The Cincinnati May Festival announces the program details for the 2019 Festival with seven unique concert programs taking place between May 15 and 25, 2019, and an additional performance on April 14, 2019. Joining the Festival’s artistic leadership team of Principal Conductor Juanjo Mena, now in his second season, and Director of Choruses Robert Porco are Creative Partners Roomful of Teeth, a celebrated vocal ensemble, and acclaimed composer Sir James MacMillan for the 2019 Festival. Music Director Laureate James Conlon also returns to the May Festival for the first time since 2016, and Craig Hella Johnson makes his May Festival debut leading the Vocal Arts Ensemble. The annual May Festival features the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and is programmed to inspire audiences with fresh collaborations while also drawing on its rich tradition as Cincinnati’s longest running arts organization. Cincinnati’s Music Hall was originally built for the May Festival in 1878.
“Our 2019 May Festival’s theme delves further and puts before us what may be the most fundamental question of all: ‘Is there life after death?’ ‘Is anybody there?’” said Mr. Mena. “Throughout two weeks packed with exquisite music, we will tackle existential questions about our destiny (as in Brahms’ Schicksalslied), immortality (Mark Simpson’s The Immortal), the afterlife (Vaughan Williams’ Toward the Unknown Region), the last words before dying (James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross), and the lament and suffering of the Passion (Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied and Bach’s St Matthew Passion). For this we are delighted to welcome some new collaborators.”
Roomful of Teeth is a Grammy-winning vocal project dedicated to reimagining the expressive potential of the human voice. Through study with masters from vocal traditions the world over, the eight-voice ensemble continually expands its vocabulary of singing techniques and, through an ongoing commissioning process, forges a new repertoire without borders. As a Creative Partner, the ensemble will participate in community engagement activities the first week of the Festival, perform a special concert on May 15, and also participate in the May Festival subscription opener with the May Festival Chorus and CSO on May 17 with Mr. Mena conducting.
Scottish composer James MacMillan is one of the world’s most prominent and prolific composers of choral and orchestral music. His music is regularly
performed by not only professional orchestras, but also youth and amateur groups around the world. As a 2019 May Festival Creative Partner, Mr. MacMillan conducts a concert on May 18 that includes his Seven Last Words from the Cross with the CSO and May Festival Chorus. He will also join Mr. Mena in conducting “Sounds of the City,” a free community concert on Sunday, May 19 at Music Hall.
“Robert Porco and I are thrilled to welcome Roomful of Teeth and Sir James MacMillan as our Creative Partners this season,” said Mr. Mena. “The expertise and artistry of our guests along with the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra have helped to shape a remarkable series of concerts and it is a honor for me to welcome back James Conlon to the May Festival podium.”
Building on the tremendous success of the 2018 May Festival, community remains a major focus for the May Festival in 2019.
“We all look forward to bringing the community together in special programs including ‘Sounds of the City,’ a free concert at Music Hall, the annual concert at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption with a world premiere and May Festival commission by Clarice Assad, and an invitational performance by Cincinnati’s own Vocal Arts Ensemble,” said Mr. Mena.