By Stephanie Wilks
May 10, 2012
When you ask your friends what they’re doing on the weekend, it’s unlikely you’ll hear, “going to the symphony.” Perhaps that’s because Millennials prefer spending money on the latest fashions, technologies, and craft cocktails at the local watering hole. We tend to prefer listening to rap or house music on our iPods, and socializing via text, GChat, and Facebook. It’s not that attending the symphony isn’t a lovely idea; it’s just that the idea rarely comes to mind.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is trying to change that. Over the past two years they’ve taken significant strides aimed at attracting and retaining a younger fan-base. Earlier this year, they released a state-of-the-art cell phone application available in app stores for free, they’ve reduced ticket prices to accommodate those of us on a tight budget ($23 dollars a ticket anyone?), and they’re getting our attention with CSO Encore. Encore is a group that reaches out and engages the next generation of CSO and POPS patrons. They promote CSO and the Cincinnati POPS via their blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Plus, they host chill after parties at various establishments around the city.
Encore inspired me to take a break from my typical musical routine and attend the final CSO show of the season, “Raise the Roof,” with internationally renowned pianist Lang Lang. I wasn’t disappointed.
Allowing your ears to soak up the harmonious tunes of dozens of beautiful instruments at Music Hall is a spiritual experience. When songs are un-interrupted by the “ooh baby baby baby’s” of Justin Beiber, or the vulgar chanting of Kanye West or Ke$ha, you’re actually able to think. It’s a crazy concept (I know), but totally worth the experience.
The New York Times described Lang Lang as “the hottest classical music artist on the planet.” Better yet—he’s a fan of the Queen City! He must be considering this was Lang Lang’s second series at Music Hall since January.
No disrespect to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” but Lang Lang is a master in a whole other sense of the word. We’re talking fingers moving delicately across the keys at the speed of light, crossing hands, scales and arpeggios all over the board. These are technically complicated compositions that require incredible skill, and Lang Lang executes them with seemingly effortless precision.
Also joining us for “Raise the Roof,” was Lang Lang’s friend, Conductor Long Yu, who is currently the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the China Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director of the Shanghai and Guanzhou symphony orchestras, and Artistic Director of the Beijing Music Festival. Please pinch me if I ever become as accomplished as these guys!
Watching Long Yu seamlessly conduct pieces like Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Opus 74, Pathetique, was truly a humbling experience.
To top it off the night, I headed over to Mr. Pitiful’s in OTR for the Encore after-party. If you’ve never experienced an Encore event, they’re a great way to meet young professionals in Cincinnati sans the over-served clientele and dirty bar scene. This weekend’s event included some of the orchestra’s musicians, fellow music lovers, and Cincinnati supporters. A Tavola provided a delicious assortment of pizza pies, and Framester captured the memories of the night while DJ Emmit Jones bumped the house.
CSO Encore left pleasant tunes in our ears and positive tastes in our mouths. Although they’re on a hiatus from hosting events until the Cincinnati POPS Ault Park summer picnic on July 31st, that shouldn’t stop you from heading down to Music Hall. Natalie Merchant is playing with the POPS on June 9th; perhaps I’ll see you there!to top ↑