Mission: To Seek and Share Inspiration


Rediscovering Home with One City, One Symphony

Meghan Berneking


Home. It’s where 46.9 million Americans will be traveling this Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a word and a place easily taken for granted, but it still evokes feelings of nostalgia, warmth or, in some cases, even heartache. Since its inception in 2012, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s One City, One Symphony program explores a particular work or theme in depth through events fostering community and conversation, in addition to the live performances. This year, the theme is “Home,” which promises to be a rich wellspring for dialogue surrounding the NOV 25–26 concerts.

The all-American concert program includes the world premiere of a symphony by Cincinnati-based composer Michael Fiday. An Associate Professor of Composition at the University of Cincinnati College- Conservatory of Music (CCM), Fiday’s connections to the CSO made the theme of “Home” particularly relevant. “Reflecting on the ‘home’ aspect of these concerts was not at all difficult, as Cincinnati has now been my artistic home for the past 14 years, during which I have come to know the sound of this great ensemble quite intimately and become close friends and acquaintances with a good many of its members,”he said. “Writing ‘Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon’ in the left margin of the score instead of ‘Randy, Dwight, Ixi and Marty’ took some serious restraint!” These relationships also manifested themselves in the score itself. “Though I may not have been conscious of it at the time, I believe this had a strong impact on how I ended up approaching the orchestra, which was to treat it more as a collective body moving together towards a common goal as opposed to an assemblage of individuals going in disparate directions,” he said. 

The concert will also feature virtuoso saxophonist Branford Marsalis, NEA Jazz Master and a former CSO Creative Director, performing Escapades by John Williams, adapted from the film score Catch Me If You Can. Music from Copland and Bernstein (Copland’s Music from Our Town and Suite from The Tender Land and Bernstein’s Overture to Candide) rounds out the program. The distinctly “American” music provokes a collective sense of togetherness, and thus emerges the “Home” theme just in time for the most domestic of American holidays.

One City, One Symphony is the CSO’s communitywide initiative that brings people together through music. By connecting music the CSO performs to themes relevant in everyday life, One City, One Symphony seeks to inspire neighborhoods, provoke discussion, and celebrate shared humanity. Various events and projects taking place around the region lead up to the live performances. Such events in the past have included neighborhood listening parties, city-wide service days, a poetry contest and viral digital elements. Themes have ranged from “Fate” to “Freedom,” inspiring area artists, musicians, poets and fans to rethink what these themes—and the music accompanying them—really mean.

This year’s theme acts in tandem with a larger regional HOME initiative spearheaded by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. Through various partnerships and programs, the Chamber’s goal is to make Cincinnati home, primarily by attracting young professionals and their families to the Queen City. “Cincinnati is a place where anyone can make a difference and everyone can get connected,” said Erika Fiola, Manager of Strategic Initiatives for the Chamber. “As they relate to talent attraction, arts and culture are huge drivers for people, especially young professionals. Unlike previous generations, YPs are less interested in ‘things’ and more interested in experiences… Cincinnati excels at cultural experiences and it will help as we continue to attract YPs regionally, nationally and globally. We are working to make certain that Cincinnati is on the map as a potential home for people from around the world,” she said

This Thanksgiving weekend, the Chamber will amp up its efforts. With thousands of former residents returning home for the holiday, the goal is to put Cincinnati’s best foot forward, demonstrating the rich culture, vibrant arts scene and the attitude of innovation the Queen City has to offer. “Many of those coming to town [for Thanksgiving weekend] are natives who left for college or work and are unaware of the momentous changes in our core over the last ten years,” Ms. Fiola said. “The positioning of the HOME weekend at the start of the holiday season creates a natural platform to engage these audiences and capture the Cincinnati spirit and showcase our region’s transformation and momentum. The Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar will be running, our riverfront has never looked better and OTR will be at its magical, holiday best.”

The Thanksgiving showcase will feature an “Ale to the Queen City” food and craft beer festival at The Banks, as well as a “passport” to encourage visitors and residents to explore various Cincinnati restaurants, bars, shops and entertainment venues.

The CSO has partnered with the Chamber, as the goals of both organizations—elevating Cincinnati’s arts and culture sector—work in tandem, and align with ArtsWave’s goal to deepen roots in the region through the arts. One City, One Symphony in particular this year poses opportunities for out-of-towners and natives alike to experience “Home” during Thanksgiving weekend. Perhaps most notable are several music and meal-sharing events in neighborhoods across the Tri-State to celebrate community and explore the place we call home. Participants will share stories over meals, breaking down barriers and encouraging dialogue. Members of the CSO will also perform “The Promise of Living,” a live excerpt from The Tender Land Suite. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County will also provide opportunities for individuals to tell their own stories of “Home” through a special partnership with the national StoryCorps project.

For a full schedule of events leading up to the One City, One Symphony performances NOV 25–26, visit cincinnatisymphony.org/onecity