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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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CCM Celebrates 2020 Faculty Retirements

As the 2019-20 academic year comes to a close, UC’s College-Conservatory of Music celebrates the careers of five retiring faculty members who have given nearly 124 years of combined service to the college. These members of the CCM family have dedicated themselves to continuing the college’s legacy as a leading training center for the performing and media arts:

  • Earl Rivers, professor of music and director of choral studies, 1973-2020
  • Dean Mogle, professor and head of costume design and technology, 1989-2020
  • Alan Siebert, professor of trumpet, 1990-2020
  • Mark Williams, professor of lighting design and technology, 2009-20
  • Stephen Allee, professor of music, 2015-20

Please join us in saluting their years of service to the CCM community!


Earl Rivers conducts CCM’s 2018 performance of J.S. Bach’s “St. John Passion” at Cincinnati’s Knox Presbyterian Church. Photo/Andrew Higley

Earl Rivers arrived at CCM as a DMA student in September 1970. During his first month at the college, he remembers joining other student conductors and the May Festival Chorus to welcome incoming Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Thomas Schippers with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem at Music Hall. He has since presented numerous choral masterworks with students at CCM and throughout Greater Cincinnati.

“My favorite memories at CCM include the staged productions we accomplished of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion, and of Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake — all staged by talented student directors in CCM’s Opera Stage Directing Artist Diploma Program,” Rivers says. “These productions prepared CCM’s student singers, instrumentalists, conductors, and technical theatre majors to become leaders in the next generation of performers in staged productions of concert works and oratorios.”


Dean Mogle displays his costume designs for CCM’s 2016 production of “Swan Lake.” Photo/Becky Butts

After 31 years at CCM with nearly 150 costume design graduates and more than 300 supervised staged productions, Dean Mogle has too many memories to single out only a few. “The richness of student talent over the years has elevated all of us to new heights in training,” he says.

“I am most proud as our students take their rightful places in this country’s most prestigious theatre, opera and dance organizations, as well as Broadway, motion pictures and television productions,” Mogle adds. “Over the years, the incredibly dedicated professional staff and faculty have mentored each student toward their full potential and guided them into their chosen areas of this profession. Whether designing, assisting, managing, making or dressing, our students are admired by the profession for their talents, skills and dedication — hallmarks of CCM.”


Alan Siebert and Bryan Crisp snap a selfie behind-the-scene of Crisp’s Music On Purpose podcast. Photo/Bryan Crisp

Alan Siebert’s favorite memories of are watching students succeed, whether at a recital, conference or on stage. Over the years, he has celebrated students’ accomplishments near and far — in performances in Cincinnati as well as all over the world including Bangkok, Thailand.  He remembers trying to livestream a broadcast of students performing at the National Trumpet Competition in Texas when he and his wife were driving home from one of his own concerts. They pulled into the parking lot of a shopping center, sat in their car and watched the performance on his phone so they could cheer them on from afar.

“I also love performing with my former students,” adds Siebert, who recently reunited with former student Bryan Crisp (MM, ’05) to talk about his career on Crisp’s Music On Purpose podcast. “Whether it’s in a recital, orchestra or chamber music setting. It is always gratifying to see them years later and marvel at how well they have done, knowing that you had a small part in that development. I have had great colleagues and students at CCM and also many wonderful opportunities because of CCM.”


Mark Williams coordinated the BOOM! lighting display at CCM’s 2020 Moveable Feast. Photo/Quinn Villarreal

Mark Williams is the instructor and coordinator behind CCM’s annual BOOM! lighting showcase, a dazzling stage lighting and technical production display by students in his Moving Light Programming course. The event inspired the “Light Their Way” theme at CCM’s 2020 Moveable Feast fundraiser.

Former student Oliver Littleton (BFA, ’19) remembers taking Williams’ Moving Light Programming course and how it challenged him to examine his design process and use lighting technology in new ways. “The training from Mark’s course is something I use all the time in my work now,” said Littleton, who began working as a lighting design intern at Walt Disney World during his final year at CCM.


CCM faculty members Kim Pensyl, Stephen Allee, Craig Bailey and Scott Belck in Brazil during CCM’s residency with JALCO. Photo/Stephen Allee

A pianist, composer and arranger, Stephen Allee has spent more than 35 years working primarily as a jazz instructor as well as writing and performing for syndicated radio programs, network TV and motion pictures. Over the summer, he traveled with the CCM Jazz Orchestra to São Paulo, Brazil for an international residency with Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. CCM’s Department of Jazz Studies was named Jazz at Lincoln Center‘s inaugural College Affiliate, a distinction reserved for the country’s top-ranked jazz programs.

More recently, Allee worked with fellow CCM faculty member Rusty Burge and musicians Steve Houghton, Rob Dixon and Jeremy Allen to release BAHAD in January 2020. Allee wrote the title track of the record, which is available to stream online.

“My experience in the Jazz Studies Department at CCM has been nothing short of amazing,” Allee says. “Our students have grown by leaps and bounds, nurtured by the encouraging atmosphere in our department.”

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CCM Announces Michael Mergen as New Associate Professor of Trumpet

CCM Dean Stanley E. Romanstein has announced the addition of acclaimed trumpeter/cornetist Michael Mergen to the college’s roster of distinguished performance faculty members. Mergen’s appointment as Associate Professor of Trumpet begins on Aug. 15, 2020.

A portrait of new CCM faculty member Michael Mergen holding a trumpet.Known for his strong and beautiful sound, Mergen is currently a member of the trumpet/cornet section of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. He also performs with the Blossom Festival Band in Ohio and is a founding member of Valor Brass. In addition, Mergen has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., the Washington Symphonic Brass, the Singapore Symphony in the Republic of Singapore, the Harrisburg Symphony in Pennsylvania and the Choral Arts Society of Washington. He was a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, and attended the Aspen Music Festival. He has worked with conductors Seiji Ozawa, Leonard Slatkin, Osmo Vanska, John Williams and Bramwell Tovey.

Dedicated to education, Mergen currently serves as guest artist and applied faculty at the Penn State Honors Music Institute teaching trumpet. In addition, he has given numerous master classes at world-class institutions including The Juilliard School, University of Michigan, Eastman School of Music, University of Illinois and many others. He has brought his passion for music education to middle and high schools in the Washington D.C. area as part of the Marine Band’s “Music in the Schools Initiative,” formulating a rich program for brass quintets, which he has led in numerous performances. Mergen also maintains a studio of private trumpet students.

As an active soloist, Mergen’s solo performances include numerous appearances with the “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band and most recently with the Allentown Band, which was televised in Pennsylvania. He sounded Taps for the White House moment of silence in observance of 9/11 in 2018 and 2019 as well as the 2017 nationally televised Memorial Day Concert at the US Capitol. He also co-commissioned Hanging by a Thread, a four-movement work for solo trumpet and solo tuba with wind ensemble by James Stephenson and with his brother Paul gave the U.S. premiere with the DePauw University Concert Band in 2018. Recordings of his solo performances can be heard on both the “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band YouTube channel and website. Additional non-solo recordings include numerous volumes of the U.S. Marine Band’s annual recording as well as the Valor Brass recording Inaugural.

Mergen began his musical journey at age nine. His early studies included The Juilliard School Pre-College and the Kinhaven Music School summer program. He received his Bachelor in Music degree in both Trumpet Performance and Music Education from the University of Michigan, his Master of Music degree in Trumpet Performance from Eastman School of Music, and he completed the Doctor of Music Arts degree in Performance from The Catholic University of America in 2008. He is honored to have studied with Charles Daval, Charles Geyer and the late Armando Ghitalla.

A lifelong learner, when not performing or teaching, Mergen further channels his passion for music into creating arrangements for brass quintet and trumpet ensemble, and exploring the history of the trumpet and cornet.

“Michael Mergen is a superb addition to our faculty and a wonderful successor to our distinguished colleague Professor Alan Siebert, who retires this spring after a nearly 30-year tenure at CCM,” said Romanstein. “Michael’s expertise as both an international performing artist and an accomplished educator will help us continue to prepare future generations of students for positions on the world stage. I am grateful to Trumpet Search Committee Chair Scott Belck and committee members Sandra Rivers, Denise Tryon, Timothy Anderson and Timothy Northcut for their work finding CCM’s next great trumpet professor.”

Please join us in welcoming Professor Mergen to the CCM family!

About CCM

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

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

CCM’s world-class facilities provide a highly creative and multidisciplinary artistic environment. In 2017, the college completed a $15-million renovation of its major performance spaces, ensuring that CCM’s facilities remain state-of-the-art.

The school’s roster of eminent faculty regularly receives distinguished honors for creative and scholarly work, and its alumni have achieved notable success in the performing and media arts.

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

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CCM Now Accepting Applications for Graduate Brass Quintet Fellowship

CCM Now Accepting Applications for Brass Quintet Fellowship

CCM is now accepting applications for its inaugural Graduate Brass Quintet. This prestigious Fellowship Program is open to highly qualified trumpet, horn, trombone and tuba players. Pre-formed Quintets are preferred but not required.

The members of CCM’s Graduate Brass Quintet Fellowship program will receive full tuition scholarship support and a graduate assistantship stipend of $8,000 per academic year. Fellows must be enrolled in a two-year Master of Music (MM) or Artist Diploma (AD) program at CCM.

Fellows will receive guidance from CCM’s illustrious faculty members including Phil Collins, Alan Siebert, Tim Anderson, Peter Norton and Tim Northcut, as well as guest artists like Alison Balsom, Warren Deck, the American Brass Quintet, the Army Band Brass Quintet and Harmonic Brass.

The Graduate Brass Quintet will coach undergraduate winds and brass chamber ensembles. The Quintet will give full recitals on campus and must attend one chamber music competition per year with available travel funding assistance.

Brass Studies at CCM connects students to a powerful network of nationally and internationally renowned teachers and performers. Our graduates draw on this network to begin their own careers as soloists, chamber musicians, teachers and players with major symphony orchestras and premier military bands.

Application Requirements
CCM is now accepting applications for Fall 2018. A complete application includes an online application, transcript(s), letters of recommendation, 500-word personal statement and a live interview at CCM. The application deadline is Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. Learn more at ccm.uc.edu/apply.

2018 Audition Dates at CCM

  • Pre-formed Quintets: Feb. 16-17
  • Trumpet: Feb. 16-17
  • Horn: Jan. 13 & 27
  • Trombone: Jan. 13 & 27, Feb. 17
  • Tuba: Feb. 16

Additional Information
For more information, please contact CCM Admissions at 513-556-9478 or email ccmadmis@uc.edu.

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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 www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2015/10/7/0730/PM/Tromba-Mundi.

Learn  more about CCM’s world-class faculty members by visiting ccm.uc.edu/about/villagenews/faculty.

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CCM Alumna Marie Speziale to Receive Pioneer Award at International Women’s Brass Conference

CCM alumna Marie Speziale (BM, 1964).

CCM alumna Marie Speziale (BM, 1964).

We are thrilled to report that CCM alumna and former faculty member Marie Speziale (BM, 1964) will be presented with a Pioneer Award at the International Women’s Brass Conference (IWBC) at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 4, at Northern Kentucky University’s Greaves Hall.

Acknowledged as the first woman trumpeter in a major symphony orchestra, Speziale served as Associate Principal Trumpet with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for 32 years, from 1964 until her retirement in November of 1996. At this year’s conference, she will be honored as a musician whose career and spirit exemplifies the goals and traditions of the IWBC. Congratulations!

At each IWBC, beginning with the first in 1993, the IWBC has recognized women who have been pioneers in the top levels of brass performance, breaking down barriers and living their lives effecting change for those who followed. A full list of past award recipients may be found on the IWBC web site at myiwbc.org/about/iwbc-pioneers.

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LISTEN: WVXU Features Interview With Jon Faddis About 2013 Carmine Caruso Jazz Trumpet Competition

Acclaimed jazz trumpet player Jon Faddis.

Acclaimed jazz trumpet player Jon Faddis.

WVXU contributor Chris Comer recently spoke with acclaimed jazz trumpet player Jon Faddis about the International Trumpet Guild’s 2013 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition.

You can listen to audio of the entire interview here.

The world’s finest jazz trumpet players will compete for $15,000 in total prizes during this prestigious competition, which is sponsored by the Herb Alpert Foundation. This year’s proceedings will culminate with a free gala concert on Sept. 14, featuring performances by the finalists and the acclaimed judges, with accompaniment by the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra. Learn more about the Competition and related events here.

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CCM Hosts the International Trumpet Guild’s 2013 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Competition

CCM proudly presents the final round of the 2013 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Competition on Sept. 14.

CCM proudly presents the final round of the 2013 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Competition on Sept. 14.

The world’s best up-and-coming jazz trumpet players will converge at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) this month to compete for $15,000 in total prizes during the International Trumpet Guild‘s 2013 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, hosted by the Herb Alpert Foundation.

From a pool of 32 contenders hailing from all four corners of the globe, five finalists will strive to craft the most creative solos in exciting displays of virtuosity and artistry during the Competition’s Final Round, which will take place from 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. This event is free and open to the general public, and it will also be streamed live on Livestream (link below).

Three of the most famous and successful jazz trumpet performers of the last 40 years will judge this year’s competition, including:

  • Byron Stripling, artistic director of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, who has had a long performance career with some of the best bands in the world, including the GRP All-Star Band, the Count Basie Orchestra and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band;
  • Bobby Shew, internationally renowned soloist and designer of the popular 8310Z Yamaha trumpet, who has performed with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the Buddy Rich Big Band and Maynard Ferguson’s Big Band among others; and
  • Jon Faddis, often likened to Dizzy Gillespie, a former member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra who has shared the stage with musicians such as Charles Mingus, Oscar Peterson and Lionel Hampton.

In honor of the legendary brass pedagogue and author for whom the competition is named, the Competition’s Final Round will be preceded by a Caruso Clinic at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, in CCM’s Cohen Family Studio Theater. Clinicians Vince DiMartino and Liesl Whitaker will lead this stimulating session, which is free and open to the public.

Following the final round of the competition, CCM Jazz will present a Gala Concert, complete with performances by the finalists, judges and clinicians. The Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra will accompany the soloists, led by artistic director and CCM Jazz Studies director Scott Belck, DMA. This exciting event is also free and will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14 in Corbett Auditorium.

About the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition
First held in 1993, the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Competition is considered the most prestigious competition for jazz trumpeters in the world. Held every two years, the competition is sponsored by the International Trumpet Guild and supported by a grant from the Herb Alpert Foundation. CCM faculty members Scott Belck, Kim Pensyl and Alan Siebert serve as hosts of this year’s competition. Past winners include Blue Note recording artist Ambrose Akinmusire, Jason Palmer and Benny Benack. Learn more about this year’s competition by visiting uc.edu/events/caruso.

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CCM Jazz Welcomes Special Guest Steven Bernstein For Evening of James Bond Film Music on March 10

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CCM’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab Band welcome guest artist and guest composer Steven Bernstein for a concert that is guaranteed to be “Shaken, Not Stirred” at 007 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, in UC’s Corbett Auditorium.

“Special agents” from CCM’s award-winning Lighting Design program will help present this evening of James Bond film music with a dynamic and colorful twist. Scott Belck and Dominic Marino conduct.

“Shaken, Not Stirred” features Bernstein’s adaptations of composer John Barry’s iconic and legendary James Bond film scores. Barry, who died in January 2011 at the age of 77, scored 11 James Bond films between 1963 and ’87. He composed a number of other highly acclaimed film scores, including those for Dances with Wolves and Out of Africa, both Grammy Award winners.

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CCM Jazz Department Celebrates the Music of Louis Armstrong

Jazz trumpeter Byron Stripling joins CCM Jazz on Sunday, Feb. 17.

Jazz trumpeter Byron Stripling joins CCM Jazz on Sunday, Feb. 17.

Celebrated jazz trumpeter Byron Stripling joins the CCM Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab Band for a concert tribute to brilliant jazz virtuoso Louis Armstrong at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17, in UC’s Corbett Auditorium. Scott Belck and Dominic Marino conduct.

Hear the hits of the legendary “Satchmo” and his hometown of New Orleans brought to life as Stripling joins CCM’s big bands on stage for one night only. Tickets are on sale now.

Below, watch Stripling perform “Shine” in a previous concert tribute to Louis Armstrong.

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