Monday, December 28, 2020

Listening In Every Possible Way To Every Possible Thing

by Elaine Diehl



“Listening is not the same as hearing and hearing is not the same as listening.” – Pauline Oliveros


The Response Project is a commissioning initiative that asks composers and artists to create new music usually for the piano and new works of many disciplines in response to a preexisting artwork or idea.

Premiering in January 2021: Five Cincinnati arts and community-building organizations create a city-wide response to Pauline Oliveros' Sonic Meditations. The Project includes 4 new films + art show exploring music and mindfulness in historic Cincinnati buildings.

Dr. Brianna Matzke is the Artistic Director as well as pianist on much of the music. She chatted with WGUC’s Elaine Diehl about the Project.

Monday, December 21, 2020

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Every year, one of the most anticipated and well-loved holiday programs we bring you on WGUC is the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from the chapel of King’s College in Cambridge, England. This is one of the few specials we air twice a season because you have made it a part of your Christmas celebration.

King's Choir and College

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
, a program of Bible stories and traditional carols, was first held at King’s College on Christmas Eve 1918 with a chorus comprised partly of Chorus Scholars and partly by older Lay Clerks. Since 1927, the voices you hear are fourteen of the college’s undergraduates.

The order of the service was rearranged in 1919 and new carols have been introduced in the intervening years, but the backbone of the service has remained virtually unchanged. One thing you can always count on is the service’s opening carol will be “Once in royal David’s city” – that has remained the same since 1919.

Other churches have created their own versions and King’s College has received copies of services held in far flung parts of the world, proving how the tradition started in 1918 has been adopted by church communities around the globe.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was first heard on the radio in 1928 and there’s only been one year since then, 1930, when it was not broadcast. Even during World War II, when the chapel had no glass or heat, the broadcasts continued. The BBC began airing the program overseas the early 1930’s. Today, millions of listeners worldwide enjoy the service, plus there have been periodic TV broadcasts and recordings.

Please enjoy this video, created last year during the 100th anniversary of this beloved Christmas event: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

WGUC will air A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Cambridge on Christmas Eve at 10 a.m. and the encore on Christmas Day at 4 p.m. You can listen on-air on 90.9, online at wguc.org, on the free WGUC app, or by asking your smart speaker to Play WGUC.

Monday, December 14, 2020

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEETHOVEN!!!

Beethoven, 250 years ago this month, was born on the banks of the Rhine in Bonn, Germany. There is no authentic record of the exact date of his birth; however, the registry of his Baptism on the 17th of December 1770, survives, and the custom in the region at the time was to carry out baptism within 24 hours of birth. There is a consensus, (with which Beethoven himself agreed) that his birth date was December 16th, but there’s no documentary proof of this.

Of the seven children in the family only Ludwig, the second-born, and two younger brothers survived infancy.

Beethoven's first music teacher was his father, Johann. The regime was harsh and intensive, often reducing the young pianist to tears. There were irregular late-night sessions, with the young Beethoven being awakened and dragged from his bed to the keyboard.

His musical talent was obvious at a young age. Ludwig’s father, aware of Leopold Mozart’s successes at promoting his son Wolfgang and daughter Nannerl, attempted to promote his own son as a child prodigy, claiming that Beethoven was six (he was actually seven) on the posters for his first public performance in March 1778.

Pianist Stewart Goodyear became aware of Beethoven at a very early age and immediately fell in love with his music and recently Goodyear has, on several occasions, performed all of the Beethoven piano sonatas — 32 sonatas in a single day!

Monday, December 7, 2020

MON AMI, Mon Amour: the new CD by Matt Haimovitz and Mari Kodama

 “We played the music of French masters to our heart’s content…the memories of friendships and once again being transported to this pictorial sound world, takes me out of the oppression of this moment.

-Matt Haimovitz

The new album, “MON AMI, Mon Amour,” by Cellist Matt Haimovitz with Pianist Mari Kodama, was released on November 6, 2020. Mr. Haimovitz talks about the recording process in remarks posted below, and in greater detail throughout the gorgeous, full-color booklet accompanying the disc. The entire CD was recorded in four days in June 2019 at the legendary Skywalker Sound Studio. 

Matt Haimovitz and Mari Kodama

The Artists chose all French composers, much of the music framing the two World Wars. The album opens with Francis Poulenc’s Sonate pour violoncelle et piano. The piece is stunning – especially when one considers that the Composer was quite unfamiliar with the instrument when he wrote it in the 1940’s. In fact, the piece is dedicated to the Cellist Pierre Fournier who assisted Monsieur Poulenc with technical advice about the cello. Mr. Haimovitz and Ms. Kodama jump right into their musical conversation like a pair of long-time friends meeting for lunch. Their musical relationship is clearly something that they no longer must think about – it just IS. Both Artists explore every nuance, every facet of their instrument, at times playful and plucky, then smooth and luxurious, at times angry, devious, curious and always technically perfect. The sound is fresh and extremely LIVE.

Gabriel Faure is represented twice on the album with, Papillon and the closing track, Après un reve. Sisters Lili and Nadia Boulanger are both included, as are Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, whose Kaddish was arranged by Matt Haimovitz. It will touch your soul.

I was happy to receive the entire “MON AMI, Mon Amour,” package to enjoy. There is something so lovely about listening to an Album, not downloads or isolated tracks. The sequencing of pieces was clearly done with great care and the music flows from piece to piece naturally. 

Mari Kodama was born in Osaka, Japan, grew up in Germany and in Paris. She is married to Maestro Kent Nagano and performs frequently with her sister, pianist Momo Kodama. Ms. Kodama is especially known for her interpretations of the music of Beethoven, and like so many this year, had planned to mark the 250th Anniversary of the Composer’s birth with a full schedule of recitals and concerts in 2020.

Matt Haimovitz was born in the Israeli town of Bat Yam. His parents had moved to Israel from Romania, and when Matt was five, the family relocated to Palo Alto, California. Matt made his debut at the age of thirteen, with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic. When not touring, Matt Haimovitz teaches at McGill University in Montreal and he is the first-ever John Cage Fellow at the Mannes School in New York. 

The album is, “MON AMI, Mon Amour,” available now on the Pentatone label. Matt was kind enough to share some thought with WGUC’s Clef Notes.

For Classical 90.9 WGUC, I’m Elaine Diehl

Monday, November 30, 2020

A Conversation With Richard Stoltzman

by Brian O'Donnell

The international acclaimed clarinetist, Richard Stoltzman spent a portion of his growing up years here in Cincinnati, living in in Colonial Village in the Roselawn-Bond Hill area, while attending Woodward High School. There at Woodward he had a life changing experience, thanks to one of his teachers... and music.

So, Stoltzman got his music education at Woodward and speaks about the value of music education in our schools

Richard Stoltzman doesn't just talk the talk about music education but truly walks the walk

There's another professional musician in the Stoltzman family — son Peter John Stoltzman is a jazz pianist with whom his father frequently collaborates

Before we ended our conversation, I put him on the spot asking if he remembered the Woodward fight song from his days playing clarinet in the Bulldogs marching band. He didn't, but...

Monday, November 23, 2020

Thanksgiving Music

Are you as thankful for music as we are? What would we do without music as our daily companion to lift our mood and inspire us? Especially now as we are facing winter and a holiday season that will be unlike any we have ever known.


Many composers expressed their gratitude for the harvest, for life, for love, for country through music. Some you know as hymns. Some you know as seasonal. Some appeared in movies. All can evoke feelings of appreciation and peace.

What are your favorites?

Perhaps it’s the music of Aaron Copland – Variations on a Shaker Melody “Simple Gifts” or music from The Tender Land. Perhaps its Bach’s Now Thank We All Our God. Perhaps Ives stirs your soul with his Variations on America. Please share your thoughts below.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, you will hear much of this heartwarming and emotional music either throughout the week or during our special programs. We hope you will make WGUC part of your Thanksgiving holiday.

Listen for

Wednesday, November 25, 7 p.m. 
Host Andrea Blain and classical music fans from around the country take time to give thanks and celebrate one of life's most meaningful gifts: music. 

A Feast for the Ears
Thanksgiving Day at 10 a.m.
Mark Perzel is your host for two hours of giving thanks via music and readings.

Giving Thanks
Thanksgiving Day at 6 p.m.
American Public Media's John Birge presents classical music, stories and special guests in this contemporary celebration of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at WGUC!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Using A Sacred Form To Worship In A More Secular Way

By Elaine Diehl

Sarah Kirkland Snider is part of the so-called classical indie scene, resourceful musicians with a do-it-yourself aesthetic. When she's not composing, Sarah Kirkland Snider runs New Amsterdam Records, out of Brooklyn, which she co-founded in 2008.


Her new album on her label in conjunction with Nonesuch Records, released in late September, is Mass for the Endangered, "a 21st century twist on the Catholic mass."

She joined my phone to talk about her music:


Monday, November 9, 2020

Purity, Transparency And Impermanance - A Visit With Helene Grimaud

 By Elaine Diehl

The Messenger by Helene Grimaud
Photo by Mat Hennek

The brand-new album from Hélène Grimaud, The Messenger, is a creation of a pianistic dialogue between Mozart and the Ukrainian-born contemporary composer Valentin Silvestrov.

The recording sessions took place at the start of this year - before the worldwide pandemic shut things down - at an historic Mozart site in Salzburg, the Great Hall of the University, where Ms. Grimaud was joined by the Camerata Salzburg.

She called to talk about the new release:

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Symphonie Fantastique

By Andy Ellis

Henri Fantin-Latour:
Hector Berlioz, sa vie et ses oevres
Symphonie Fantastique, Un bal

The Symphonie Fantastique- A “program” symphony described as “an important piece of the early Romantic period” but there’s SO MUCH MORE to this piece of music.

It tells the story of an artist gifted with a lively imagination who has poisoned himself with opium in the depths of despair because of hopeless, unrequited love. In the first score from 1845, Berlioz wrote: The composer's intention has been to develop various episodes in the life of an artist, in so far as they lend themselves to musical treatment. As the work cannot rely on the assistance of speech, the plan of the instrumental drama needs to be set out in advance. The following program must therefore be considered as the spoken text of an opera, which serves to introduce musical movements and to motivate their character and expression.

After attending a performance of Shakespeare's Hamlet in 1827, Berlioz fell in love with the Irish actress Harriet Smithson who had played the role of Ophelia. He sent her numerous love letters, all of which went unanswered. When she left Paris, they had still not met. Berlioz then wrote the symphony as a way to express his love. She heard the work in 1832 and realized Berlioz's genius. The two finally met and were married on 3 October 1833.

The symphony is known for other aspects as well. Leonard Bernstein described the symphony as the first musical expedition into psychedelia because of its hallucinatory and dream-like nature, and because history suggests Berlioz composed at least a portion of it under the influence of opium. According to Bernstein, "Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral."

Another quote from Bernstein about the symphony: “Pretty spooky stuff. And it's spooky because those sounds you're hearing come from the first psychedelic symphony in history, the first musical description ever made of a trip, written one hundred thirty odd years before the Beatles, way back in 1830 by the brilliant French composer Hector Berlioz. He called it Symphonie Fantastique, or "fantastic symphony," and fantastic it is, in every sense of the word, including psychedelic. And that's not just my own idea: It's a fact, because Berlioz himself tells us so.”

The next time you’re listening to 90.9 WGUC and the Symphonie Fantastique starts to play, maybe consider leaning back and closing your eyes- let Berlioz take you on a trip.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Halloween Music

WGUC has celebrated Halloween over the past two decades with six different Tunes from the Crypt specials. Classical music has a wealth of pieces that set the perfect atmosphere for the holiday and the music written for film provides another rich source for an experience that sends chills up your spine.


Even in the dead of summer, the first few notes of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue or Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre will invoke images of graveyards, skeletons and witches brew.

The time is here! Halloween celebrations will look a little different this year. But, Tunes from the Crypt is one tradition we can still enjoy without hesitation - and maybe find a new scary piece to add to your list of favorites.

We’ve started a list of favorites not to be missed. What are yours?

  1. Camille Saint- Saëns: Danse Macabre
  2.  Gustav Holst: The Planets: Mars, the Bringer of War
  3. Modest Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain
  4. Manuel DeFalla: Dance of Terror
  5. Andrew Lloyd-Webber: Overture from Phantom of the Opera
  6. Hector Berlioz: Dream of a Witches Sabbath from Symphonie Fantastique
  7. Richard Wagner: “Ride of the Valkyries” from Die Walkure
  8. Jerry Goldsmith: The Omen

Monday, October 19, 2020

The People United Shall Never Be Defeated

by Elaine Diehl

Composer Sergio Ortega wrote, “One day in June, 1973, three months before the bombing by Pinochet’s military coup, I was walking through the plaza in front of the Palace of Finance in Santiago, Chile, and saw a street singer shouting, ‘The people united will never be defeated’ – a well-known Chilean chant for social change.”

Two years later, Ortega’s friend Frederic Rzewski composed a stunning set of 36 variations on the song. 

Dr. Matthew Phelps

On Sunday, November 8 at 3 p.m., Dr. Matthew Phelps, Founder and Artistic Director of Vocal Arts Nashville, will perform the piece at Xavier University in a concert that will be streamed online.

We talked to the Cincinnati native about the piece:



Monday, October 12, 2020

Sharon Isbin: Affinity

by Brian O'Donnell

In the Spring of 2020 guitarist Sharon Isbin released not one but two CDs simultaneously. One is called Strings For Peace and the other, Affinity.


On Affinity, Sharon performs brand new works written specifically for her by four composers - Leo Brouwer, Tan Dun, Richard Danielpour and Chris Brubeck, the son of the legendary jazz man, Dave Brubeck. Dave Brubeck had a Cincinnati connection in the 1960s and ‘70s due to his great working relationship with Erich Kunzel and the CSO and Cincinnati Pops, having performed and recorded together on a number of occasions.

As you’ll hear Sharon tell us, there’s a beautiful bit of Dave Brubeck in his son’s terrific piece called Affinity: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra.


Now, enjoy this beautiful brand new Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra called Affinity by Chris Brubeck. Guitarist Sharon Isbin is joined by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Elizabeth Schulze.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Chili Klaus & Classical Orchestra

Listening to Classical Music in a grand concert ha: Make sure your phone is off! Please try not to sneeze during the performance! Dresses and suits are preferred attire!

I get it. Sometimes this beautiful music can seem like it’s behind a screen of “high society”. Considering that most professional classical musicians are highly educated, highly trained and amazingly focused, they too can seem almost “superhuman” at times. 

 So, with that said, here’s the members of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra playing Tango Jalousie while eating the world’s hottest chili peppers… Because we all need a laugh or two these days.

   
 - Andy Ellis

Monday, September 28, 2020

Christ Church Cathedral


By Elaine Diehl - 

Christ Church Cathedral, founded in Downtown Cincinnati in 1817 is a vibrant Episcopal community that strives to be a center of compassion and justice that translates into action. Music, both sacred and secular, is a huge element of the Cathedral’s Mission.

Collegium Cincinnati, Handbell choirs, Choral Scholars, Organ Recitals, Music Live at Lunch, Choral Evensong, an annual performance of Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on the Sunday before Christmas and the popular Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival – these are just some of the musical happenings at Christ Church Cathedral.

Dr. Stephan Casurella is the Cathedral’s Director of Music and he phoned the studio to talk about this year’s Musical Offerings:

Monday, September 21, 2020

Born from the Community: The Story of WGUC's Founding



September 21, 2020 marks the 60th anniversary of WGUC signing on at 90.9 megahertz on the FM dial.

Since that day, WGUC has been broadcasting classical music to the Greater Cincinnati community and beyond without fail.

The station has played a vital role in the community over those sixty years and will continue to do so for many years to come.

But, do you know that the station was born out of a vision that sprung directly from the community itself? Here is its story as documented by founder Bruce Petrie, Sr. in his history of the station written for the Cincinnati Historical Bulletin, Summer 1981.

Cincinnati, in the late 1950's, offered very little listening opportunities for classical music fans. Those who could afford to attend the symphony or opera, or who had their own record collection, had options. But those who looked to their radio hoping to listen to classical music every day did not.

Daniel Ransohoff, Bruce Petrie and Addison Lanier, local classical music enthusiasts and members of the Queen City Association, worked to bring classical music to the local radio dial. They served as the Association's committee in charge of finding a solution. They first worked to bring WOSU (via a repeater station) to the city. At the time, WOSU was broadcasting 48 hours of classical music during peak times.

Publicity from the Association's efforts bore fruit - over 1500 postcards and letters were received in support of bringing classical music and fine arts broadcasting to the city.

Not long after, Ransohoff discussed the idea with Walter Langsam, President of the University of Cincinnati, in the hope that the university would be interested. However, to his regret, he learned that such a project was not likely given the many other demands on the University's resources at that time.

Through it all the dream persisted. The founders did not tire in their efforts to attain their goal. By October 1959, after almost three years of meetings, explorations and discussion, the University of Cincinnati, after much persuasion and investigation, changed their position and indicated an interest in obtaining an FM license.

On November 3, 1959, the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees decided to establish an FM radio station and apply to the FCC for an FM license.

On December 30, 1959, the FCC announced that the University of Cincinnati had been granted a license to operate WGUC on 90.9 megacycles.

How were the call letters, WGUC, chosen?

On September 21, 1960, at 4:00 pm, almost three full years after the Queen City Association launched its campaign, radio station WGUC went on the air. And the rest, as they say, is history – a history of accomplishment, growth, inspiration, and joy; plus, some failure and heartache too.

UC's chimes ring out and chief announcer George Brengel announces the birth of WGUC

Carolyn Watts talking about listening to the first day of WGUC

The community brought WGUC to life. The community nurtured and sustained it. The community is what will keep WGUC strong and vital well into the future. Thank you!

What has WGUC meant to you? What do you remember about your first experiences with WGUC or its programming through the years? Tell us in the comments below.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Bach-Packing with Simone Dinnerstein, Schubert and Glass

Photo credit Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

By Elaine Diehl

On September 18, pianist Simone Dinnerstein will release her new album, A Character Of Quiet to on Orange Mountain Music.

She recorded the album in her Brooklyn home, with her long-time engineer and producer, Adam Abeshouse. The album revisits a program she had created for a recital series some years ago, wherein she juxtaposes the music of Franz Schubert and Philip Glass.

Simone Dinnerstein phoned to talk about the album, her life during lockdown and more:


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Original Rock Star

Portrait of Franz Liszt by Wilhelm von Kaulbach

What’s the first name you think of when you hear the term “Rock Star”? Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, Chuck Berry, John Lennon, Joan Jett? You have to admit the list is pretty long… What about the first Rockstar?

We’ve got to go WAY back for the answer: Franz Liszt.

Huh? You mean the guy who wrote and played Piano Concertos? HE DIDN’T EVEN PLAY THE GUITAR!

Yes. Franz “Rock Your Socks Off” Liszt.

Over 200 years ago, he was tearing up the “polite” salons and concert halls with performances that drove audiences wild. Women would literally attack him: tearing bits of his clothing, fighting over broken piano strings and locks of his shoulder-length hair, even taking his cigar butts as souvenirs!

Yes, he was known as a “good looking” fellow but it was his revolutionary performances that really set the crowds ablaze. At the time, it was considered “poor taste” to play from memory, to consider that a solo pianist could hold an audience’s attention, or to even FACE the audience when you played.

He flipped all of those ideas (and more) upside down. His head whipping around while he played, his long hair flying, beads of sweat shooting into the crowd… He was the first performer to stride out from the wings of the concert hall to take his seat at the piano. He captured the audience with his performance in ways that the music alone never could.

His biographer Dr Oliver Hilmes wrote, “He was the first to perform the whole of the known keyboard repertory from Bach to his contemporary Chopin and he did so, moreover, from memory. As a composer and orchestrator, too, he was a revolutionary, writing pioneering works that opened up whole new worlds of expression.”

So, the next time you’re listening to his Hungarian Rhapsody on 90.9 WGUC, feel free to crank up the volume and “jam” out... I’m sure he wouldn’t want it any other way.

-Andy Ellis

Monday, August 31, 2020

Suzanne Bona and Richard Goering

Suzanne Bona is heard nationwide ( and then some) on Sunday Baroque, a show she created several decades ago (WGUC 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Sundays)

Although many, many know her on the radio, not as many know her as a fine flutist. Suzanne has stepped up to contribute to our WGUC benefit CDs ( helping to generate several hundreds of thousands of dollars for WGUC and Cincinnati Public Radio. )

Years ago she crossed paths with guitarist Richard Goering here in Cincinnati and musical magic was made. Richard has also contributed on a couple occasions to our benefit CDs and tells us about their collaboration over the years.

"Suzanne and I have performed together for 15 years on concert series around the Midwest and in New York and New England. She is delightful to work with, as you know... One thing I love about performing with Suzanne is that we play multiple musical genres-Brazilian melodies, tangos, works by Bach, Paganini, Handel, and contemporary compositions. Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841)(composer of the piece in the video) wrote over 400 compositions for solo guitar and chamber music with guitar."

Now, please sit back, relax, and enjoy flutist Suzanne Bona and guitarist Richard Goering in a live session we did in our Corbett Studio around 6 months ago.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Bread and Roses: Women in Classical Music



2020 is the 100th Anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, earning women the right to vote. The anniversary occurs on Wednesday, August 26 and 90.9 WGUC will celebrate by bringing listeners the special Bread and Roses: Women in Classical Music.

The special airs at 7 p.m. eastern time and can be heard on-air, online at wguc.org, on the free WGUC app, or on your smart speaker by telling it to “Play WGUC.”

The 19th amendment is the starting point for this special broadcast which looks at the achievements of women in music, set against historic, social, and political obstacles which have worked against female composers, conductors, and performers. Andrea Blain takes an in-depth look at the ways in which women in music have had to fight for recognition, opportunities and rewards in the same way women fought for the vote.

With music illustrations from the world of film, opera, orchestral, choral and chamber music, Bread and Roses: Women in Classical Music celebrates women and music, striving for equality (Bread) and artistry (Roses).

Our Classics for Kids program, which introduces young listeners to classical music and composers, has also celebrated the accomplishments of women in classical music. As we commemorate the 19th amendment, we encourage you to share this information with your children:

Monday, August 17, 2020

"Making the Lemonade"


They were devastated to announce the cancellation of the in-person Summermusik 2020, but the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra has found a way to keep the music going during these tricky times.


Eckart Preu
Photo by Michael Wilson
The annual audience favorite continues this year as an “eFestival,” with a huge variety of online events. I caught up with CCO music director Eckart Preu, speaking from his home in Spokane, to hear all about it.

Click on the link to listen as Eckart Preu discusses what makes the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s Summermusik festival special.


Monday, August 10, 2020

Celebrating The Power Of Her

As the country continues to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which made women’s suffrage the law, Cincinnati’s ArtsWave pays tribute to women behind the city’s diverse and thriving arts community with the release of the book, Imagineers. Impresarios. Inventors: Cincinnati’s Arts and the POWER OF HER.

Kathy Merchant, former CEO of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, is the book’s editor and she kindly answered a few questions we had.

How long did it take to generate the list of the 200 women profiled and do you wish you could have added more?

“Because the book was a major project of ArtsWave's POWER OF HER initiative, which was designed to shine the spotlight on women in the arts during the 19th amendment centennial celebration, we originally set a goal of 100 women. We invited the public to nominate women for the book, a process that took place over about 6 weeks in early spring 2019. We were overwhelmed (in the good sense) with the number of women who were nominated! But we were also concerned that the list of candidates was not as diverse as we knew that it could be. We did some additional research, and also asked Cincinnati Museum Center and Cincinnati Art Museum to help us identify particularly legacy women from the 19th and 20th centuries that our nominators may not know. We are grateful to them for their assistance. Then we applied a set of criteria to the massive list of well over 200 women before sending a curated list to a group of ArtsWave leaders for a final vetting. The criteria included importantly the significance of the woman's contributions to the arts over a sustained period of time; leadership in founding and/or serving as an executive leader of sustainable arts organizations; influence on the vibrancy of the arts sector as a visual or performance artist, philanthropist, educator, and other key leadership roles; and (last but not least) production of an important body of art works of all types. Still hoping to narrow the list down to 100, we found that to be an impossible task. Ultimately, we settled on 120 essays that incorporate lists of nearly 80 additional women who were collaborators in starting arts organizations in the 19th and 20th centuries. And that just scratches the surface! This book is comprehensive, but not exhaustive, of all the talent in our community then and now.”

How did you choose the local writers and then pair them with the profiles they'd write?

“Once we knew the scope of the women in the book, we recruited 31 people to join me in writing the 120 essays. I started in May 2019 by identifying a list of local journalists, editors, and published authors I knew well by reading their work across my more than two decades living in Cincinnati. I asked them two key questions: would you prefer to write about legacy or contemporary women, and how many essays could you write on deadline by September 30. My original list of contacts didn't quite meet the goal of 120, so I asked those writers to identify others who might be interested. In this way, by June 2019 we were able to increase and diversify the number of essay authors, adding yet another artistic dimension to the book project. All writers either donated their time or accepted a small honorarium for their work, and we appreciate their generosity. All writers will receive a complimentary copy of the book.”

What did you learn personally about these women and their impact on our community?

“The organization of the book reflects one of the biggest "aha moments" in the entire project: nearly all of our arts organizations were started by women, and all of those organizations--from 1868 to the present--are still going strong (despite the disruptive challenges of COVID-19). If there are exceptions to this assertion, we are not aware of them. The few organizations (such as Playhouse in the Park and WGUC) that were not started by women can point instead to significant leadership by women as executives, producers, actors, philanthropists, and more, all contributing to the organizations' long-term sustainability. A second important realization was just how many women there are who lead and nurture the arts, probably an entire second book! For example, there are the women in our local corporations such as Kay Geiger and Heidi Jark who are major arts supporters. The number of women artists in all disciplines is massive. Wouldn't it be fun to dig deeper to create a celebration of all art forms and the women in our community who are so very talented? The bottom line is that Greater Cincinnati is truly blessed to have such a vibrant and well supported arts community. (And I can say on behalf of ArtsWave that we are especially blessed to have an organization whose sole mission, thanks to Anna Sinton Taft and her husband, is to support the arts for the long view.)”

100% of the proceeds from sales of Imagineers. Impresarios. Inventors: Cincinnati’s Arts and the POWER OF HER will support programming for women’s artists and arts organizations. To order, visit: POWER OF HER

Monday, August 3, 2020

Cellist Inbal Segev Premieres Cello Concerto, "Dance"


By Elaine Diehl:

A native of Israel, Inbal Segev began playing the cello at the age of 5. At 8, she first played for the Israeli president and at 16 she was invited by Isaac Stern to the United States, where she continued her cello studies at Yale and Julliard.

Segev performed with our Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra last year and has just released a brand-new album with Marin Alsop & London Philharmonic Orchestra featuring Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto along with a new composition by Anna Clyne, “DANCE.”

She was gracious enough to spend some time chatting with me; here is our conversation:

Monday, July 27, 2020

A Conversation with Elaine Diehl

For this week’s Clef Notes, we thought we’d take a little step back in time to those halcyon days before COVID-19 and quarantines and social distancing, to enjoy a Facebook Live conversation between WGUC midday host Elaine Diehl and our social media coordinator, Ronny Salerno.

This was recorded in February 2020 so no masks were required. Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Joseph Haydn's Sense Of Humor

Joseph Haydn
How often do we think of classical composers as courtly, wig-wearing, members of “High Society” who wouldn’t dare let a speck of dirt touch their shoes, let alone smile?

When you hear the name Franz Joseph Haydn, what do you think of? The London Symphonies? His Cello Concerto? Maybe his Trumpet Concerto?

Those all are great answers but his sense of humor and knack for “living his best life” really set him apart.

Haydn’s brilliance (in music and humor) began at a VERY young age. His singing voice was so impressive that he was asked to join the Choir School of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna when he was just five years old. However, things changed for Haydn when he lost his “angelic” voice as a teenager. He left the choir after Empress Maria Theresa said: "That boy doesn't sing, he crows!"

He was the one who got the last laugh, he cut the pigtail of another boy chorister!

It’s been said that Haydn's younger brother Michael was far better behaved when they were both at the St Stephens Cathedral school, and that in fact, it was Michael that the family had placed their hope for the future in - apparently Joseph was too much of a practical joker to ever be a success.

Haydn's sense of humor even made it into many of the pieces he composed. His string quartet in E flat (subtitled 'The Joke') is a great example - there are false endings to try and catch the audience.

Given the fact that he was good friends with Mozart, one can only imagine what their late night “jam sessions” would have entailed after a couple glasses of wine. (Mozart was a well known jokester, practical-joker and dirty joke enthusiast. If he was bored during a rehearsal, he’d often imitate a cat!)

Classical music can be inspiring, motivating and moving… But just like the most famous composers of all time, sometimes all we need as humans is a good chuckle.

So, if you find yourself listening to 90.9 WGUC and a piece by Haydn starts to play, be prepared for a chuckle, or a giggle, or even a snort… I’m sure he would love it.


-Andy Ellis

Monday, July 13, 2020

Cincinnati Opera's Beginnings


Evans Mirageas

WGUC is proud to be part of the Cincinnati Opera’s 100th Anniversary celebration this month and hopefully you caught the special, Cincinnati Opera’s Beginnings, with our friend Evans Mirageas. If not, it’s archived on our website here.

We are excited to bring you two more encore broadcasts of past Cincinnati Opera performances, recorded exclusively by Cincinnati Public Radio. Remember, you can listen on-air, online at wguc.org, on the WGUC mobile app, or by asking your smart speakers to PLAY WGUC.

This Saturday (July 18 at 1 p.m.) is a very special presentation of the Opera’s world premiere of Fellow Travelers from 2016. With music by Gregory Spears and libretto by Greg Pierce, and set during the dark days of McCarthyism, Fellow Travelers gained great acclaim during its Cincinnati premiere and is now being performed by other opera companies around the world.

We’ll conclude our summer broadcasts on July 25 at 1:00 with the classic Aida by Verdi. The true definition of grand opera, a new production was supposed to be the finale of the 2020 season, so it’s only appropriate we share an earlier version with you this summer.

WGUC and the Cincinnati Opera have had a long, wonderful relationship and we certainly miss sitting in the audience this year to experience the power and majesty of live opera. We look forward to the 2021 season and wish our friends at the opera all our best through this quiet summer.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Showing The City What Intentional Inclusion Looks Like

My Visit with Revolution Dance Theatre’s Founder/Artistic Director, David Choate by Elaine Diehl


In January, I had the chance to visit with David Choate, Founder and Artistic Director or Cincinnati’s Revolution Dance Theatre. 2020 was off to a roaring start for RDT. Following their February performance at The Aronoff, Our Turn, things abruptly came to a standstill as the coronavirus forced cancellations of all live theatre and in-person dance classes nationwide.

David and RDT responded with their usual pluck and “never say die” attitude and they created ways to keep their Company alive. I asked him how RDT is doing:

"Covid-19 has produced a new platform for us, RDT|TV, A digital way to engage with me and with the dancers as well as learn some exciting things about African Americans in dance. It plays every Monday at 5:00 p.m. on YouTube and Facebook. Please encourage people to check it out and subscribe!

We're also launching We Dance Cincinnati, a limited class sized summer program to get kids out of the house and moving again in a safe and structured environment. 
The company has just begun a slow return to the studio with several master classes so far including guest instructors Karama Butler and Precious Gilbert both Cincinnati natives who now live and work in Los Angeles.

Finally, we will be premiering a brand-new documentary, Unspoken, for Pride month! We'll be using our art to help articulate often untold stories of LGBTQ persons in our community." 

Here is a look back at our conversation, recorded earlier this year. David and I talked about his training as a dancer, studying at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, and his post high school touring days, the realization that with a very few exceptions, he was usually the only dancer of color in the room.

David founded Revolution Dance Theatre as his answer to the question, “Can we create a space that would ultimately start to change the industry?”

Here is our conversation:

Monday, June 29, 2020

Fourth of July Playlist Suggestions For You!

As America prepares to celebrate July 4th under unique circumstances, music is always a constant in our lives. We’ve asked WGUC listeners and staff for their ideas for an All-American playlist, and we appreciate all the input. You’ll notice a bit of a mix…certainly classical is well represented, but we left the question open-ended, so you’ll see a few other possible new favorites!

Some chose simply the piece, others the performance. Either way, we hope you enjoy, and we hope you have a wonderful weekend.


From our listeners:

Nancy: “Grand Canyon Suite” by Ferd Grofé
Harold: “Fourth of July” by Charles Ives
Patrick: “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan
Martha: “Nonet” by Samuel Coleridge Taylor
Ralph: “Definitely ‘1812 Overture’ by the CSO with cannons!”
Gretchen: “1812 Overture” with real cannons by the Cincinnati Symphony
Suzanne: “New Morning for the World” by Joseph Schwanter
Debbie: “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Aaron Copland
Carol: “Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copland
Valerya: “1812 Overture” by the Cincinnati Symphony
Marisa: “The Lark Ascending” by Andrew Litton, performed by the London Philharmonic with guest Nicola Benedetti

From our staff:

Pam Temple: “Fourth of July” by Dave Alvin
Bill Rinehart: “1941 March” by John Williams
Brian O’Donnell: “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier” performed by Mark O’Connor and James Taylor (heard at the end of each episode of the PBS series “Liberty! The American Revolution”)
Suzanne Bona: “Ballad for Americans” by Paul Robeson
Elaine Diehl: “American Canvas” by Jennifer Higdon; “Rolling River: Sketches on Shenandoah” by Peter Boyer; “Ellis Island: The Dream of America” by Peter Boyer; “Afro-American Symphony” by William Grant Still
Robyn Carey Allgeyer: “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Aaron Copland, performed by the Cincinnati Pops, conducted by Erich Kunzel
Julie Coppens: “America the Beautiful” performed by Keb Mo’; “Black, Brown and Beige” by Duke Ellington
Lee Hay: “Have a Little Faith” by Mavis Staples
Oakley Scot: “American Tune” performed by Allen Toussaint
Stephen Baum: “A Lincoln Portrait” by Aaron Copland
Jessica Lorey: “Simple Gifts” by Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma, arranged by John Williams for the first inauguration of President Barack Obama

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Faux Frenchmen

The Faux Frenchmen (l-r): Brian Lovely, Don Aren, Paul Patterson and George Cunningham

I am in awe of these musicians. I’ve seen them perform dozens and dozens of times and they never ever cease to amaze me. They make it look so easy.

The Faux Frenchmen, playing music inspired by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s Hot Club of France quintette, are guitarists Brian Lovely & George Cunningham, bassist Don Aren and violinist Paul Patterson and they joined us for a live session in our Corbett Studio earlier in 2020, adapting the Hot Club’s instrumentation and style in forging their own re-Americanized take on gypsy jazz.

Sit back and enjoy The Faux Frenchmen’s performance.

~ Brian O’Donnell


Monday, June 15, 2020

A Fanfare For A Fanfare

If you’ve ever tuned into 90.9 on a Friday evening, you know I’m a BIG fan of Pops music. With that in mind, I wanted to take a look at a piece of music that epitomizes “Pops”: Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

Eugene Goossens, conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, wrote to Aaron Copland about an idea he wanted to put into action for the 1942–43 concert season. During World War I he had asked British composers for a fanfare to begin each orchestral concert. It was received by the audiences in England with so much enthusiasm that he wanted to repeat the procedure in World War II, with American music.

Yes. You read that correctly. The idea for this famous piece started right here in Cincinnati.

Vice President Henry A. Wallace proclaimed in a famous 1942 speech that this was the dawning of the "Century of the Common Man" and with that phrase, Copland had his inspiration.

Since it’s premiere (in Cincinnati) in March of 1943, it’s become more popular than Goosens or Copland could have ever imagined. From popular music (Emerson, Lake and Palmer anyone?), to sporting events, to movies, even at NHL hockey games, this piece’s ability to inspire is endless.


In my mind, the most fitting use was on September 21, 2012, when it was played at Los Angeles International Airport as the Space Shuttle Endeavour touched down after its final flight. I can’t think of another piece of music that encompasses the triumph of space flight and the Space Shuttle program.

A fanfare is a piece of music usually introducing an event or another piece of music but Fanfare for the Common Man has the strength and grace to stand alone.

The next time you’re searching for some inspiration, sit back and play it. (and don’t be afraid to crank up the volume)

- Andy Ellis

You can learn more about Aaron Copland and fanfares at classicsforkids.com.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Meet Stephen Baum

As WGUC's Recording/Master Engineer, Stephen Baum experiences first-hand every Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival concert, Cincinnati Opera performance and many other local performances.

This weekend, we listen to his work with the final broadcast in WGUC's Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert series. And, you have been hearing Stephen talk with local arts leaders about their current and future activities in WGUC's weekday feature, Cincinnati Spotlight Intermission.

Music Director Jessica Lorey met him in the studio to learn more about the work he does, his career and his life outside the studio.

Monday, June 1, 2020

One Minute; One Instrument - Every Note Counts: Elaine Diehl's Conversation with Peter Boyer

Each day at the conclusion of his Coronavirus briefing, Gov. Mike DeWine shares music or poetry from the Buckeye State to provide inspiration and hope, and to end on an upbeat note. Earlier this month the Governor shared Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, who commissioned the piece in 1942.

The CSO and POPS are carrying on the tradition, commissioning new music from over a dozen composers with the aim: To inspire and uplift, and to help us make sense of this moment in our shared history through the universal language of music. One of the composers they invited to participate is Peter Boyer

I began our conversation by asking Mr. Boyer, where was he when the pandemic shut everything down? 



I then asked him to explain exactly what the CSO Fanfare Project is, and how he came to be involved:



He talked about the process of rehearsing and recording cross country with CSO:



The Fanfares were restricted to 60 seconds in Length. I asked the Composer how difficult that made the process:



Then I asked him about his choice of instrument:



Since I had Peter Boyer on the phone, I took the opportunity to ask him about the piece that introduced me to his music, the gorgeous, Rolling River: Sketches on Shenandoah



He went on to talk about writing on American Themes and being inspired by this country:



I ended our interview with the question… what’s next for Peter Boyer?



Maestro LOUIS Langree said, about The Fanfare Project, "I can’t imagine a better way to continue our anniversary celebration than using Aaron Copland’s iconic masterpiece to inspire today’s composers to write new work that helps us reflect on this time and to unite around music at a time when we cannot be together in person.” 

My guest has been Peter Boyer, who contributed his piece, Fanfare for Tomorrow to the Project.

Monday, May 25, 2020

A Life Made for Hollywood

- By Andy Ellis

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799) was much more than “just” a composer of classical music. A Hollywood script couldn’t even compare to the larger-than-life figure of this multi-talented man.

He was born in the French colony of Guadeloupe, the son of George Bologne de Saint-Georges, a wealthy married planter and his wife's African slave. His father took him to France to receive a “proper” education and after grammar school, he was enrolled at an academy for fencing and horsemanship. This is where de Saint-Georges started to break ANY mold that the 18th Century French society would try to put him in. The son of the Master of the school wrote: “At 15 his progress was so rapid, that he was already beating the best swordsmen, and at 17 he developed the greatest speed imaginable.”


He didn’t stop there, he was also known as a Master horseman and took those skills with him when he joined the French Revolutionary Army, eventually becoming a Colonel. Bologne's friend, Louise Fusil once wrote: "He was admired for his fencing and riding prowess, he served as a model to young sportsmen ... who formed a court around him." He was also a talented dancer (and considered very handsome) and was frequently invited to balls, much to the delight of noble ladies.

Yeah, it gets better.

He was known for his violin technique, described as “prodigious”. Then there is his acumen as a composer. Operas, Symphonies, Vocal Music, Chamber Music… The list goes on. It’s been noted that he frequently was invited to the Palace of Versailles at the request of the Queen (Marie Antoinette) to play music with her.

The point being, the next time you’re listening to 90.9 WGUC and hear a piece by de Saint-Georges, know that there was SO much more to the man sometimes known as “the black Mozart”. In my opinion, he’s about as close as you can get to a real-life superhero.

Monday, May 18, 2020

May Fest Broadcasts

One of the many unfortunate casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic is Cincinnati’s treasured May Festival, the oldest classical choral festival in North America. Since 1873, the May Festival has presented some of the most elegant, challenging, emotional, and inspirational music performed by a volunteer choir and a myriad of special guests.

90.9 WGUC has been a longtime collaborator with May Festival, recording and airing their concerts each year. Since that’s not possible in 2020, we don’t want you to miss out on the glorious sounds of the hundreds of voices ringing out from the stage of historic Music Hall.

Join us the final two Sundays of May, during the traditional May Festival weekends, for encore broadcasts from two of the exceptional 2019 concerts recorded by Stephen Baum for Cincinnati Public Radio.

On Sunday, May 24 at 8 p.m., it’s last year’s memorable performance of Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion. Juanjo Mena conducts the May Festival chorus and youth chorus with guests Berit Norbakken Solset, soprano; Carlos Mena, countertenor; Werner Güra, tenor; Ben Bliss, tenor; James Newby, baritone; and Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass-baritone. The concert took place on May 25, 2019.

Then on Sunday, May 31 at 8 p.m., it is a rebroadcast of Juanjo Mena's May Festival premiere and features John Holiday, countertenor as well as the May Festival Chorus, Robert Porco, Director and May Festival Youth Chorus, James Bagwell, Director. They perform Gabrieli's Magnificat a 33, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and Ravel's Daphnis ét Chloé. The concert took place on May 25, 2018.

We hope you’ll enjoy these concerts as a placeholder until the May Festival, and all our arts organizations, are performing again. In October of this year, WGUC will rebroadcast all four of the 2019 May Festival concerts on Sunday evenings, so please plan on joining us then as well.

The cultural treasures of our area are important to the quality of life we enjoy, and WGUC is proud to be a part of the music community and to bring you these performances. We are grateful to you for listening and supporting us, and the artists who create these memorable performances.

Enjoy!

Monday, May 11, 2020

30 Seconds Felt Like Something That Was Manageable...

by Elaine Diehl

Violinist Jennifer Koh was having a spectacular year... concerts, Master classes, and the world premiere of a brand-new work – a collaboration with Davone Tines based on her Mother’s experiences as a refugee child in South Korea and his grandfather’s life as a sharecopper.

Then came the Pandemic.

The world turned upside down, Jennifer’s bookings were obliterated, and she found herself locked down in her New York apartment.

I spoke with Jennifer Koh on April 17, the day that should have seen the premiere of, Everything That Rises Must Converge. We talked about the world situation, in particular, how it impacted the Arts and how she created a way to help her fellow musicians with her Alone Together project.

When everything seemed impossible, she said, “30 Seconds felt like something that was manageable.”

Here’s our chat:

Monday, May 4, 2020

Mindful Music

"Music," wrote John O'Donohue, the late Irish poet and philosopher, "is what language would love to be if it could." In this strange season, as we contend with isolation, anxiety, life changes and challenges, we're also finding a deeper appreciation of music's power to move us, nourish us, accompany our complex emotions, and connect us to each another.

May also happens to be National Meditation Month — a perfect time, we thought, for WGUC listeners to experience Mindful Music Moments, a Cincinnati-based program that brings a daily dose of classical calm to thousands of school children around the country.

Stacy Sims
"We've had the good fortune to be able to share our Mindful Music Moments school program with families at home, staff and patients in hospitals, and now, WGUC's audiences," Stacy writes. "Our mission is to improve the mental and emotional well-being, connectedness, and effectiveness of all citizens through arts integration, mindfulness, movement and healing-centered practices. There is no better time than the present for us to share this work."

Enjoy a short selection from one of our favorite composers, while taking time to breathe, center, and reset for the day, guided by Mindful Music's founder and narrator, Stacy Sims. We'll collect all the morning selections and mindfulness prompts here as we go, so you can relive and share the moments, any time.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Review: Stephen Hough's Rough Ideas

By Elaine Diehl

Pay no attention to the scary-looking man staring at you from Stephen Hough's webpage. He’s actually one of the funniest, warmest, smartest individuals I’ve had the pleasure to interview. We spoke by phone about his new book, Rough Ideas - a collection of essays, musings and meditations mostly written in airports, hotel or dressing rooms while he waited to go to the next place. And Stephen Hough goes A LOT of places! In addition to being an author, Stephen Hough is a jet-setting international classical music superstar.

The book reveals a bit of Mr. Hough’s inquisitive nature, his unique take on topics from The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” to Jobim’s “Girl From Ipanema” (hint - one requires harmony to be complete, the other doesn’t…can you guess which is which? You may be surprised!) Mr. Hough, novelist, columnist, blogger and essayist, is an excellent writer. His words about music and the life of a musician, from walking out on to a stage or into the recording studio are fascinating, even to a non-musician. He also writes vividly about people he's known, places he's travelled to, books he's read, paintings he's seen; and touches on more controversial subjects, including religion and his challenges being a gay Catholic.

Rough Ideas is a perfect book to carry along when you don’t have large chunks of time to read a full work of fiction. The collection is well-organized, clearly and thoroughly indicized and the pieces are short. Rough Ideas will make you laugh at times, it will teach some history (another passion of the curious Mr. Hough), and it will make you think, deeply, about this world we all inhabit. The Reader will learn about the piano maker whose affiliation with the Third Reich cost it its reputation and almost forced them out of business, why Chopin’s B minor Sonata is harder to play than Liszt’s and the people Stephen Hough calls. “Good Americans.” Stephen Hough quotes the legendary conductor, Hans von Bulow, who wrote “Do not despise the fifteen minutes spent waiting for your carriage to arrive.’ Clearly, Stephen Hough puts his waiting time to good use. Rough Ideas is a great read for musicians, music lovers and everyone else. It is thoughtful and thought-provoking and a glimpse behind the curtain that most of us will never see. As he writes on the final page, “To write is to have read. To speak is to have listened, a conversation with others and with the Past, reflections frozen into Words about things which flow beyond words.”

Pianist Stephen Hough records for the Hyperion Label. His new album, Brahms: The Final Piano Pieces, was released in January. His new book, Rough Ideas is available now on Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. For a link to Stephen Hough’s music and my full interview, visit wvxu.org.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Live Music at WGUC by Wesley Weidig and Luke Jackson

We love presenting live music from our Corbett Studio here on WGUC and our listeners seem to enjoy it as well.

Not too long ago we invited a couple guitarists from UC’s College Conservatory of Music to play for us live on WGUC.

In the early 1970s, Clare Callahan initiated a Classical Guitar degree program at the College Conservatory of Music at UC. Along the way, guitarist Christopher Wilke studied at CCM, earning a Master’s degree... then a Doctorate from the Eastman School.

Chris is on Faculty at CCM and brought a couple of his students by to play for us in December and I know you’ll enjoy these performances by Wesley Weidig and Luke Jackson from CCM.


Monday, April 13, 2020

A Visit With Stephen Hough Across The Atlantic

Pianist and Author Stephen Hough is described by The Washington Post as, “a virtuoso who begins where others leave off.” The Economist has named him as one of Twenty Living Polymaths.

He is a dedicated educator, a recording artist who has over 60 albums to his name (including the new, Brahms: The Final Piano Pieces, released earlier this year) and a composer. And, as I discovered during our recent telephone interview, Stephen Hough is a delightful, perfectly charming British gentleman!

He was scheduled to perform as part of Xavier University’s Piano Series later this month. He told me that he’s been performing at Xavier since the 1980’s and has many fond memories and friends there.

Even though this concert had to be postponed from the original April date to October 8, he agreed to chat about his career, the Brahms CD and his new book, Rough Ideas.


Monday, April 6, 2020

Passover and Easter Music

Some of the most beautiful music ever written was composed for holidays. As we enter the Passover and Easter seasons, WGUC will bring you four specials featuring some of that beautiful music and magnificent performances. We know many services will be cancelled this year due to our current health emergency, so we hope these will bring you some comfort and a bit of the tradition.

Remember, these specials can be heard anywhere thanks to our website, our mobile app, or your smart speakers (Play WGUC). All times are EDT. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 7, 6:30 p.m.
The Music of Passover: Our annual celebration in music and word with Naomi Lewin.

Wednesday, April 8, 7:00 p.m.
A Musical Feast for Passover with Itzhak Perlman: The springtime Jewish holiday of Passover is about liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt. In this one-hour special, superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman shares Passover music from many traditions, plus songs and memories from his childhood in Israel. The program draws its shape from the Passover Seder and, like that ancient family ritual, the music gets progressively giddier as the show moves along.

Friday, April 10, 6:00 p.m.
Bach’s St. Matthew Passion: A complete performance by the English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner.

Sunday, April 12, 11:00 p.m.
Handel’s Messiah: A performance of the Easter portion of Handel’s beloved work by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cambridge Singers and Soloists under the direction of John Rutter.

Monday, March 30, 2020

April Fools Day Playlist

At times like this, with so much uncertainty swirling around us, it’s good to step away from the news now and then to clear your head.

WGUC’s late midday host, Frank Johnson, was always good for an off-handed comment or unique perspective at times like these, so in his honor, we present you with his personally created April Fools’ Day playlist.

It’s a quirky collection of some of Frank’s favorite variations on the classical music he loved. Pop over to our website at April Fool’s Day Playlist and enjoy!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Missy Mazzoli

Missy Mazzoli is a successful composer whose music has been performed by many major artists including the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, Emanuel Ax, the New York City Opera, the LA Philharmonic, and many more. She recently founded Luna Lab, a mentorship program for young female composers. You may recognize her work if you've seen the Amazon TV series Mozart in the Jungle - she wrote and performed some of the music for this series! That's right, Missy is also a performer. She plays piano and often performs with Victoire, a band she founded in 2008 that focuses on performing her works.

Did you have the opportunity to see Missy's Song from the Uproar several seasons ago when Cincinnati Opera performed it? Did you enjoy it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Rebecca Clarke's Viola Sonata

Clef Notes is currently looking at women composers. This week, we're focusing on composer and violist Rebecca Clarke, an English musician from the early twentieth century.

Though her gender made a career in music difficult, Rebecca did not lose her drive to compose and perform. She was known primarily for her songs, choral works, chamber music, and solo piano pieces. She wrote around 100 pieces, however only a handful were published during her lifetime and later forgotten about.

Today, let's listen to Rebecca's Viola Sonata. This work tied for first prize in a competition in 1919, but the prize ended up going to Ernest Bloch. Sadly, following the competition, a reporter commented that it was impossible for a piece like the Viola Sonata to be written by a woman! Her knowledge of the viola is evident as this is a beautiful addition to its repertoire. What do you think?

Monday, March 16, 2020

Rebecca Clarke

Rebecca Clarke (1886–1979) was an English composer and performer who lived during the early twentieth century, and our next woman to spotlight in Clef Notes. She began her music studies early, being forced along with her siblings to perform on demand for their father. She received her first formal education from the Royal Academy of Music, but her father forced her to withdraw after he received word that one of her teachers proposed marriage.

After withdrawing from the Royal Academy of Music, Rebecca went on to become Charles Stanford's first female student at the Royal College of Music. He encouraged her to switch her instrument from violin to viola, which she would later go on and tour internationally.

Though Rebecca was thrown out of her home in her twenties, she did not despair. Instead, she used the opportunity to focus more on her musical studies and performance schedule. Some of her notable accomplishments include becoming the first female to play with the Queen's Hall Orchestra as well as founding her own female ensemble – the English Ensemble piano quartet.

Next time, let's look closer at one of Rebecca's compositions – the Viola Sonata!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Ethel Smyth's The Wreckers

Clef Notes is looking at music by women composers and this week, we explore the life and work of English composer Ethel Smyth. Known for her chamber music, orchestral works, vocal scores, and opera, Ethel Smyth was a strong woman who advocated for women's rights and pursued a career in music during a time when such a task wasn't so easy for a woman. Today, let's look at one of her most successful operas, The Wreckers.

Known as Strandrecht at the time of its premiere in Leipzig in 1906, The Wreckers contained a libretto originally written in French and later translated for its German premiere. The production was well-received but after the conductor refused to compromise on the cuts he made to Ethel's score, she took her score and left Leipzig. The opera was later performed in London. It is said that Smyth used Wagner and Sullivan as inspiration for her work. What do you think?

Monday, March 9, 2020

Ethel Smyth

It's possible that you have not heard the name Ethel Smyth (1858–1944), although she was a respected English composer of her time known for her chamber music, orchestral works, vocal scores, and opera.

Ethel was born into a successful family who didn't understand why she sought to follow her ambitions to become a composer. At that time, it was uncommon for women to pursue a career in this way. She studied for a period at the Leipzig Conservatory and then left to study privately. Her work met the approval of big-name composers of her time including Brahms, Clara Schumann, Grieg, and Tchaikovsky. An advocate for women's rights, Ethel sometimes would allow her political views to seep into her work. She lost her hearing later in life, and at that point devoted herself to writing prose.

Though Ethel Smyth is respected as a woman who fought to obtain her desired career, some scholars admit that she never really found her own personal voice in her composition. Her powerful Mass in D of 1893, for instance, is said to be reminiscent of Beethoven. Her opera The Wreckers of 1906 is said to find inspiration from Wagner and Sullivan. What do you think? Join me next time as we dig a little deeper into Ethel's successful opera.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Lili Boulanger

You may have heard of Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979), legendary teacher to Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, Astor Piazzolla, and many more. But did you know that Nadia had a younger sister, Lili (1893–1918), who was a talented composer?

The talented Boulanger sisters were born into privileged circumstances near the end of the nineteenth century. Musical talent ran in their blood, their grandmother was a celebrated singer and their father, a former winner of the Prix de Rome. It is no wonder that both girls decided to pursue music as a career. Nadia, feeling pressure to financially sustain her family following their aged father's death, attempted several times to win the Prix de Rome to no avail. While the Paris Conservatoire allowed women to enter the competition at the time, it made it nearly impossible for them to win. Despite this, Lili got the idea to attempt the competition herself and, in 1913, became the first woman to win with her cantata Faust et Helene.

After winning this prestigious competition, Lili was launched into the musical world, having her works performed alongside the masters and quickly obtaining a contract with a music publishing company, who promised a steady income.

Having struggled with health problems since she was a child, Lili's health began to deteriorate shortly thereafter. She passed away at the age 24, leaving the world to wonder what musical masterpieces could have been if she had lived a full life.