Backstage at Music Hall with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Prior to the pandemic, Scott Hand, Principal, visited Cincinnati Music Hall for a dress rehearsal preview of new programming from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

It’s fantastic to see world-renowned music organizations continuing to push the limits and working to create unique experiences.

This new experimental series is based around curated events and themes, and the curation is done through a series of invited artists. For the very first show, an informal in-the-round seating arrangement was assembled around a flexible dance floor, with an orchestra behind. Bleacher-style seating was arranged on two sides, and the third side had benches and standing cafe tables. Overall, the aesthetic was organized, but informal. The show occurred on the Springer Auditorium stage, complete with the audience bypassing the usual entry doors and walking through storage rooms into the cavernous fly loft of the upstage area, not typically seen during symphony performances.

Cincinnati Music Hall Springer Auditorium

Experiencing a show in this space is a unique shift from visiting the CSO or the Cincinnati Pops in the recently renovated Springer Auditorium. There is a sharp turn from the historical detailing and formal entry and seating arrangement to a literal look behind the curtain at the way the building functions. The performers share the room, and the audience gets a chance to be a part of the event. The thrust stage layout of this event provides glimpses of the other guests as they experience the performance, creating a feedback loop of emotion.

It’s obvious much effort went into the curation of the programming. There is an incredible variety of audio and video elements. Starting with a rousing a cappella chorus, then transitioning to a solo piano work, and finishing with a dance-accompanied orchestra piece. All of these are augmented by programmed lighting and projection mapping that can transform the perception of the space. This new series is going to be a big hit, and we’re excited to see what the creative curators assemble next!

Scott Hand
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