Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Symphony's name change hits clinker

'Middletown' was removed

By Janet C. Wetzel
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — Some residents say the symphony board hit a sour note when it changed the name of the nearly 60-year-old Middletown Symphony Orchestra to the Ohio Philharmonic Orchestra.

        Even some city commissioners hope the board will change its tune.

        Commissioners have asked John Ritan, symphony board president, to attend a 5 p.m. commission work session today to talk about the change, which was discussed for about 18 months and announced at a recent concert.

        The board's goal was to broaden the group's regional appeal and increase attendance.

        “The reception was mixed, but many of the people we talked to were disappointed, to say the least,” Mr. Ritan said Monday. “We don't know if we would lose our local support. But some people have been upset enough about it that they've threatened to withdraw their support.”

        Pat Schaefer, a member of the Middletown Symphony Women's Association and a former city commissioner, said removing Middletown from the symphony name is a disservice to its many supporters.

        “I think we're forgetting the people who put this symphony together and held it together,” Mrs. Schaefer said. “They played for nothing so we could keep a symphony here so local musicians would have a place to play and bring music to the citizens. And it's been a thing of pride for this community.”

        City Commissioners Robert Wells and Jerry Banks, who have voiced opposition, could not be reached for comment Monday. But commission Chairman Fred Sennet said that while he understands the symphony's effort to broaden its market, opposition to the name change appears to be widespread.

        “I don't think anyone that's been around the city for very long will like the change,” Mr. Sennet said.


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