CCM Speaks: Alumni Showcase

Friday, April 19, 2024
7 p.m.

College-Conservatory of Music
Cohen Family Studio Theater 

This event has been cancelled. All registrants have been contacted. We apologize for the inconvenience. Questions can be directed to Ann Terry.

Join us for our inaugural CCM Alumni Showcase!

CCM is a leader in the arts, producing some of the best and brightest stars, scholars and production artists in the industry. A new alumni-focused experience called CCM Speaks provides an opportunity to celebrate alumni, discuss contemporary issues, and find inspiration in how CCM graduates stretch the boundaries of what’s possible to drive the industry forward.

The program includes four 15-minute talks followed by a panel discussion with all four alumni presenters. A reception with light refreshments will be held in the Baur Room following the program.

$10 registration includes parking and refreshments. Advance registration is required by April 17.

Meet the Presenters

Headshot of Evan Gidley

Evan Gidley has served as Executive Director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra since May 2022. He is responsible for planning and executing the orchestra’s annual Summermusik and We Are One festivals as well as special projects such as September 2023’s historic Walk with Amal. Prior to this appointment, he was Orchestra Personnel Manager with the Columbus (OH) Symphony Orchestra, where he helped lead the organization’s robust community outreach program. Evan received his MM in Saxophone Performance from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and he remains active as a freelance saxophonist and private lesson instructor.

Inspiring Hope: Creating Connection Through Participatory Art

On Sept. 22, 2023, a 12-foot-tall puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl traveled across the iconic Roebling Suspension Bridge in downtown Cincinnati, capturing the hearts of more than 3,000 individuals who came to welcome her. Many had planned their trip to see “Little Amal” for months, bringing with them visual art projects. Many identified as American immigrants or refugees while others grew up within a few miles of downtown Cincinnati. Regardless of background, everyone welcoming Little Amal participated in creating an experience for her, and therefore, felt a personal connection to her story.

I will share how my organization, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, served as the leading presenting organization of Little Amal’s Cincinnati visit. I will discuss how an organization of only three staff members helped bring together more than 135 performers and 40 nonprofit organizations and promoted a message of hope to more than 500,000 people all within a span of six months. I will explain how participatory art, defined as an approach to art making which engages public participation in the creative process, is the future of the arts industry and how individuals and organizations can adapt to meet audience demands.

Timothy O'Neil Headshot

Timothy O'Neill weaves together a unique blend of high-level expertise and decades of experience in the tech and music sectors. He is a Senior Director of Engineering & Data Science for a public software company where he manages approximately 150 technical personnel in Product Development, co-leads Artificial Intelligence strategy for the organization, and regularly presents to internal and external business leaders on AI's impact to industry. As a violinist, he has toured nationally and internationally and is featured on multiple recordings and He was a co-founder of NeXT Ens, one of the first electroacoustic ensembles in the U.S., with performances across the country, numerous world premieres and multiple artists' residencies. As a composer, he debuted at age 15, conducting the premiere of his first-string symphony. His works have been performed subsequently at such venues as the Kennedy Center.

AI’s Impact on the Future of Music: A New Renaissance

As Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) speeds toward reality within the next few years, it is imperative that we develop a plan to converge Human and AI contributions to preserve the unique power of humans within art and creative expression.

Classical music is a soul-impacting art form that, despite centuries of historic significance, has declined in popularity over the past few decades. Without intervention, it risks further marginalization confined to museums, archives and background music for advertisements. My vision is that the current GenAI wave (and eventually AGI) poses a revitalization opportunity, a new renaissance. I will unpack four key objectives needed to realize this forward-thinking vision as well as share an original audiovisual composition for Violin and GenAI.

Brandon Saho headshot

Sports reporter Brandon Saho battled depression and suicidal thoughts for years before finally asking for help in 2022. After beginning therapy and checking in to a hospital, he found a new purpose in life to help others. Saho quit his TV job and launched The Mental Game where he hosts emotional interviews with athletes, musicians and celebrities. Saho's mission is to save lives with impactful conversations about depression, anxiety and mental health.

The Mental Game: Breaking the Stigma with Athletes and Celebrities

My dream was always to be a sports reporter, but then life threw me a curveball. While living out that dream on the sidelines of the NFL, I hit rock bottom behind the scenes with my mental health. That’s when I asked for help and found a new purpose.

I quit my sports reporter job to start The Mental Game, a mental health podcast interviewing athletes and celebrities to break the stigma. My goal is to save lives with these conversations. The Mental Game has become a safe space for celebrities to tell their story, including movie star Terry Crews, multi-platinum rapper Kevin Gates, former NFL star Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, and many more.

The podcast has now grown into a powerful community advocating for mental health. I’m bringing these life-saving conversations to high schools, colleges and communities across the country including a 30-state, 30-day tour that kicked off 2024.

My life has completely changed in the last two years, but this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. My new purpose has saved my life. I can’t wait to share my story with all of you.

This is a headshot of Kathleen Shimeta

Musician, music researcher and writer Kathleen Shimeta has enjoyed a singing career performing art songs, chamber music, oratorio, and opera. As a strong advocate for contemporary American composers, she has premiered works written for her by late 20th- and 21st-century composers. For over 20 years, Ms. Shimeta has championed the music of Canadian-American composer Gena Branscombe through a variety of projects which have been celebrated and shared in performance and historic venues across the country. Ms. Shimeta received her Bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn., and her Master of Music from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.

Bringing Back Branscombe: A Woman Composer Lost – Now Found

This is the story of how the search for one art song — a setting of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem composed by a Canadian-American woman named Gena Branscombe — would change my career.

From that one art song a new and unexpected journey began. It included many interesting adventures such as a CD of Gena Branscombe songs; co-authoring and performing a one-woman show about her life and music; presenting Branscombe-themed lecture recitals and concerts; sharing her work through radio and podcast interviews; and ultimately co-founding The Gena Branscombe Project, a non-profit that honors the composer’s legacy and promotes equity in music by uplifting voices of all music professionals in the U.S. and beyond.

I took a chance by reintroducing Branscombe to the classical music world and championing a woman composer who was famous in her day but then forgotten. Bringing back Branscombe became my mission and passion and I hope to inspire others to rediscover, support and champion women composers, thus broadening our understanding of music history.

Headshot of Ellen Stedtefeld

Ellen Stedtefeld

Program Director, Alumni Engagement, College-Conservatory of Music & College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning