Co-Founder of CCM Musical Theatre Helen Laird Honored at Memorial Service on April 7

Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance will hold a memorial to honor Helen Laird, who served as Dean of the College from 1978 to 1993, on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at the college’s Rock Hall Auditorium. The memorial will also be streamed live at youtube.com/boyercollege.

Former voice faculty member at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), Laird helped establish CCM’s BFA Musical Theatre program in the 1960s. She believed that other forms of singing should be included in a conservatory, so she lobbied former CCM Dean Jack Watson to establish a program in musical theatre, the first of its kind in the country. Watson recruited Jack Rouse to shape the program, which conferred its first BFA degree in musical theatre in 1969 to Pamela Myers. Fifty years later, the nationally-recognized program is one of the top musical theatre programs in the country.

Laird passed away on Oct. 24, 2018, at age 92. A Haddonfield, New Jersey resident for 40 years, Laird was best known throughout the Philadelphia region as Dean of Temple University’s Boyer College of Music. Her glorious soprano voice, however, had been heard previously in solo performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which was among many of the leading ensembles throughout the United States and in Europe, with which she sang during her career as soloist and in opera. She became known throughout the musical academic world also for her administrative acumen, which resulted in her election as the first female officer of the National Association of Schools of Music, the primary accrediting body for college music degree programs in the United States.

Born in Harrisburg, Illinois, her exceptional musical talent became apparent from a young age. Singing opportunities came to her very early, and she matriculated at the University of Nebraska as a music major. Following a move by her family to Wyoming, she embarked upon and completed a graduate degree at Columbia University in New York City. After further vocal study and concert appearances in the United States, she went to Europe in 1953, and by 1954 had been engaged for leading roles at the Basel City Theater in Switzerland. Appointments followed at Mainz and Kassel in Germany, and for 14 years she was a leading soprano with performances of major roles in over 40 operas, averaging over a hundred performances per season. She found time to return to the United States for specific engagements. She garnered significant awards, including the first ever Blanche Thebom Award, the Laureate of International Competition in Geneva and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Award for Vocal Performance. Included among her title roles were Verdi’s Aida, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Tosca, and Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos and others. Important also were several Wagnerian roles, including Eva in Die Meistersinger and Senta in The Flying Dutchman. Favorites included Countess in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and Chrysothemis in Richard Strauss’ Elektra. A review of her Madama Butterfly in Kassel said, “She created the timeless destiny of Madama Butterfly with her acting ability, with conquering naturalness, and with full use of her dramatic and moving vocal resources.” Of her Ariadne, it was said in Frankfurt, “She unfolded a greatness of interpretation and bewitched the audience with her beautiful voice.” Her repertoire ranged from baroque to contemporary, with a particular attention to American works, which she enjoyed sharing with European audiences.

Seeking to expand her teaching, Laird returned to the United States and accepted the post of voice professor and artist-in-residence at CCM. She taught and administered at CCM for a decade, during which she helped establish the college’s Musical Theatre Program, until she accepted a position at Temple University. She served the university from 1978 to 1993 as Professor of Voice and Opera and Dean of the Boyer College of Music and Dance. Laird’s time at the university resulted in major growth for the school, said Boyer College Dean Emeritus Jeffrey Cornelius in an obituary he wrote for her:

“At her retirement she was hailed as an exceptional professor and administrator and as one who encouraged and followed the professional success of her students, among whom are major American figures in opera and musical theater.”

The complete obituary written by Cornelius is available at http://www.temple.edu/boyer/about/Laird.asp. The Haddonfield Sun has published an obituary at https://haddonfieldsun.com/obituary-helen-lorene-laird-ab6ad5d48a00?gi=813b1b311b2c. Legacy.com has also published an obituary at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/philly/obituary.aspx?pid=190618951.

Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance will hold a memorial for Laird at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 7, 2019, at the Rock Hall Auditorium, located at 1715 North Broad Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122. The memorial will also be streamed live at youtube.com/boyercollege.

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CCM’s 2017-18 Season Brochure Now Available In Print and Online

Welcome to CCM’s Sesquicentennial Performance Season!

The cover to CCM's 2017-18 Season Brochure.This season, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) celebrates the 150th anniversary of its founding with an unparalleled series of performances and special events designed to highlight a tradition of innovation and excellence dating back to 1867.

The history of CCM’s success involves three institutions separate in their origins but united by a common cause: the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the College of Music of Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati. Sometimes partners and sometimes rivals, these three institutions would eventually join forces to establish one of the world’s premier schools for the performing and media arts.

In the year ahead, we will look back on CCM’s illustrious history, celebrate the careers of our impressive alumni and showcase the talents of our incredible students and faculty members. We look forward to welcoming you to the CCM Village to experience our ongoing history, the artistry of our alumni and a chance to experience the stars of tomorrow.

Download a digital copy of CCM’s 2017-18 brochure today (7.1 MB). Physical copies are also available at the CCM Box Office.

Subscription and flex ticket packages are on sale now. Single tickets go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. For more details about CCM’s 2017-18 performance schedule, contact the CCM Box Office at 513-556-4183 or visit ccm.uc.edu.

Learn more about CCM’s Sesquicentennial by visiting ccm.uc.edu/about/villagenews/notations-ovations/sesquicentennial-celebration.

This is our story. This is your season.
Join us for a celebration 150 years in the making!

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CCM Winds, Jazz, Musical Theatre, Guitar And More On Display This Weekend!

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You will find something for everyone on the CCM stage this weekend!

At 8 p.m. this evening (Friday, April 12), the CCM Wind Orchestra closes out its successful 2012-13 season with a survey of contemporary American composers. The eclectic program will include works by Samuel Barber, Warren Benson and more! Learn more about this performance here.

CCM welcomes acclaimed tenor Lawrence Brownlee to the stage at 8 p.m. this Saturday, April 13, for an encore performance of the program from his recent Carnegie Hall debut. Brownlee will be accompanied by composer, conductor and pianist Damien Sneed for this special performance. Learn more about this performance here.

CCM’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab Band will celebrate the impact of adjunct instructor of jazz drums and “living guru of big band drumming” John Von Ohlen with a swinging tribute concert at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 14. Learn more about this performance here.

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CCM’s Department of Classical Guitar Celebrates 40 Years with Free Anniversary Concert on April 6

CCM Classical Guitar Ensemble members (left to right) Kirk Redman, Evan Fiehrer, Donald Broerman and Andrew Otte.

CCM Classical Guitar Ensemble members (left to right) Kirk Redman, Evan Fiehrer, Donald Broerman and Andrew Otte.

CCM presents a special 40th Anniversary Concert of classical guitar music performed by students and alumni from the Department of Classical Guitar at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 in Patricia Corbett Theater. This performance is FREE and open to the public, and a gala reception will follow in the Baur Room in UC’s Corbett Center for the Performing Arts.

The performance is the centerpiece of a celebratory weekend during which students, alumni and supporters of the Classical Guitar Department will gather at CCM to celebrate the department’s 40th year. The concert will showcase CCM talent at all levels, featuring the CCM Classical Guitar Ensemble, three young guitarists from the Preparatory Department and several alumni duos and trios.

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In Memoriam: CCM Choral Studies Founder Elmer Thomas

Professor Emeritus Elmer Thomas

Professor Emeritus Elmer Thomas

The Cincinnati Enquirer‘s Janelle Gelfand has penned a moving remembrance of Elmer Robert Thomas, professor emeritus and founder of the department of Choral Studies at CCM. You can view her story here.

Professor Thomas died of respiratory failure on June 13 at University Hospital. He was 81.

“He often spoke of the joy of living his life surrounded by the great music of great composers, and he frequently reminded his students that in their careers they would always find joy, and solace, as needed, in great musical works,” said Earl Rivers, CCM director of choral studies. “Elmer remained my mentor throughout our relationship. He was the first person whose insight and opinions I sought when studying, preparing, and executing masterworks for chorus and chorus and orchestra.”

We would like to express our sincerest condolences to all of the members of the Thomas family.

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CCM’s ‘Oklahoma!’ Receives Four League of Cincinnati Theatres Awards

League of Cincinnati Theatres

CCM’s fall Mainstage production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! has earned four awards from the League of Cincinnati Theatres (LCT). Diana Lala, the show’s choreographer, as well as three student performers — John Riddle, Julia Johanos and Eric Huffman — were recognized for their contributions to the show.

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CCM Continues A Must-See Mainstage Season with ‘Oklahoma!’

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CCM presents an All-American classic as it continues its 2011-12 Mainstage Series with the production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. Presented Nov. 17 through Nov. 20 at Corbett Auditorium, the musical features celebrated guest artist Pamela Myers, an original alumna of CCM’s Musical Theatre program.

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