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Wednesday, April 23, 2003

From smashing watermelons, to classics, Hall was a delight



Violin lessons did pay off

Although funds were in short supply during the depression my parents managed to pay for me to take violin lessons in the hopes that one day I would become a concert violinist.

While that never came to pass, something significant happened to me in Music Hall in June 1936. During my Hughes High graduation ceremonies, I had a solo to perform. My sister often recalls that my father had tears in his eyes and said, "It was all worth it." Over the years, I have enjoyed our renown Symphony Orchestra from the time of Fritz Reiner to the present. Our family has seen boxing, wrestling, auto shows, ballet and opera. Ephraim Roth, Amberley Village

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Youth concert at Hall was rewarding

In May 1982 the Cincinnati Youth Orchestra under Teri Murai had its annual joint concert with the CSO in Music Hall. I was a student of Sigmund Effron, former concert master of the CSO. That year I was co-concertmaster of the Youth Orchestra.

My English teacher, who thought highly of the fine arts, brought the English class to the concert. What a thrill it was to play in Music Hall. To top it all off, for the final piece, Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espanola, I sat concertmaster and played all the solos. I felt like a real star and so proud to sit where my teacher had sat for so many years on that same stage.

Eve Neighbors Warner, Hope Church School of Music, Mason, OH

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'Gross' ballet dancer wore panty hose

When I think of Music Hall, one story that always makes me smile is when our neighbors took their three little boys to Music Hall to introduce them to ballet. They had good seats in the balcony near the stage. When the program began, the youngest boy started saying, "Gross, gross." His mother leaned over and whispered, "What's the matter, Tim?" He said, "He's wearing panty hose."

Barbara Wright, Kenwood

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Gallagher was blast at elegant site

Over the past several decades, I've enjoyed scores of sublime events at Music Hall, but my most memorable visit occurred some dozen years ago when the comedian Gallagher took the stage. At the climax of his act, he grabbed a huge mallet and, with a mighty wallop, smashed a big red watermelon. Pulp, seeds and juice sprayed everywhere, as far back as 15 rows. I was surprised that the hall, with its elegant furnishings, would host such a lowbrow event. But not to worry: All seats within range of the fallout had been covered with plastic, as were all of us patrons, having each been

issued a thin disposable raincoat. What a blast!

Will Caradine, Forest Park

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Father-daughter dance led to happy memories

I graduated from Mother of Mercy High School in 1971. As a freshman, I heard there was an annual Father-Daughter Dance for the students and their dads in the Music Hall Ballroom.

I was horrified at the thought and figured my dad would feel the same way. To my amazement, he was all for it.

Before we left, my Mom took pictures of us. Dad had a corsage for me and dinner reservations - it was going to be a long night. To my surprise, we had a great time. My dad knew a lot of other dads and to him it was a reunion of sorts.

He started asking about the next Father-Daughter Dance just about the first week of my sophomore year. We went all four years. I think he looked forward to it more than I did.

My dad passed away last summer. I would now give anything to have one more Father-Daughter Dance in the Music Hall Ballroom.

Gayle M. Lear, Finneytown

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Topper Club was big part of Hall

During my parents' courtship in the 1930s many nights were spent at the Topper Club dancing to the big bands. During the 1950s, the big band era was in its twilight, but the Topper Club was still operating on Saturday nights. On several occasions, we dressed in our best and went to dance and listen to waning big band sound.

I particularly remember an appearance by a popular band from my parents time, the "Swing and Sway" Band of Sammy Kaye.

One highlight of Sammy's performance was a contest called "Do you want to lead a band?" Participants were selected from the audience, given a baton and asked to lead the band. Of course, the musicians were programmed to follow the exact movement of the baton.

The resulting band sound was hilarious especially for those would-be baton leaders who lacked a sense of rhythm. I often wonder how that same act would come off today if performed with a current hard rock band. If they gave me that baton now, I would try to hold it absolutely still with hopes the band wouldn't play.

Jack Espelage, Union, Ky.




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