When Annunziata Tomaro (pictured, left) was a little girl, one of her favorite pastimes was listening to the songs of Robert Schumann over and over again. Her favorite song was "Dichterliebe" ("A Poet's Love"), and she would play it on the piano while singing along.

"It was something I completely fell in love with," Tomaro recalls.

This fall, Tomaro, now a rising star in the conducting world and assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, will be conducting works by the 19th-century German Romantic composer she first fell in love with as a child.

CCM's Orchestral Program will join cities around the world this year "” including Düsseldorf, Germany; Salzburg, Austria; and Mumbai, India "” celebrating the 200-year anniversary of Schumann's birth.

The month-long Schumann Festival will feature the composer's four symphonies, as well as his piano and cello concertos, all performed by CCM's Philharmonia and Concert orchestras. It will also include free performances of Schumann's chamber and piano music every Tuesday, in addition to a workshop for promising young conductors from around the country.

The Oct. 15 Concert Orchestra performance, conducted by Tomaro, opens with Schumann's Manfred Overture, which she dubs "a perfect little piece, surely his best overture" and closes with his first symphony, more commonly known as "Spring."

"These pieces on this one program represent the extreme ends of Schumann," Tomaro says. "Everyone knows him as the guy who went crazy, but his first symphony is at his happiest time, just after his marriage. The Manfred Overture is at his lowest point."

Schumann's music is very typical of the German romantic period, adds Ulrich Nicolai (pictured, right) of the renowned Hochscule für Musik und Theater in Munich, who will guest-conduct the Philharmonia in the opening and closing concerts of the festival. "(It's the) total contrast between being very happy and very sad. It's so important to feel that and bring that to the audience."

Mark Gibson (pictured, left), professor of music and director of orchestral studies at CCM, says Schumann is often overshadowed by his more boisterous contemporaries, such as Johannes Brahms and August Müller, but emphasizes that Schumann's spiritual voice was crucial to the development of German Romantic music.

He hopes the festival will attract people who love great music, who want to learn more about Schumann, and, most importantly perhaps, who want to watch up-and-coming musicians.

Friday, Oct. 15, 8 p.m.
CCM Orchestra Series
CCM Concert Orchestra
Annunziata Tomaro, conductor
"Schumann Festival Concert II"
Manfred Overture
Cello Concerto
Symphony No. 1 in B Flat Major, Op. 38 ("Spring")
Location: Corbett Auditorium
Free admission
CCM Orchestra Series
CCM Philharmonia
Ulrich Nicolai, guest conductor
"Schumann Festival Finale"
Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120
Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 62
Location: Corbett Auditorium
Tickets: $10 general admission,
$5 non-UC students, UC students free