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Renaissance to Trumpetbot: Cincinnati's Holiday Music Season Continues

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Nov 30, 2008 - 11:50:41 PM in news_2008

Sy Smith and the Toyota trumpet-playing robot
Cincinnati’s holiday music season continues with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra led by Erich Kunzel at 8 p.m. Dec. 12, 3 and 8 p.m. Dec. 13 and 3 p.m. Dec. 14 at Music Hall.

   Guest artist for “Happy Holidays with the Pops” will be vocalist/“American Idol” regular Sy Smith in favorites of the season.  Joining her will be the May Festival Chorus, Cincinnati Children’s Chorus, Madcap Puppet Theatre, Cincinnati Studio for Dance and the Cincinnati Pops Handbell Choir.
   But that’s not all.

   Look for a special guest, not of the artist kind, but of the scientific wonder kind. Toyota’s celebrated trumpet-playing robot will perform a solo, “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” from Walt Disney’s “Cinderella,” and toot along with the Pops in a pair of seasonal medleys.

   The four-foot, nine-inch humanoid robot has an artificial lung, robot fingers and according to the Toyota Motor Corporation:  artificial lips that move with the same finesse as human lips.”  These endowments enable it to “play the trumpet like humans do.”  See this for yourself on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1etIeZFm14

   The robot is one of a family of Partner Robots developed by Toyota since the mid 1990s.  It is hoped that they will assist people not only in manufacturing, but in medical/nursing care, housekeeping and personal mobility.

   O.K. a robot can play trumpet.  But can it sight read?

   Tickets are $25-$69, $20 for children (18 and under), $20 for students the week of the concert.   The Dec. 13 “family friendly” matinee is (18.75-$51.75, $10 for children.   Call (513) 381-3300 or order online at www.cincinnatipops.org.

   Elmer Thomas, founding director of the Vocal Arts Ensemble, will lead the VAE in “A Traditional Christmas” Dec. 12-14.

   Concerts are 8 p.m. Dec. 12 at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 8101 Beechmont Ave. in Anderson, 8 p.m. Dec. 13 at St. Boniface Catholic Church, 1750 Chase Ave. in Northside and 3 p.m. Dec. 14 at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, 8th and Plum Streets, downtown.

   The program comprises Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols” with harpist Elizabeth Motter, choral works by Tomas Luis de Victoria and Jan Sweelink of the Spanish and Dutch Renaissance, Anton Bruckner and Gustav Holst from the Romantic period, and new carols by American composers Stephen Paulus and David Conte.

   There will be guest choirs at each concert:  New Richmond High School Troubadours Dec. 12, Winton Woods High School Varsity Ensemble Dec. 13, and the Lyric and Jubilate Choirs of the Cincinnati Children’s Choir Dec. 14.

   Tickets are $20, $10 for students and Enjoy the Arts/Start members.  Get them at (513) 559-0000, online at www.vaecinci.org, or at the door one-half hour before the concert.

   The Cincinnati Men’s Chorus led by Patrick O. Coyle presents its holiday concert  “Naughty and Nice” at 8:07 p.m. Dec. 20, 3:07 p.m. Dec. 21 in the Harriet Tubman Theater at the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati.

   Ingenuity might be the theme of the program with such mirthful selections as “I Saw Three Ships” arranged for musical saw, an arrangement of “Jingle Bells” (“Jumble Bells”) in the style of Ravel, Khachaturian and Spike Jones, and “It’s Our Christmas Cheer” performed as a school fight song with cheerleaders. 

   There will be plenty of the “nice,” too, with settings of “Silent Night,” “A Christmas Prayer” and others by the CMC and the Adagio Trio (flute, cello and harp).

   Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 the day of the performance.  Call (513) 542-2626, or visit www.cincinnatimenschorus.org.

   And hear the complete “Messiah” by Handel at 3 p.m. Dec. 31 at Knox Presbyterian Church, Michigan and Observatory Avenues in Hyde Park.   Performing will be the Knox Choir, soloists and chamber orchestra led by music director Earl Rivers.  Admission is free.