Cincinnati May Festival Names Julia Wolfe as Inaugural Festival Director

By Afton Wooten

(Photo credit: Peter Serling)

Following its 150th anniversary celebration the Cincinnati May Festival has announced Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Julia Wolfe as the inaugural Festival Director.

In her role, Wolfe draws upon decades of collaboration and interdisciplinary artistry to curate an extensive program. She says in an official press release, “I am thrilled to be working with the forward-looking May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to bring powerful musical narratives to the historic May Festival. Pairing new with old, the works resonate together across time and space to share the powerful vehicle of music—expressing who we were and who we are today.”

The 2024 May Festival will feature the world premiere of “All that breathes” Wolfe’s new work composed especially for the Festival, alongside her compositions “Her Story,” “Anthracite Fields” and “Pretty.

Wolfe’s appointment is part of the May Festival’s new artistic leadership model. The model aims to strengthen artistic planning and preparation through collaboration of the annual Festival Director and the May Festival Director of Choruses, Robert Porco. May Festival Executive Director Steven Sunderman says, “This new artistic model embraces our traditions and advances our vision. It combines acclaimed artists from all disciplines who are at the top of their craft with the talents of the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to create new and exciting experiences for all. This new artistic model will build upon the legacy and success of the May Festival, and we are thrilled that Julia Wolfe will join us as our first-ever Festival Director.”