Music Hall's 125th Anniversary Special Project "Painted Violins"

Joyce Holmes and Alberta Marsh, co-Chairs, have announced an event which will present thirteen violins decorated by local artists which will be displayed in the Music Hall foyer and be auctioned off during the Music Hall 125th Anniversary Celebration Year.

The Violins Will Represent:

•   Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

•   CSO Music Directors collage

•   Cincinnati Pops

•   Cincinnati Ballet

•   Cincinnati Opera

•   Cincinnati May Festival

•   The Corbetts

•   The Nipperts

•   Reuben Springer

•   Eugene Frey

•   Charles Westheimer

•   Cincinnati Arts Association

•   Society for the Preservation of Music Hall

Tom Osterman, Chairman of the Music Hall
125th Anniversay Celebration and Alberta Marsh,
co Chair of the Painted Violin Project.
Violins shown (l to r) are to honor Paavo Jarvi and the CSO, Music Directors collage, and Eugene Frey.

Recognized Area Artists Will Paint the Violins

Artists to Date:

•   Barbara Ahlbrand (Cincinnati Arts Association)

•   Judy Anderson (Music Director's Collage)

•   Chris Bieri (Charles Westheimer)

•   Lynn Hogan (May Festival)

•   Beverly Kirk (Ballet)

•   Mike McGuire (Symphony with Paavo J

•   Les Miley (Opera)

•   Keith Mueller (SPMH)

•   Carl Samson (The Corbetts)

•   Amy Tangvald (Eugene Frye)

•   SCPA Art Department under the direction of Department Head, Althea Thompson

•   Barbara Trauth (The Nipperts)

•   Martha Weber (Reuben Springer)

Back view of Eugene Frey violin

Left - Eugene Frey's violin, Artist Amy Tangvald
Center - Pavo J
ärvi and CSO violin, Artist Mike McGuire
Right - Music Directors' Collage, Artist Judy Anderson

Cincinnati Ballet violin - front and back
Victoria Morgan, Artistic Director
Artist Beverly Kirk

The "Nippert" violin features a violet nosegay, like the one carried by Louise Nippert.
Artist Barbara Trauth

Cincinnati Post article on the Violin Project - April 7, 2003

Vibrant violins
'Painted Violins Project' helps Music Hall celebrate 125th anniversary, promote art and raise funds

By Jan Perry
Cincinnati Post contributor
April 7, 2003

For 125-years, Music Hall has been delighting audiences with the sweet sounds of strings. But now it will be drawing a crowd for some special violins that were made to be seen and not heard.

"We are extremely excited," said Alberta Marsh who co-chairs the "Painted Violins Project" with Joyce Holmes for the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall. "We wanted to do something special to coincide with the 125th anniversary, and this was the perfect idea."

Thirteen instruments will be painted with each one representing a different "tenant" of Music Hall or individuals who have had a significant impact on it. The violins will represent the Cincinnati Arts Association, the Ballet, the May Festival, the Opera, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops, the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall, Mr. and Mrs. Patricia and Ralph Corbett, Mr. and Mrs. Louis and Louise Nippert and Eugene Frey and one with likenesses of former conductors and celebrities among others.

Well-known area artists have been given the task of mixing art with history in creating the 13 painted violins. Many of those selected are associated with ArtWorks, which produced the popular flying pigs and flowerpots and will be doing the same with baseball bats this summer.

Artists include Carl Samson, Judy Anderson, Barbara Trauth, Keith Mueller, Amy Tangvald, Chris Bieri, Lynn Hogan, Beverly Kirk, Mike McGuire and Les Miley.

"We're so pleased at the response we've gotten," said Marsh. "We didn't really have to convince anyone. Once we explained the idea we had no trouble at all finding artists willing to participate."

Nine of the violins were first displayed in the Music Hall Foyer during the Ballet's performances this past weekend. The rest will be added to the display as they are completed.

A silent auction will continue through the fall when the works of art will be auctioned with the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall using the proceeds for the upkeep of and improvements for the 125-year-old complex.

"People may not know it, but the city owns Music Hall," said Marsh. "If the roof leaks, they fix it, but when the carpeting gets worn, that's something we take care of."

Music Hall became the oldest Orchestra/Choral Festival Hall in the U.S. when the Philadelphia Orchestra moved from their original location. To celebrate the Hall's landmark anniversary, "Music Hall, Forever New" has been planned for May 7. The idea is to use the occasion to welcome talent of the future with audiences of the future.

In honor of the anniversary (and to encourage a wide-based attendance), admission will be $1.25.

The party in the ballroom will have restaurants serving "taste" sized portions ($1.25 each). The entertainment will include the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, May Festival Youth Chorus, University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music's Preparatory Brass Choir, the Venture Dancers of Cincinnati Ballet's Budig School of Ballet, the St. Francis Seraph Youth Choir and the Over-the-Rhine Steel Drum Band.

Courtis Fuller, WCIN radio talk show host, will be master of ceremonies for the event organized by the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall and the Cincinnati Arts Association.

"We hope everyone will come out to see the painted violins and to help us help celebrate the 125th anniversary of Music Hall," said Marsh.

"There'll never be a better opportunity."

For more information, call (513) 744-3558 or, to see photos of the violins as they are finished, visit the Web site at

Cincinnati Post article on the Violin Project - September 18, 2003

Artists helping Music Hall
By Jan Perry
Cincinnati Post contributor
September 18, 2003

Music Hall's history sparkles as bright as the crystal chandeliers that hang within it. Built 125 years ago, it is now the oldest orchestra/choral festival hall in the U.S. (taking over the title when Philadelphia's orchestra moved from the Academy of Music into its new location).

But buildings, like people, often need upkeep with age and, although the city owns and repairs the physical structure, it is up to the efforts and financial support of the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall to maintain the building's exquisite interior.

The SPMH Painted Violin
The continuing need for maintenance and a desire to find a creative way to raise awareness about the historic property gave birth to the idea of creating, and then auctioning, painted violins.

Thirteen instruments were given to area artists, who were asked to creatively represent individuals and organizations that played, or are playing, a significant and lasting role in the history of Music Hall. Once completed, the painted pieces were put on display in the foyer and a summer-long silent auction began.

"We wanted to do something special to coincide with the 125th anniversary," said Alberta Marsh, who co-chaired the six-month project with Joyce Holmes. "The idea was received enthusiastically when it was proposed and when we began looking for artists who would be willing to participate, there wasn't one who turned us down."

There are 12 violins and one child-sized cello included in the collection. Current bids range from $1,000 to $2,000-plus.

The winning bids will be determined Saturday after the intermission of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert. High bidders not attending Saturday's performance can call the Society (513-744-3558) for pick-up information.

"We're pleased with the success of the event," Marsh said. "It isn't just an auction. It's been an educational tool for all those who viewed the violins. It's been wonderful to see so many people looking at them and to realize they have taken the time to really think about the 125 years that Music Hall has been part of Cincinnati's cultural history."

Designing artists and featured honorees include:

• Martha Weber's tribute to Reuben Springer, who originally conceived and financed the hall. The instrument features a likeness of the man and his building as it still stands.

• Carl Samson, who designed the J. Ralph and Patricia Corbett instrument, which includes miniature paintings of the philanthropic couple reminiscent of the full-sized portraits that hang in Music Hall, (also by Samson).

• A different view of Music Hall's familiar faηade graces Barbra Trauth's homage to Louis and Louise Nippert. Prominent in the design is a nosegay of violets, much like the ones Mrs. Nippert carried when she performed on the Music Hall stage during her youth.

• The Charles Westheimer violin by Chris Bieri takes an "up-close" look at the hall's red bricks.

• Amy Tangvald painted a violin in honor of Eugene Frey, head of the musicians' union. In what may have been the most creative use of space, a clarinet is cleverly included in her colorful creation.

Among the organizations recognized are the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall, represented by a child-size cello decorated by Keith Mueller in bright green; the Cincinnati Arts Association and the Cincinnati May Festival.

Instruments also honor the hall's primary residents: the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Ballet and the Cincinnati Pops.

"Each one is special in its own way," said Marsh of the instruments. "I hope everyone had a chance to see them and appreciate the history they reflect."

The "Nippert" violin features a violet nosegay, like the one carried by Louise Nippert.

Artist Amy Tangvald painted this violin in honor
of Eugene Frey, the head of the Musician's Union.

Continue to More Painted Violins and Some of the Artists Who Made Them

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