Music Comes Home
It’s a homecoming over a decade in the making. Murmurs about a major renovation of Music Hall started stirring many years ago, with community leaders prompting discussions as to the most effective way to ensure one of Cincinnati’s most beloved buildings would remain part of the city’s cultural life for generations to come. Murmurs eventually blossomed into action, and in December 2015 crews broke ground on the first phase of construction.
Time was of the essence, and workers were scheduled around the clock shifts to ensure the project stayed on schedule. Immediately following the May Festival finale on May 28, 2016, even as patrons trickled out of the Hall, the Orchestra loaded out and the second phase of construction began in earnest.
Springer Auditorium’s beloved chandelier was carefully packed, crystal by crystal, and sent to St. Louis where it received a thorough cleaning and refurbishing. The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall oversaw the temporary safeguarding of the artwork and statues that called Music Hall home. Over the decades, Music Hall had become a sort of cultural museum where treasures from the Queen City’s artistic past had collected. Most of these artifacts have returned, while some have found homes in other buildings, such as the “Comedy & Tragedy” figures once present in the South Hall (which were donated to Music Hall in the late 1970s by William Wachs in memory of CSO Music Director Thomas Schippers), now appropriately at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s new Otto M. Budig Theater.
As construction continued, workers unearthed unexpected details, opening up windows no one knew existed and other long-forgotten historic features. One of the most delightful discoveries was the intricate stenciling patterns present on the walls of Corbett Tower. Art historians and restoration experts studied historic photos of the room and painstakingly recreated the neglected charm.
While concert halls around the world frequently undergo renovation, none have been quite as complex as Music Hall. Project architects needed to ensure that, as a National Historic Landmark, the building maintained its historic character while offering the modern amenities that concertgoers and performers expect. Music Hall is also unique in that it serves as the primary performance space for the CSO, Pops, May Festival, Opera and Ballet, each of which comes with a unique set of needs. Not to mention the building will continue to be a vibrant community gathering place, hosting banquets, weddings, graduations, proms, trade shows and dozens of other events every year.
None of this happened automatically. It took an army of leaders, donors, construction workers, skilled technicians, acoustic consultants, architects, dedicated subscribers, staff members, supportive businesses and musicians to bring this courageous vision to life.
When Reuben Springer began the public campaign to fundraise for Music Hall in 1875, he understood the heart of Cincinnati, and knew its citizens would step up. He could not have imagined that 142 years later, the hearts of Cincinnatians would contain the same generous spirit that made it happen again. Music Hall is physical proof that when a community comes together around a shared passion the result exceeds our boldest imaginations.
Thanks to this unified generosity, music has a home in the Queen City for generations to come.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert location is at Music Hall, 1241 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. Their mailing address is the same. For more information, call 513.381.3300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.