The company of "Cats". Production photo by Matthew Murphy.

CCM Alumni in Broadway’s “Cats” and “Hamilton”

We are thrilled to report that ten CCM alumni are involved in Broadway productions this season!

Christine Cornish Smith (BFA Musical Theatre, 2013) makes her Broadway debut this fall as Bombalurina in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. The Broadway revival of the Tony Award-winning musical opened at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York on July 31. Other alums in the production are: Kristen Blodgette (BM, 1976), Cats musical supervisor/director; Aaron J. Albano (CCM, 2001-2003), chorus; and  Jessica Hendy (BFA Musical Theatre, 1993), chorus and Grizabella understudy. Hailei Call, who earned a BFA from CCM’s Theatre Production and Design program in 2011, is working on the creative team in Cats.

According to Hendy’s interview with WCPO, this is her second time performing in the feline production. She made her Broadway debut in the original cast of the Cats chorus and as understudy for Grizabella, belting the character’s iconic ballad “Memory” in 1999.

Recent CCM graduate Samantha Pollino (BFA Musical Theatre, 2016) returns to Broadway in the Chicago cast of Hamilton. Performances begin Sept. 27 at the PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago. Two other CCM musical theatre alums, Andrew Chappelle (BFA, 2009) and Alysha Deslorieux (BFA, 2012) are members of the original Hamilton cast, which earned 11 Tony awards at the 2016 ceremony.

CCM also has alums in Something Rotten, produced by Kevin McCollum (BFA, 1984). Leslie Kritzer (BFA Musical Theatre, 1999) plays Bea in the musical. Musical theatre alums Max Clayton (BFA, 2014) and Eric Sciotto (BFA, 1997) are in the ensemble.

The 2016 Tony Awards included six productions that had CCM alums as cast or crew members. You can read more about their work here.

Are you a CCM Alumnus with news? Stay in touch by sharing your story with us!


Story by CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies

Cats production photo by Matthew Murphy

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Betty Ireland and Marc Scorca

Opera America Office Dedicated in Memory of CCM Alumnus Jim Ireland

The National Opera Center recently dedicated its Technical/Production Office in honor of famed University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music alumnus James D. Ireland (BBA Business Administration, 1966; MM 1970), a well-respected opera administrator who helped develop Opera America into a leading organization for arts advancement in the United States.

Jim Ireland

Jim Ireland

Ireland passed away at the age of 69 in September 2012 after a brief battle with lung cancer. The ceremony and dedication took place this past November at the Opera America headquarters in New York City. Numerous friends and family from around the country were there to honor Ireland, including his sister and UC alumna, Betty Scott Ireland (BS Education, 1967).

“To know Jim was to love and admire him,” said Opera America President/CEO Marc Scorca during the dedication. “With cherished memories and enduring affection, let’s be joyful that James D. Ireland has a permanent home at the National Opera Center in good company with other dynamic leaders who forged an American opera industry.”

“Dynamic leader” is an appropriate moniker for Ireland, who had a long and storied career in the arts. A native of Charleston, West Virginia, he made a name for himself locally, often performing with the Charleston Light Opera Guild and playing organ for several area churches.

Ireland began studying voice at CCM under the tutelage of Helen Laird in 1965, shortly before Laird established the conservatory’s Musical Theatre Program in 1968. During his time at CCM, he also studied conducting with Elmer Thomas and piano with John Quincy Bass.

After graduating from CCM in 1970, he worked heavily behind the scenes to promote opera across the country. From 1972–79, he worked with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and created their opera/musical theatre arm. It was also during this time that he began working with Opera America, which has since developed a glowing international reputation.

From there, Ireland transitioned into one of the leading opera company administrators in America. For 22 years, he served as Managing and Producing Director of the acclaimed Houston Grand Opera and helped the reputation of the company grow through numerous world premieres and other artistic endeavors.

He later served as Director of Hartford Stage in Connecticut (2002–05) and the President and first CEO of the Orlando Opera (2006–09). At the time of his passing, he was working as a consultant for numerous opera organizations across the country.

JoAnne Greiser (BA English, 1968/BS Education, 1969), who was friends with Ireland when they were both students at the University of Cincinnati, attended the dedication with her husband Ron Nyhan.

“In a field that is, by definition, focused on performance and its stars, only a knowledgeable, opera-loving giant on the business side of the house could command the attention of the opera field to make significant changes behind the scenes,” she said. “Jim was that giant.”


Story by CCM graduate Kevin Norton (DMA Saxophone, 2015)

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CCM musical theatre alumnus Andre Catrini.

CCM Alumnus Andre Catrini Opens First Off-Broadway Musical This Week

CCM alumnus Andre Catrini (BFA Musical Theatre, 2011) is about to open his first Off-Broadway musical, The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit. Catrini has written the music and lyrics to a book by Alan Knee. The production opens at 7 p.m. tonight, Dec. 3, at the New York Workshop Theatre. The show plays through Saturday, Dec. 19.

Set 12 years after the close of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a 19 year old Timothy Cratchit leaves the home of his benefactor, Ebenezer Scrooge, in order to find his place in the world. On his path he encounters many trying, eye-opening and comical situations, but it is with the magnificent stage clown, Grimaldi, and his troupe of lively performers that he discovers his true identity.

Time Out New York has named the piece one of the “Best Christmas Plays to See This Holiday Season.”

Catrini is a composer/lyricist, musical theatre repertoire/audition coach and musical director currently living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is a member of the BMI-Lehman Engel Advanced Musical Theatre Workshop, an alumnus of the ASCAP Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Workshop (plus a proud ASCAP member) and a graduate of CCM. In New York, he recently presented a concert of his material, “All Because Of You,” and was part of the York Theatre’s NEO 7 (New, Emerging, Outstanding) Concert.

Catrini is the proud recipient of the 2014 ASCAP Foundation Cole Porter Award, given “in recognition for his outstanding talent as a musical theatre composer and lyricist” as well as a 2015 New Voices Project Merit Award.

Catrini is the founder and current member of the writing group THE CIRCLE SONGBOOK, comprised of twelve diverse contemporary musical theatre writers. Circle Songbook concerts are held twice a year in NYC.

His previous writing credits include The Wolf, Timmy the Wizard, Other Women, BLOCKED, Whisper, Love (for which a cast album is available) and concert presentations of “All Because Of You,” “Songs From the Trunk,” “Exercises: Songs From Unwritten Musicals” and “A Little Self Indulgent Music. ”

You can learn more about Andre Catrini by visiting

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CCM faculty member Scott Belck, DMA.

CCM Director of Jazz Studies Scott Belck Performs at Carnegie Hall This October

CCM Director of Jazz Studies and Ensembles & Conducting Division Head Scott Belck, DMA, will perform at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall next Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015.

Belck will perform as a member of the acclaimed trumpet ensemble Tromba Mundi. The evening’s program is dubbed Sinfonia Americana and will include a musical journey from the Renaissance to the Old West, with stops in Hollywood and New Orleans along the way. Tromba Mundi released an album of the same name in 2013.

Poster for Tromba Mundi's Oct. 7, 2015, performance at Carnegie Hall.Founded in 2007 for the sole purpose of the exploration, promotion and performance of new works for trumpet ensemble, Tromba Mundi has recorded several world premiere compositions and continues to commission new music for the genre. The ensemble is comprised of professional performers and pedagogues from various universities across the United States.

The groups members also include Bryan Appleby-Wineberg, Jean-Christophe Dobrzelewski, John Marchiando, William Stowman and Joey Tartell.

In addition to his work with Tromba Mundi, Belck has recently toured as a member of Grammy Award-winning funk legend Bootsy Collins’ Funk Unity Band as lead trumpet. He has also served as trumpet and cornet soloist with the Air Force Band of Flight in Dayton, Ohio, where he held the post of musical director for the Air Force Night Flight Jazz Ensemble.

His playing credits include recordings as lead trumpet/guest soloist with the Cincinnati Pops featuring the Manhattan Transfer and John Pizzarelli, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Van Dells and jazz soloist with the University of North Texas One O’clock Lab Band with whom he recorded four CDs as jazz soloist and section trumpet.

Belck was named head of CCM’s Division of Ensembles and Conducting this fall. He directs CCM’s Jazz Orchestra and teaches applied Jazz Trumpet. Belck is a Yamaha Performing Artist.

You can learn more about Belck’s Carnegie Hall performance with Tromba Mundi by visiting

Learn  more about CCM’s world-class faculty members by visiting

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Talya Lieberman in CCM's Mainstage Series production of 'Hansel and Gretel.' Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM Artist Diploma Student Talya Lieberman Wins Outstanding Performance Award at 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition

CCM artist diploma student Talya Lieberman.

CCM artist diploma student Talya Lieberman.

We are happy to report that soprano Talya Lieberman, an Artist Diploma candidate in CCM’s Opera program, won the Lys Symonette Award for Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number during the final round of the 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition.

Sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, this year’s competition was held at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music on April 18. Named in honor of Weill’s musical assistant on Broadway, the Lys Symonette Award comes with a cash prize of $3,500.

Now in its 18th year, the Lotte Lenya Competition is an international theatre singing contest that recognizes exceptionally talented young singer/actors, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, from opera and operetta to contemporary Broadway musicals, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. The judges of this year’s competition were Rebecca Luker, James Holmes and Theodore S. Chapin. You can view a full list of this year’s competition winners by visiting

Lieberman is the latest in a long line of CCM-trained singers to take home top honors at the Lotte Lenya Competition. CCM alumna Lauren Roesner (BFA Musical Theatre, 2013) took Third Prize in the 2013 installment of this prestigious international theater singing contest. CCM alumna Caitlin Mathes (MM Voice, 2009; Artist Diploma in Opera, 2010) earned First Prize in 2011 and fellow alumna Alisa Suzanne Jordheim (BM Voice, 2008; MM Voice, 2010; DMA candidate) progressed to the final round of the competition that same year.

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

A soprano, Lieberman will be singing Susanna in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with Wolf Trap Opera as a Filene Young Artist this coming summer. She has been invited to make her recital debut with the San Francisco Opera Center as part of their Schwabacher Debut Recital series this spring. She was most recently seen performing Gretel in CCM’s Mainstage Series production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.

This past summer she sang the title role in Handel’s Semele as part of the Schwabacher Concert Series (Merola Opera Program). Highlights from 2013-14 include performing selections from Canteloube’s “Chants d’Auverge” with the CCM Philharmonia, as well as performing David del Tredici’s “Haddock’s Eyes” with CCM’s Café MoMus ensemble. She won the Irma M. Cooper Vocal Competition (Columbus Opera, 2014) and Alida Vane International Voice Competition (2013) in Latvia, where she studied on a Fulbright scholarship for the 2012-13 school year.

Lieberman made her New York City debut prior to departing for Latvia, singing in concert with Schubert & Co. In the summer of 2012 she participated in the voice program at the Chautauqua School of Music, where she was featured in Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras” with the cello studio.

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

Lieberman has lived a few lives before coming to opera full-time; she worked on sleep apnea research as a research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, served as program coordinator for the El Sistema inspired program Play On, Philly!, and had a short stint as a singer-songwriter. She is an avid student of contact improvisation and various forms of meditation. She loves reading, writing, editing, working with children, teaching and being an aunt.

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CCM's Class of 2015 in Drama.

CCM Drama Holds Annual Senior Showcase and Dolly Awards on March 27

CCM’s Department of Drama presents its annual Senior Showcase at 2 and 7 p.m. on Friday, March 27, in UC’s Patricia Corbett Theater. The 13th annual DOLLY Awards Ceremony follows the 7 p.m. showcase performance. These events are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.

CCM's Class of 2015 in Drama.

CCM’s Class of 2015 in Drama.

The showcase performance will consist of a variety of scenes by graduating seniors in CCM’s Drama program, demonstrating the depth and breadth of the acting skills they have honed during their undergraduate training at CCM. The Senior Showcase will be the first presentation of a performance that the students will be taking on the road to exhibit their talent in New York and Los Angeles in April. You can learn more about the Drama Class of 2015 by visiting

Hosted by Richard E. Hess, CCM’s A.B., Dolly, Ralph and Julia Cohen Chair of Dramatic Performance, the Annual CCM Drama DOLLY Awards recognize outstanding achievement and performance by students in the Department of Drama. Awards are given for Excellence in Performance and Excellence in Ensemble Performance from the 2014-15 CCM Drama season, which included the productions TRANSMIGRATION 2014, Living Dead in DenmarkMacbethSpeech and Debate and The Heidi Chronicles.

The evening will also include tributes to CCM faculty members Diane Kvapil and R. Terrell Finney, both of whom will retire at the end of the semester. A faculty member since 1977, Professor Kvapil received the Acclaim Award for Outstanding Theatre Educator in 2011. A faculty member since 1983, Professor Finney currently serves as CCM’s Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Graduate Studies. He is also currently serving as president of the National Association of Schools of Theatre.

CCM alumnus Keith Pillow.

CCM alumnus Keith Pillow.

The highlight of the ceremony will be the presentation of the 2015 Julia Winter Cohen Career Excellence Award to a graduate of CCM Drama. This year’s honoree is Keith Pillow, CCM Drama class of 1989. An accomplished film and television actor, Pillow has had recurring roles on Judging AmyThe ShieldThe Sarah Connor ChroniclesAwkward and Pretty Little Liars. He has made guest appearances on The MentalistGleeThe GoldbergsLaw & Order L.A.TheCloserNip/TuckHot in Cleveland24CSICold CaseThe Young and the RestlessGeneral Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful, to name but a few. A classically trained singer and actor, Pillow is also very much at home on the stage. His credits include the Broadway touring company of Show Boat, the role of Pontius Pilate in the European tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, the role of Hud in the European tour of Hair and the role of Jim in the national tour of Big River. He was also featured at the prestigious Theater des Westens in Berlin as Jacob in La Cage aux Folles, and in productions of My Fair LadyAnything Goes and Evita. In addition to his television and stage credits, Pillow has appeared in over 20 national and regional commercials and numerous films.

About Diane Kvapil

CCM Associate Professor of Drama Diane Kvapil.

CCM Associate Professor of Drama Diane Kvapil.

Diane L. Kvapil studied at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City with Sanford Meisner. She joined CCM’s faculty in 1977 and currently serves as Associate Professor of Drama. Kvapil has directed several notable productions during her time at CCM, including Trojan Woman (with original music by Richard Oberacker), Our TownThree Sisters (which won the Acclaim Award for Outstanding Ensemble) and Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. In 2011, she received the Acclaim Award for Outstanding Theatre Educator.

Featured in numerous regional and national touring productions as well as WNET and NBC telecasts, Kvapil has also performed with National Players in Japan, Korea, Canada, North Africa and Bermuda. She is in demand for on-camera commercial work as well as voice overs for radio and television. As a writer, Kvapil has had a teleplay produced for NBC’s Young People’s Specials. She studied with American actor and acting teacher Eric Morris during the summer of 1987.

About R. Terrell Finney

CCM Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Director of Graduate Studies and Professor of Drama Terrell Finney.

CCM Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Director of Graduate Studies and Professor of Drama Terrell Finney.

R. Terrell Finney, Jr. is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Director of Graduate Studies and a Professor of Drama at CCM. A faculty member since 1983, his recent directing credits include Charley’s AuntFloyd CollinsDancing at LughnasaThe DivinersMyths and HymnsAs You Like It,Lend Me A TenorChekhov in YaltaBlithe Spirit and the world premiere of Clever Dick for CCM/Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, among others. He has also served as a faculty member at Birmingham-Southern College and the Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts.

Finney is a former artistic director of the Showboat Majestic where selected productions included Crimes of the Heart and They’re Playing Our Song. He also directed The Importance of Being Earnest for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival. Acting credits include Nurse Nanny Fanny in ETC’s Snow White, Hysterium in the Hot Summer Nights production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Argon in CCM’sThe Imaginary Invalid. He has also served as narrator for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

A graduate of the MFA directing program at Boston University, he spent the summers of 1992 and 1995 in training programs with the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain. A past president of the Ohio Theatre Alliance, Finney previously served as the head of the Division of Opera, Musical Theatere, Drama and Arts Administration at CCM and acted as producer of CCM’s acclaimed Hot Summer Nights from 1998 to 2002. A member of Actors’ Equity Association, he is currently serving as President of the National Association of Schools of Theatre and frequently serves as a consultant to theatre programs across the United States.

Although Finney is retiring this spring, he will make a return to CCM’s Mainstage Series to direct Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness! in February of 2016. You can learn more about this production, and the rest of CCM’s upcoming season, by visiting

Performance Times
2 & 7 p.m., Friday, March 27

Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Admission Details
Admission to the CCM Drama Senior Showcase and DOLLY Awards Ceremony is FREE and open to the general public. Reservations are not required.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit

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

Community Partner: ArtsWave

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CCM faculty artists Soyeon Kate Lee and Awadagin Pratt. Photo by Andrew Higley.

CCM Piano Professor Soyeon Kate Lee Performs at Lincoln Center on Jan. 29

CCM welcomes Assistant Professor of Music in Piano Soyeon Kate Lee to its faculty. Her appointment begins in August of 2014.

CCM Assistant Professor of Music in Piano Soyeon Kate Lee.

New York residents, mark your calendars: Assistant Professor of Piano Soyeon Kate Lee will play a concert at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29.

Lee’s performance is part of the Chamber Music Society New Music series, which champions modern composers of chamber music and invites listeners to witness musical innovation in the stunning Kaplan Penthouse.

For those not based in New York, the concert will also be streamed live at

Lee joined CCM’s faculty in the fall of 2014 and played a sold-out joint faculty artist recital with CCM Chair of Piano and Artist-in-Residence Awadagin Pratt in October. Lee’s appointment to the Department of Piano gives CCM the rare distinction of having two Naumburg Gold Medalists on faculty! Learn more about Lee’s appointment by visiting

For more information about Lee’s upcoming performance at Lincoln Center and to purchase tickets, please visit

About the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
The Chamber Music Society is one of 11 constituents of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the largest performing arts complex in the world. Along with other constituents such as the New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center Theater and the Metropolitan Opera, the Chamber Music Society has its home at Lincoln Center in Alice Tully Hall. Through its performance, education and recording/broadcast activities, it draws more people to chamber music than any other organization of its kind.

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