “Jazz Artist of the Year.” Following his Berklee tenure, he served on faculty of the Music Theory department at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Texas at Austin.

Thomas’ music has been performed in concert halls the world over. He has been commissioned to create works in both jazz and classical styles. His work has been performed by such diverse groups as the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble, the San Francisco and Boston Gay Mens’ Choruses, and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, in addition to a number of the country’s top collegiate music ensembles. Thomas has had a number of celebrated singers perform over his arrangements, including Stephanie Mills, Yolanda Adams, Nona Hendryx, BeBe Winans, Kenny Lattimore, Marsha Ambrosius, Sheila E., Raul Midon, Leela James, Dionne Warwick and Chaka Khan. His work is featured on Dianne Reeves’s Grammy Award-winning album, “Beautiful Life.”

Thomas’ first album, “I AM,” debuted at No. 1 on iTunes Jazz Charts and peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Albums Chart. His second release, ” We Will Know: An LGBT Civil Rights Piece in Four Movements,” has been hailed by Grammy Award-wining drummer, composer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington as being a “thought provoking, multi-layered masterpiece” which has “put him in the esteemed category of great artists.” “We Will Know” was awarded two OUTMusic Awards, including “Album of the Year.” For this work, Thomas was named the 2014 Lavender Rhino Award recipient by the History Project, acknowledging his work as an up-and-coming activist in the Boston LGBTQ community. Says Terri Lyne: “Omar Thomas will prove to be one of the more important composer/arrangers of his time.”

Learn more about Omar Thomas on his professional website.


Feature image at top: CCM Wind Symphony in rehearsal. Design/Mikki Graff. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CSO musicians on stage during the CSO's "Live from Music Hall" concert stream.

CCM faculty featured in CSO’s grand return to Music Hall

CSO musicians on stage during the CSO's "Live from Music Hall" concert stream.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s “Live from Music Hall” performance is available to stream online

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra mounted its first live performance in Music Hall since the outbreak of COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the remainder of its season. The Live from Music Hall performance, initially streamed on Saturday, May 16, is available to watch online.

The performance featured the launch of the CSO’s Fanfare Project, which commissions new music from more than a dozen composers to “inspire and uplift and to help us make sense of this moment in our shared history through the universal language of music.” CCM Professor and CSO Principal Oboe Dwight Parry gave the world premiere of the Fanfare Project’s first composition vitres (fragment…) by CSO Creative Partner Matthias Pintscher in the opening of the live-streamed concert.

CSO pianist and CCM Professor Michael Chertock with CSO principal cello and CCM Professor Ilya Finkelshteyn.

CSO pianist and CCM Professor Michael Chertock with CSO principal cello and CCM Professor Ilya Finkelshteyn.

Following the world premiere, four CSO musicians took the stage to perform Mahler’s Piano Quartet in A Minor — while maintaining social distances and wearing face masks. The performance featured CCM professors Michael Chertock, piano, and Ilya Finkelshteyn, cello; as well as CSO concertmaster Stefani Matsuo and principal viola Christian Colberg.

“The event was one step forward to the time when theaters will reopen, and we won’t be afraid to share a live communal experience,” wrote arts reporter Janelle Gelfand in her review for the Cincinnati Business Courier. “It was a message of hope that eventually our arts and culture will re-emerge.”

Watch the full performance online.


Images captured from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s concert video.

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

Music at Home: Recent CCM graduates share senior recital performance video

The University of Cincinnati’s transition to remote learning put in-person public performances at the College-Conservatory of Music on pause, including senior recitals that graduating students typically present during the spring semester. However, harpist Anna Dunlap didn’t let that stop her from sharing a piece she planned to perform during her recital online.

Dunlap, who recently graduated with a Master of Music in Harp, planned to perform Marcel Tournier’s La lettre du Jardinier with fellow CCM student Sean McKay, who just graduated with a Master of Music in Trumpet. They were disappointed to lose the opportunity to perform the piece that they had already spent time practicing, so McKay suggested they present it digitally.

“Music, as it always does, provides comfort, joy and an escape from the more difficult times in life,“ says Anna Dunlap (MM Harp, ’20). “The arts are a vitally important part of everyone’s lives, so by sharing our music we are able to stay connected to our audiences, friends and colleagues.”

Dunlap, who studied with CCM Professor Gillian Benet Sella, is thankful that McKay was as excited about the performance video as she was. She was introduced to La lettre du Jardinier by her former teacher Kathleen Bride while she was an undergraduate student at Eastman School of Music.

“I never had the chance to program it there, so I was really happy about finding a friend to perform this piece with me here at CCM,” Dunlap says.

McKay, who studied with CCM Professor Alan Siebert, created the initial click track that the musicians used to record, then recorded the performances and edited the video. He says the recording part only took a couple of hours but that he probably spent around 4 hours editing the audio.

McKay is a self-taught video editor and used his experience as a performer, as well as the advice of experienced friends, for the audio recording and editing. He is using his free time during the pandemic to build a larger digital presence for himself as a freelance musician and educator.

“One of the biggest ‘silver linings’ that has come from this quarantine has been that I am moving in the right direction to expand my digital footprint, and that I have had a few opportunities to make music with friends,” McKay says. “I think that as musicians and students of music, we take for granted the simple and yet highly complex phenomena that is the experience of making music with other people.”

“I think that it is so very important for musicians to stay connected during this time, because each of us has a fire burning inside of us which drives our passion to make music; and when that fire is told to stay inside and stay healthy, that fire needs fuel to stay alive,“ says  Sean McKay (MM Trumpet, ’20). “These types of projects and collaborations with friends are what fuels our inner fire.”

Dunlap is using her time in quarantine to explore old hobbies like drawing and painting and she is staying connected with friends through video chats and virtual game nights. She is also working on new repertoire, updating her website and planning a virtual harp camp with a mentor.

She enjoys seeing the variety of creative ways musicians are continuing to perform and share music during this uncertain time. Dunlap is inspired by the orchestra videos, like the New York Philharmonic’s performance excerpt from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 “Adagietto and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Ravel’s “Le jardin féerique” (The Fairy Garden) from Ma mère l’Oye (Mother Goose Suite).

From Broadway stars to prestigious professional orchestras to student musicians, performing artists across the world are determined to share their work in new ways. Recently on May 16, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra presented “Live from Music Hall,” which featured a performance of Mahler’s Piano Quartet and the world premiere of the first piece for The Fanfare Project by CSO Creative Partner Matthias Pintscher. The performance featured CCM professors Dwight Parry, oboe; Michael Chertock, piano; Ilya Finkelshteyn, cello; and CSO concertmaster Stefani Matsuo and principal viola Christian Colberg.

“Music is a beautiful thing. Music heals. Music sparks creativity and passion. Music helps people in so many ways. Music can change the outcome of a person’s whole day,” McKay says. “My favorite quote about music is from Aldous Huxley: ‘After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’ When words fail, music speaks. When people are hurt, music is there to heal and soothe.“


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Leo De La Cruz

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

Leo De La Cruz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

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

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