You know that feeling when you have butterflies in your stomach (figuratively, of course)? There are moments in your life when you truly feel part of something extraordinary—that’s much larger than yourself. In my time with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops, I have certainly had more than my fair share of these moments. As examples, I will never forget the sense of wonder and excitement when LUMENOCITY was introduced to Cincinnati in 2013 or when the beautifully renovated Music Hall opened to standing ovations and a spellbinding concert program last month.
Experiencing the Orchestra on tour and notably the CSO debut at the BBC Proms on August 27 (pictured) also represents such a moment. I wish all of Cincinnati could have been there to feel that energy and enthusiasm at London’s Royal Albert Hall. It’s just as much an arena as it is a concert hall, with hearty music fans standing on the floor in the middle. The BBC Proms, which hosts the finest artists from around the world, off ers an absolutely electrifying atmosphere with added sizzle provided by the live broadcast across the United Kingdom. Louis Langrée led a captivating program that included Bernstein’s On the Waterfront Suite, Copland’s Lincoln Portrait featuring acclaimed actor Charles Dance as the narrator, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. There was raucous cheering during the standing ovations, and the audience’s clamoring for more led to an encore of Bernstein’s Overture from Candide.
According to the glowing review from The Times of London, “The Ohio orchestra’s fi rst Prom is a touring programme of precision and sparkle that shows us exactly what we’ve been missing,” and Bachtrack declared the performance “a strong showing.”
The receptions for the Orchestra in Scotland, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium and France were equally enthusiastic, and affirm the CSO’s core value to be Cincinnati’s Ambassador. You can learn more about both of the Orchestra’s 2017 international tours at csoontour.com.
As we return to Music Hall following an historic renovation, I wanted to return to something I shared back in May of 2016. This treasured icon was about to shut down for 19 months to allow for critically important work, and for many, myself included, it was difficult to say "so long for now" to Music Hall.
I wrote back then, "Music Hall has played an important part of my life and I'd venture to guess many of you feel the same way.
"Like many Cincinnatians, I can recount coming to CSO Young People's Concerts with my elementary school class. As a child, I remember being awed by The Nutcracker at Music Hall and experiencing Bizet's spectacular opera Carmen for the first time. The May Festival's Carolfest afforded me a first experience 'singing' at Music Hall; thanks to a CSO subscription I was exposed to a dazzling sonic palette of orchestral colors starting at age 10. It all happened right here at Music Hall.
"As a younger adult, I had the privilege to be my late grandmother's 'date' for a Cincinnati Pops television show taping, and attended a diverse array of performances with friends and family - everything from rock concerts to operas to orchestra performances. I joined the May Festival Chorus in 1996 and really got to sing at Music Hall for the first of many times. What a thrill!
"As a member of the CSO staff since 2001, I've gotten to know virtually every nook of this grand old building, experienced more performances than I can easily count, stepped in to narrate a Young People's Concert performance of Peter and the Wolf with 10 minutes' notice, and even 'tied the knot' with my beautiful wife in the Grand Foyer while A Prairie Home Companion rehearsed in Springer Auditorium. (They did eventually 'take a break' so we could finish the ceremony.)
"The connection I feel with Music hall is palpable...and I'm confident this amazing renovation and restoration will ensure that my son and his children and their children will be able to create lasting memories in this beautiful place."
That was then and this is now. After months and months of hard work from so many, Music Hall is more welcoming, more accessible and more comfortable than ever, and the building's historic grandeur has been retained and even enhanced. A new chapter begins.
Thank you to the many people who made this renovation possible, and I want to especially thank Otto M. Budig Jr. for his tenacious leadership in seeing this project through. It truly is a time for celebration!