Friday, March 28, 2003

Boxing matches, Rachmaninoff
all part of Music Hall's history

Experiences highlight need for arts in life

One of the greatest experiences I have ever had and treasure the most was the year I volunteered as an usher at Music Hall. My high school orchestra teacher arranged it. As an usher I saw the performances for free, watched pre-show rehearsals and post-performance receptions, was allowed backstage, and experienced the grandeur of the hall's architecture. It was an amazing opportunity that has given me a lifelong love for the arts. My favorite memories are: 1. When Carmen de Leone asked me to stand outside his green room door after a concert and said "Don't let anyone in," while I was allowed to be the only one to hear the private melody from his grand piano through the door. I still have his autograph. 2. When Martin Mull asked me to sit in the front row while he rehearsed before his show. He was fun, and he let me take his picture, which I also still have.

But I first fell in love with Music Hall in second grade when my music class went there on a field trip. I remember sitting in the balcony before the concert, dazzled by the great chandelier. Then when I saw the musicians, dressed in clean black and white, and heard the sound that only an orchestra can create, I was hooked! Let this be a testament to the great importance of having the arts, and music, in our educational curriculum. It brings such great dimension to young minds, in such profound and diverse ways that we may never know, yet enriches our lives in exponential ways.

Barbara Bruner

Ocala, Fla.

Formerly of Cincinnatian

Remembers hearing Rachmaninoff play

My daddy took me to the symphony at Music Hall when I was a young girl. We were all dressed up for the occasion - at that time most people came in formals. We sat in the front center, close to the stage.

Sergei Rachmaninoff was performing, and I can still picture in my mind how he looked. He was very tall and slim and had short-cropped, light brown hair and very long fingers. He ended the program by playing his famous "Prelude in C# Minor." It was thrilling.

Since becoming an adult, my husband and I have attended the symphony regularly for over 50 years.

Hazel Hieber Popp

Fort Thomas

Appearance in opera remains unforgettable

I have many wonderful memories of many moments in that glorious building called Music Hall. As a little girl, my parents took me to view boxing matches and roller derbies. My grade school went for a concert. I think I was more interested in the candy that was being passed than what was on stage. We were sitting in the balcony so the crackle of candy wrappers did not disturb the orchestra.. Then there was high school and a prom in the Music Hall ballroom.

This year it will be 50 years of visiting Music Hall. In those 50 years, I have enjoyed glorious music, wonderful ballets and great operas. I served as president of the Women's Committee of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and in that capacity I had the privilege of presenting watches to orchestra members who performed with the orchestra for 25 years.

But the moment that I will never forget was opening night, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 1978, when I walked on Music Hall stage as the Grand Duchess of Anastasia in Sigmund Romberg's opera Student Prince to a sold-out house. My opening line was, "What does this mean - how dare you keep me waiting," but for one second I went blank. That awful and horrendous moment seemed like hours and those so-called butterflies flew out of my stomach in droves. The line did come out of my mouth and the opera was a great success.

The Hall represents so much of Cincinnati's history and its culture and we can be so proud she has stood for 125 years.

Sylvia L. Benjamin

East Walnut Hills

Accordions were up, down, but part of CSO

The Music Hall experience stories are certainly among the best articles featured in the Enquirer. Here is my 1976 experience. Jack Wellbaum, personal manager of CSO, called me. Jack needed me to play the accordion for a composition by Peter Tschaikovsky, "Suite Characteristique No. 2," which features four accordions in the third movement

When we four accordions came onto the stage with all the other musicians, they welcomed us as if we were royalty.

Guest conductor Henry Lewis said we should stand while playing our parts, and sit down when we finished. This required us to stand and sit four times for the whole passage.

Concert night arrived. The third movement arrived. We did our up-and-down appearance and disappearance. And, at the end of the fifth movement, the whole CSO welcomed thunderous applause.

Then, for the next weeks, I'd hear from my friends and others - including my dermatologist - "Did I see you and three other accordions in the CSO at the last concert?" I said, "You sure did," and then told this story.

Dorothy E. Kemp


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