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Holidays in the Hall: Memories, Traditions and Magic


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Certain annual traditions “make” the holidays for Cincinnati residents: witnessing the Christmas tree lighting at Fountain Square, watching the Holiday Trains at Cincinnati Museum Center, experiencing Cincinnati Ballet’s presentation of The Nutcracker, and creating musical memories at the Cincinnati Pops’ Holiday Pops concerts at Music Hall.For this holiday season, the newly renovated Music Hall simply shines—twinkle lights adorn the halls, swags in Springer Auditorium hang proudly, and garlands cloak every staircase and entrance. Holiday Pops will be here in full swing, and the sounds of seasonal favorites will reverberate through Springer Auditorium as families create new holiday memories.

Whether it’s a Holiday Pops or Nutcracker performance, those who come through Music Hall’s doors appreciate the beautiful décor annually presented to Music Hall by the Lindner Family. Pops Conductor John Morris Russell recounted the many holidays he has spent in Music Hall and said, “The decorations are always amazing. In November when I come to rehearsals in the Hall it’s a normal day, but in December it’s a winter wonderland! The decoration of Music Hall itself is so inspiring for me and the Orchestra. To look out and see the Grand Lady so 

bedecked, so bejeweled…it inspires the holiday spirit in us.”

A few things come to mind when JMR thinks of the holidays in Music Hall, but one that especially brings him joy is devising holiday programs. “We have so many holiday songs written for orchestra, so many old chestnuts that we have the ability to pick through— it’s like opening a box of old Christmas decorations. Every arrangement holds a memory. Choosing a program is like decorating the Christmas tree, because everything in that program holds a different memory of another time—it feels like home to us.” JMR added that his children have essentially grown up in Music Hall: “Every year my kids come to the holiday concerts, and every year we have a picture of them dressed up in red and green, sitting on antique furniture. They grew up in the Hall, and when we take the photos out every year it’s like a timeline of their lives.”

Christopher Pinelo, Vice President of Communications at the CSO and Pops, recounts his many years of holidays as a Cincinnati native and thinks back on Carolfest concerts, various holiday performances, and visits to Music Hall as a child. One year stands out among the rest: “When I was a kid, my family and I would attend The Nutcracker, since my father was a huge fan of this ballet and Tchaikovsky. One year he splurged and bought us Box seats for the show. The seats were amazing, and we went on stage after the show to meet the dancers.”

He also noted that memories like this are what the holiday season at Music Hall is all about—shared experiences with family and friends. These memories will live on, building holiday traditions that families hold close to their hearts as the season approaches each year. Being in Music Hall during the holiday season is akin to visiting an old friend—warm, inviting, familiar and exciting. The lights, the sound of people talking, the pre-performance anticipation—all of these things and more make the Hall seem so magical and perpetuate the creation of holiday memories from generation to generation.

From all of us at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops, we wish you Happy Holidays, and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year!