In 1990, the International Federation for Choral Music proclaimed the second Sunday in December (this year, December 14) to be World Choral Day. The event's purpose is to show how "music, the divine art, is more than the mere search of formal perfection and interpretative beauty" and to promote music's ability "to extol the values of solidarity, peace, and understanding."
Cincinnati has a rich choral tradition that stretches back even to its early days. Let's take a look at this long history, and also discuss some of the many upcoming music events in and around the Queen City that would offer seniors the opportunity to undertake fun activities in honor of World Choral Day.
Cincinnati has been singing for a long, long time.
The earliest community choral organization in the area may have been the Cincinnati Harmonical Society, founded in 1814— just 11 years after Ohio achieved statehood and only 26 years after Cincinnati became a permanent establishment.
As the 19th Century progressed and more German immigrants began to settle in the area, singing societies cropped up in Cincinnati and many surrounding Midwestern cities.
In 1849, fourteen German singing societies founded the first German-American regional choral organization, the Saengerbund, and held their first Saengerfest in the Queen City. Singing societies from around the Midwest and the nation came to Saengerfest to compete against each other and to entertain the public.
In 1873, the May Festival was established in Cincinnati. Although at first the German community saw the May Festival as a potential rival to its Saengerfests, it gradually became more accepted. German groups increasingly performed in the May Festival, which is still held annually at Music Hall and is now one of the oldest festivals of its type in North America.
Cincinnati's choral tradition has been showcased internationally over the past several years.
In 2012, Cincinnati was honored to host the second installment of the World Choir Games— the so-called "Olympics of choral music"— and saw 362 choirs from 64 countries participate.
The impetus to bring the games to the Tristate was largely spearheaded by the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau, as well as through advocacy efforts by local music luminaries like funk bassist Bootsy Collins (formerly of Parliament) and Nick Lachey (one-time member of the group 98 Degrees).
The ten-day event brought unprecedented world attention to Cincinnati, through international media stories and social media trends, with an estimated public relations value of $32 million and brought a much-needed economic shot in the arm to downtown hotels, restaurants, retailers and other businesses.
This year, in honor of World Choral Day, consider donating to the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall.
Music Hall, downtown at 1241 Elm Street, is the third-largest concert hall in the United States, surpassed only by New York City's Metropolitan Opera House and Washington, DC's Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall. It is widely renowned both for its stunning beauty and near-perfect acoustics. It serves today as home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and the Cincinnati Ballet.
Unfortunately, Music Hall is also in great need of preservation and repair. An effort to put a restoration-funding tax on the ballot failed in 2014, when two of three of Hamilton County's commissioners excluded Music Hall from Issue 8, the so-called "Save Our Icons" levy.
Luckily, the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall (SPMH) is still working on securing the funds necessary to properly renovate the classic venue.
Check out these neat choral events, sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Choral Consortium!
In 2013, partially in response to the resounding successful World Choir Games, the Greater Cincinnati Choral Consortium (GCCC) was established to promote awareness of Cincinnati's choral music scene and to help choral organizations in the area to reduce expenses by coordinating the sharing of resources. A new year-long membership in the GCCC is just $50, and funds are used to support choral events and ensembles.
This month, GCCC member ensembles will perform a variety of concerts in and around the area. The full schedule of these events is available here. Not to be missed are:
December 13, 7:30 pm
Performed by the Cincinnati Boychoir.
Christ Church Cathedral, 318 East 4th Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
$15 Adults, $10 Students and Seniors
December 14, 2:30 pm
Holiday Choral Concert
Performed by the MUSE Cincinnati Women's Choir.
Taft Museum of Art, 316 Pike Street , Cincinnati, OH 45202
Free and open to the public.
December 19, 21 and 22, 7:30 pm
Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors
Performed by the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, MadCap Puppets, Xavier University Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble and Pones, Inc.
Gallagher Theater, 15 University Drive, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH 45207
Adults $25, Students/Children $10
Get in the spirit this holiday season and support World Choral Day!
There are plenty of activities this month for musically-inclined seniors in Cincinnati. Call up your friends and family, or just head out to hear some wonderful singing, at the most festive time of the year. Your ears— and your heart— will benefit from listening.