Cincinnati May Festival Marks 150 Years of Choral Singing and Community
A Tempo checks in with The Cincinnati May Festival, the oldest choral festival in the Western hemisphere, and the role it's played in the region's community.
Cincinnati's May Festival has brought together singers from across the region for a multi-day celebration of choral music since May 1873. That inaugural five-day event featured singers from various singing societies, a chorus of public school children, and the Cincinnati Symphony’s predecessor, the Cincinnati Orchestra, and it opened with the U.S. premiere of Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, and The Heavens are Telling from Haydn's The Creation. Since then, the May Festival Chorus has become a distinct choral ensemble of about 120 volunteer singers that rehearses throughout the season to prepare for the festival and several performances with the Cincinnati Symphony. The festival is the oldest choral festival in the Western hemisphere and has continued its tradition of presenting both established works and premieres.
As the Festival prepares to open this year on May 19, A Tempo this week looks at that history and also its impact on the region's musical scene and community. In a roundtable conversation, host Rachel Katz speaks with Director of Choruses Robert Porco, and chorus members Judy LaChance, Robin Wiley, Matthew Leonard, Mary Ann Sprague, and Christin Sears, who is also this year's May Festival Choral Conducting Fellow. The program also features interviews with Principal Conductor Juanjo Mena and Chorus America President and CEO Catherine Dehoney.