Music Hall hopes and concerns

Music Hall's Springer Auditorium will look quite different when it reopens after a $130 million renovation. Photo from Enquirer files
Music Hall’s Springer Auditorium will look quite different when it reopens after a $130 million renovation. Photo from Enquirer files

Perhaps you saw the article about Music Hall, — which closes in five months for renovation — informing visitors of what to expect in the coming months. But there was a sidebar that never made print.

The Enquirer asked this question of local concertgoers, Music Hall stakeholders and resident companies via e-mail and on Facebook: “As we move to 2016 and Music Hall closes in June for a massive renovation, what are your thoughts, concerns, and/or hopes about the project?”

Here are some of the responses:

“My main concern, as always, is for the acoustics of Music Hall. As you well know, even the smallest physical change can have a major impact on the acoustics. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best!” – Pat Nott, College Hill

“(I hope) that the awesome sound we have been privileged to capture for almost 40 years remains warm, rich and resonant, as Music Hall in recorded sound is one of the best. And that the project gets completed on time and on budget so that I can come back and produce more incredible recordings.” – Elaine Martone, Grammy-winning producer of CSO and Pops recordings

“I would say more leg room please, and don’t disturb the acoustics. The chandelier question has already been settled. I have to say when I come with second graders to Music Hall, the chandeliers everywhere in the hall fascinate them. For our school children this is a first experience in being in a building with so many beautiful appointments. Keep it elegant and full of wonder to the ear and eye.” – Mary Pennycuff, Forest Park

“Hoping that as the stage gets moved forward into the house, that the need for musicians to hear one another clearly is not overlooked. (For example), an acoustical cloud that might actually improve the dead spots in the house, as well.” – David Bell, music educator, visiting faculty member Miami University

“The critical renovation needs in Music Hall have been clear for quite some time and plans to restore this treasured Cincinnati icon have been under way for years. There have been many twists and turns in this road to renovation, but I feel strongly that the best and brightest designers from around the country are working to preserve Music Hall’s beauty and historic character while at the same time significantly improving the Music Hall experience. Everyone involved with the project is committed to getting it right, and the goal is to ensure that Music Hall remains a vibrant community gathering space for future generations. Cincinnati has extraordinary arts offerings thanks to a tradition of support that sets this region apart from many larger cities around country. Music Hall’s resident companies need the community’s continued support through this time of transition.” – Trey Devey, president, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

“I’m very concerned about the welfare about the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ and Steinway grand piano in the Ballroom. As the organ professional who takes care of the instruments, I would like to have input as to how it should be protected from the construction dirt and dust. Where will they be stored? The computer control system also must be removed from the area. That’s the brains of the whole instrument. To reprogram it would cost thousands of dollars. Hopefully, they’ll preserve the old Albee Theater artifacts but I haven’t seen any drawings of it.” – Ron Wehmeier, restorer of the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ

“I am impressed with how the entire neighborhood has transitioned. To have Washington Park right across the street, and numerous wonderful restaurants and stores of various types right around the corner, has really shifted the identity of Music Hall, as a place not only to witness fine entertainment, but also to gather and enjoy each other’s company before and after the performance. Presentations at Music Hall, newly renovated and updated on multiple levels, will be able to offer our community the opportunity, with the surrounding excitement, an experience and not just a performance. And while the Ballet has been happy at the Aronoff Center, we are looking forward to now presenting three of our six annual series at Music Hall.” – Victoria Morgan, artistic director and CEO, Cincinnati Ballet

“I hope there’s a way to preserve both the acoustics and architectural integrity of that magnificent old hall. She’s a gem, and we are so fortunate to have this performing venue in our city.” – Marie Speziale, retired CSO trumpeter

“All of us at the Cincinnati Arts Association are very excited as the work to revitalize Music Hall is beginning, and as we inch closer and closer to the full renovation work starting in May. We have been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revitalize our beloved and historic Music Hall, and we are thrilled that this iconic venue will continue to accommodate world class performances for generations to come as it meets the expectations of today’s patrons as well as those of the future. The design maintains the historic significance, beauty, and grandeur of the Hall, while creating a performing arts center for the 21st century. I am grateful for the support of all who have made this journey possible – Otto M. Budig, Jr. and the Music Hall Revitalization Company, leadership at Music Hall’s resident companies, project manager 3CDC, generous donors, the City of Cincinnati, State of Ohio and the many friends of this magnificent building.” – Steve Loftin, president and executive director, Cincinnati Arts Association (which manages Music Hall)

“How will the (potential) elimination of the CET garage and the elimination of the connecting Central Parkway bridge affect patrons’ Music Hall experience? What are in the working plans to assure adequate parking for Music Hall events? Patrons will be limited to the Washington Park Garage and the small lot between Music Hall and Memorial Hall. Negotiating the cobblestone Elm Street is difficult in heels. Also, there is no protection for patrons crossing the street to Music Hall in inclement weather. And what will happen to the Music Hall Timeline (by the rear entrance)?

“Also, what are the plans for the display of the restored panels of the 1878 Music Hall Organ Screen? In 2011, the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall took on the project of restoring the panels of the renowned, award-winning, carved cherry screen with the hopes of acquiring additional pieces of the screen.” – Kathleen Janson, Glendale

“As a retired violinist of the CSO I have played in the pit many times and would like to express my concern as to the safety of that space. It is a virtual firetrap, with only one obvious and very precarious access to and from. If there were a fire, the musicians would have a very difficult time exiting, not to mention being able to leave with their instruments. I think this should be a top priority in the renovation of the hall.” – Larrie Howard, Columbia Tusculum

“Thinking of Music Hall’s vast contribution to Cincinnati over the past nearly 140 years … Winston Churchill said, ‘We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.’  With this important renovation, our beloved Music Hall will continue to be our community’s gathering place and home for extraordinary, life-affirming and life-changing experiences.” — Patty Beggs, general director and CEO, Cincinnati Opera

“Hopefully the stage is equipped so they could have remotely controlled cameras that can provide closeup of musicians while playing and the conductor from the front so the audience can see what the musicians see as well as an overhead screen showing it in real time. Call it “reality show Lumenocity” in real time inside the hall. – Steve Deiters (via Facebook)

“All of us at SPMH could not be more excited about the upcoming massive renovations of Music Hall. It is our hope and belief that these essential improvements to the inside and outside of the building will transform Music Hall by bringing it into the 21st century and by solidifying Music Hall as one of our country’s preeminent musical and performing arts centers. We are so grateful to everyone who is supporting and making the revitalization work possible. With the new School for Creative and Performing Arts, the current renovations to Memorial Hall, and the anticipated relocation of the Shakespeare Theater, it is an exciting time around the Washington Park district of the Over-the-Rhine. When the revitalization and renovation of Music Hall is successfully completed and the building re-opens, I am confident the results will exceed all of our greatest expectations.” – Peter Koenig, president, Society for the Preservation of Music Hall (SPMH), board member of MHRC as well as the Memorial Hall Society

“We want it to be acoustically wonderful, we want the patron experience to be great, we want the community to come back and come often. We want the performers to enjoy playing and working there. There’s a lot of goals, but I think we’ll be able to achieve all of them.” – Jeff Martin, vice president, project management for 3CDC



One thought on “Music Hall hopes and concerns

  1. It seems like a bandaid approach to respond to a lack of sold out halls by reducing the seating and moving the stage out. Why not spend the money promoting the symphony with outreach concerts in the suburbs that will then draw people down to music hall. Fill the hall rather than reduce its capacity should be our motto. Also moving the stage out has got to have some effect on the acoustics. I hope it’s not a negative one. John Toedtman

    Liked by 1 person

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