Violinist Hilary Hahn
An adventurous new festival, which aims to highlight the breadth and depth of the arts in our region, launches this week. The Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts will present 13 unique performances between Thursday and Nov. 8 in what founder Tatiana Berman, 31, of Hyde Park, hopes will be a "mini-Spoleto Festival."
The collaborative events will merge music, visual art, film and dance in settings throughout the region, from venues such as Memorial Hall to the Blue Wisp Jazz Club.
"I think it's very exciting that there is such a huge variety of artists involved - it really is the breadth and depth of Cincinnati art - and includes dance, choral, solo and ensemble literature," said Donald Nally, music director of the Vocal Arts Ensemble.
"Just the existence of the festival gives Cincinnati an opportunity to experience in a concentrated week what is there all season long and can be heard and seen from coffee shops to churches to Music Hall. We're thrilled to be in such good company."
The festival is anchored by classical superstars such as violinists Joshua Bell and Hilary Hahn, pianist Alexander Toradze, New York Philharmonic principal oboist Liang Wang and jazz saxophonist Ted Nash. The festival has also folded in established Cincinnati organizations, such as the Vocal Arts Ensemble, Chamber Music Cincinnati, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players, concert:nova, Cincinnati Ballet, Linton Chamber Music and Catacoustic Consort.
Programs will merge traditional concerts with other arts. For instance, an evening of Russian piano music with renowned virtuoso Alexander Toradze and five of his students, next Sunday in the Erich Kunzel Center for Arts and Education at the School for Creative & Performing Arts, will include an exhibition of art from 5th Street Gallery, Downtown. Performers from Toradze's studio include Nikita Abrosimov, this year's gold medalist of Cincinnati's World Piano Competition, and Sangwon Kim, who won the event last year.
The festival's repertoire will range from traditional to cutting-edge. Saturday's concert, "Piazzolla, Prokofiev and Pointe Shoes," with members of Cincinnati Ballet and the adventurous classical ensemble concert:nova will include the world premieres of two works choreographed by Heather Britt, James Cunningham, Andrew Hubbard, Stephen Jacobsen and Missy Lay Zimmer.
And the Oct. 29 program at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club will include a new work for string and jazz double quartet by jazz composer Ted Nash, commissioned by the Constella Festival.
The idea, said Berman, a classical violinist, is to showcase the range of arts that the Cincinnati region has to offer. And Berman is already thinking ahead to expand the festival with more organizations and top-flight artists, as well as with educational programs.
"I hope that audiences will come away from the festival events energized and inspired by the creativity and the spirit of collaboration from artists of the highest caliber," she said.