Sunday, March 17, 2002

Classical music

Suzuki program gets another year on string

        Cincinnati Public Schools Suzuki students have reason to celebrate.

        The Suzuki program, which teaches more than 200 public school children ages 5-12 to play musical instruments, faced extinction in December, when CPS announced it was going to redirect its $140,000 subsidy. The money was headed for a general pot for the entire district.

        “This would have been the end of a very successful 18-year-old program,” says Susan Rissover, president of COPS — Cincinnati Organization of Parents for Suzuki.

        Parents staged protests at board of education meetings. Mrs. Rissover met with superintendent Steven Adamowski, who pledged support to the program.

        When the board voted Dec. 6 for “student-based budgeting,” the Suzuki money was exempted from the “pot.”

        “Your article about the near-death, then re-birth of many area music programs was very timely,” Mrs. Rissover says, referring to the Enquirer's “The bands are back” (Dec. 2).

        The CPS Suzuki Program will celebrate “renewed commitment from the board” in a Suzuki Showcase, 4 p.m. Saturday in Corbett Auditorium. They expect to pack the place with Suzuki students and alumni. (Information: 731-1953.)

        Suzuki Strings was completely funded and run by CPS when it started in 1984. But when cuts threatened the music program in 1993, the parent group mobilized as “COPS.”

        COPS began employing its own Suzuki teachers in 1995, and the Corbett Foundation pitched in for a year.

        “It was just supposed to be temporary, until CPS passed a levy and took the program back,” Mrs. Rissover says. “That never happened.”

        Suzuki lessons are taught in four Montessori elementary schools — Dater, North Avondale, Sands and Winton — on a budget of about $200,000. Parents raise the difference — money not provided by CPS — through tuition for those who can afford it, fund-raisers, grants and a few angels.

        CPS promises funding for the 2002-03 school year. After that, organizers don't know how the program will operate.

        Their goal is for Suzuki teachers to be reinstated onto the CPS staff. Eventually, they hope Suzuki will expand into the neighborhood schools.

        “It might be a tough sell, but we are willing to try,” says Mrs. Rissover, whose three children play instruments. “I really feel that the CPS music program has already hit bottom, and that we are now involved in the upswing.”

        Sounds of music: Almost 2,000 music teachers, students and music professionals from 50 states are convening through Wednesday for the Music Teachers National Association Conference, at Cincinnati Convention Center.

        “We thought it was time for our members to see the association's hometown, not to mention its headquarters,” says Gary Ingle, executive director. “MTNA moved to Cincinnati in September 1963, yet most people don't realize we are here.”

        The last time the music teachers met in Cincinnati was in 1969, he says.

        Besides educational sessions, master classes and exhibits, there will be free concerts with international stars, as well as student competitions. Several events are free and open to the public. They include:

        • The Grammy-nominated Eroica Trio, 8 p.m. today, Convention Center Ballroom.

        • Junior High Winners' concert, 3:30 p.m. today, Convention Center Ballroom.

        • Christopher Taylor, a Van Cliburn Competition bronze-medal winner, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Omni Netherland Hall of Mirrors.

        Founded in 1876, MTNA is the oldest professional music association in the United States. It has 24,000 members.

        Information: 421-1420 or

        A modern Paganini: With his lanky build and shoulder-length dark hair, he looked like a modern-day Paganini — and he played like one, too.

        Violinist Philip Quint, 27, wowed the Matinee Musicale crowd Wednesday morning in Scottish Rite Auditorium, with a program that seemed calculated to show off his brilliant technique and compelling personality.

        Joined by a fine pianist, David Riley, 31, he tackled John Corigliano's Violin Sonata with a burning intensity. The 1963 piece, which takes its cue from Leonard Bernstein, was a vehicle not only for his dazzling showmanship, but also for his gift for communication.

        He projected an expansive, sweet tone on his 1736 Stradivarius. The finale — with fingers, bow and hair flying — was one thrill after another.

        But that was no match for the fireworks in Ravel's Tzigane, a gypsy piece with daredevil feats based on Paganini's Caprices. Mr. Quint met its demands with flair and a gleam in his eye.

        The small audience also heard works by Leclair, Brahms and for an encore, Gershwin's “It Ain't Necessarily So.”

        Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and now a U.S. citizen, Mr. Quint points to violinist Cho-Liang Lin as his role model. Watch for Mr. Quint's name in lights: his new CD, William Schuman's Violin Concerto (Naxos), was nominated for two Grammy Awards last month.

        Matinee Musicale's season ends April 25 with pianist Michael Chertock. Tickets: 961-0622.

        An honor for Kunzel: Andrew Matthey, 53, of Hyde Park has nominated Erich Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops conductor, for the 2002 Kennedy Center Honors. Now he's asking others to write in to back his nomination.

        “It's an honor he richly deserves. I think, of the conductors in this country, he's probably the best-known,” the longtime Pops fan says.

        Although a Kennedy Center committee usually selects candidates for the honor, grass-roots nominations are welcome, the Kennedy Center says. Send letters to: The Kennedy Center Honors, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20566.

        A bunch of Women: ... who love to sing. That's the motto of the Forest-Aires, a women's chorus, celebrating its 40th anniversary next month.

        “They're my musical family,” says Nancy McCullough, of Anderson Township, a member for 33 years. The 35 singers award scholarship money to high schoolers for voice lessons. To date, 183 students have won awards.

        Forest-Aires was founded in 1962 in Anderson Township, by ladies in the Forest Hills PTA. Today, members come from all across the Tristate.

        The choreographed anniversary show, directed by Ruth Shawver, will feature music and costumes from the past 40 years. Performances are at 8 p.m. April 12-13, in Anderson High School auditorium. For information: 474-6069. Stars of chamber music: Superstar clarinetist Richard Stoltzman is one of the stars coming to the Cincinnati Chamber Music Society's 2002-03 season.

        The season opens Oct. 22 with the Artemis Quartet. On Dec. 3, Mr. Stoltzman, who grew up in Cincinnati, will perform with the American String Quartet.

        Other artists are the Claremont Trio (Feb. 4); the Alexander Quartet (March 4) and cellist Gary Hoffman with pianist Philippe Bianconi (April 29.)

        The next Chamber Music Society concert is 8 p.m. April 9, with the Grammy-winning Emerson Quartet.

        Concerts are held in Corbett Auditorium, University of Cincinnati. Tickets: 533-0451 or 556-4183.

        Here's the deal: Music director Paavo Jarvi has been jazzing things up at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra lately. He partied with about 200 college students after his concert on March 8 at Music Hall.

        Saturday, a new “young adult” group at the CSO presents a card party, “What's the Deal?” in Corbett Tower, following a concert that includes Stravinsky's The Card Party.

        Maestro Jarvi is expected to attend for casino games, prizes, food and live music. Concert and party: $25. Deadline: Tuesday. 744-3590.

        Kudos: The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music opera department has again scored big wins in the National Opera Association Video Competition. The Rape of Lucretia and The Mother of Us All took first-place honors.

        Spring break in Dubai: A group of CCM opera singers and faculty left Monday for Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where they will put on a production of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, at the invitation of the Dubai Concert Committee. Music director Kelly Hale, acting chair of CCM's opera department, anticipates six performances, ending with one in Cairo on the way home. They return March 24.

        Contact Janelle Gelfand at 768-8382; fax: 768-8330; e-mail:



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