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Cincinnati May Festival

Each May, Cincinnati is surrounded with song as the May Festival Chorus presents the oldest, and one of the most prestigious, choral festivals in the Western Hemisphere.

The Immortal

Sunday October 4, 2020 at 8 p.m.

Juanjo Mena, conductor
Roomful of Teeth
Rod Gilfry, baritone
May Festival Chorus, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Originally performed on May 17, 2019

The May Festival gives the U.S. premiere of Mark Simpson's The Immortal, "the most thrilling new choral work I have heard in years" (The Times, London). An orchestral and choral séance with text from reports made by Late Victorian mediums, The Immortal uncovers voices of the psyche and seeks answers and reconciliation. The evening's exploration of the Great Unknown begins with some of the greatest choral works by Brahms and Vaughan Williams.


BRAHMS: Schicksalslied
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Toward the Unknown Region
MARK SIMPSON: The Immortal

Mahler and Mussorgsky: Games Of Thrones

Sunday October 11, 2020 at 8 p.m.

James Conlon, conductor
Morris Robinson, bass
Sarah Vautour, soprano
Taylor Raven, mezzo-soprano
Richard Trey Smagur, tenor
Donnie Ray Albert, baritone
May Festival Chorus
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Cincinnati Youth Choir
Originally performed on May 24, 2019

Music mysteriously connects us to the past and sounds the truths to be found in fables. Here three masters lead us through a gallery of cautionary tales which warn of love for the throne and the sure weight of the crown. Mahler's grim vignettes from German fairy tales, Boito's devilish take on Faust and Mussorgsky's telling of Russian rule bring the dramatic ends of these desirous searches very much to life.


MAHLER: Das klagende Lied
BOITO: Prologue from Mefistofele
MUSSORGSKY: Prologue and Farewell from Boris Godunov

Bach's St. Matthew Passion

Sunday October 18, 2020 at 8 p.m.

Juanjo Mena, conductor
Berit Norbakken Solset, soprano
Carlos Mena, countertenor
Werner Güra, tenor
Ben Bliss, tenor
James Newby, baritone
Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass-baritone
May Festival Chorus and Youth Chorus
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Originally performed on May 25, 2019

Leonard Bernstein described Bach's St. Matthew Passion as "a revered masterpiece." This is "drama at the boiling point." Bach's Passion is an opportunity to marvel at the reach of human invention and perfection in all its forms. Bach colors a vision of a gospel and each brush stroke dispels the mists of separation between mere mortals and divine revelation.


BACH: St. Matthew Passion

The Dream of Gerontius

Sunday October 25, 2020 at 8 p.m.

Michael Francis, conductor
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor
Matthew Brook, bass-baritone; Robert Porco, Director of Choruses; May Festival Chorus; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Originally performed on May 26, 2017

Arguably Elgar's greatest work, the soaring music of The Dream of Gerontius traces the epic voyage of the soul, painting a world of dreams and shadows. From prayerful longing to searing intensity, this sonic masterpiece speaks to all who seek to understand humanity and life's meaning, regardless of background. This semi-staged exploration is the first of its kind, the world over. The Dream of Gerontius is half of the May Festival's Dream Project – two sublime concerts that weave together music, lighting, color, and drama.


ELGAR: The Dream of Gerontius

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