Gains made by arts groups and a loss mourned

Gains made by arts groups and a loss mourned

In the classical music, jazz and dance world, the year 2022 may be remembered as the year Columbus-area arts organizations made a full pivot back to normal.

In contrast to 2020 and 2021 — years during which performances were canceled, reimagined in virtual form or otherwise limited due to the pandemic and its aftereffects — the past year has seen all of the major local groups resume their usual robust offerings.

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What follows is an overview of some of the most notable performances, guest artists and other events that took place in classical music, jazz and dance in the Columbus area over the last year.

BalletMet marked the beginning of the 10th season of Artistic Director Edwaard Liang with a program of evocative Liang-choreographed dances, “BalletMet at the Ohio,” in September at the Ohio Theatre. The season continued with the return of an old favorite, former Artistic Director David Nixon’s at once elegant and eerie “Dracula,” in October and November at the Riffe Center’s Davidson Theatre. The company just wrapped up its annual run of the holiday perennial “The Nutcracker,” also at the Ohio Theatre.

Also in the world of dance, the New Vision Dance Company launched the New Albany Dance Festival — a day-long event featuring student and professional dancers from numerous local and national groups, as well as classes and activities for attendees — in July at the Hinson Amphitheater in New Albany.

This year, the Columbus Symphony began the process of saying goodbye to longtime Columbus Symphony Chorus Director Ronald J. Jenkins, who will retire at the end of next season, by opening its season with Carl Orff’s cantata “Carmina Burana” in September at the Ohio Theatre. Jenkins’ chorus was also heard in a performance of Leos Janacek’s “Glagolitic Mass” in November, a concert that also featured guest organist Cameron Carpenter.

Columbus Symphony Principal Pops Conductor Stuart Chafetz conducted concerts over the summer as part of Picnic With the Pops.

The symphony performed Picnic With the Pops throughout the summer at the John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons with accompanying artists, including the O’Jays, Christopher Cross and a certain marching band reputed to be the best in the land.

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Over the last year, the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra welcomed its usual impressive array of guest artists, including pianist Martina Filjak in May and cellist Kian Soltani in October, both at the Southern Theatre. The orchestra, which prides itself in performing in as many venues as possible throughout Greater Columbus, was also featured in March as part of the new Music at St. Mary’s Concert Series at St. Mary Catholic Church in German Village. Also in 2022, ProMusica was the recipient of a $1 million anonymous donation, a portion of which will go to the purchase of a violin for concertmaster Katherine McLin.

Both of Columbus’ opera companies offered surprising and refreshing productions during the last year: Opera Project Columbus presented works by Gian Carlo Menotti and George Gershwin in the style of an old-fashioned radio production in March at the Lincoln Theatre; Opera Columbus presented a rare opera appropriate for family audiences, “La Cenerentola” (which nearly everyone will refer to by its other name: “Cinderella”) in October at the Southern Theatre.

Among the numerous guest artists to be welcomed by the Jazz Arts Group was pianist Aaron Diehl, a Columbus native who as a youth played with the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra before going onto acclaim as a professional musician in New York. Diehl performed with his trio in October at the Lincoln Theatre. One of the JAG’s founders, Ray Eubanks, came out of retirement to give a concert in September at the Valley Dale Ballroom.

One of the Columbus area’s’ newest performing arts venues, the Hinson Amphitheater in New Albany, played host in August to actress and singer Renee Elise Goldsberry — a Tony winner for “Hamilton.”

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Among classical music organizations celebrating anniversaries this year were Chamber Music Columbus, which commemorated 75 years of inviting accomplished and upcoming chamber music artists to Columbus; and Urban Strings Columbus, which marked 15 years of nurturing the gifts of string musicians between the ages of 11 and 17 from underrepresented communities.

The year was not without losses in the classical music scene, including Columbus Symphony assistant concertmaster David Niwa, who died Sept. 1 at age 58. Beyond his own music-making, Niwa leaves the legacy of the Sunday at Central concert series, of which he was the artistic director. Sunday at Central will continue hosting concerts under the leadership of violinist Jeffrey Myers, an Upper Arlington native now based in New York.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Year in review: Classical, jazz and dance groups rebound from pandemic