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Music in Cincinnati's Best of 2015

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Jan 5, 2016 - 4:39:55 PM in news_2016

It’s that time of year again: looking back on one’s favorite events of the year just past.

Here is a baker’s dozen of Music in Cincinnati’s 2015 highlights:

The Cincinnati Pops’ tribute to Stephen Collins Foster January 25. Pops conductor John Morris Russell led this Foster showcase, reminding the audience of the time the great American songwriter spent in Cincinnati.

The return of Cincinnati Symphony music director emeritus Paavo Jårvi to lead the CSO March 2 in a concert featuring Georgian violinist Khatia Buniatishvili in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Also on the program were Carl Nielsen’s “Aladdin” Suite (a CSO premiere) and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1.

The CSO’s annual collaboration with the Music Now Festival March 13 and 14. Joining the orchestra was the rock band The National led by Bryce Dessner. Heard was everything from Edgar Varese to the world premiere of Caroline Shaw’s Violin Concerto (with the composer as soloist) and songs by the National.

Guest conductor/composer John Adams with the CSO April 18 in a colorful program featuring Adams’ “Sheherazade.2” with violinist Lelia Josefowicz and Ottorino Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.”

The early music ensemble Catacoustic Consort April 26, spotlighting music for viola da gamba, from the early 16th century to the contemporary period.

The 2015 May Festival May 22, 23, 29 and 30 with Haydn’s “Creation,” Berlioz’ Requiem and an all-Russian night featuring the Symphony No. 13 (“Babi Yar”) by Shostakovich, excerpts from “Khovanshchina” by Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture with digital cannon shots. Music director James Conlon and director choruses Robert Porco conducted.

Cincinnati Opera’s “Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini July 25, a grand spectacle, featuring Marcy Stonikas as Turandot, Norah Amsellem as Liù and tenor Frank Porretta as Calàf, with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra led by Ramón Tebar.

Returning for the third year in a row August 6, the CSO’s spectacular sound and light show, Lumenocity, with images projected onto the façade  of Music Hall to live music by the CSO led by music director Louis Langrée.

The Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s new summer festival, Summermusik August 15-Sept. 3, a mix of chamber music and orchestral concerts, providing around-the-clock entertainment, including two superb concerts August 15 and 22 led by CCO interim music director Kelly Kuo.

“New Voices,” a sampler of Cincinnati’s impressive array of Wagner talent Sept. 13, presented by the Cincinnati Wagner Society. Heard in selections by Wagner and others were sopranos Shareese Johnson Arnold, Jessine Johnson and Jessica Faselt, mezzo-soprano Paulina Villarreal, tenor Pedro André Arroyo, baritone Andrew Manea and bass-baritone Christopher Brandon Morales.

The CSO’s “Three B’s” including a knockout performance of Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique” Sept. 25. On the podium was CSO music director Louis Langrée.

The CSO’s new “Stories in Concert” series Sept. 27 featuring Langrée in spoken introductions to the music.

The first in a series of three concerts Oct. 3 by Langrée and the CSO, based on the story of “Pelleas and Melisande.” To be spread over three seasons, the multi-media event, with visuals projected over the stage, centered on Ravel’s tone poem “Pelleas et Melisande.”