Constella Festival expanding its offerings

Janelle Gelfand
June 17, 2012

The second season of the new Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts will present clarinetist Anthony McGill, violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. The festival, formerly 13 concerts in 18 days, will expand to a month-long series of 22 multi-faceted events over 34 days, Sept. 30 to Nov. 2, in established and unexpected venues throughout the area.

And a signature element of the festival – partnerships with local arts groups – will nearly double next year, to include 14 local organizations, who will perform works ranging from Bach and Balanchine to concert:nova’s “Frankenstein.”
A partner concert with Chamber Music Cincinnati features the esteemed Tokyo String Quartet in a stop on its farewell tour (Oct. 23).

Constella founder and artistic director Tatiana Berman hopes that eventually the festival will become one of the region’s leading cultural attractions. She also plans to expand the education component this year.

“Our vision is about collaboration and showcasing Cincinnati’s music scene,” she said. “The fact that so many local organizations are joining means it’s working.”

American composer Nico Muhly will be composer-in-residence. He will write a work for the festival, and conduct master classes with local composition students. The festival will include four world premieres by Muhly, Mark Adamo, and Missy Lay Zimmer and Andrew Hubbard, as well as two Cincinnati premieres of music by John Corigliano and Jakub Ciupinski.

In addition, local visual artists and galleries will be highlighted during concerts.

Constella will present six programs. The festival opens on Sept. 30 with McGill, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra’s principal clarinetist, in Werner Recital Hall at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. McGill’s program with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra principal cellist Ilya Finkelsteyn and Berman, who is a violinist, will feature John Corigliano’s “Soliloquy” and other new works.

In addition, the opening concert will include the world premiere of Adamo’s “August Music” with flutists Randolph Bowman and Nina Perlove. A reception follows at in the Reed Gallery at UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, a rare linking of CCM with DAAP on the UC campus.

Composer Muhly is featured in the second “Constella presents” concert on Oct. 9 at Northern Kentucky University’s new Digitorium, the region’s most electronically advanced performance space. With the composer as pianist, the concert will fuse visual elements with digital and acoustic music, using instruments, voices, pre-recorded electronics and visuals for a multi-sensory experience. Muhly will be joined by tenor Grant Knox, violinist Berman, violist Joanne Wojtowicz and NKU students. Electronics artist Jordan Munson collaborates.

Following its inventive program in 2011, Exhale Dance Tribe will give a repeat performance with the festival on Oct. 19 at the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center. Exhale’s co-founders and artistic directors Zimmer and Hubbard will stage two world premieres, choreographed to live works by Tchaikovsky and Gorecki. Visual art will be created by Sandra Gross, and a reception will showcase FotoFocus, a month-long city-wide celebration of the art of photography.

Locally-based opera stars, tenor Marco Panuccio and soprano Kara Shay Thomson, perform “Opera Appassionata” on Oct. 26 In Memorial Hall, Over-the-Rhine. The renowned pianist Warren Jones will collaborate in their program of classic solos and duets. A reception includes an art show mounted by Fifth Street Gallery.

American violinist Anne Akiko Meyers will put her $3.6 million Stradivarius to work with pianist Wendy Chen on Oct. 27 at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Harriet Tubman Theater. Meyers’ latest album, “Air: The Bach Album,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Chart in February. Their program includes two Cincinnati premieres: Corigliano’s “Lullaby for Natalie” and Ciupinski’s “The Wreck of the Umbria” for solo violin/electronics. A reception will highlight a musical instrument exhibition, mounted by Paolo Alberghini.

The festival will conclude with an all-Debussy recital by the popular French pianist Thibaudet on Nov. 2 in Memorial Hall.

Also part of the 2012 Festival lineup are 14 local chamber music organizations. New festival partners include Bi-Okoto Cultural Institute, The Blue Wisp Jazz Club’s Blue Wisp Big Band, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (“Romeo and Juliet”), Hebrew Union College, the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Jewish Community Center, and CCM.

Returning partners include Catacoustic Consort, Chamber Music Cincinnati with the Tokyo String Quartet, concert:nova, the CSO Chamber Players, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra (a performance of Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto), the Linton Chamber Music Series (featuring artistic directors Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio) VAE: Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble and Classical Revolution, which plays classical music at Northside Tavern.

To see the complete lineup, visit www. Festival passes to three or more concerts will go on sale Monday at; 513-621-2787 or in person at the Aronoff Center Box Office, Downtown. Single tickets will go on sale at a date to be announced. Tickets to partner events are available through their own websites.