The CCM Choral Department maintains five choral ensembles: the 28-voice Chamber Choir, 45-voice Chorale, 30-voice Chamber Singers and 120-voice UC Men's and UC Women's Choruses.
CCM Chamber Choir
The CCM Chamber Choir is CCM’s premier choral ensemble of 28 singers. Under the direction of Earl Rivers, the choir performs masterworks with chamber orchestra and miniatures from the historical standard repertory and contemporary periods. The Chamber Choir rotates the cycle of J.S. Bach's masterworks - Mass in B Minor, Christmas Oratorio, St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion - and Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610.
The Chamber Choir has been acclaimed for its staged productions in collaboration with CCM’s Opera Department of Bach’s St. John Passion (Nov. 2013) at Christ Church Cathedral and St. Matthew Passion (Nov. 2011) at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, and its Monteverdi Project (Nov. 2012), which hosted international and national Early Music guest artists with CCM students in selections from Book 8 Madrigals of Love and War and Selve Morale e Spirituale that was produced for Public Television by WCET Arts Connect. The Chamber Choir has received accolades for recent presentations from the canon of contemporary works to include David Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion, Tan Dun’s Water Passion after St. Matthew, Schnittke’s Concerto for Choir, and the collegiate premiere of Bastian Clevé’s film, The Sound of Eternity, with Bach’s Mass in B Minor. The Chamber Choir has performed before national and regional conventions of ACDA, participated in Chorus America’s Masterclass for Choral and Orchestral Conductors at CCM, presented a lecture–demonstration for the NCCO national conference at CCM, and was featured in a program of si placet works of Josquin and his contemporaries for a national convention of the American Musicological Society.
Last season the Chamber Choir’s featured works include Menotti’s The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore and Stravinsky’s Les Noces (The Wedding), both in collaboration with the CCM Dance Department.
The Chamber Choir’s performances in 2015-16 feature an all-Baroque program (October 31/November 1) with Handel’s Dixit Dominus, Mondonville’s Dominus Regnavit, and J.S. Bach’s Magnificat. The Handel will be the centerpiece of the Chamber Choir’s ACDA Central Division performance in Chicago in February 2016. Chamber Choir premieres four newly commissioned works by Judith Bingham, Dominick DiOrio, Ola Gjeilo, and Jack Runestad for the Shakespeare Quadricentennial, honoring the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on April 23, 2016. The Chamber Choir combines with the Chorale annually to perform choral/orchestral masterworks.
With a history stretching back more than 45 years, the CCM Chorale is one of the College-Conservatory of Music’s two primary choral ensembles. Over its prestigious history the ensemble has had only three directors – founding director John Leman (deceased), Stephen Coker, and current director Brett Scott. Comprised primarily of undergraduate students from CCM and greater University of Cincinnati population, this diverse ensemble includes (among others) Voice Performance, Music Education, Musical Theatre, Piano Performance, Composition, and Theory majors.
The CCM Chorale maintains an active performance schedule both within and without the walls of the University of Cincinnati. It regularly combines with other CCM ensembles to execute large choral/orchestral and operatic works, and also performs more intimate compositions with the school’s top chamber ensembles. The ensemble has a strong presence in the Cincinnati community, annually performing stand-alone or combined concerts in the top venues and concert series of the greater Cincinnati area. Chorale has sung at multiple American Choral Directors Association and Midwest Composers Symposium conferences, and has been guest artists with several Cincinnati musical organizations, including the May Festival Chorus.
Last season Chorale performed Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Dave Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice with the Martin Luther King Chorale, CCM Brass Choir and Phil DeGreg Trio, and released a new CD on the Ablaze Records label, the completion of a three-year recording project of the choral works of CCM faculty composer Douglas Knehans. In 2015-16 the Chorale will perform Duruflé’s Requiem, Wynton Marsalis’s Abyssinian Mass with Central State University Chorus and CCM Jazz Ensemble, and record works of R. Murray Schafer and CCM composers Mara Helmuth and Douglas Knehans.
Masterworks with the Chamber Choir, Chorale and Orchestra
The Chamber Choir and Chorale combine annually to present standard repertory and contemporary choral/orchestral masterworks with the CCM Philharmonia and Concert Orchestras. Most recently featured were Berlioz’s Te Deum (March 2015), John Adam’s El Niño for the ACDA Central Division Convention and the public (February and March, 2014), two masterworks celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Verdi - Don Carlos in the original 5-act French version (September 2013) and Requiem (January 2013), as well as Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust with visuals by Raul Barcelona (February 2012) and a concert version (complete) of Puccini’s Turandot (January 2011). Recent seasons have featured collegiate premieres of John Adam’s On the Transmigration of Souls, Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5, Penderecki’s Credo and Augusta Read Thomas’s Ring Out, Wild Bells, To The Wild Sky, the latter two works both performed before the ACDA Central Division Convention (February 2012). Chamber Choir and Chorale combine to perform with the Cincinnati May Festival, the western hemisphere's oldest continuing choral festival. Recent performances have featured the Mahler Symphony No. 8 conducted by James Conlon and Berlioz Requiem conducted by James Levine.
In 2015-16 the combined Chamber Choir, Chorale and Cincinnati Children’s Choir present the American university staged premiere of Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake (February 13, 2016).
CCM Chamber Singers
The CCM Chamber Singers is a 30-voice mixed chorus of music majors conducted exclusively by graduate MM and DMA choral majors, under the mentorship of the choral faculty. MM and DMA choral majors gain professional conducting training through rehearsals and performances of the Chamber Singers, performing a varied repertoire of a cappella, accompanied and chamber works from all style periods. Chamber Singers rehearsals are followed by masterclasses for MM and DMA choral majors with choral and guest artist faculty.
The UC Men's and Women's Choruses of 120 voices are comprised of undergraduate students from the University of Cincinnati’s fourteen component colleges of over 40,000 students. DMA choral majors with significant experience are awarded the Directorships of these ensembles. The Cabaret Singers is a 16-voice ensemble of members from the UC Men’s and Women’s Choruses, performing a variety of styles of music. In 2015-16 Christopher Albanese, second year DMA choral major, is Director of the UC Men’s Chorus; Alexander Sutton, second year DMA choral major, is Director of the UC Women’s Chorus.
The UC Choruses and Cabaret Singers perform a diverse repertoire of a cappella, accompanied, folk, spirituals and world music. They present a major concert each semester on campus, perform off-campus, appear on CCM’s Feast of Carols, make an annual spring weekend tour, and annually present a major choral/orchestral work. Last season the UC Choruses toured to Chicago over March 2015 Spring Break.
The Jazz Ensemble is CCM's premier big band and it performs a wide variety of styles including historical swing, bebop, post-bop, fusion, Latin, and avant-garde. Special emphasis is placed on the idiom's great art-music composers such as Thad Jones, Bill Holman, and Bob Brookmeyer, on projects like the annual All-Ellington transcription concert, and on the performance of student arrangements. Concerts have included historical tributes to Woody Herman and Stan Kenton, as well as composer residency programs featuring artists like Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely, Slide Hampton, Tim Hagans, and Kenny Wheeler as guest conductors/performers. The Jazz Ensemble has been invited to appear at numerous professional festivals, educational conferences and radio broadcasts. Many internationally recognized artists have performed as soloists with the big bands and combos, including Eddie Daniels, John Fedchock, Frank Foster, Curtis Fuller, Kenny Garrett, Joe Henderson, Ahmad Jamal, Dave Liebman, and Joshua Redman. Serenade in Blue, the most recent compact disc recording by the CCM Jazz Ensemble on Sea Breeze Records continues to receive wide recognition and enthusiastic reviews. Cadence Magazine called it "a necessary part of any big-band enthusiast's library."
The Jazz Lab Band also performs an eclectic repertoire written for 17-18 players. Many styles from Count Basie to the present are performed, as well as original works by CCM students. The group performs frequently on campus and is often invited to appear at Cincinnati area jazz clubs.
The extensive Chamber Jazz Program includes approximately 10 combos. It ensures that all jazz majors perform in a supervised combo every year of their study. Specialized combos such as the Brazilian Ensemble are offered periodically. CCM combos have received awards from Down Beat magazine and numerous festivals.
The Philharmonia Orchestra, under the music direction of Professor Mark Gibson, is CCM's premier orchestral ensemble and is recognized as one of the world's elite conservatory orchestras. The Philharmonia has risen to world prominence through the quality of its performances, recordings, and its national and international tours. The Philharmonia serves as the opera orchestra for the Conservatory's award-winning opera productions. Members of the Philharmonia are regularly divided into chamber orchestras for a variety of specialized and high-profile performances.
The Concert Orchestra shares a wind and brass rotation with the Philharmonia, with a slightly younger string section. Graduate students provide leadership in the strings, helping the orchestra achieve a high level of performance. Concert Orchestra performs a full season of nine events, often taking the stage alongside the Philharmonia, and performs with both the Mainstage Opera series and CCM’s annual “Feast of Carols” celebration.
The UC Symphony Orchestra is a campus orchestra, open to all students regardless of major. Optional small ensembles, various community service events, and social events are offered throughout the year.
Named after the boisterous “Café Momus” from Puccini’s La Bohéme, the MoMus concert series continues CCM’s dedication to the performance of modern music. Under the direction of Aik Khai Pung, Cafè MoMus is taking the performance of new music in bold directions. Set in an intimate performance space, where subtle lighting and staging techniques combine with the musical expertise of the members of the CCM Philharmonia to create a wholly unique presentation of adventurous contemporary works.
The CCM Steelband is an ensemble made up of percussion majors under the direction of Professor Russell Burge. The band focuses on the traditional music of Trinidad but also incorporates pop, folk and reggae, and improvisation has become a key element of the band's repertoire. The Steelband gives one annual program each spring at CCM, as well as several outdoor concerts in the Cincinnati area.
The CCM Wind Orchestra is comprised of highly advanced performers of wind and percussion instruments. The orchestra is internationally recognized as one of the finest groups of its kind. Each semester the players are auditioned and assigned parts on a rotating basis. Following a philosophy of one player per part and adopting flexible instrumentation according to the composer’s intentions, the ensemble performs chamber music, selected transcriptions, concerti and original full ensemble repertoire spanning five centuries. The CCM Wind Orchestra performs six concerts on campus per season as well as appearing regularly in local school concerts and as special guest artists for conferences, festivals and special events.
Acknowledged as "wonderful and exciting" with performances described as "powerful, moving and thrilling," the Wind Ensemble draws its membership from the finest undergraduate and graduate musicians at CCM. Acclaimed for the quality of their performances as well as the diversity and originality of their programming, the Wind Ensemble is dedicated to bringing the finest traditional and contemporary literature to their audiences. This organization has appeared numerous times before the Ohio Music Educators Association, the Kentucky Music Educators Association, the American Society of University Composers, and has been heard nationally through broadcasts on National Public Radio.
The CCM Chamber Players is a professional-level graduate ensemble consisting of winds, brass, percussion, and strings. They have been invited to perform at a number of very prestigious events, including the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Eastman Wind Ensemble in 2002. The summer of 2002 marked the first international tour of the Chamber Players when they became the first American ensemble to perform at the Festival a Tempo in Caracas, Venezuela. They have also performed at the national College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) convention at the University of Michigan and the International Convention of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) in Ireland.
The CCM Chamber Winds is comprised of two double wind quintets and focuses on the standards of the wind chamber repertoire, including works by such composers as Mozart, Krommer, Beethoven, and Strauss, as well as more contemporary repertoire.