CCM Preparatory Offers Performing Arts Experiences For All

University of Cincinnati CCM student perform during the CCM's Prep Year End Festival at College-Conservatory of Music. UC/Joseph Fuqua II

CCM Prep offers a wide variety of music, dance and theatre arts programs for youth, teens and adults. Register now or sign up for auditions for CCM Prep’s 2018-19 programs!

Arts enthusiasts of all ages and abilities are invited to register now for 2018-19 music, dance and theatre arts programs offered through Preparatory and Community Engagement at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (CCM Prep).

CCM Prep’s 2018-19 programs begin in September! Students and families can register online now for select performing arts experiences at ccm.uc.edu/prep.

CCM Prep provides enjoyable and accessible arts opportunities within a highly creative environment that educate and inspire the whole student — including youth, teens and adults. Courses are taught by CCM Prep faculty members and guest artists.

Registration is not yet open for the programs listed below that require auditions or placements. These will be open for registration after auditions and placement results are announced. Please see individual listings below to sign up for auditions or visit the CCM Prep website for audition information.

Visit CCM Prep’s website for complete program offerings: ccm.uc.edu/prep.

YOUTH PROGRAMS

ACTING: INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED (Ages 10-15)

Class begins on Sept. 8, 2018
Acting classes emphasize basic acting skills including improvisation, characterization, movement, vocal production, script analysis and scene study. All classes require audition or approval by instructor. New students must audition for placement within the Intermediate/Advanced Class.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/theatre_arts/classes
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BALLET (Ages 7-13)
Class begins on Sept. 4, 2018
Open ballet class for returning and new students! The philosophy of this program is that every student deserves careful and individualized training from qualified instructors. Classes are small and instructors are specially trained to teach for appropriate ages and skill levels. This class requires all students to audition for placement within the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/dance/classes
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CINCINNATI JUNIOR STRINGS (5th-9th grades)
Class begins on Sept. 16, 2018

Cincinnati Junior Strings is a high-achieving, performing orchestra designed to augment area private studios and public school string programs in training young players. This class requires all students to audition for acceptance into the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/music/ensemble/cjs
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JAZZ EXPLOSION! (7th-10th grades)
Class begins on Sept. 23, 2018

This ensemble is especially for students who have a strong interest in learning both jazz improvisation and authentic jazz styles. Open to any instrumentalist, but some limitations may be made for certain sections of the group. This class requires all students to audition for acceptance into the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/music/ensemble/Jazz
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JUNIOR CINCINNATI YOUTH WIND ENSEMBLE (6th-8th grades)
Class begins on Sept. 16, 2018

Junior CYWE is designed to be an enhancing and enriching experience for area students, and is designed to supplement (not replace)
students’ experience in their own school bands. This class requires all students to audition for acceptance into the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/music/ensemble/jrcywe
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JUNIOR MUSICAL THEATRE INTENSIVE (Ages 9-14)
Class begins on Sept. 8, 2018

Junior Musical Theatre Intensive (Jr. MTI) provides a challenging and disciplined educational experience for students ages 9-14 who have a special interest in musical theatre. The students receive instruction in audition preparation, vocal music, dance and performance technique while working toward a full-scale musical production. This class requires an online audition for acceptance into the program. Submit audition materials through CCM Prep’s Get Acceptd online portal by Aug. 17, 2018.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/theatre_arts/jrmti
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TEEN PROGRAMS


ACTING CERTIFICATE I & II (9th-12th grades)
Class begins on Sept. 8, 2018

Students will develop skills and processes essential for their work on stage, and take a variety of courses, including Shakespeare, characterization, movement, vocal technique, improvisation, scene work and Meisner Technique. This class requires all students to audition for acceptance into the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/theatre_arts/theatreprograms
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BALLET (Intermediate levels 5 and up)
Class begins on Sept. 8, 2018

Open ballet class for returning students, new placements and company auditions. The Youth Ballet Company performs two fully produced concerts each year. To audition for ballet companies, students must be enrolled in our leveled ballet classes. This class requires all students to audition for acceptance into the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/dance/ballet-companies
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CINCINNATI YOUTH JAZZ ORCHESTRA (10th-12th grades)
Class begins on Sept. 30, 2018

The Cincinnati Youth Jazz Orchestra offers a high-level challenge in a big band setting. Emphasis will be placed on developing professional musical, improvisational and performance skills. CYJO performs a wide array of styles within the big band genre, with performances held on and off campus. Members will also get opportunities to perform and work with local, collegiate and international jazz artists. Any student playing an instrument within standard big band instrumentation, as well as vocalists, are encouraged to audition for this group. This class requires all students to audition for acceptance into the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/music/ensemble/Jazz
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CINCINNATI YOUTH WIND ENSEMBLE (9th-12th grades)
Class begins on Sept. 16, 2018

In partnership with CCM’s Collegiate Wind Studies program and the Music Education division, CCM Preparatory presents the only wind ensemble for high school students in the greater Cincinnati area. This class requires all students to audition for acceptance into the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/music/ensemble/CYWE
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DANCE STYLES (Ages 10-18)
Class begins on Sept. 8, 2018

Open dance class for Dance Styles placement. Dance Styles is designed for the musical theatre and acting students. During this 90-minute weekly class, students will work in tap, musical theatre dance, fundamentals and/or street styles. This class requires all students to audition for placement within the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/dance/youth-dance
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HIGH SCHOOL JAZZ COMBO (10th-12th grades)
Class begins on Sept. 9, 2018

The members of the jazz combos will learn jazz standards and contemporary tunes with a primary emphasis on improvisation and small-group interaction. There will be on and off campus performance opportunities throughout the year. This class requires all students to audition for acceptance into the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/music/ensemble/Jazz
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HONORS HIGH SCHOOL ACTING (9th-12th grades)
Class begins on Sept. 8, 2018
High School Honors Acting is an intensive one year pre-professional/pre-collegiate program designed to create well-rounded, curious and thoughtful theatre artists. This class requires all students to audition for acceptance into the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/theatre_arts/theatreprograms
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MUSICAL THEATRE INTENSIVE (9th-12th grades)
Class begins on Sept. 8, 2018

Students serious about musical theatre are encouraged to audition for acceptance into CCM Prep’s Musical Theatre Intensive, which runs through May 2019. Training focuses on musical theatre dance, acting, vocal performance and seminar/rehearsal. Audition preparation is a major component, along with master classes and seminars led by working professional artists.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/theatre_arts/theatreprograms
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ADULT PROGRAMS

ADULT JAZZ COMBO (18 and up)
Class begins Sept. 23, 2018

The members of the jazz combos will learn jazz standards and contemporary tunes with a primary emphasis on improvisation and small-group interaction. There will be on- and off-campus performance opportunities throughout the year. This class requires all students to audition for acceptance into the program.
Audition and tuition information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/music/ensemble/Jazz
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NEW HORIZONS ORCHESTRA (Adults over 50)
Class begins on Sept. 8, 2018

New Horizons Music programs provide entry points to music-making for people over age 50, including those with no musical experience at all and adults who were active in school music programs, but have been inactive for a long period.
More information: ccm.uc.edu/prep/music/ensemble/horizons

CCM News Student Salutes

CCM Jazz Studies Alumni Accept Faculty Positions in Tennessee and Texas

Two CCM alumni have accepted faculty positions at major universities; Michael Schults (MM Jazz Studies, 2012) is now an Assistant Professor of Saxophone at the University of Memphis, and Thomas Zinninger (MM Jazz Studies, 2009; DMA Saxophone, 2013) is an Assistant Professor of Saxophone and Jazz at Texas A&M University–Kingsville.

Michael Shults

Michael Shults

For the past four years, Schults has been an Assistant Professor of Saxophone at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. During his time as a graduate student at CCM, he taught improvisation and coached jazz combos and bands. He studied with James Bunte, Rick VanMatre, Phil DeGreg and Kim Pensyl.

Shults was a finalist in the 2012 North American Saxophone Alliance Jazz Artist Competition and was the winner of the Graduate College Soloist category in the 2012 Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards Issue. He has performed by invitation as a featured soloist at the North American Saxophone Alliance biennial conference, the Jazz Education Network conference, the Wisconsin Music Educator’s Association conference and the Minnesota Music Educator’s Association conference.  He is a founding faculty member of the Kansas City Saxophone Workshop, along with Zach Shemon, alto saxophonist of the PRISM Quartet. Shults has also served on the faculty of the Eugene Rousseau Saxophone Workshop at Shell Lake Arts Center. He is currently the alto saxophone chair in the Coalescent Quartet.

Zinninger moves to Texas A&M-Kingsville from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, where he taught saxophone and led the jazz ensemble. He was both a graduate student and a faculty member while he was at CCM, where he taught courses in jazz improvisation and jazz appreciation.

His performance credits include the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Frank Simon Band, Chamber Winds of Louisville, Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, RL Big Band and the Don Krekel Orchestra. As a soloist, he premiered new arrangements for saxophone at the 16th World Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland as well as the 2012, 2014 and 2017 North American Saxophone Alliance Conferences.

Congratulations to both of these CCM graduates for their success!

Are you a CCM alum with news? Stay in touch by sharing your story with us!
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Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

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Samson McCrady in the title role of CCM's Mainstage Production of "Gianni Schicchi," directed by Andreas Hager.

CCM Opera and Voice Alumni Win Prestigious Fellowships

Samson McCrady in the title role of CCM's Mainstage Production of "Gianni Schicchi," directed by Andreas Hager.

CCM Voice alumnus Samson McCrady in the title role of CCM’s Mainstage Production of Gianni Schicchi, directed by CCM Opera alumnus Andreas Hager.

Two of CCM’s stars of tomorrow recently received prestigious positions in the world of opera. Alumnus Andreas Hager (AD Opera Directing, 2018) was awarded one of two JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellowships from the National Opera Association. Additionally, Washington National Opera selected CCM Voice alumnus Samson McCrady, baritone, to fill one of only 11 spots for vocalists in its prestigious Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. Cincinnati audiences saw their artistry in action during CCM’s recent Mainstage production of Gianni Schicchi, in which McCrady performed the title role and Hager directed.

Hager was selected as a JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellow for his summer 2018 work with Wolf Trap Opera, during which he will assist on productions of Idomeneo and Rigoletto. The fellowship includes a stipend to attend an opera stage directing program, and the opportunity to offer a presentation on their fellowship experience at a subsequent NOA National Conference.

Hager’s directorial work spans opera, film, theatre and alternate reality games. Recent directing credits include Il barbiere di Siviglia (Houston Grand Opera), Gianni Schicchi (CCM) and La belle Hélène (Opera North). In addition, he has worked with Opera Philadelphia, the New York Philharmonic, Cincinnati Opera and Opera Columbus. He recently graduated from CCM with an Artist Diploma in Opera Directing and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Cinema Studies from Oberlin College, where he also studied piano performance. He is a winner of Opera America’s Director-Designer Showcase and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.

As a Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist, McCrady will perform the roles of Elk/Camel/Butcher in Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me, Wagner in Gounod’s Faust and Sciarrone in Puccini’s Tosca during the Washington National Opera’s 2018-19 season. McCrady will also sing in WNO’s “A Concert of Comic Masterpieces.”

Because many young artists return for a second season, the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program only accepts a handful of new vocalists each season. This year the program welcomed seven new singers and four returning singers, as well as one new and one returning pianist, out of hundreds of applicants.

The artists in this program have an abundance of performance opportunities, including extensive performances at the Kennedy Center and in community-oriented events. They participate in the WNO’s major performances as supporting characters, including free preview performances that will be live streamed on the Kennedy Center’s website.

McCrady and the other Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists will also perform in recitals in Washington, D.C. art galleries and museums, as well as a series of master classes at the Kennedy Center and elsewhere. They will be seen onstage during the WNO’s American Opera Initiative Festival, during which they will have the opportunity to work with living composers and librettists on brand-new works.

Additionally, the program has an exchange program with Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre Young Artists Opera Program, which includes a few students from each program visiting the other and performing with their newfound peers.  Next summer, the WNO will send several of its young artists to Moscow for this exchange, culminating in two concerts with the Bolshoi Theatre’s young artists.

During his time at CCM, McCrady studied with Voice Professor Bill McGraw. He performed the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, the King of Scotland in Handel’s Ariodante and Jesus in a staged version of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Outside of CCM, McCrady performed the Mandarin in a semi-staged version of Puccini’s Turandot (Kentucky Symphony Orchestra), Alidoro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Queen City Opera), Edward G. Robinson in Robert Xavier-Rodriguez’s Frida (Cincinnati Opera) and Geronimo in Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto (Cincinnati Chamber Opera). Before he came to CCM, McCrady received a Bachelor of Music from Roberts Wesleyan College.

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CCM Sound Design Alumnus Matthew Tibbs Named Visiting Assistant Professor

Matthew Tibbs

CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung has announced the appointment of Matthew Tibbs to the position of Visiting Assistant Professor of Sound Design. Tibbs’ appointment will officially begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

A sound designer with experience in live performance, film and advertising, Tibbs’ nearly 100 sound designs have been seen on stages nationally, including in New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Portland. His film work has been seen at national and international film festivals and his advertising work has been distributed on the West Coast in local and regional TV markets.

Tibbs’ theatrical sound design has been featured at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Theatre Company, the Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee, New York City’s Fresh Fruit Festival and Utah Shakespeare Festival. For the past seven years, Tibbs has regularly designed for the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Minnesota.

An experienced educator, Tibbs most recently served on the faculty of Ball State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance. He previously spent three years as Resident Sound Designer for the Pioneer Theatre Company and served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Utah. He has also taught as visiting faculty at Pacific University and as a graduate assistant at CCM.

Tibbs is a member of the designers’ union United Scenic Artists Local 829 and serves as a secretary for the Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association (TSDCA).

He holds a MFA in Sound Design from CCM (2007) and a BA in Communication Arts from George Fox University (2004).

On the announcement of Tibbs’ appointment, mcclung commented:

“CCM alumnus Matthew Tibbs’ extensive professional experience as a sound designer for such companies as the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Great River Shakespeare Festival and Indiana Repertory Theatre will be valuable for CCM’s BFA and MFA students.”

Please join us in welcoming Matthew Tibbs to the CCM family!

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Two Cincinnati Middle School Students Win Grants to Attend the CCM Experience Camp

Two Cincinnati students who participated in the Educational Theatre Association’s JumpStart Theatre program will have the opportunity to attend the CCM Experience performing arts camp at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Thanks to a generous gift to CCM from the Cincinnati Symphony Club, JumpStart Theatre students Keyshawn Townsend from Aiken New Tech High School and Tychod “Jay” Smith from Oyler School will each receive a grant that will cover camp tuition for the students to attend July 9-20.

Tychod “Jay” Smith at JumpStart Theatre.

Tychod “Jay” Smith at JumpStart Theatre.

JumpStart Theatre is a three-year scalable program designed to bring musical theatre into schools that currently do not have a performing arts program, created by the Cincinnati-based national association, Educational Theatre Association, in collaboration with New York City-based companies iTheatrics and Music Theatre International (MTI). Townsend and Smith participated in the program during the 2017-18 school year, which culminated in a showcase performance at Memorial Hall in May.

CCM has contributed to JumpStart Theatre by sharing resources of costumes and props for student productions. The two organizations are also connected through CCM Preparatory and Community Engagement (CCM Prep) instructors Becca Kloha Strand and Dee Anne Bryll, who are both program coordinators at JumpStart Theatre. Strand is the director of the musical theatre track at the CCM Experience, where Bryll is a guest artist. CCM Prep Coordinator of Special Projects and Programs Amy Dennison is the director of the summer arts camp.

Keyshawn Townsend at JumpStart Theatre.

Keyshawn Townsend at JumpStart Theatre.

Strand said, “Keyshawn performed the role of Horton the Elephant in Seussical, Jr. last year at Aiken New Tech, as a part of the JumpStart Theatre program. As a leader both on stage and off, he truly embodied the role of Horton. The CCM Experience camp will be a wonderful opportunity for Keyshawn to exercise and grow his talents as a younger performer.”

Tiffaney Hamm, enrichment program manager at Oyler said, “Tychod is a special young man with a lot of talent. We chose him for this camp because his dream is to perform on stage, as he wants to have a life of acting and performing. This was Jay’s first year at Oyler and he came alive, forming great connections with his cast mates and peers. He continues to work hard in school even when obstacles get in the way. He is a really great kid, and I am proud to have him as a student.”

Offered through CCM Prep, the CCM Experience is an exciting new two-week summer program that combines dance, theatre and music for students ages 8-15. Students study at one of the finest performing arts schools in the country and take classes in multiple areas of concentration including instrumental music, acting, musical theatre, voice or dance. Each day students will have the opportunity to try something new, take a tour, make their own props, costumes and instruments, and learn more about how to be a professional artist. The program culminates with a fantastic showcase where students are put front and center on one of CCM’s stages.

“We look forward to our first CCM Experience Camp and are excited to welcome the two Cincinnati Symphony Club scholarship recipients from JumpStart Theatre,” said John Martin, Assistant Dean of CCM Preparatory and Community Engagement. “CCM Prep, the Cincinnati Symphony Club and the Educational Theatre Association share the same goal — to support excellence in the performing arts and provide engaging and accessible arts education to the community at large.”

Learn more about the Educational Theatre Association online at schooltheatre.org/about/mission.

About Jumpstart Theatre
The JumpStart Theatre pilot started in Cincinnati in the 2015-16 school year, and three schools moved to self-sustainability this year after completing three years in the program: Holmes Middle School, Finneytown Middle School, and James N. Gamble Montessori High School. In November 2017, the first expansion to St. Louis and San Diego was announced, and in June, 2018 an expansion to Atlanta for the 2019-20 school year was announced. In total 39 middle schools will have sustainable musical theatre programs where there previously were none.

About CCM Preparatory and Community Engagement
CCM Prep offers a wide variety of programs in music, dance and theatre arts for all ages and levels — pre-professional students preparing for a future in the performing arts and arts enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. Programs are offered throughout the year for youth, teens and adults at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and through numerous satellite locations and community partnerships. We aim to provide excellent and accessible arts opportunities within a highly creative environment that educates and inspires the whole student, serving as a catalyst for transforming and empowering our communities. Learn more at ccm.uc.edu/prep or contact CCM Prep directly by emailing ccmprep@uc.edu or calling 513-556-2595.

CCM News Student Salutes

CCM Welcomes Judith Mikita As Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance

Judith Mikita

CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung has announced the appointment of Judith Mikita to the position of Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance, with a focus in modern choreography. Mikita has served as an adjunct dance instructor at CCM for more than 20 years. Her new appointment will officially begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

Mikita is a choreographer and performer with more than 30 years of professional experience. Her choreography has been presented by the American Dance Festival, the New York International Independent Film Festival, Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center and the Biagiotti Art Gallery in Florence, Italy, among others. She has also choreographed for Cincinnati’s Contemporary Dance Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cleveland Fringe Festival, Covington’s Carnegie Art Center and New York’s White Mountain Dance Festival.

As an artist and educator, Mikita has served on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Columbia College and Antioch College and as artist-in-residence at Wright State University and the University of Utah. She has also choreographed at Miami University, Northern Kentucky University and Interlochen Center for the Arts.

As a performer, Mikita has toured nationally with the Chicago-based dance companies of Shirley Mordine, Jan Erkert and Bob Eisen. She has worked with Martha Clarke of Pilobolus Dance Theatre, Lucas Hoving of the José Limón Dance Company, Marnie Thomas of the Martha Graham Dance Company and Gus Solomons, Jr. of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Mikita is a founding member of the Greater Cincinnati Dance Alliance and has served on the board of directors for OhioDance and Cincinnati’s Contemporary Dance Theater. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance from Indiana University and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from University of Michigan.

On the announcement of Mikita’s appointment, mcclung commented:

“Judith Mikita’s extensive experience in modern dance and professional work with arts institutions, festivals and dance companies throughout the country will benefit CCM’s BFA students in refining their contemporary dance technique.”

Please join us in welcoming Judith Mikita to the CCM family!

CCM News Faculty Fanfare

Sensory Percussion: Q&A with Alumnus Ben Sloan on His Work with The National

Ben Sloan is a musician, producer and teacher who is passionate about making music accessible to all. Last year People’s Liberty awarded the CCM alumnus with a $10,000 grant to build Percussion Park in East Price Hill. This year he’s experimenting with sensory percussion, which led to a performance as Artist-in-Residence at The National’s Homecoming Music Festival in April and a short tour with the rock band.

Ben Sloan. Photo by Ryan Back.

Ben Sloan. Photo by Ryan Back.

Sloan (BM Jazz Studies, 2011) is grateful for the opportunity to tour with The National and thinks they will work together again in the future. He’s now on a two-week tour with local ensemble A Delicate Motor, which releases a new album Fellover My Own on June 29. Later this summer, Sloan will travel to Berlin to participate in an experimental music festival called PEOPLE.

When he isn’t performing, Sloan works as a teaching artist at MYCincinnati, an after school youth orchestra program directed by CCM alumnus Eddy Kwon (BM Jazz Studies, 2011). He teaches the pre-orchestra students, ages 5-10, in a class that combines singing, movement and percussion.

We caught up with the busy alumnus to talk about his work with sensory percussion and his experience with The National.

What is sensory percussion? When did you start working it?
Sensory Percussion is amazing, and that’s about 90% of what you need to know. It was developed by Sunhouse, and though it’s making the rounds with musicians all over, it is still a relatively new technology. Sensory Percussion is essentially a collection of sensors (you can use up to four), which attach to a drum. Using a corresponding software, the sensors analyze the vibrations of the drum to determine where the player is hitting, i.e. the center, the rim, the shell, the edge, etc.

It’s up to the player to “teach” the sensors how and where one prefers to hit the drum — it is a very individualized system. This “mapping” of the drum allows the player to specifically pinpoint quadrants of the drum and assign samples, midi data, effects and a host of other functions. The result is a totally dynamic and fluid interplay between electronic, sample-based sound and acoustic drumming. I’ve had the sensors for about a year now, and over the past few months I’ve been really digging into them. They are so powerful, it’s incredible. I think the open ended nature of the software, makes the sensors so compelling. No one really sounds the same, because it’s up to the player to set the musical palette and craft the sounds.

How do you incorporate sensory percussion in your work with music groups and local projects?
Since they are still a bit new, I haven’t fully utilized them with any projects other than my own. For the longest time I sort of felt that the music I created through recording and manipulating samples wouldn’t or couldn’t be realized in a live context, but with the sensors, I can take a lot of that material and produce it live, or even embellish the sound. They are just really dynamic instruments.

I’ve brought them to MYCincinnati for our students to use, but because this technology is so new and exciting to play it makes normal drums less enticing. I have to win them back over by playing something really fast or loud — it only kind of works.

You also brought this percussion style to the National’s Homecoming Festival. How did you get involved in the festival?
I ended up using sensory percussion pretty heavily at Homecoming. I was working with A Delicate Motor ensemble to write a set of new music, but I knew I wanted to do something entirely on my own, which was impetus for writing some music with the sensors. The process was an endless tweaking of a sound palette until I could improvise an entire piece. From those improvisations, I would distill whatever I thought was good, and cut out the rest.

I got involved with the festival through Bryan Devendorf, drummer of The National. He’s always been inviting, and over the years we’ve gotten to know each other a bit. He reached out to meet while I was touring with the band WHY? and since then we’ve stayed in touch. He asked if I would be interested in being this year’s artist-in-residence at the Homecoming Music Festival, something they hadn’t done in the past, and I said ‘yes, like duh, of course!’

What was performing with The National at the festival like? Any plans to reconnect with The National in the future?
It was affirming. I spend a lot of time being critical of my work and my abilities, but when artists on that level invite me to play, it’s feels like a major validation of the hours put in. It’s also time to step up and not look like a doofus on stage! I mean, I totally ‘look’ like a doofus, cause that’s how drummers look when they play, but I think it sounded good.

Ben Sloan at The National's Homecoming Festival in April 2018.

Ben Sloan at The National’s Homecoming Festival in April 2018.

After the Sunday night show, The National invited me out for a short tour, so I ended up hopping on the bus for a few days with them. It was a treat to spend some time with the band, and see everything behind the scenes — touring on that scale is crazy! They had such a big crew, all of whom were kind and patient. I’m still reflecting on it all. I’m just grateful. I’m not sure how or when, but I think we will work together again!

What else are you working on right now?
A Delicate Motor started a two-week tour on June 18. We have a lot of momentum from the festival, and the record Fellover My Own is due to be released on Sofaburn later this month. Our album release is June 29 at Northside Tavern. I’m trying to invest as much time in my solo project as possible. It’s still so fresh, but I hope to put out an EP in the coming months.

Later this summer, Price Hill Will/MYCincinnati, in collaboration with The Contemporary Arts Center is hosting the third annual Price Hill Creative Community Festival, which is an ever-evolving and beautiful festival. Each year we host artists-in-residence to work collaboratively with MYC students for two very intense weeks. Along with the artists in residence, the festival curates a huge array of great performers to come do their thing. This year we are hosting cellist and composer Tomeka Reid, who has cultivated some powerful momentum in the Chicago improvisation and jazz scene. I strongly encourage you to go check her work immediately! We also have Josiah Wolf (CCM alum), multi-disciplinary arts collective Collaborative, Jarrod Cann and Paradox Teatro. The full list of artists, and their work is listed online at creativecommunityfestival.org/artists.

That Price Hill Creative Community Festival usually consumes me in the best possible way. It’s happening on August 3-4, the performances are unique and sometimes challenging, it’s all ages, we have great local food and admission completely free!

 

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