Monday, June 24, 2019

The VAE on WGUC's Music Cincinnati

Coming up this Sunday, June 30 at 8 p.m., 90.9 WGUC presents its Music Cincinnati series, this month spotlighting Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble. Just what exactly is the VAE and what can listeners expect to hear on this special from 90.9?

Since they were founded in 1979, the Vocal Arts Ensemble has sought to present passionate performances for diverse audiences. The chamber choir is currently led by Grammy Award-winning conductor Craig Hella Johnson, who is recognized as one of the nation’s leading choral conductors. Through a variety of innovative performances, the VAE seeks to increase the public’s appreciation for choral music.

What can you expect to hear this Sunday? The Music Cincinnati broadcast will feature the VAE performing twentieth-century choral repertoire conducted by the director of the May Festival Chorus, Robert Porco. The concert was recorded March 10, 2019 inside Memorial Hall in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine community. You’ll enjoy music including Arvo Pärt’s Psalm 117 and Doxology, Three Shakespeare Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and John Tavener’s moving Song for Athene. Followed by that, it’s daffodils, primroses, marsh flowers and more with Benjamin Britten’s Five Flower Songs. We’ll also hear the Night of Snow by Francis Poulenc. On the second half of the program, Maestro Porco leads the choir in Henryk Gorecki’s Totus Tuus and Four Motets on Gregorian Themes by Maurice Durufle. They conclude their program with selections from Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs.

This certainly is a program you won’t want to miss! It will be available on air, online at, and through our free mobile app June 30th at 8 p.m.! If you aren’t available when it airs, you can also access WGUC’s Music Cincinnati series archived at

Monday, June 17, 2019

Offenbach turns 200!

June 20, 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of Jacques Offenbach’s birth! To celebrate, I’ve selected a few favorites from his compositions and created a playlist for your enjoyment this week. What other Offenbach works do you enjoy?

Monday, June 10, 2019

Meet Jason Vieaux!

Grammy-winning classical guitarist Jason Vieaux can frequently be heard on 90.9 WGUC. He recently was featured on a new release from Naxos that contains music by Jonathan Leshnoff, including his Guitar Concerto. Jason recorded the piece alongside Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony – his first time with this orchestra. In a recent interview I had with Jason, he told me about how he prepared for this performance.

When I first heard this concerto, the second movement really stood out to me as something special. It’s meant to reflect the Jewish concept of Hod, or humility and features a very stripped-down orchestra so that the guitar soloist can really shine. Jason talked about working closely with the composer while rehearsing this movement in particular.

When I listened to the third movement, I was reminded of music by Joaquin Rodrigo. I asked if Rodrigo provided any inspiration for the piece.

The guitar is known to be difficult to compose for.

We talked about some of his favorites from the traditional guitar repertoire.    

He first came to play the guitar at a very young age.


Of course, I always love hearing the scoop on what these famous artists enjoying doing in their free time. Jason had a terrific answer.


Jonathan Leshnoff’s Guitar Concerto featuring Jason Vieaux was recently heard on WGUC’s New at Noon. If you missed it, don’t worry. It’s sure to become a regular in the rotation!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Meet Lara Downes!

Pianist Lara Downes released a new album titled Holes in the Sky earlier this year. It arrived to the WGUC music library just in time for us to feature it for Women’s History Month in March! This exciting new album from Sony Music Entertainment delves into music by women composers who have perhaps gotten lost in the shadows of the male giants throughout history. Ms. Downes presents this album alongside other female artists including Judy Collins, Simone Dinnerstein, Rachel Barton Pine, and more. But instead of listening to me ramble on about it – let’s hear from the artist herself. I had the privilege of chatting with Lara recently, and she told me how her new album came about.

There are quite a few women who have inspired her.

She talked about narrowing down the repertoire to include on the album.

She collaborated with Judy Collins.

I asked her if she’s ever found challenges to being a woman musician.

Lara will be the featured host on From the Top this week! Tune to 90.9 WGUC at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 8. You can also listen at or from our free mobile app!