A Letter from the President | March 2016
As a pioneer of ethnomusicology, composer Béla Bartók sought inspiration from sources outside the mainstream Western tradition. While the Orchestra certainly celebrates a spirit of experimentation this month during our third annual collaboration with the MusicNOW Festival, Bartók’s example draws us to look more closely at the diversity of experiences around us.
Individuals and families representing myriad cultural and ethnic backgrounds call Cincinnati home, which makes our region a rich source of inspiration for artists and audiences alike.
The arts have a responsibility to promote cross-cultural understanding by increasing the availability and accessibility of arts experiences that include and represent all races and ethnicities. This responsibility is so imperative that ArtsWave has made it one of its five primary goals for the Blueprint for Collective Action. During this time in history, when so much focus seems to be on fearing each other’s differences, the arts have the power to look at these differences with a different lens—one that views admiration over anxiety, celebration over hostility.
One way the CSO strives to build a greater understanding and appreciation of cultural differences in our community is through the annual Classical Roots concert, which is always a season highlight. Classical Roots started with small performances in African-American churches throughout the region, but the demand soon outgrew these churches, and in 2011 Classical Roots moved to Music Hall. This celebration of African-American musical traditions and the continuing legacy of African-Americans in the orchestral world gives the CSO an opportunity to collaborate with music ministers from around Greater Cincinnati to put together a program and an amazing Classical Roots Community Mass Choir that bring sold-out crowds to their feet every year. Audiences feel more connected to their community and to their neighbors.
It’s truly astounding that a concert at Music Hall can have such lasting effects on our community; but here in Cincinnati we are fortunate to live in a place where the growing impact of the arts is felt and celebrated by the entire region.