Monday, February 10, 2003

Music Hall: 125th year celebrations

A beloved landmark

Cincinnati's beloved Music Hall turns 125 years young this Ohio Bicentennial year, but a May 7 anniversary show to honor the national historic landmark will celebrate youth, not age. Top local youth performing groups will take the stage that night in this arts-loving town where stars such as Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, James Levine, Suzanne Farrell, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathleen Battle got their starts.

That same month of May, Cincinnati Art Museum will unveil its new Cincinnati wing, the spectacular Lois and Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Arts will open May 31, the expanded Taft Museum will reopen mid-summer, and a citywide "Festival of the New" will showcase visual and performing arts all summer long. Not to be outdone, Music Hall on May 7 will be celebrating "Music Hall Forever New."

Since the mid-1870s, Music Hall has been blessed with philanthropists such as Reuben Springer and Ralph and Patricia Corbett who built it, saved it or kept renewing it. For 125 years it's been a stabilizing anchor for Over-the-Rhine, and urban experts say it can still be a powerful catalyst for redevelopment. Many international greats of the performing arts have kept the resilient hall current, and some of that regenerating spirit is expected to be evident May 7 in the performers and the audience. In honor of Music Hall's 125th, tickets will be only $1.25.

Among the performers will be the Cincinnati Youth Orchestra, Cincinnati Youth Choir, UC College Conservatory of Music's Preparatory Brass Choir, the Budig School of Ballet's Venture Dancers, the Cincinnati Arts Association Choir, the St. Francis Seraph Youth Choir and the Over-the-Rhine Steel Drum Band. Courtis Fuller, WCIN radio talk show host, will be emceeing. The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall and Cincinnati Arts Association are the organizers. The idea is to use the grand occasion to welcome talent of the future with audiences of the future.

Music Hall moments

Tell us your favorite memory of Music Hall and we will publish and post online the best leading up to the 125th anniversary celebration in May: a marriage proposal made there, a first date, a critic's recollection of some opera great, the threat from the 1937 flood, a boxing match, a UC basketball game in the 1940s, a Janis Joplin concert, some happy mix-up - any funny or personal or unforgettable anecdote about this historic hall that belongs to all of us.

Send to: Readers' Views, Enquirer Editorial Page, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; fax 513-768-8610; e-mail letters@enquirer.com

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