Dear Friends,

The Cincinnati Symphony was founded by Helen Heron Taft nearly 125 years ago. The future First Lady of the United States led efforts to get the CSO started and then nurtured this organization as it matured and grew. I am humbled to have followed in her remarkable footsteps, as well as the footsteps of many stewards spanning generations.


My tenure came at an unusual time in the life of this organization. When I became Board Chair in 2016, Music Had was shut down for a major renovation project. The CSO staff was displaced, mostly working at the Carew Tower in Downtown Cincinnati and the Orchestra’s 2016-17 season was starting in a temporary home, the Taft Theatre. Two international tours were coming and within two months of my tenure beginning, CSO President Trey Devey announced he would be leaving the following spring.

We have faced both the challenges and opportunities with creativity, passion, perseverance and a deep level of commitment. Just look at what we’ve achieved these past three years:

  • The Orchestra had a successful transition through the Taft Theatre season and triumphantly returned to a beautifully renovated Music Hall where we are now entering our third post-renovation season.
  • International tours in 2017 were met with high praise and invitations to return.
  • Following Grammy nominations in 2017, we continue to reach a global audience with three new recordings released since November of last year.
  • After our longtime concertmaster retired due to injury last season, we announced the appointment of Stefani Matsuo as Concertmaster – an immensely talented musician who came up through the ranks of our own ensemble to win the audition.
  • Through our Music and Event Management, Inc. subsidiary, we continue to present a diverse array of concert offerings to the region and are ready to build an exciting new venue at The Banks.
  • We hired an outstanding president in Jonathan Martin to lead the organization two years ago and he is taking us into this 125th anniversary season and beyond with a commitment to inspiration, innovation and inclusion.  

The CSO is poised for continued growth and success thanks to extraordinary leadership from our Board, Jonathan and the Senior Management Team, Music Director Louis Langrée and Pops Conductor John Morris Russell, and I have every confidence that with your continued support, the CSO will realize its recently articulated vision to be the most relevant orchestra in America.

On behalf of the musicians, staff and my fellow Board members, I want to thank our many donors and sponsors, and especially the Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund of the Greenacres Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and many of you who support the Orchestra and Cincinnati’s vibrant arts scene through the ArtsWave Community Campaign.

As my three-year term as Board Chair finished in August, I am excited about what comes next for the CSO under the leadership of newly appointed Board Chair Rob McDonald. I have had the pleasure to work closely with Rob and know he is a talented, thoughtful leader in our community who possesses a passion for music. It is an honor to “hand him the keys” to this venerable and beloved organization.

Thank you for the support you’ve shown me as Board Chair these past three years. I look forward to seeing many of you throughout the CSO’s 125th anniversary season!

With appreciation,

Francie Hiltz

During the 2018-19 season …

  • The Orchestra performed in 480 concerts attended by 230,670
  • The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra hosted 11 guest conductors and 26 guest artists.
  • The Cincinnati Pops hosted 4 guest conductors and 12 guest artists.
  • The CSO performed 54 times with Music Hall’s resident companies: May Festival, Cincinnati Opera, and Cincinnati Ballet.
  • 72,519 people attended these performances with the resident companies.
  • The Orchestra reached 44,873,100 listeners through 40 national radio broadcasts (a 32 percent increase over the previous season).
  • 9 CSO-CCM Diversity Fellows performed with the Orchestra.
  • 117 singers participated in the Classical Roots Community Choir.
  • The CSO reached 15,775 students through the Young Peoples’ Concert series.
  • 196 student musicians performed 8 concerts with the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestras.
  • 772,081 Audience members attending MEMI (Music & Event Management, Inc.) events at Riverbend, PNC Pavilion, Taft Theatre, Rose Music Center and more.

2017-2018 Audited Financial Report

Operating Income: $67,465,401

Concert Revenues: $41,278,697
Other Revenues: $7,904,037
Contributions: $9,343,861
Investment Income: $8,938,806

Total: $67,465,401

Operating Expenses: $67,463,955

Program Service: $59,971,878
General and Administration: $5,724,795
Fundraising Expenses: $1,767,282

Total: $67,463,955