Readers sound off about Music Hall
Wow, what an unbelievable response to the story about Music Hall and the symphony's future in Over-the-Rhine.
Here's more mail, from my inbox at the office:
"A timely piece on Over the Rhine -- well researched and well written. Thanks for the work you put in on it. All of us who are trying to hold on down here are facing the same struggle as the CSO." -- Katie Laur (Cincinnati bluegrass legend)
Rogers O'Neill of Wyoming writes: "Has any thought been given to building a new music hall as part of The Banks project? A bold design, like the Sydney Opera House, would really improve the image of the City."
David Lyman wrote: "You actually put into words what many Cincinnatians must regard as unimaginable; the CSO leaving Music Hall. It's a lovely place in many ways, but it really is too big for almost anything these days. Particularly for the audiences that the CSO is drawing. Anyway, it was nice to see someone addressing a hard issue. And one that is likely to keep you answering your phone most of the day Monday."
Randall Wolfe, director of Cincinnati Boychoir, e-mailed: "That was a much-needed article about the CSO and the problems surrounding the neighborhood around Music Hall, and was very well done, as always. ...The last time I went to a performance at Music Hall, I was accosted for money by someone who had made his way INTO the parking garage - on the top level, at that!
Obviously Paavo feels very strongly about the issues, and I hope he will lead the way for many of us who desperately need to move at least a little further north so that we are more central to our constituency. Otherwise, over the long haul, I believe we will lose the boychoir, and probably many other groups."
Dr. Rick Singel of Hyde Park: "Boy, Janelle, the very thought of the Orchestra leaving Music Hall makes me want to faint and die...The planets would spin off into the universe and the oxygen would be sucked off of the planet...
Your piece was just great, and it did lead to a lot of thinking on my part...
I can certainly see Jarvi's point...Yet, an Orchestra without MH, or MH without the Orchestra would just seem bizarre.....
But, City Council has their plate full with, you know, critical items like new marijuana laws or the gay rights amendment...
When on earth could they find time, Janelle, to deal with this minor stuff??!!
Honest to God, a room full of fools......
While the MH neighborhood turns to dung...
If I couldn't park right next to MH, I'd be upset....
ONCE----------------ONCE----------------I parked at Central Parkway and Elm, at a friend's insistence to, yes, save money. We were yelled at by ghetto punks as we scurried up the street... Very frightening.
Music Hall is such a treasure. This is nothing short of a tragedy....Keep writing about it, Janelle. Maybe a city leader will read the paper...."
Dr. Molly McCaffrey writes: Is the danger posed to symphany-goers more about perception or reality? I felt this way primarily because music director Paavo Järvi says he is "alarmed at what he *perceives* is an increased presence of drug dealers" (italics mine).
I am also particularly bothered by Tim Fry's comment that he remembers "the streets and kids milling around." Obviously, he means black kids. And this makes me wonder if the only reason that symphany-goers are afraid of Over-the-Rhine is because they see black people. I would have liked this article to tell us how often people are actually the victims of crime when they go to the symphony. That information seems
crucial. Because if the problem is more about perception than reality, then more police aren't going to solve the problem."
And this from Bob Southwick of Hyde Park: Kudos to you and to the Enquirer for the excellent articles Sunday about Music Hall and the Symphony, Two points stood out. First, Maestro Jarvi telling it like it is regarding the inaction of local government. He could have mouthed platitudes about the future development plans that seem to just move further into the future. Second, the issue of safety is more than the statistical probability that concertgoers will not be shot. The surrounding area should be an extension of the ambiance of the hall and the music.
As to the question of The Symphony leaving Music Hall, I cannot even
remotely fathom that. They belong together, forever."
Steve Dieters writes: "I found your articles in the Sunday paper about Music Hall, Symphony attendance, and the overall state of the Symphony has hard hitting as about anything that can be written on this subject matter. I was pleased to see that at least one board member-Jack Rouse-has finally spoken out on many of the issues that confront this institution and has literally brought up issues that were the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
The fact that Paavo Jarvi has spoken out so candidly on so many issues was a welcome breathe of fresh air. Let's face it. In the past the music directors job was to emphasize the artistic programming and did not involve himself in the business end of the Symphony. The fact that the hall is filled or more importantly not filled with interested attendees is where art and business meld together....
...Until they develop some "out of the box" thinking and a more nimble management and oversight (board of directors) model they will never pull themselves out of this death spiral that they are descending in with increasing speed.
As far as staying at Music Hall or going elsewhere, I think the jury is still out on that issue. Having attended concerts at the Dayton Philharmonic I have to say their hall makes ours look a little threadbare. What they have to do is to get the people with the disposable incomes who want to come to the Symphony into the building. Unfortunately with a 20%+ shift in the population from Hamilton County in the last 10 years to outlying areas many of those potential customers with the disposable income to spend find it no longer convenient to come downtown for an evening at the Symphony and that I guess is the crux of the problem."
Alan Coleman's view: "Every few months we hear about the misfortunes of the CSO and its attendance problems. If the CSO board really wants a solution, they must start by making sure that children get hands on experience in music in the public schools. That’s where music education starts! Far too many children in CPS are denied the opportunity to experience music in that way. Giving those young people the opportunity to do so might create a different class of people in that area, rather than musical and cultural illiterates."
Trudie Seybold says: "Excellent article! Going downtown is challenging. I know many of our friends refuse to even drive through town. We attend the symphony programs that appeal to us, and usually arrive early to park on the street or in the school parking lot. I just can't believe that our Classical public in Cincinnati don't support this magnificent orchestra. We have gotten tickets for only $12.00 -- what more can they do? -- and the auditorium is half full. May Festival, Pops and Opera people drive downtown and park, and attendance is certainly more promising."
Alvin Seebohm writes: "I have been a Riverbend subscriber for 20 years, but will not go the Music Hall ,because of the safety issue. I have written Symphony management several times and they always say Music Hall area is safe. The Hall is probably safe ,but the trip from the parking areas is a different case. For people in their 60's , it is out of the question to venture in the Music Hall area after dark.
I don't know what the long term answer to the problem is , but maybe a massive amount of police between the hall & parking areas would help. I realize this would be costly,but until I can be assured of my safety, I will not go to Music Hall regardless of what it looks like or what size it is. Thanks for saying what the Symphony management has refused to say."
David Cohen writes: "I'm not sure what this one (Showdown at Music Hall) is really about. ... The article's portrayal of Washington Park and Music Hall as a desolate war zone is way over the top. Last night's concert - (a guest conductor and 2 out of 3 very-non-top-twenty pieces) pulled in a reasonable crowd
- including young people and old people. Most seemed to be walking in
pairs, not in "groups" as your article suggests. In the afternoon,
before the concert, we parked in the Town Center Garage, walked about 8
blocks south to a wine tasting, went out for an early dinner and walked
back. Not exactly the road to Baghdad Airport. No bullet holes. Lots of
people. Nice place.
If the CSO has to move to another hall for a compelling reason - like
capacity, acoustics, maintenance cost, I will grudgingly follow. But
threatening to move to a mall in the sprawl because some middle aged guy
from Montgomery is afraid of the dark? That's nuts. That's not the
future audience that the orchestra is hoping to attract."