Cincinnati May Festival Music Director James Conlon conducts the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus at Spring for Music 2014 in Carnegie Hall 

James Conlon
Cincinnati May Festival

James Conlon, who celebrates his 35th year as Music Director of the Cincinnati May Festival in 2014, will take the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus to the fourth and final installment of the Spring for Music festival held at Carnegie Hall. James Conlon has been Music Director of the Cincinnati May Festival since 1979. He has provided the artistic leadership for more May Festivals than any other music director in the festival’s 140-year history and holds a place among the longest-tenured music directors of any major classical music institution in the United States.

The Carnegie Hall program includes John Adams’ Harmonium and the New York premiere of R. Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses. During his lifetime, Nathaniel Dett was one of the most successful black composers, known for his use of folk songs and spirituals in his works. Dett’s oratorio, The Ordering of Moses, is one of his most praised choral works. It premiered at the Cincinnati May Festival on May 7, 1937 with a chorus of 350 and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conducted by Eugene Goosens.

The performance takes place on Friday, May 9 at Carnegie Hall. The 2014 May Festival, held in Cincinnati, OH, takes place May 7 through 18. For more information, visit and

From the Cincinnati May Festival:

Programs Announced for the 2014 Cincinnati May Festival, May 7–18, 2014

James Conlon, Music Director of the Cincinnati May Festival, today announced programs for the 2014 Festival, scheduled for May 7 – 18, 2014.

The May Festival is the oldest continuous choral festival in the Western Hemisphere; it is the pride of Cincinnati, one of a very few cities in the world today with an ongoing commitment to choral music. For two weekends each May the music world turns to Cincinnati for an unsurpassed experience in choral music performance.

James Conlon celebrates his 35th Anniversary as Music Director this season. He has provided the artistic leadership for more May Festivals than any other music director in the Festival’s 141-year old history and holds a prominent place among the longest-tenured music directors of any major classical music institution in the country.

“Cincinnati has played a special role in my professional life. I am deeply proud of my association with the May Festival, May Festival Chorus and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The organization has maintained a tradition and a commitment to choral music and its repertoire, which is remarkable in our time,” reflected James Conlon.

Longevity is a strength that pervades the entire May Festival organization. The three members of the artistic leadership for the organization hold a collective 77 years of experience in their work with singers in Cincinnati. This year in addition to James Conlon celebrating his 35th season, Robert Porco, Director of Choruses, will complete his 24th season, and James Bagwell, will complete his 17th season as Director of the May Festival Youth Chorus. At the end of last season, James Bagwell extended his contract with the Youth Chorus through 2015. This longevity extends to members of the May Festival Chorus as well. This year the May Festival Chorus has 148 singers, the largest chorus since 1994, and thirty of those singers have sung with the chorus for over 20 years.

The 2014 May Festival includes works that represent some highly popular choral masterpieces, performed by vast choral and orchestral forces and an outstanding roster of soloists. Opening night, set for May 7 at Cincinnati’s Music Hall, opens with John Adams’ iconic Harmonium and is followed by The Ordering of Moses, by R. Nathaniel Dett. This stirring work which weaves the story of Moses leading the Jews to freedom with African-American spirituals, was premiered at the 1937 May Festival. This program has been chosen as part of the Spring for Music Festival and will be performed on May 9 at Carnegie Hall. The first weekend concludes on May 11 with sacred music in a sacred setting—the exquisite Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington, Kentucky. On May 16, the powerful “Ode to Joy” text will be heard in two settings, a cantata by Tchaikovsky as well as the well-known Choral Symphony of Beethoven. On May 17 we bring together more than 500 performers with Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand as the grand finale of James Conlon’s historic 35th season. For the first time there will be a second Sunday performance in May Festival. We will share an encore performance of the May 16 Tchaikovsky and Beethoven concert in celebration of James Conlon’s 35th Anniversary.

Highlights also include performances by some of today’s established and rising stars, including Donnie Ray Albert, Tracy Cox, Rodrick Dixon, James Johnson, Brandon Jovanovich*, Ronnita Nicole Miller, Latonia Moore*, Sara Murphy*, Kristinn Sigmundsson, and Erin Wall*. (*artist making May Festival debut)

Read more about the 2014 Festival season here (pdf).