From Music in Cincinnati

Constella Promises Creativity, Variety

Posted in: 2015
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Feb 19, 2015 - 5:11:42 PM

The Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts, which has brightened the arts scene in Cincinnati since 2011 with its mix of music, dance and visual art, returns in April with a new format.                                                     

Tatiana Berman
Constella Four will be "core Constella," says founder/artistic director/violinist Tatiana Berman.

The festival, which has moved from fall to spring, will take place April 8-19. There will be nine concerts, plus a screening of the film “Maestro,” a documentary about music and musicians featuring Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra music director laureate Paavo Järvi.

All but two events will be Constella-produced in contrast to previous seasons, which saw the participation of numerous other arts organizations and extended over a five-week period. Partnering with Constella this year are Classical Revolution, MYCincinnati, concert:nova and Cincinnati Ballet.

Constella 2015 also promises to be inventive and diverse. “Constella has become known as a creative incubator for artists of the highest caliber,” said Berman. “We’ve always taken chances and the 2015 season is no exception.”

Returning to Constella will be violinist and three-time Grammy Award-winner Hilary Hahn. Performing with her will be German pianist/composer Hauschka (Volker Bertelmann), known for his exploration of the “prepared piano” (altering the sound of a piano by placing objects on or between the strings). The two will present the Cincinnati premiere of “Silfra,” a set of 12 improvisations named after the Silfra rift in Iceland (a site just outside the capital city Reykjavik that marks the divide between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates).

 Also appearing at the festival will be the Monte Piano Trio, classical saxophonist Amy Dickson, Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski and Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanski, all in their Cincinnati debuts.

Joining Berman in a narrative-driven project called “Not So Classical” (a world premiere) will be Cincinnati-based pianist Elena Kholodova. Cincinnati violinist and Art Ambassador Eddy Kwon returns to Constella with the Ambassador Ensemble, a sextet of young Price Hill string players, in a performance work combining chamber music with themes of social justice.

There will be world premiere choreographies featuring dancers from Cincinnati Ballet, and as in past seasons, several events will be accompanied by one-night-only art exhibitions. The film “Maestro,” directed by David Donnelly, dubbed “a vibrant contemporary portrait of the world of classical music,” will receive its Constella premiere. Venues include, in addition to Northside Tavern, Memorial Hall, Woodward Theater, Cincinnati Art Museum, First Lutheran Church and Harriet Tubmann Theater in the Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

The festival opens April 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall with saxophonist Dickson and Romanian pianist Irina Botan.  London-based Dickson, a native of Australia, was named number one on the U.K. classical charts with her 2013 album “Dusk and Dawn” and Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the 2013 Classic Brit Awards. A two-time Grammy-nominee, Dickson has performed with the Philharmonia Orchestra and London Philharmonic and regularly commissions new works and arrangements of other instrumental repertoire. She and Botan will perform music by C.P.E. Bach, Milhaud, Rachmaninov, Piazzolla, Gershwin Richard Rodney Bennett and Mark Anthony Turnage.

Founded in 2008 in Frankfurt, the Monte Piano Trio comprises violinist Francesco Sica, cellist Claude Frochaux and pianist Botan. They will perform works by Shostakovich, George Enescu and Brahms April 9 at First Lutheran Church on Race Street downtown.

Guitarist Szymanski will be heard in selections from his project “Sketches of Mexico” in an all-Latin program April 11 at Memorial Hall. Pianist Trpčeski will perform works by Brahms, Ravel, Schubert and Liszt April 15 in Woodward Theater on Main Street.

Berman and Kholodova will collaborate in “Not So Classical” April 16 in Woodward Theater. The stated goal of the project is “to transform the way you experience classical music.” Part-monologue, part-performance including video vignettes, the show is geared for families, students and anyone with an interest in classical music, said Berman.

The folk quartet The Happy Maladies – violinist Kwon plus an ensemble of guitar/banjo/mandolin and double bass – will perform April 18 at Obscura Cincinnati. The festival will close April 19 in Harriet Tubman Theater with dancers on stage with musicians in “Stories of Despair and Hope” to music by Shostakovich and Schumann.

There will be partner events by Classical Revolution (with cellist Nat Chaitkin of “Bach and Boombox”) April 12 and the chamber group concert:nova April 14. Based at Northside Tavern in Northside, Classical Revolution is the Cincinnati chapter of a worldwide movement dedicated to bringing classical music to the people. For further information, see

For more on Chaitkin and “Bach and Boombox,” see 

Tickets (prices vary) begin at $10.

The 2015 Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts:

Amy Dickson
“Spectacular Sax.” April 8. 7:30 p.m. Memorial Hall. Amy Dickson, saxophone. Irina Botan, piano.  C.P.E. Bach, Flute Sonata in A Minor, Wq. 132, H. 562 (solo). Richard Rodney Bennett, Four Country Dances. Mark Anthony Turnage, “Two Elegies Framing a Shout.” Graham Fitkin, “Gate.” Darius Milhaud, “Scaramouche.” Sergei Rachmaninov, Vocalise. Astor Piazzolla, “Ave Maria.” George Gershwin, Three Preludes. Exhibition by C.S. Arts Cincinnati opens at 6 p.m. Tickets and information at  

Monte Piano Trio
"Passionate Story." April 9. 7:30 p.m. First Lutheran Church, Race Street. Monte Piano Trio. Dmitri Shostakovich, Trio No. 1. George Enescu, Trio No. 2. Enescu, “Serenade Lointaine.” Johannes Brahms, Trio No. 2. Tickets and information at                                         

Hauschka and Hilary Hahn
“Silfra.” April 10. 7 p.m. Cincinnati Art Museum Theater. Hilary Hahn, violin. Hauschka, piano. “Silfra” (improvisations by Hilary Hahn and Hauschka). Evening includes an exclusive dinner package at Jean-Robert De Cavel’s restaurant, Le Bar a Boeuf. Tickets and information at

Morgan Szymanski
“Latin Story.” April 11. 7:30 p.m. Memorial Hall. Morgan Szymanski , guitar. Tatiana Berman, violin. Monte Piano Trio. Selections from Szymanski’s “Sketches of Mexico.” Music by Astor Piazzolla, Manuel De Falla, Julio César Oliva and others. One-night-only art exhibition featuring works of Latino artists in Greater Cincinnati. Tickets and information at

Eddy Kwon
“Ambassador Project.” April 12. 3 p.m. Mayerson Theater, School for Creative and Performing Arts. Eddy Kwon and the MYCincinnati Ambassador Ensemble. Performance work combining chamber music and themes of social justice. Project supported by the City of Cincinnati Arts Ambassador Fellowship. Tickets and information at

Nat Chaitkin
Partner Event.
April 12. 8 p.m. Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave. Classical Revolution. Rick Robinson, arranger/bassist. Cellist Nat Chaitkin (“Bach and Boombox”) and a performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire” by students of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Information at

Partner Event. April 14. 7:30 p.m. concert:nova. John Adams, “Book of Alleged Dances.” Information and tickets at

“French Inspirations.” April 15. 7:30 p.m. Woodward Theatre, 1404 Main St. Simon Trpčeski, piano. Johannes Brahms, Three Intermezzi, O p. 117. Maurice Ravel, “Valses Nobles et Sentimentales.” Franz Schubert/Franz Liszt, “Soirees de Vienne,” No. 5 and 6. Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. Exhibition by C-LINK artists opens at 6 p.m. Cash bar available. Tickets and information at      

Elena Kholodova
“Not So Classical.” April 16. 7:30 p.m. Woodward Theatre, 1404 Main St. Tatiana Berman, violin. Elena Kholodova, piano. Short works, from J.S. Bach to the 20th-century, with narrative and video. Exhibition by C-LINK artists opens at 6 p.m. Cash bar available. Tickets and information at

Paavo Jarvi
April 17. 7 p.m. Cincinnati Art Museum. Documentary film “Maestro.” Reception with director David Donnelly at Le Bar a Boeuf immediately following the screening. Ticketing information to be announced.

“Constella Late Night” April 18. Set one, 9 p.m. Set two, 10 p.m.  Obscura Cincinnati, 645 Walnut St. The Happy Maladies: Eddy Kwon, violin and voice, Benjamin Thomas, guitar/banjo and voice, Stephen Patola, mandolin/guitar and voice and Peter Gemus, double bass. Local folk quartet will showcase new works and original music written for the band.

“Stories of Despair and Hope.” April 19. 3 p.m. Harriet Tubman Theater, Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Cincinnati Ballet dancers and musicians. Dmitri Shostakovich, Quartet No. 7 (choreography by Jimmy Cunningham). “Yesterday, Tomorrow” (choreography by Amy Seiwert). Gabriel Gaffney Smith, “Together” (choreography by Heather Britt). Robert Schumann, “The Schumann Suite,” including Violin Sonata No. 1 and selected Romances. Reception at Moerlein Lager House afterward. Tickets and information at

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