Category Archives: Press Releases

SPRING AWAKENING Coming July 29-Aug. 8 to Cincinnati Actor’s Studio & Academy

CASA_Spring Awakening logoSPRING AWAKENING runs July 29th-August 1st & August 5th-August 8th at Cincinnati Actor’s Studio & Academy

Join CASA on this journey as we explore the importance of taking teenagers seriously in a world that demands so much from them.

Cincinnati, OH – July 19, 2021
What is at risk when we fail to communicate?

The award-winning musical “Spring Awakening” is a rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater. It is based on the 1891 German play Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind, whose work, which often criticizes bourgeois attitudes (particularly towards sex), is considered to anticipate expressionism and was influential in the development of theatre of the absurd. Wedekind was also a life-long guitar player and surely would have been a rock star today. Hence, the 21st-century musical blends the 19th-century play with an alternative rock score.

Ticket and Production Details
Performances will be on Thursday, July 29th – Sunday, August 1st, & Thursday, August 5th – Sunday, August 8th all at 7:30 pm. All performances will be at Essex Studios (2511 Essex Place, Studio 282B, Cincinnati, OH 45206.

Tickets are $15 for students/seniors and $20 for adults and can be purchased online or at the door.

SPRING AWAKENING has a warning for mature content. Masks are REQUIRED for the audience OR proof of vaccination at the box office. The cast is fully vaccinated and will be performing without masks.

For more details, visit or CASA’s Facebook page.

*Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International*


  • Director/Choreographer: Gina Cerimele-Mechley
  • Assistant Director: Meg Roulier
  • Stage Manager: Jess Cooper
  • Assistant Choreographer: Cecilia Gries
  • Music Director: Joseph Ivan
  • Vocal Coach: Kate Stuard
  • Mask Coach: Cheryl Couch
  • Assistant to Mask Coach: Aidan McCracken
  • Scenic Artist: Sara Detwiler
  • Social Media: Sara Detwiler
  • Dramaturg: Sarah Dykhuizen
  • Costumer: Julie Simmons
  • LIVE Videographer: Lorelai Goodwin
  • Videographer Coach: Evan Holzman
  • Sound Design/Board Op: Mickey Masterson


  • All Adult Women: Alaska Stoughton
  • All Adult Men: Justin Huddilston
  • Anna: Frankie Montazemi
  • Ernst: Alex Simpson
  • Georg: Ethan Baker
  • Hanschen: Worley Stidham
  • Ilse: Maddi O’Connell
  • Martha: Chloe Price
  • Melchior: Alex Pletikapich
  • Moritz: Nick Swope
  • Otto: Jason Coffenberry
  • Thea: Claire Adams
  • Wendla: Cassandra Reeves
  • Ensemble: Dani Underdown, Bryn Studer, Connor Williamson, Elliet Malatesta, Kayamarie Roll, Sabrina Mack, James Pinkley, Sean Britton, Grace Davis


“Set in late 19th-century Germany, the musical and the play tell the story of teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of adolescent sexuality, and the brutality and hypocrisy of the adults in their world, both of which are unfortunately timeless themes. Frank Wedekind takes the position that an entire society is destroying the children it claims to love. In the end, the only thing that really matters to teenagers is that they are taken seriously. The key to that is communication: healthy communication between teens and adults, and listening to the past and to “those you’ve known and lost” all the while looking ahead to the future. Failure in communication is always the catalyst for the tragedy in the story. These messages of the play often get overlooked in the musical due to the spectacles of ecstasy and obscenity. CASA explores returning to the ghostly roots of the play, and the heart of comedy, tragedy, and vulnerability it expresses.

As usual, CASA has set the production up with the audience as a part of the action, as we want you to enter the story, not the theatre. As always, we hope to create dialogue to create change. A portion of the proceeds from this run will be donated to Lighthouse Youth and Family Services.” — Gina Cerimele-Mechley, director

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TOM SEGURA: I’M COMING EVERYWHERE – World Tour | Fri., May 27, 2022 | Aronoff Center


CAA_Tom Segura headshot2May 27, 2022 | Aronoff Center
Tickets on sale Friday, July 23 at 10:00 AM

[CINCINNATI, OH] – TOM SEGURA announced the second leg of his I’M COMING EVERYWHERE – WORLD TOUR. The comedian/podcast host will be at the Aronoff Center’s Procter & Gamble Hall on Friday, May 27, 2022 at 7:00 PM.  

Tickets go on-sale to the public on Friday, July 23 at 10:00 AM at and (513) 621-2787 [ARTS}. Due to the pandemic, the Aronoff Center Ticket Office is closed for in-person sales and will reopen on Monday, August 2.

Actor/Comedian/Writer Tom Segura is one of the biggest names in the comedy business. He recently performed to sold-out audiences on his 100+ city TAKE IT DOWN TOUR. He is best known for his Netflix specials, Ball Hog (2020), Disgraceful (2018), Mostly Stories (2016), and Completely Normal (2014). Paste Magazine described him as, “…having a natural and capable storytelling ability, one that lifts his narratives out of average anecdote fare and plants them firmly in hilarious ground.” Your Mom’s House Studios is home to his hit podcasts Your Mom’s House, which he co-hosts with his wife, comedian Christina Pazsitzky; 2 Bears 1 Cave, which he co-hosts with Bert Kreischer; and many more. Additionally, YMH Studios was one of the first networks to create wildly successful livestream podcast events as an outcome of the pandemic.

Segura can be seen in the STX Film Countdown opposite Elizabeth Lail, Instant Family opposite Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, Opening Act, and Flinch. Segura’s television credits include The Late Show with Stephen ColbertConanWorkaholics, Happy EndingsThe Late Late Show, Comedy Central Presents: Tom Segura, Mash Up, and How To Be A Grown Up.

Segura has an increasing social media following (@seguratom on IG, @tomsegura on Twitter). When he isn’t performing on stage or recording a podcast, he’s watching College Football or waiting for college football to come back.

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Know Theatre of Cincinnati Brings You a Musical, Medieval, Muppety Outdoor Romp in ALL’S FAIRE

KTC_Alls Faire promoBy Alexx Rouse and Zach Robinson
July 23 – August 8, 2021

The Ren Faire: a world full of magic, merriment, romance … and CRIME

The Know Theatre returns to live in-person performance with its outdoor touring performance of All’s Faire, a brand-new musical comic caper set at a Renaissance Festival. This zany romp is packed with original music, absurdist gags, puppets, pirates, magical creatures, and a dynamic private-eye duo (she’s cynical and hard-nosed; he’s wide-eyed and naïve). Join us on an adventure where, if you lighten up and have a little fun, real magic can happen.

When a crime wave rocks a Renaissance Faire, the bigwigs are ready to close the place down for good unless the culprit can be nabbed. Crime-fighting duo Johnson and Josh are on the case! They’re here to catch a thief, adventure with pirates, find a little magic, and maybe fall in love with a beautiful elf maiden along the way.

All’s Faire began life back in 2018 as a contender in Serials!, our annual episodic competitive theatre party. Audiences loved the scrappy little musical/crime caper, and voted it through all five episodes. Northern-Kentucky based playwrights Alexx Rouse and Zach Robinson, along with local songwriter James Allen, knew they’d hit on something special, so they adapted their fan-favorite Serials! concept into a full-length play, which we’re delighted to present in its world premiere!

As we ease back into in-person production, we decided we want to meet our audience where you are – out in your communities. All’s Faire was created to be an outdoor experience that can travel to locations around Greater Cincinnati – just like an old fashioned “trunk show.” You’ll find a list of dates and venues at the end of this release, and we’ll be announcing more tour stops as we confirm them. 

Why kick off season 24 with this show? Here’s what Producing Artistic Director Andrew Hungerford has to say, “It seems a perfect fit to kick off this season of new storymaking with a show by local artists that grew out of our Serials! Monday night

theatre party. In its creation and content, All’s Faire is a celebration of the storymaking power of community: Cincinnati’s deep community of theatrical artists as well as the community of Renaissance Faire folk across the country. It’s an opportunity to remind ourselves what it’s like to come together and collectively imagine another world.” 

Making his MainStage directing debut with the Know is All’s Faire co-author (and the Know’s Artist and Community Relations Manager) Zach Robinson. And while Music Director James Allen has regularly created music for Know productions ever since 2014’s Moby Dick, this is their MainStage debut as lyricist! 

All’s Faire also features some of Cincinnati’s favorite onstage talent. Jordan Trovillion (previously at the Know in Puffs, The Absentee, and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere) stars as Johnson, with Andrew Ian Adams (previous Know credits include Puffs, Mercury, Hearts Like Fists) as Josh, Brianna Bernard (Puffs) as Glethien, and James Creque (Mercury, The Fisherman’s Wife, All Childish Things) as the Bard.

And while we’re thrilled to return to in-person performances, we know there are still lots of folks who won’t be able to join us for outdoor shows here in Cincinnati. So, we’ll be putting what we learned over a year of digital programming to work and offering a video-on-demand version of All’s Faire, which will be available July 30 – August 31.

It’s been a tough year. Let’s have some fun. All’s Faire is for anyone who could use a little whimsy, a lot of heart, and a hearty helping of absurdity. Come find us in a neighborhood near you starting July 23!

For an up-to-date schedule of tour stops, and to purchase tickets, visit our website at

Current dates and locations include:

  • Friday, July 23, 7:30 PM: The Carnegie, Covington
  • Saturday, July 24, 7:30 PM: The Carnegie, Covington
  • Sunday, July 25, 3 PM: Wyoming Fine Arts Center, Wyoming
  • Thursday, July 29, 7:30 PM: Humble Monk Brewing Co, Northside
  • Friday, July 30, 7:30 PM: The Fitton Center, Hamilton
  • Saturday, July 31, 7:30 PM: The Carnegie, Covington
  • Sunday, August 1, 3 PM: Artsville, Madisonville
  • Thursday, August 5, 7:30 PM: Humble Monk Brewing Co, Northside
  • Friday, August 6, 7:30 PM: BonBonerie Parking Lot, O’Bryonville
  • Saturday, August 7, 7:30 PM: The Carnegie, Covington
  • Sunday, August 8, 3 PM: Kennedy Heights Arts Center, Kennedy Hts 


  • Andrew Ian Adams as Josh
  • Brianna Bernard as Glethien
  • James Creque as the Bard
  • Jordan Trovillion as Johnson


  • Director: Zach Robinson
  • Scenic & Props Designer: Kayla Williams
  • Costume Designer: Noelle Wedig-Johnston
  • Lighting Designer: Andrew J. Hungerford
  • Sound Designer: Douglas J. Borntrager
  • Original Music: James Allen
  • Stage Manager: Cole Sweasy
  • Technical Director: Henry Bateman
  • Puppets by Madcap Puppets 


Production: All’s Faire, by Zach Robinson and Alexx Rouse

Dates: July 23 – August 8, 2021

Where: Parking lots around Cincinnati

Tickets: The standard ticket price is $25. Audiences may opt to support the Know’s initiative to pay all artists and employees a living wage by selecting the $35 Living Wage Ticket. Low-cost admission available for $15. On Wednesdays, as part of our Welcome Experiment, tickets are $5 in advance or FREE beginning one hour prior to the show. 

Know Theatre is Cincinnati’s Theatrical Playground. The Know showcases unexpected voices, new works, and plays that embrace the inherent theatricality of the live experience. Know Theatre seeks to be a place where artists and audiences feel welcome to take artistic risks, creating work that is cutting edge and accessible. 

Know Theatre’s work is made possible, in part, by the generosity of community contributions to the ArtsWave Campaign

The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Know Theatre with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. 

Know Theatre is also supported by The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation, helping to change our communities for the better through collaboration and innovation, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, which provides a simple, powerful, and highly personal approach to giving. 

Know Theatre is a member of Theatre Communications Group and an Associate Member of the National New Play Network.


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Cincinnati Shakespeare Company Welcomes New Leadership Team Members

CSC_New Leadership

Crystian Wiltshire, Kate Bindus, Maddie Regan, and Candice Handy. By Mikki Schaffner Photography.

CSC is proud to bring new team members to the Artistic, Production, and Education Departments as they prepare for reopening 

Cincinnati, July 9, 2021- Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is pleased to announce several new members of its Leadership Team: Kate Bindus- Production Manager, Candice Handy- Director of Education, and Crystian Wiltshire- Associate Artistic Director. Joining the Executive Leadership Team is Maddie Regan- Managing Director.  This expansion of the Leadership Team is in preparation for the hopeful reopening of the CSC Mainstage season this fall.  Producing Artistic Director, Brian Isaac Phillips said, “We are thrilled to be building our team in this way and to welcome these new leaders to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company!”

Joining Brian in Executive Leadership is Managing Director Maddie Regan. Ms. Regan assumed this role in early 2020, immediately guiding the company through the pandemic. She said, “I am proud of the adaptability the team demonstrated as we have navigated the operational and financial hurdles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and I appreciate the immediate inclusion and trust I received from the staff and Board as I assumed this executive leadership role during such a difficult and unpredictable time.”

CSC has also been committed to inviting young voices to join the conversation about Shakespeare, the classics, drama, and more by presenting quality and engaging performances and workshops for over 50,000 students annually through their Education Department. CSC is thrilled to welcome Candice Handy as the new Director of Education who will expand the impact of the Education Department and create new offerings for our students and school partners. Mr. Phillips says, “Candice brings passion, experience, and ownership to the role and we welcome her perspective as we work on expanding our reach to more students and youth organizations in Cincinnati.” Candice began in May 2021 and immediately jumped in as the director of CSC’s Theatre Summer Camp.

As CSC hopes to reopen in the late fall, the Production Department will be undergoing a restart and rebuild.  Kate Bindus has taken the lead as the new Production Manager.  Maddie says, “Kate is exactly the leader that the Production Team needs today. Her attention to detail, ambition for growth, and the intentional collaborative and constructive environment she cultivates will guide the department through a successful reopening. She is an asset to our institution and we are fortunate that she is excited to tackle the challenges ahead!” Kate started in June and has already begun hiring her team and preparing the Production Department for its upcoming projects.

Crystian Wiltshire is joining the artistic leadership as Associate Artistic Director.  Brian is “thrilled to welcome Crystian to the team and to collaborate and engage with him as we plan future seasons and programs at CSC.  His viewpoint and voice will be most welcomed in our Artistic planning to ensure that we are presenting Shakespeare and the Classics for all.” Crystian joined the team July 1 and is just getting started!

Maddie, Candice, Kate, and Crystian are joining the Leadership Team currently in place at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company which also includes Sara Clark- Director of Development, Brian Isaac Phillips- Producing Artistic Director, Lettie Van Hemert- General Manager, and Jeanna Vella- Director of Marketing and Data Analytics.  This Leadership Team consists of an Artistic Visionary Circle (AVC) and a Business Visionary Circle (BVC). Maddie says “Both circles share the central focus of serving our mission, and each Circle’s primary task is supporting the other. This structural reframing will intentionally define and grow the artistic and business decision-making tables, encouraging diversification of perspectives in both. By creating these circles, we recognize that the “business” and the “art” are essential to one another.”

Welcoming new members to the team is vital to CSC’s long-term goals. Mr. Phillips said “We adopted a 5-year Strategic Plan in October 2020 and a comprehensive Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access Plan in January 2021. These plans clearly identify our goals and are used to hold our Leadership, Board, Staff, and Institution accountable for living our stated values. One of the pillars of this work was to actively grow the perspectives represented among all levels of our staff, Leadership, and Board of Trustees. We consider this Leadership transition essential as we work to serve our updated mission statement and bring ‘Shakespeare and the Classics to life for all.’

Opportunities to meet these new team members in person will be available during the 2021-2022 Season. More information on each of the new Leadership Team Members is below:

Kate Bindus is the new Production Manager at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Kate previously served as the Associate Production Manager and Stage Management Intern at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Prior to her tenure at CSC, Kate worked at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, The Goodman Theatre, and the Cleveland Public Theatre. Kate is from Cleveland, OH. She attended Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio and majored in the Theatre Design and Technology with a focus in Stage Management.

Candice Handy is the new Director of Education at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, where she has been a Resident Ensemble Member for four seasons.  Candice has been a teaching artist and theatre educator for the past eight years including workshops and classes for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, where she completed the Bruce E. Coyle Acting Internship. Before accepting her new position at CSC, Candice founded the Cincinnati Black Theatre Artist Collective, where she is the Artistic Director. Candice is a native of Birmingham, AL. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Sciences from Alabama State University and her Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance, with a focus in the African American theatre experience from the University of Louisville.

Maddie Regan is the new Managing Director at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. At CSC, Maddie has previously served as the Production Manager and the Director of Operations and Production. During this time, Maddie facilitated the design, commissioning, and grand opening of The Otto M. Budig Theater, a $17.5MM world-class facility in Over-the-Rhine and the artistic home of the CSC. Prior to her tenure at CSC, Maddie was the Director of Operations for one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the United States, served as an Associate Producer for an internationally touring musical, and traveled the world as a Production Manager for Royal Caribbean International.  Maddie is a 2021 recipient of the Over the Rhine Chamber of Commerce Employee of the Year Made Award, a graduate of Cincinnati USA Region Chamber C-Change Class 15, an elected Precinct Executive in Hamilton County, the inaugural recipient of the Golden Quill Award with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and a regular participant of multiple community organizations in Norwood, Ohio. Maddie regularly serves as a guest lecturer for the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, Carnegie Mellon University, and Miami University covering a wide variety of topics including production budgeting, business planning, and arts administration. Maddie is from Falls Church, Virginia and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with concentrations in Production Technology and Management.

Crystian Wiltshire is the new Associate Artistic Director. Before accepting this position, he served as Museum Theatre Director at Historic Locust Grove where he helped begin their Museum Theatre Program that emphasizes stories of the enslaved peoples of Kentucky. He has worked for several years as a teaching artist, performed as a Resident Ensemble Member and most recently directed with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. While performing for Actors Theatre of Louisville, he directed multiple productions of their Professional Training Company’s Solo Mio Project. Crystian is from Brooklyn, NY and graduated from the University of Louisville majoring in English with a minor in Theatre.


About Cincinnati Shakespeare Company:

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is a professional theatre company dedicated to bringing Shakespeare and the classics to life for all.  In the summer of 2017, the theater relocated to the Otto M. Budig Theater, a brand new facility in OTR. CSC’s repertoire is made up of the works of William Shakespeare, literary adaptations, and contemporary classics.  CSC performs on a Small Professional Theatre contract with Actors’ Equity Association. Cincinnati Shakespeare is a member of the Theater Communications Group and the Shakespeare Theater Association.  Each year, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Education and Outreach Programs reach over 50,000 young people and underserved community members each season by taking Shakespeare into schools, parks, community centers and by hosting educational matinees of mainstage productions.  In 2015, CSC was proud to become one of the first five theaters in the United States to “Complete the Canon” by producing all 38 plays by William Shakespeare. CSC is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible.  Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is proud to be Cincinnati’s stage for the classics!

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Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Announce 2021-2023 Class of Diversity Fellows

CSO CCM_logosFive extraordinary graduate-level string players have been selected for the sixth class of the prestigious CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship program

CINCINNATI, July 8, 2021 — The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have selected five outstanding musicians for their next class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows. Born out of a mutual desire to help American orchestras become more inclusive and better represent the communities they serve, the performance fellowship program was launched in 2015 and continues with a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Through the collaborative program, CCM and the CSO provide graduate level academic study and professional development and performance opportunities for the Diversity Fellows while catalyzing a more inclusive environment for underrepresented musicians in the orchestra field. The program’s tagline — “Bravos Without Barriers” — gets to the heart of its mission: eliminating obstacles that can prevent extraordinary musicians from achieving their full potential.

“If this past year has taught us anything, it is the need to work even more diligently to address the systemic imbalance and inequity that has been inherent in classical music” said CSO President & CEO Jonathan Martin. “Our ultimate goals with the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship are twofold: to change the face of American orchestras to be more inclusive, and to be more reflective of our community so that we can more authentically serve the entirety of our community. The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship has been a way to jumpstart that process—for both the Orchestra and the fellows. More importantly though, is that this opportunity immediately immerses the fellows to the rigors and demands of the life of a professional orchestral musician, which benefits their musical and professional development. We are grateful that The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been our funding partner for this important work.”

“If we are serious about promoting a more diverse and inclusive atmosphere within the arts, then conservatories and professional arts organizations have to work together to effect that change,” said CCM Dean Stanley Romanstein. “Part of our role as educators is to connect ‘potential’ with ‘opportunity.’ The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship is designed to revolutionize the talent pipeline by opening the doors of the orchestral industry to a more diverse population of emerging professionals. The Fellowship was a bold first step, but the work is ongoing. Thanks to our strong partnership with the CSO, the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the vision provided by the University of Cincinnati’s ‘Next Lives Here’ agenda, we will continue to build for tomorrow by cultivating an environment that focuses on accessibility while also providing artists with the support necessary for long-term success.”

Five exceptional string players will officially join the two-year fellowship program in August 2021, bringing the total number of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows to nine for the 2020-21 academic year and performance season. The incoming Fellows are:

  • Luis Celis Avila, (double bass)
  • Tyler McKisson, (viola)
  • Luis Parra, (cello)
  • Samantha Powell, (cello)
  • Mwakudua Kuo San “Dua” waNgure, (violin)

The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship Program is open to exceptional violin, viola, cello and double bass players coming from historically underrepresented populations in classical music. The program is highly competitive, and each class of Fellows is selected through a series of auditions. Every year, hundreds of candidates audition for CCM faculty members for admission to the Conservatory. From that pool a select group is then invited back for Diversity Fellowship auditions with CSO musicians. The program saw its largest finalist group ever during the 2020-21 audition cycle, with 29 applicants invited to the final round of auditions, which were conducted in-person and virtually.

The Diversity Fellows perform the equivalent of five weeks per season with the CSO while enrolled in a two-year Master of Music (MM) or Artist Diploma (AD) graduate degree program at CCM. The program also includes private lessons, mock auditions, professional development and audition travel assistance, career development workshops and mentorship from CSO musicians and artistic leadership.

Each Fellow receives full tuition scholarship support from CCM, a $10,000 per year graduate stipend and a one-time Graduate School Dean’s Excellence Award of $3,000. Each Fellow also receives compensation of $8,000 per season while performing with the CSO.

“The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship provides the opportunity to learn with one of the greatest orchestras in the world, and when I read about the program I knew that I had to apply for my shot at making this dream a reality,” incoming Fellow Zabawa-Martinez says. “In my first year as a fellow, I plan to take every opportunity presented to me in Cincinnati, and to learn by watching and listening to the musicians around me. The chance to gain experience with an orchestra like the CSO and to work with musicians from the orchestra and CCM will be a dream come true.”

CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows can also participate in additional opportunities, including the chance to perform with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and participate in professional development opportunities with the Chautauqua Institution during its summer season.

Seventeen musicians have graduated from the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship to date. The fourth class of Diversity Fellows, which is comprised of Jordan Curry (violin), Magdiell Antequera (violin), Cristian Diaz (viola), Edna Pierce (viola) and Denielle Wilson (cello), recently completed the program at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. Alumni have gone on to work with orchestras such as the Dallas, National, and Nashville Symphony Orchestras, as well as continuing as freelance artists and educators across the country.

Luis Celis Avila, Master of Music (MM) student, Double Bass A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, Luis Celis started playing the double bass at age 14. In 2021 he graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied with Susan Hagen on a full scholarship. Before that, he studied at the Jose Luis Paz Music Conservatory in his native Maracaibo for 11 years. During his time in Venezuela, Celis profusely enjoyed performing with a variety of youth and professional orchestras like the Maracaibo Symphony Orchestra.

During his time in Boston, Celis was fortunate to be part of one of the most vibrant and active communities in the world. As a former member of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, he studied with Danilo Perez, Kenny Werner, Victor Wooten and John Patitucci. In 2018 Celis was chosen to perform at a master class for Ron Carter at the college. In addition to these experiences, Celis has also performed with the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (including a tour to Brazil with pianist Anna Fedorova) and the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra.

Celis has participated in summer festivals such as the Curtis Institute Summerfest where he was able to work with Roberto Diaz, and the Bach Institute in Boston where he worked with John Harbison.

Celis has also performed with multiple Grammy-winning artists such as Jacob Collier, George Massenburg (Studio Recording), Aida Cuevas, Latin Grammy winner Miguel Siso and Tigran Hamasyan. Other highlights include performing for Lenin Moreno, president of Ecuador at Harvard, for Howard Shore as the principal bassist of the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra at a concert in Boston Symphony Hall and for the Nintendo Switch video game score Dragon Marked for Death composed by Ippo Yamada.

Tyler McKisson, Artist Diploma (AD) student, Viola
Tyler McKisson is a 24-year-old orchestral and freelance violist from Arvada, Colorado who has recently received a Master of Music degree from the University of Colorado – Boulder in viola performance. During his Master’s, he studied under Erika Eckert. McKisson received a Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance at the University of Northern Colorado where he studied under Christopher Luther and Anne Lanzilotti. McKisson’s musical career started at age 10 when he joined his school’s string orchestra program. At age 14, he began his studies under his first private instructor, Brian Cook.

McKisson has participated in master classes as part of an ensemble and as a soloist led by artists such as Guillermo Figueroa, Robert deMaine and Matthew Dane. McKisson has been a member of the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra for four seasons and has been a substitute for other local orchestras including the Boulder Symphony Orchestra and the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra. McKisson has also been named a substitute for the New World Symphony Orchestra, based in Miami, FL. He is a member of the Dynamix String Quartet which has performed an array of pop songs, classical pieces, and new music. Dynamix has performed two world premieres by local composers Eric Scott Alexander and Conner Lee Shaw. McKisson is also a member of the All Angles Orchestra which was the recipient of the Downbeat Student Music Award for Large Jazz Ensemble in 2018. Additionally, the ensemble recorded their debut album, New Angle, in 2017 through the Outside in Music Record Label.

He has been a national finalist in the MTNA Competition Chamber Division and has received a number of scholarships and grants to aid his undergraduate and graduate studies. McKisson has participated in several summer music programs including; Zodiac Music Academy Festival in Valdeblore, France; Music in the Mountains in Durango, CO; and Rocky Ridge Music Festival in Estes Park, CO. This summer, McKisson will be attending the Aspen Music Festival and School as a fellowship recipient.

Luis Parra, Master of Music (MM) student, Cello
Venezuelan cellist Luis Parra, age 24, began his musical journey at age 10, studying with cellist Tibisay Silva at the world-renowned program “El Sistema” in San Felipe, Venezuela. In 2012, Parra became a student of the Latin American Cello Academy, where he continued his studies with cellists William Molina and Wilfredo Perez and had the opportunity to work with other prominent cellists, including German Marcano and Marek Gajzler.

In 2013, Parra was named Principal Cellist of the Yaracuy Youth Symphony Orchestra and was invited to perform with the professional Caracas Municipal Orchestra and the Teresa Carreño Symphony. Parra made his solo debut with the Yaracuy Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2014, performing the Saint Saens Cello Concerto and his international debut with the Beirut Philharmonic in Ghalboun, Lebanon, where he performed the Elgar Cello Concerto.

As an accomplished chamber musician, Parra has participated in many festivals worldwide, including the Nuevo Mundo Festival and Academy in Aruba, the Yawmiyat Festival in Ghalboun, Lebanon, Center Stage Strings in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Amelia Island Festival in Florida.

In 2017, Parra moved to the United States, accepting a full scholarship to study at the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University with cellists Richard Aaron, Julie Albers and Leo Singer. At Mercer, Parra had the opportunity to perform in master classes for great cellists and pedagogues, such as Edward Arron and Clive Greensmith, and performed alongside the Cavani String Quartet. In May of 2021, Parra was awarded the General Excellence in Music Award from the Townsend School of Music at Mercer University and graduated Summa Cum
Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance. Luis Parra plays on a “Neuner & Hornsteiner” cello, generously loaned by the Carlsen Cello Foundation from Seattle, WA.

Samantha Powell, Artist Diploma (AD) student, Cello
Samantha Powell recently graduated with a Bachelor’s in Cello Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. There she studied with the associate principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra, Richard Weiss. A 2017 graduate of Centennial High School, she was very involved in her orchestra as principal cellist, as well as her local church, where she has been a frequent featured soloist.

Powell started her music studies with cello at the age of five studying with John Landefeld, Associate Principal Cellist of the Plano Symphony Orchestra. She has won spots in the top All-Region orchestras in five consecutive years and has received All-State solo and orchestral honors. She was also a dedicated member of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra where she was featured as a concerto winner of the GDYO Philharmonic and the principal cellist of the top ensemble.

At CIM, she has been a principal cellist of the orchestra, been very active in chamber music being in groups like the Thalia Quartet which was selected for the Advanced String Quartet program, and has participated soloistically in Sonata Seminar where again being featured in concert. She was recently awarded for best Bach in the Cleveland Cello Society Scholarship Competition. Festivals where she has been a participant include The International Lyric Academy, Graz American Institute of Musical Studies in Austria, National Symphony Orchestra Summer Institute and recently received a fellowship with the National Orchestra Institute.

Mwakudua Kuo San “Dua” WaNgure, Artist Diploma (AD) student, Violin
Mwakudua WaNgure grew up in Fort Myers, Florida, where he started violin at the age of four through the Suzuki method. He continued to study violin throughout his childhood and graduated from high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy. WaNgure attended the Oberlin Conservatory where he earned his BM in Violin Performance and studied with David Bowlin. WaNgure went on to earn his MM in violin performance at the University of Michigan where he studied under Aaron Berofsky and Kathryn Votapek.

As a student WaNgure attended festivals such as the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Summer Intensive. As a professional WaNgure performed as a member of the various groups in the midwest such as the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, the Jackson Symphony Orchestra and the Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival Orchestra. He also served as a violin instructor at Scarlett Middle School and Mitchell Elementary School in Ann Arbor.

About the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
With a rich tradition that dates back more than 125 years, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is considered one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles. Led by Louis Langrée, the Orchestra’s distinguished roster of past music directors includes Frank van der Stucken, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ysaÿe, Fritz Reiner, Eugene Goossens, Max Rudolf, Thomas Schippers, Michael Gielen, Jesús López Cobos, and Paavo Järvi. Matthias Pintscher is the Orchestra’s Creative, and past Creative Directors include Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Lang Lanag, Philip Glass, Branford Marsalis and Jennifer Higdon. The Orchestra also performs as the Cincinnati Pops, founded by Erich Kunzel in 1977. John Morris Russell has led the Pops since 2010 and Damon Gupton is Principal Guest Conductor.

Since its beginnings, the CSO been a proponent of the music of its time, performing the American premieres of works by important composers including Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Maurice Ravel and Béla Bartók, and commissioning many works that have since become mainstays of the classical repertoire, including two iconic works by Aaron Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man and Lincoln Portrait. The Orchestra continues to commission works, amplifying new voices from a diverse array of backgrounds.

With groundbreaking initiatives including CSO Proof, CSO Look Around, LUMENOCITY and the MusicNOW Festival collaboration, the Orchestra champions innovation. As an ambassador for Cincinnati, the region, and for the U.S., the CSO has toured extensively, most recently to Asia and Europe in 2017. The CSO was the first American orchestra to be featured on a national radio broadcast and continues to reach millions of listeners across the country and around the world through the airwaves, digital streaming and commercial recordings on the CSO’s own Fanfare Cincinnati label.

The Orchestra also performs, records and tours as the Cincinnati Pops and elevates Cincinnati’s vibrant arts scene by serving as the official orchestra for the Cincinnati May Festival, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet.

Committed to inclusion, community relevance and enhancing and expanding opportunities for the children of Greater Cincinnati, the Orchestra brings music education to and currently serves more than 80,000 individuals annually. The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship, in partnership with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, provides Masters degree-level education and professional development opportunities for extraordinary young musicians from historically underrepresented populations in classical music. The CSO is also an incubator for and partner to NIMAN, a consortium of American orchestras, professional musicians and educators devoted to providing significant and ongoing opportunities for young instrumentalists at all stages of their pre-careers.

About the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
Declared “one of this country’s leading conservatories” by the New York Times, the University of Cincinnati’s nationally ranked and internationally renowned College-Conservatory of Music is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts. The school’s educational roots date back to 1867 and a solid, visionary instruction has been at its core since that time.

CCM offers nine degree types (BA, BM, BFA, MA, MM, MFA, AD, DMA, PhD) in nearly 120 possible majors, along with a wide variety of pre-collegiate and post-graduate programs. The synergy created by housing CCM within a comprehensive public university gives the college its unique character and defines its objective: to educate and inspire the whole artist and scholar for positions on the world’s stage.

CCM works to bring out the best in its students, faculty and staff by valuing their unique backgrounds, experiences and pespectives. CCM’s student population hails from 43 different US states and 32 different countries. The school’s roster of eminent faculty members regularly receives distinguished honors for creative and scholarly work, and its alumni have achieved notable success.

CCM is comprised of eight academic units, which span the spectrum of the performing and media arts:

  • Composition/Musicology/Theory,
  • Ensembles and Conducting (Choral Studies, Commercial Music Production, Jazz Studies, Orchestral Studies and Wind Studies)
  • General Studies,
  • Keyboard Studies (Harpsichord, Organ and Piano),
  • Media Production,
  • Music Education,
  • Performance Studies (Strings, Voice and Woodwinds/Brass/Percussion) and
  • Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration (Acting, Arts Administration, Dance, Musical Theatre, Opera and Theatre Design and Production)

CCM’s world-class facilities provide a highly creative and multidisciplinary artistic environment. In 2017, the college completed a $15-million renovation of its major performance spaces, ensuring that CCM’s facilities remain state-of-the-art.

CCM is an accredited institution of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST), as well as a member of the University/ Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA). The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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