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Lumenocity a Hit Three Years Running

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Aug 8, 2015 - 1:51:58 PM in reviews_2015

photo by Philip Groshong
Lumenocity, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s one-of-a-kind light and sound show, now in its third year, returned to Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine Friday night. The weather was perfect, the crowd was enthusiastic and the show, once again, was fabulous.

   Once again, the evening began before dark with a concert by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra led by John Morris Russell. This year’s theme, “Masters and Dreamers,” paid special tribute to Cincinnati in image and music, beginning with Stephen Collins Foster’s “Ring, Ring the Banjo,” featuring Sylvia Mitchell and Paul Patterson on banjo and fiddle. There couldn’t have been a better curtain-raiser, with Foster himself having once been a resident of Cincinnati.

   The crowd of thousands (official estimate unavailable) sang along with “America the Beautiful,” which ended with a release of red balloons over Music Hall. Also on Russell’s playlist were Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” (composed for the CSO in 1942) given a jazzy, full orchestra arrangement by Tim Berens, Alan Silvestri’s theme from “Back to the Future,” Peter Boyer’s flowing “Rolling River” (“Sketches on Shenandoah”), which featured the CSO’s Christopher Philpotts on dreamy English horn and dancers from Cincinnati Ballet’s Second Company, and James Reece Europe’s “Hey There (Hi There),” arranged by Berens, with Mark Wolfley on drums.

   Soprano Summer Hassan and baritone Joseph Lattanzi, Cincinnati Opera young artists, performed Leonard Bernstein’s “Take Care of This House” from “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” and Frank Wildhorn’s “This is the Moment” from “Jekyll and Hyde,” respectively. The Bernstein was given a caressing rendition by Hassan, while “This is the Moment” was inspiring. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” arranged by Berens, made a rousing encore.

   “Thank you, Cincinnati!” shouted Russell, acknowledging the applause, having provided the perfect setup for the dazzling light show to come.

   Louis Langrée, in whose honor as incoming CSO music director the first Lumenocity was presented in August 2013, stepped to the podium for Lumenocity 2015.

   Opening number was “O Fortuna” from Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” whereupon the Music Hall façade came alive with the magic of Brave Berlin visual and media artists Steve McGowan and Dan Reynolds, their team of animators and illustrators and creative partners Jason Snell, Chad Shack, Cad Smith and Mike Wolfram.  Images were projected from high-powered projectors on Race Street adjacent to Washington Park. Joining the CSO were singers from the May Festival Chorus.

   The 40-minute show focused on Cincinnati, its history and architecture and the musicians of the CSO themselves, many of whom came to life on the huge canvas behind them. The “Dream of a Witches Sabbath” from Hector Berlioz’ “Symphonie Fantastique,” was a natural for the show, with its spooky moving lines and shadows and CSO musicians threaded among them.

   The second movement of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 (the “Organ”) unfolded to the tender story of a young boy and girl (was it a dream?) who emerge from a scary woods in another hail of red balloons.  Alexander Mosolov’s 1927 “Iron Foundry” celebrated the growth of Cincinnati – indeed of Over-the-Rhine with its bustling immigrant population -- with smoking chimneys, cogs and wheels and a shower of fireworks at the end.

   Final number was the finale of Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 -- appropriately German as a nod to Cincinnati’s German heritage. “Cincinnati, this is for you,” said Langrée by way of introduction.

   At that, a panoply of Cincinnatiana passed over the face of Music Hall, itself one of the featured landmarks along with the Roebling Suspension Bridge, the Tyler Davidson Fountain, Union Terminal, Findlay Market, the Cincinnati Zoo, Coney Island, King’s Island, the Cincinnati Reds (world champions in 1975, 1976 and 1990), the Cincinnati Bengals, basketball great Oscar Robertson, Carol Ann’s Carousel in Smale Riverfront Park and, of course, the CSO and Cincinnati Opera. All were heartily cheered, as were the performers and the visual artists. Music Hall itself took an animated bow at the end.

   The show repeats tonight and Sunday at 8:30 p.m. (Tickets to the ticketed area on the civic lawn in Washington Park are sold out.)

   Gates open to Lumenocity Village on the south end of Washington Park – an area with its own schedule of events and activities, plus food, beverages, official CSO/Lumenocity merchandise, etc. --at 3:30 p.m. each day.  (See Mason resident Mark Clark’s Lego recreation of the Music Hall neighborhood on display in the Music Hall lobby.)

   There will also be mini-tours of Music Hall from 3 to 6 p.m.

   For those who cannot attend Lumenocity, there will be extensive media coverage of the Saturday event, including:

·      live telecast on CET (Cincinnati Public Television) and WCPO – 9 On Your Side, beginning at approximately 8:35 p.m.

·      live webcast at www.lumenocity2015.com

·      live simulcast on Fountain Square.

   For further information, visit www.lumenocity2015.com