Friday, March 19, 2004

We must rally to support symphony

Your voice: Bob McKeever

I attended a Friday morning concert of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at Music Hall recently. Eric Kim, the orchestra's principal cellist, was the soloist with a guest conductor. The entire program was brilliantly executed and joyous to hear. The announcement of the CSO's deficit for this year made me realize how blessed we are with our musical life and heritage in Cincinnati, and that any loss or lessening could be catastrophic.

I have been attending concerts in Music Hall since the mid-1940s, when we were taken as a class from Hyde Park School. I have never been a subscriber to the symphony (I am an opera subscriber), but there has probably never been a year without my attending at least once, usually more. It has always been a pleasure and joy to attend and contribute.

In addition to the regular symphony concerts, we have the Cincinnati Pops, Cincinnati Opera, May Festival and Riverbend to compliment the main orchestral season, and occasionally free Concerts in the Park. Through the years we have enjoyed the brilliance and expertise of a variety of first-rate conductors bringing the orchestra and city to national recognition. The prices for tickets are probably the lowest in the country for a premier orchestra. Although attendance is good, it is not as good as it should be - especially when one knows the orchestra's concerts on tour usually sell out, even in much larger halls.

How lucky we are to discover the genius and worth of Paavo Jarvi and bring him to Cincinnati. How privileged also to have the talents and gifts brought by Erich Kunzel at the Pops, James Conlon at the May Festival and the many prominent guest conductors that are pleased to be invited to Cincinnati to work with top-notch musicians. How attractive we have become to first-rate musicians who have a desire to become members of this orchestra. How honored to be applauded and appreciated when appearing on tour in other cities and countries.

I applaud the symphony Board of Directors' decision to increase the price of subscriptions and regular tickets while keeping some discounts in place. Their care, concern and vigilant oversight bode well for the future of the orchestra. I intend to increase my contribution and attendance to assure the future will be as brilliant as the past. I encourage everyone to do the same.

Bob McKeever of Hyde Park is a retired purchasing agent. He serves as Withrow High School's alumni coordinator, and is on the boards of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Council and other civic organizations.

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