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.


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.