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

 

CCM Dean Stanley E. Romanstein has announced the addition of acclaimed stage director Greg Eldridge to the college’s roster of distinguished performing and media arts faculty members. Eldridge joins CCM as Associate Professor of Opera Directing.

Greg Eldridge. Photo/Andrej Uspenski

Greg Eldridge. Photo/Andrej Uspenski

Originally from Australia, Eldridge has worked on over 60 productions 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.

A former recipient of a Bayreuth Scholarship from the Wagner Society of Victoria, Eldridge is one of only two people to have graduated from both of the world’s most prestigious opera directing programs – the Merola Program in San Francisco and the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme in the UK. He has received 5-star reviews for his work for the national opera companies of Australia, Iceland and the United Kingdom, and has been the recipient of awards including Most Outstanding Director (OperaChaser Awards, 2018) and Best Director (Broadway World Awards in Sydney, 2019).

After receiving the 2004 Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Study of Philosophy, Eldridge studied Opera Directing at The Opera Studio Melbourne in Australia and the Accademia Europea di Firenze in Italy before relocating to the United Kingdom. After serving as Trainee Resident Director at The King’s Head Theatre in London, Eldridge worked on productions including I gioielli della Madonna for Opera Holland Park, all four operas of Der Ring des Nibelungen for Longborough Festival Opera, Così fan tutte for the Landestheater Rudolstadt and he became the youngest director ever engaged by the state opera company in his hometown when he directed Ludus Danielis for Victorian Opera.

In 2013, Eldridge became the youngest – and first Australian – director to join the young artist program of The Royal Opera, Covent Garden in London. There, he worked under luminary directors including Sir David McVicar, Sir Richard Eyre, John Copley and Kasper Holten, along with conductors including Sir Antonio Pappano, Mark Wigglesworth, Alexander Joel, Nicola Luisotti, Marc Minkowski, Ivor Bolton and Gianandrea Noseda. Eldridge has also worked alongside international opera stars including Jonas Kaufmann, Sondra Radvanovsky, Rolando Villazón, Sonya Yoncheva, Sir Bryn Terfel, Anne Sofie von Otter, Sir Willard White, Dame Sarah Conolly, Nina Stemme, Roberto Alagna, Denyce Graves, Angela Gheorghiu and many others.

In 2016, The Royal Opera created a new position especially for Eldridge – the Jette Parker Associate Director – and Eldridge joined the board of Stage Directors UK (SDUK), the industry body representing and advocating for directors of live theatre throughout the United Kingdom. During his time on the board, SDUK published papers exposing inequalities in the freelance artist sector, provided evidence-based studies to government bodies and authored a major report alongside the National Theatre, RADA and The Old Vic that provided recommendations for structural changes in the way arts training organizations and theatres engage with directors from underrepresented demographics.

Eldridge has contributed articles to publications including Limelight Magazine, The Guardian UK and OperaNow Magazine, and has given guest lectures at the Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and St John’s College Cambridge, among others. He holds an Exceptional Talent visa from the United Kingdom, and has been recognized as an Artist of Extraordinary Ability by the United States government.

“CCM’s Departments of Opera and Voice provide unparalleled training programs for singers, stage directors and opera coaches. Our students will benefit from Greg’s vast experience on the world stage,” said Romanstein. “I want to thank our search committee – which was co-chaired by Robin Guarino and Denton Yockey, and included Bill McGraw, Mary Stucky, Jim Gage and Mark Gibson – for their help identifying CCM’s next great opera faculty member.”

About CCM Opera

The Department of Opera at CCM boasts one of the most comprehensive training programs for opera singers, coaches and directors in the United States. Students at CCM work with some of the most renowned teachers and artists active in the field today.

CCM students frequently advance to the final rounds of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, which is widely considered to be the nation’s most prestigious vocal competition. In 2019, soprano Elena Villalón (BM Voice, ’19) was named a Grand Finals Winner at the competition while she was still finishing her undergraduate degree at CCM. CCM’s other recent Grand Finals Winners include Jessica Faselt (MM Voice, ’16) in 2018, Amanda Woodbury (MM Voice, ’12) and Yi Li (AD Opera, ’13) in 2014 and Thomas Richards (MM Voice, ’13) in 2013. At least two CCM singers advanced to the Upper Midwest Regional Auditions in this year’s Met National Council Auditions: artist diploma students Amber Monroe and Teresa Perrotta.

CCM singers also recently won awards in other prestigious national competitions. Jessica Faselt won a $10,000 award and Alisa Jordheim (DMA Voice, ’15; MM Voice,’ 10) won a $1,000 Encouragement award at the 2020 George London Foundation Awards Competition for young American and Canadian opera singers. Jasmine Habersham (AD Opera, 2015; MM Voice, 2013) won the silver medal in the 2020 American Traditions Vocal Competition. Edward Nelson (BM Voice, 2011; MM Voice, 2013) won first prize at the 2020 Glyndebourne Opera Cup. Perrotta also advanced to the finals of the 2020 Lotte Lenya Competition.

In addition, CCM Opera productions have received some of the National Opera Association Production Competition’s highest honors throughout the years.

CCM Opera graduates have performed on the stages of the world’s greatest opera companies, including Cincinnati Opera, Metropolitan Opera (New York), Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera (London), La Scala (Italy) and more.

Learn more at ccm.uc.edu.


Featured image at top: A production photo of La scala di seta directed by Greg Eldridge at Royal Opera House Covent Garden London. Photo/Holly Pigot

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Watch CCM’s 2020 Musical Theatre Senior Showcase

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

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

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

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

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


Get to know CCM Musical Theatre’s Class of 2020

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About CCM Musical Theatre

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

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

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

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

Learn more about CCM’s BFA Musical Theatre program.

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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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Hope After Hate: E-Media Professor Shares Father’s Holocaust Experience

CCM E-Media Professor and Emmy Award-winning journalist Hagit Limor shares her father’s Holocaust survival story with lessons to inspire action against hatred and bigotry today

The spring 2020 edition of UC Magazine features a cover story about the ground-breaking “Hope After Hate” project launched by CCM E-Media Professor Hagit Limor. The story is available to read online.

Inspired by her father’s story of struggle and survival during the Holocaust, Limor set out to create “Hope After Hate: Moniek’s Legacy” to share his experience through immersive theatre and virtual reality. In October 2019, Limor’s Media Topics class of 15 students traveled to Poland and Germany to retrace her father’s journey. They will use the photos, videos and research collected during the trip to create an immersive play and virtual reality experience for the “Hope After Hate” project.

“Hope After Hate” will be an innovative, new kind of theatre — part play, part video and part virtual reality. Projections of historical settings will surround the audience during the immersive play, creating a virtual set in which they sit and interact with the actor portraying Moniek Limor. The “Hope After Hate” team is also creating a separate 15-minute virtual reality experience that will immerse users in Moniek’s story with goggles and hand sensors.

Viewers will be transported into the attic where he hid with his family as a child, into the Hasag-Pelcery labor camp where he was enslaved for more than a year as an adolescent, into the cattle-car train that transported him to the Buchenwald concentration camp when he was 14 and into the camp itself, where he was an inmate for four months. The project explores how people struggle to hold on to their humanity when surrounded by hate and fear. It also shares historical lessons in an effort to turn bystanders into upstanders who will speak out against hatred and bigotry today.

“Hope After Hate” unites students, faculty and staff from across UC, including undergraduate and graduate students majoring in E-Media, Acting, International Affairs, Political Science, Geography and History. CCM Acting Professor Susan Felder is adapting Limor’s memoir of her father’s experience into a script for the immersive play. Additionally, the “Hope After Hate” team is collaborating with CCM Lighting Design and Technology Professor Sharon Huizinga on how to create projections for the play. UC’s Center for Simulations and Virtual Environments Research (UCSIM) is building the VR experience with the 360-degree photos and videos that students captured while on the trip.

Read UC Magazine’s cover story on “Hope After Hate” to learn more about the project. Readers can also view photo galleries of images taken during the study abroad trip and watch a student-created documentary on the project.


“Hope After Hate” is sponsored by Cincinnati’s Holocaust and Humanity Center, and has already received support from private donors as well as Cincinnati’s Jewish Innovation Funds and the CCM Harmony Fund. This support offset travel expenses during the study abroad trip and funded some production expenses. However, the class is still actively collecting donations for projectors needed for the play and virtual reality equipment. Visit hopeafterhate.com for updates on the project and to learn how to get involved. 

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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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CCM Village at night

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

CCM Village at night

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

Assistant Professor of E-Media Peter DePietro.

Peter DePietro.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Story by CCM Graduate Student Kelly Barefield

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

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Leo De La Cruz

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

Leo De La Cruz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

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

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Donor Spotlight: Dr. Alvin and Jean Crawford

The Crawfords have a deep, lifelong love of music and the arts that led them to connect with CCM

Dr. Alvin Crawford, retired Chief of Orthopedics and founding director of the Spine Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, has had a distinguished, internationally renowned career as an orthopedic surgeon. In his honor, the Spine Center was renamed the Crawford Spine Center.

But his first love was music.

He started playing trumpet in seventh grade, eventually switching to clarinet. He started college as a music major and wanted a career as a studio musician. In his sophomore year of college, he made a decision that changed the lives of thousands of children across the world: he decided to become a physician.

Dr. Alvin and Jean Crawford stand in the corridor of CCM's Mary Emery Hall. Photo/Joseph Rubino

Dr. Alvin and Jean Crawford stand in the corridor of CCM’s Mary Emery Hall. Photo/Joseph Rubino

Dr. Crawford attended Meharry Medical College in 1960, a time when most if not all southern schools were segregated. He applied for admission to the University of Tennessee and became the first African-American to enroll in this southern medical school. He could not transfer because the University of Tennessee did not consider Meharry Medical College an accredited medical school.

“I became an academic orthopedist, but continued to play,” he says. “I was hired by UC to head the Pediatric Orthopaedic service. Once my wife and I found out what CCM was all about, we decided to get involved. After I retired at Cincinnati Children’s, I was able to attend the jazz improvisation course for freshmen and we started coming to performances. Last year I took jazz history.”

Continuing to live out his love of music, Dr. Crawford helped form a group called “The Wannabes,” which plays for nonprofits and has played an opera gala. From there he joined the Queen City Concert band, a community band in Cincinnati.

Jean Crawford’s interest in music stretches back to the piano lessons she took as a child. She was a teacher and high school counselor and sang in choruses through college.

“I always encouraged my students to get involved and take any type of arts as electives,” she says. “When I served on the Cincinnati Opera board, I saw that most of our singers in the chorus were from CCM. When we attended CCM’s Moveable Feast, we realized the caliber of musicianship here and were hooked on CCM.”

Mrs. Crawford talks about the opportunity she did not have, but that she wants all children to have. “I lived in the segregated south and the opportunities to attend and participate in the arts were limited,” she says. “So my goal is to make sure that the performing arts are available to all communities. In this area, school districts have limited support for funding the arts. Through the prep schools, CCM provides arts exposure to them. Also, students from CCM go to public schools to give the children more exposure. I think that’s important. And to do that you need money.“

“I think they’re doing something [at CCM] that’s really important,” Dr. Crawford adds. “I became involved in the CCM Dean’s Advisory Council and I can see that the people here care. They care, and they want to put out a good product. And once I became involved with CCMpower, I was able to meet the kids and see what they’re doing.”


Who will you empower NEXT?

In order to recruit and retain top talent, CCM must be able to offer competitive scholarship and grant opportunities to our students. CCMpower raises funds through membership and special events in order to provide the resources that attract the best and brightest students. Learn more about how you can empower the next generation of CCM stars.


Story by Joseph Rubino

Featured image at top Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, Dena Cranley, Barbara Gould, Jean Crawford and Dr. Alvin Crawford at CCM’s 2020 Moveable Feast. Photo/Andrew Higley

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Enjoy a Classic Jazz Performance from CCM’s Video Archives

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 features a classic jazz performance from CCM’s video archives.

On May 22, 2011, the CCM Jazz Ensemble was joined by Grammy Award-nominee, National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and Kennedy Center “Living Legend of Jazz” Gerald Wilson (1918-2014) for an unforgettable evening of big band music. The concert also featured the talents of Mary Ellen Tanner (1946-2014), a renowned jazz vocalist who taught at CCM for many years.

An acclaimed composer, arranger and band leader of modern jazz who was in his 92nd year at the time of this recording, Wilson’s talent was legendary among jazz insiders. His classic compositions include “Blues for Count Basie” written for Basie while Wilson was in his band and “Blues for Yna Yna,” which was the second jazz waltz ever written.

“Gerald Wilson is a living legend and a part of the golden age of the big band as a writer, arranger and trumpet player,” CCM Professor and Jazz department head Scott Belck commented in 2011, adding that Wilson was also “one of the most interesting cats you will ever meet.” Wilson passed away in Los Angeles in September 2014.

Wilson’s groundbreaking compositions, intricate arrangements and immediately recognizable sound put him in a league of his own. In his prolific seven-decade career as composer and arranger, Wilson was behind some of the greatest names in jazz, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, Nancy Wilson and Bobby Darin. Beyond his jazz accomplishments, Wilson’s symphonic compositions were performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Mehta. He even scored a top 40 pop hit with El Chicano’s 1970 version of his “Viva Tirado,” a song that has been recorded in at least 18 different versions, including a hip-hop rendition by Latino rapper Kid Frost.

This concert was originally streamed online with support provided by the Corbett Endowment for CCM and the Franklin L. Folger Trust. The performance was later broadcast on CET Cincinnati Public Television.

Receive updates on future CCMONSTAGE Online performances by subscribing to our mailing list at https://ccm.uc.edu/subscribe


Featured image at top: The CCM Jazz Ensemble in a March 2012 rehearsal. Photo/Dottie Stover/UC Creative Services.

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