“As far as pieces chosen, this year has been a mix of conductors making suggestions and we having something on our list that we wanted them to do,” Swanson said. “It’s wonderful having them engage like this.”
The festival’s multimedia approach, which will also include actors onstage speaking Shakespearean text during “The Midsummer Night’s Dream” performance, is part and parcel of keeping up with the times and trying to reach a broader audience.
“It gives the performance more context,” Swanson said. “It helps people understand the circumstance under which the pieces were written, the inspiration behind them. And with it being a choral festival, it helps to have both music and words.”
If Cincinnati seems an unusual location for such a prestigious classical music and choral festival, Swanson attributed it to the devotion of both the city and the festival’s participants.
“I think it’s the success of the music programs in Cincinnati,” he said. “The schools, churches, and community programs are the ones that teach young people about choral music. We have excellent managerial people who steward our finances from year to year. We have people who donate. But the bedrock is the festival chorus itself. It’s made up of volunteers who give their time all year.”
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How to go
What: The May Festival
When: 8 p.m. May 19-21 and 26-27
Where: Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Cincinnati
More info: 513-621-1919 or www.mayfestival.com