Sunday, March 23, 2014

It's Just Music


It’s just music, says the music director of the orchestra in Cincinnati, the adorable, dancing-while-he-conducts, Louis Langree. At the same time, he says: Forget the rules.

This is not classical, not rock.

This is what’s happening here. The orchestra and the indie-rock music festival, Music Now, are collaborating. And the result is electric.

The artistic director of MusicNow Festival is Bryce Dressner. Also cute. He’s from Cincinnati and with his twin brother, Aaron, he’s part of a band you might know, The National. Bryce brought the new music festival to his hometown in 2006. He says the festival likes to play with artists who like to say “yes.” This year, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra said yes. And….wow.

Some of the stuff they’re doing, sort of in the order that we noticed.

Paying for art about the festival and wheat pasting it on buildings all over town. Not so surprising for a rock music festival - but pretty awesome for any orchestra.

poster windows.jpeg
Creating a second beautiful, eye-catching poster for store windows and such.

Inviting musicians to play in the lobby before the shows on both festival nights - it’s a party, not a stuffy see-and-be-seen.

Encouraging the audience to bring drinks into orchestra hall - #newrules.
drinks in the hall 2.jpg
CSO Photo

Telling the players in the orchestra to dress caj: all black, no jackets, no tails.

Commissioning new music from stars like Nico Muhly -- another super-charming, super-talented, kid musician.

Playing the new music for orchestra and chamber ensemble of rock artists like Bryce Dressner of The National and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead.

Putting the Dressner brothers on stage with orchestra and electric guitars.

Photo: Ashley Berger

Turning a pre-concert talk into a brilliant, not-boring-at-all, mini-recital including a hilarious to watch, four-hands on one piano piece by Lisa Kaplan of eighth blackbird -- the players (Nico Muhly with Lisa) were laughing!

Sending the artists out on stage to chat with the audience -- it was not scripted; it was sweet, personal, riveting.

Adding a surprise intermission mini-concert with ⅗ of The National, the Dressner brothers and their drummer, Bryan Devendorf.

Despite moving Music Now from a 600 seat venue to the largest orchestra hall in the nation this year, that 1870s red-velvet, gold leaf, marble and chandelier-treated cultural icon was filled with people of all ages both nights.
One other moment of magic to mention: Louis Langree walked onto the stage on the second night of the festival carrying huge sheets of the score. He held them up so the audience could see that the score was…complicated! Looks like an EKG, he said. Then he started handing the copies to people in the front row, asking them to take a look and pass them on. 

After the concert, we learned this was NOT a PRish idea of the CSO communications staff. (Admittedly, that's what we thought - even as we were admiring how well it worked.) Nope. Ten minutes before he was set to walk onstage, Louis approached the orchestra’s librarian and said: I have an idea. She said she crossed her fingers so that the copier would warm up fast. It was close. We LOVE this!
passing back the score.jpg
CSO Photo

David Lang - the prize-winning new music composer with a world premiere commissioned piece performed on the second night of the festival - said what we were thinking:
You all are so lucky to have an orchestra like this, playing music like this.

The CSO has commissioned work before - notably Fanfare for the Common Man by the American composer Aaron Copland over 70 years ago. Lang said, this orchestra shaped contemporary american music with these commissions and its sound.

Today, whatever might be happening with orchestras in other places, Cincinnati’s music peeps are doing something that someone is likely to be talking about seventy years from now. In the near term, expect to see more visitors in town for this classical team.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is a one hot band.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Writing about the Art of my Place

Having a blast writing about Cincinnati for the world travelers on Virgin Atlantic. The hardest thing: cramming all the amazing into 500 words and 5 photos.  Click on the rooftops below to see the "Beginner's Guide to Cincinnati" on the airline's Flying in the Face of Ordinary blog.

Photo Credit: Chuck Eilerman

So please do the world a favor by adding your favorite Cincinnati places in the comments on Virgin's blog and if you like - click on the Virgin heart at the bottom to show your Cincy-love.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Artists and Health Care


Art and artists make our community unique, memorable, exciting, and a place we all want to live, work, and play. Our arts make this region a place people want to visit.

Yet, the cost of health care and insurance can stifle creativity by limiting the choices of artists. Some artists are stuck in jobs they'd like to leave because they need the employer-based insurance. Others go without insurance in order to avoid taking a job that might limit time for creative endeavors. We've even heard of artists who get or stay married because they need insurance. (We're not saying that marriage limits creativity necessarily, of course.)

New health care options will open up possibilities for many people - especially artists. Artists are more likely than others to go without insurance or to pay for their own insurance in the private market.

To explore the new health care opportunities and requirements, Art on the Streets and Know Theatre recently hosted representatives from Get Covered America and kynect to a conversation with artists in the region.

Representatives from these organizations are happy to answer questions and provide information and enroll people in the new insurance marketplaces. They shared follow-up information and will be working with us to plan an enrollment day at Know Theatre in December. 

Stay tuned! If you want, we'll send you a note when we schedule the enrollment event -- just sign up using the form below.

Meanwhile here are some resources you can use now.


For more information about enrollment assistance in Ohio: email

For more information about enrollment assistance in Kentucky:
call 859-581-6607
visit the KY website at where you can check your eligibility and go through a prescreening process or call 1-855-4kynect (459-6328)

Estimate your annual costs and eligibility for tax credits using the Kaiser Family Foundation calulator:

Get Covered America also offers a calculator, with an estimate of monthly costs:

Fact sheet about payment assistance/tax credits (it’s on the kynect website, but the facts apply to people in all states)

Artists can find additional resources at the Future of Music Coalition website:

The coalition also answers questions:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Park(ing) Day 2013

Artists and designers got together to feed the meters and legally use parking spaces to celebrate the importance of public spaces for Park(ing) Day 2013
They turned parking spots into galleries, studios, mini-golf, and a protected bike lane! 
Here's some of the fun along Main Street in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati and in the 8th Street Design District between Broadway and Sycamore.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Monday, December 10, 2012

The BRIGHT Ride Shows Off Over-the-Rhine

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Park(ing) Day Cincinnati 2012

The third Friday in September is international Park[ing] Day. From Austin, Texas to Paris, France and in between, people take over parking spaces to celebrate the value of public space in cities. 

In 2012, Cincinnati artists and advocates for parks and public space went a step further, celebrating the way art in public places animate streets and parks, bringing people together in new ways.

Cincinnati has participated for the past five years with community members setting up in the central business district, Over-the-Rhine, and Uptown neighborhoods. 
This year, Merchants of Main Street partnered with Art on the Streets to create temporary art in parking spots – replacing cars with stages and galleries. Artists created a fun and provocative series of shows illustrating the benefits of serendipitous art in public places.

As people walked home from work, out to events, down to the Reds game -- we saw smiles, dancing, bubble-blowing, lemonade-stand-gabbing, hula-hooping and much more.

Artists and artistic organizations of all kinds participated with dance, visual installations, participatory drawing, music, painting, face-painting, and more!

The Cincinnati Ballet dancers practiced at the barre ~~ replacing a car.

Pones, Inc – the innovative artists collaborative -- created a beach dance party complete with sand, sunscreen and tunes. 

Art Beyond Boundaries, which occupies a storefront on Main Street, brought its  face-painting skills out to a parking spot in front. (Photo by James H. Bolden.)

Landscape architecture and urban design firm, PLACE Workshop created a mini-ball park with popcorn and fans as a tribute to “this years World Series Champions, the Cincinnati Reds!”. 

Molly Wellman set up a lemonade stand in the parking spot in front of Japp's.

Queen City Bike created a mini-parklet compete with bikes and flower-filled baskets.

1305 Gallery set up a dinner party tableau.

Circus Mojo turned two parking spots into the center ring in front of Coffee Emporium ~~ traffic slowed and people honked as they passed by. Walkers stopped to try out a hula hoop or ring toss.


And there were musicians and visual artists creating on the spot. 

Robin Alicia-Clare Hoskins installed a collaborative art project.

 Tenley Rissover on the Park[ing] stage she created in front of Iris.

Josh Kruer painting in the street.

Over the Rhine Community Housing installed a mini studio for all.

Over on Vine Street, we had a chance to preview the future Tucker's Parklet – a permanent mini-park planned for a parking spot during in front of the restaurant.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Magic Moment of International Serendipity

Chinese choir members borrow a guitar from Art on the Streets participant, Carole Walker, and everyone sings something they all know. (Justin Bieber is the universal language.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

bARTer Lab in Two Parts: Street Art = Special Places

want to see more art like this?

We're having a conversation about street art at bARTer Lab -- and then we're going to create some!

We hope you'll join us for this two-part event in April and May.

On April 9 at 7:30 PM at Know Theatre, we'll have a discussion with a group of key players -- city officials, police, artists, developers, neighborhood leaders, and more. Everyone is welcome!

We'll answer questions like these:

  • What is street art? Is it temporary and/or permanent? Is it visual and/or performance-based?
  • What is the value of street art? What is good street art?
  • What's legal street art? What's not?
  • Are there laws or rules in Cincinnati about performing on the sidewalk?
  • What kind of street art do we want to encourage?
  • Are there changes in city laws or practice that we can make to have more of the street art we want?
  • What would we need to do to make those changes?
  • How can we highlight the value of street art with an event on May 14?

On May 14, we'll develop a plan to take art to the streets -- at about 7:30 that night, at MOTR on Main.

Full press release after the jump.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

RADIUS: The Short Film/IMPACT: Making of RADIUS

Note: Be sure to watch the "behind the scenes" video after the credits.

This is the world's first game-sourced movie.

It was shot during a music festival, Final Friday gallery hop, and theatre events and then edited from more than 2,000 unique photographs and other pieces of content that arts audience members at these events provided. The images in the film literally came from their cameras.

Radius tells the story of a man's investigation into a mysterious superhero and the startling revelation behind this hero's rapid rise. The main character was unable to recognize his own potential superpowers and the effect those powers could have on his community, and so he created a fantasy world to explain the good things happening around him. But once his perspective changed, he understood.

Radius was created by Possible Worldwide, a WPP Digital company. The filmmakers were inspired by the Topos Partnership’s ground-breaking work in The Arts Ripple Effect: A Research-Based Strategy to Build Shared Responsibility for the Arts Completed in 2008, the year-long research initiative examined the effectiveness of traditional arguments for supporting the arts, and revealed powerful insights into what people value about the arts.

The key insight that a thriving arts scene creates a ripple effect of benefits throughout the community such as safer streets, booming businesses, and a vibrant atmosphere became the foundation of an expanded mission for ArtsWave, a Cincinnati-based arts advocacy and funding organization, and the narrative theme of Radius.