A Letter from the President & CEO of ArtsWave

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Alecia Kintner
President & CEO, ArtsWave

For the last three years, Cincinnati has placed in the Top 20 among 900 U.S. regions on SMU’s National Arts Vibrancy Index. One of the metrics behind their rankings is the dynamism and caliber of the artists contributing to a community’s cultural landscape.

Since 2013, Louis Langrée has served as Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. There is no doubt that Mr. Langrée’s imprint on our region’s arts profile has been a factor in our placement on this venerable list. In fact, his tenure here realizes the vision of city founders in the late 18th and early 19th centuries that Cincinnati can, and should be, known as a world-class destination for the arts.

Often, we refer to an orchestra conductor as “Maestro.” Cincinnati felt comfortable addressing Langrée like any good friend, as simply “Louis.” When he was first introduced to the Queen City in 2012, Louis graciously joined me in a program for ArtsWave donors. He described his delight at discovering the people and places of Cincinnati, including Music Hall’s neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine. He said, “Growing up in Alsace, France, we could look ‘over the Rhine’ to Germany. I feel right at home already in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati.”

The way that Louis and his wife Aimée made their family home here over the last decade—investing themselves personally in their neighborhood and their kids’ schools—is testament to an orchestra that believes it is part of, not detached from, its community. It was during his tenure that the CSO re-imagined its mission to “seek and share inspiration,” with a corresponding vision to be “the most relevant orchestra in America.”

As the CSO’s 13th Music Director, Louis Langrée’s impact will long be remembered. Numerous programming decisions and artistic embraces show Langrée pushing our historic orchestra confidently into the 21st century. Our global corporations regularly assert Cincinnati’s right-to-win in attracting and retaining top industry talent. Louis’ tenure with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra reminds us that our region is, indeed, able to attract the world’s top industry talent.

At the recent 2024 ArtsWave Community Campaign Kick-Off, local arts and business leaders paid tribute to Louis for his many artistic contributions to the region. In response, he challenged us to hold dear what is special about Cincinnati. “In many cities,” he said, “the most important building is the cathedral, the city hall, or the palace of justice. Here in Cincinnati, it is Music Hall. It is the temple of art.”

We all have our own favorite “Louis moments.” Mine were the two times he conducted Aaron Copland’s majestic Lincoln Portrait, a work which, incidentally, had its 1942 world premiere with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Under Louis’ baton, the inestimable Maya Angelou performed the role of Narrator—it was among her last public appearances. (Louis shared with me that this performance was a high point for him, as well.) Last year, endearing actor George Takei offered his interpretation. Both performances were emotional, exuberant examples of how music can focus—or refocus—our sights on the sacred ideals of democracy and justice for all. 

Our very best wishes and thanks, Louis, for giving us so many inspiring, thoughtful, joyful moments of connection through music. We look forward to welcoming you back to Cincinnati very soon!

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