Five stories to watch in 2018

Here are five stories involving the arts in Cincinnati that we’ll be following in 2018:

A large crowd was on hand to hear the popular “Pictures at an Exhibition” at the CSO this fall.

The new Music Hall: Music Hall reopened with fanfare after its $143 million renovation. As everyone gets to know the new Springer Auditorium, a “hall-within-a-hall,” how will the musical organizations transition to its new acoustical environment and stage configurations? How will the new set-up affect performances? And most importantly, once the fanfares die down, will audiences continue to fill the hall?

Parking in OTR: The Music Hall reopening has illuminated the growing arts district surrounding Washington Park. But is there enough parking? On any given weekend, there are Music Hall concertgoers, Memorial Hall attendees, Cincinnati Shakespeare Co. patrons, people attending events in Washington Park or just going out to eat in OTR’s many trendy new restaurants – all looking for parking.

No bridge and no back door to Music Hall for those who park on Central Parkway

Music Hall now has no back door to accommodate those parking in city-owned Town Center Garage on Central Parkway (but there is a shuttle to the front door for CSO shows) and Washington Park garage only has 450 spaces. Some suggest parking elsewhere and taking the streetcar. A study is being conducted by the city. We’ll be watching to find out the conclusions.

A new president: Jonathan Martin began his new job as president of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra just as Music Hall reopened. He oversees the city’s largest arts organization and one of America’s most important orchestras, with a $60 million budget. What are his plans for the orchestra, and what are his objectives for keeping – and building –audiences? Will he bring fresh ideas to the organization?

Will CCM choose a new dean this year?

A new dean for CCM: Will CCM cap its 150th anniversary season by choosing a new head? The College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati has a help-wanted ad out for a new dean to succeed Peter Landgren, who was dean until 2016, when the university appointed him Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost of UC. (Last fall, he became president of the UC Foundation. Musicology professor bruce mcclung has served as interim dean.)  He or she will lead one of the country’s most prestigious arts and media schools, with a $34 million budget and a $110 million endowment. Continuously faced with university budget cuts and ongoing competition for the best students, the challenges are many.

The May Festival Chorus/ photo provided by May Festival/Mark Lyons

Question mark at the May Festival: This May will be the debut season for the May Festival’s principal conductor Juanjo Mena, who will lead two of the festival’s four main concerts.  The gala occasion was to have been launched by James Levine, whose appearance leading Verdi’s Requiem has been canceled amid allegations of sexual misconduct. We’ll be watching to find out his replacement, and to see how this glorious choral festival adjusts to its newly re-imagined home in Music Hall.


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