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Janelle Gelfand on the classical music scene

Janelle's pen has taken her to Japan, China, Carnegie Hall, Europe (twice), East and West Coasts, and Florida. In fact, Janelle was the first Enquirer reporter to report from Europe via e-mail -- in 1995.

Janelle began writing for the Cincinnati Enquirer as a stringer in 1991 while writing a Ph.D. dissertation in musicology at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She joined the Enquirer staff in 1993.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she graduated from Stanford University, Janelle has lived in Cincinnati for more than 30 years. In her free time, this pianist plays chamber music with her circle of musical friends in Cincinnati.

She covers the Cincinnati Symphony, May Festival and Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, chamber music ensembles, and as many recitals and events at CCM and NKU as possible.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Development in Over-the-Rhine: SCPA

While we're on the subject of garages, concert hall renovations and other developments planned for OTR, Covington reader JT Spence reminds me that the new School for Creative and Performing Arts is in the works and he's concerned about its architecture. Spence, a Xavier University prof who trained as a community planner sends these thoughts about design and preserving old buildings instead of tearing them down:

"Supporters of the new school appear to make reference to a 'lack of space' and problems with 'leaking ceilings' as the primary motivations behind supporting the new school. While a lack of space seems legitimate, there would appear to be a large amount of open space on the existing site to create opportunities for expanding the facility - and the leaking ceilings and sheets being used for window dressing would seem to say more about a lack of investment. When the SCPA is sold for new condo development, there will most likely be an article talking about the wonderful architecture and upgraded facilites.

"As to the new school; what an injustice the drawings do for trying to capture a building that is billed as the new home for Cincinnati's Arts School; blank walls along the streetfront, immense vacant space in the interior, protruding support beams limiting access to wall space all add to the picture of a structure more oriented to use as a transportation justice center than an arts center. The whole feel of the building seems to say 'don't care, don't get close... there is no warmth here.' It is another modern industrialized building with no character related to the region or history. One can only imagine what the building will do for the sight lines of the existing neighborhood. It looks cheap and built for the moment.

"It is a shame our society seems constantly steered toward the momentary lust for the new and sparkling at the cost of the old and established. Although I understand that the arts push the envelope for what is good design, the new SCPA building doesn't appear to meet any of the standards that are typical of good design."

JT Spence, PhD, AICP



at 11/07/2006 08:13:00 PM Blogger Rick said...

I second the emotions of Dr. Spence! Think about it: in Europe, they renovate 1000 year old buildings. Here, we tear down 30 year old buildings. We don't allow ourselves a history. Things go up and come down at a rapid rate. The race to cheap chrome and glass is just sad. Thanks, Dr. Spence, for weighing in...

at 2/12/2007 02:35:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Dr. Spence makes some fine points he misses the major problems with the current school. You see, I am a current student at SCPA, and the fact is that the building does not function well anymore. For example; this year for the first year in a long time the school held its major musical production in its own theatre (because of a lack of funding and some problems with a sponsor…support school funding!) and the fact is that the school’s theatre was not functional as a modern theatre. The school was not built as an art school, and the auditorium reflects this. What is effected is the size of productions, the size of casts and the number of seats the school can sell (which is another source of revenue). The Tech. Theatre dept. can not use everyone in house, so some kids miss out on their area of study, the cast must be smaller, and the kids who design sets do not have the space to do a large set.

Dr. Spence makes good points about changing the streetscape in the Washington Park Area, but from what I can tell, Washington Park at the moment is filled with homeless people and drug users and a change would be a good thing. He doesn’t mention the change that an addition would make to the Pendleton Neighborhood, which is a much more historic feeling area with wonderful 19th century town homes by adding a large addition on the north side of the current SCPA. It is just not well thought out.

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