Sunday, May 4, 2003

Opening night all over again

By Tony Lang
Cincinnati Enquirer

Music Hall looks even more spectacular today than it did on opening night May 14, 1878. The city-owned, 3,420-seat, acoustically perfect hall has stayed "forever new," thanks to a long line of benefactors and its ability to rejuvenate itself with fresh talent and new audiences. On Wednesday, admirers say thank-you with a celebration short of 125 candles but loaded with the area's top young performers. Admission price is only $1.25, in honor of 125 years. A Food Fest (also $1.25) starts at 5 p.m. Show time is 7 p.m. Performers include Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, May Festival Youth chorus, CCM Preparatory Brass Choir, tenor Edward Uhey, Cincinnati Ballet's Venture Dancers, School for the Creative and Performing Arts' Children's Choir, St. Francis Seraph Youth Choir, North Avondale Montessori Choir and Over-the-Rhine Steel Drum Band.

The show is reason enough to go and enjoy, but it's also a chance to acknowledge, in a special way, this cultural treasure. It's not a fund-raiser. It's a celebration for entire community - turning over Music Hall's stage to the next generation in this town where such stars as James Levine, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Suzanne Farrell, Bootsy Collins, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathleen Battle got their starts. Courtis Fuller, WCIN radio talk show host, will emcee. The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall and Cincinnati Arts Association co-organized the event.

Other projects throughout 2003 expand on the "Music Hall Forever New" theme. In the tradition of the Big Pig Gig, artists have created 14 painted violins which are on display at Music Hall and will be auctioned off in the fall, when Music Hall archives will be opened to display documents and artifacts from its history.

Oak Hills High School Junior Danielle Cahill is launching a Pennies for Preservation drive for the hall, to reprise a drive 128 years ago by schoolkids who collected $3,000 - equivalent, in today's dollars, to $46,600.

Probably no other building in this region stirs such fond or off-beat memories from such a broad cross-section of society. The May 7 celebration will add a new batch, as Music Hall makes a lively turn toward 150.


For Wednesday tickets or information: Phone 513-977-4190.

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