Spotlight on... Matthew Zory
Fanfare Cincinnati: How is your perspective on stage as a musician different from this new view of Music Hall as a photographer?
Matthew Zory: As an orchestral musician, my job is to blend with about 90 other musicians under the direction of the conductor to bring a composer’s work to life. It’s a group effort and a collective vision. As a photographer in Music Hall, I was trying to realize and share a very personal view. We chose the title, Through the Lens: The Remaking of Cincinnati's Music Hall to reflect the fact that this was a photography book but also to underscore that this was my lens—my interpretation— of the renovation.
FC: At what point during the renovation did you decide to produce a book?
MZ: I feel I’ve been fortunate to have backed into many of the most precious experiences in life and this project was no different. Initially, I thought I’d take a few personal photographs, and the gig would be over. But a few months into the project someone saw my photos and suggested it might be relevant to the community to have someone document the entire process. I approached CSO board member Jack Rouse and CSO Director of Philanthropy MaryMc with the idea for a book, and here we are.
FC: Is there a favorite photo you took?
MZ: I like for several reasons--The light from the torch and grinders is very much what I hoped for when I daydreamed about taking photos of the renovation. [The top photo] seems like such an iconic, classic pose too. And the [bottom photo] was photographed using my 1957 vintage Rolleiflex film camera; I was completely guessing on what the exposure needed to be and was SO pleased with the picture.
FC: What did you appreciate most about having the opportunity to capture these moments in history?
MZ: For me, photography is all about connections. This project enabled me to connect with the building in an entirely new way. But it also helped me to connect with the men and women who worked on the project. They told me about their families and careers and lives. They invited me in. That’s undoubtedly what I appreciated the most.
FC: Describe what it was like when you received the call about the truck delivering the first print editions of your book?
MZ: We spent 16 months working on the photography and the text for this book. Everything on track for a December 1 release with the printed pages en route to the bindery. On November 20, I got a call that the truck carrying sixteen months of my work had been in an accident on it's way to the bindery. All the pages were ruined. I can’t give you a quote of what I said when I got that call. Suffice to say it put a severe damper on the holidays in the Zory household.
FC: Is there anything you observed or learned about the workers which amazed you?
MZ: I was so impressed with their focus and skill and by the similarities between their work and mine as a musician. Both jobs require an incredible amount of teamwork and adaptability. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan during a live performance or when renovating a building. Sometimes you have to go with the flow.