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, 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: