Cincinnati is a diverse city with many choices for how the discerning senior can spend leisure time. Though our arts scene doesn’t get the attention of those in larger, coastal cities, Cincinnati boasts some of the country’s oldest and best public arts organizations— and a hotbed of visual artists, musicians and theatrical talents.
In this post, we’ll explore just a few of the many creative organizations brightening up retirement living in the Queen City.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Orchestras have been an integral part of Cincinnati’s fine arts scene since 1825.
Several incarnations have existed over the years, but the current group can trace its roots back to 1873— the fifth oldest symphony in the United States. Some twenty-odd years after its founding, the symphony moved into its current home at Music Hall, now a National Historic Landmark renowned world over for its Venetian Gothic beauty and clear acoustics, where it has hosted the American premiere of works by several well-know composers, including Mahler and Debussy.
Now led by French conductor Louis Langrée, the CSO is one of only fifteen orchestras that play year-round in North America. People of all ages flock to Music Hall in downtown’s resurgent Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Opening night for the 2014-15 season will take place September 13, 8 pm, when the CSO will host pianist Lang Lang for a performance of several Beethoven pieces.
Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
The late Erich Kunzel founded the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra as subgroup of the CSO in 1977. As Pops conductor, Kunzel thrilled Cincinnati audiences until his death in 2009, releasing many acclaimed digital recordings of popular standards, boogie woogie and big band hits and movie scores with one recording, Copland: Music of America, winning a Grammy award in the late ‘90s.
Kunzel was such a beloved figure that Cincinnati’s School of Creative and Performing Arts’ new state-of-the-art building— a stone’s throw from the Pops’ home venue — was named after him, as was the portion of Elm Street which runs adjacent to Music Hall.
Serving up lighthearted musical fare, the Pops often serves as the gateway for young people to experience orchestral music. It stages several “Lollipops Family Concerts” each season. In 2014, it will present “Carnival of the Animals,” as part of this series. It will also present Disney’s Fantasia score for three nights in September.
For seniors who want to share their love of timeless music with their grandchildren, a Pops concert is a wonderful night spent together.
Playhouse in the Park
In 1959, college student Gerald Covell dreamed of bringing professional theater to the Queen City. His brain-child, Playhouse in the Park, though lesser known than the Broadway Series at downtown’s Aronoff Center for the Arts, still pleases fans of the stage with its eclectic offerings.
The Playhouse presents family standards, such as its yearly holiday performance of A Christmas Carol and recent staging of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, as well as avant-garde works. As host to many theatrical debuts for works by new playwrights, professional actors from New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and other centers of theater come to Cincinnati to be cast in Playhouse productions.
The Playhouse enjoyed an $8.4 million renovation in the last decade and sports a sleek, accessible theater that is almost as eye-catching as its productions. Among other offerings in the upcoming 2014-15 season, seniors and their families will have the chance to enjoy Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club, Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical, and Peter and the Starcatcher, a prequel to the story of Peter Pan, adapted by Rick Elice.
Cincinnati Arts Museum
Also located on Mt. Adams, the Cincinnati Art Museum opened in 1881 and was the first purpose-built art museum west of the Alleghenies. Featuring over 60,000 pieces, its collection is one of the most extensive in the Midwest.
The Art Museum has several works by European masters in its static displays, including Rubens, Picasso, Monet and Renoir, as well as a large collection of paintings by Cincinnati area-native Frank Duveneck.
Young visitors are often particularly interested in the antiquities collection that greets them in the front room on arrival— there are many ancient Egyptian artifacts, including a sarcophagus. But the Museum isn’t just about old things; it hosts a first-rate contemporary collection, including work by Warhol.
Retirement living in Cincinnati is bold and beautiful, with an inspired fine arts community and amazing venues. For a senior looking for a stimulating lifestyle, the Queen City is hard to surpass.