LUMENOCITY, the annual light projection festival accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, returns Aug. 5-7. Tickets go on sale July 5, so we spoke with Sherri Prentiss, vice president of marketing at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, to get the inside scoop on the fourth and final LUMENOCITY.

“This year, we are really trying to defy expectations,” Prentiss said. 

LUMENOCITY is community-oriented festival of music and light, created by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, featuring dazzling visuals synchronized to live orchestral music on a grand scale. It started in 2013 at Washington Park as a means to celebrate the CSO’s incoming Music Director, Louis Langrée, and has highlighted Cincinnati’s unique arts assets.

"Artistic collaborations have been key to making LUMENOCITY work," Prentiss said.
AW: How is LUMENOCITY 2016 different than years past — other than, of course, the venue change to Taft Theatre while Music Hall is being renovated? 

SP: The CSO wanted to highlight its “home away from home” during the renovation, the historic and beautiful Taft Theatre (a historic gem in its own right) located in downtown Cincinnati. The show is also moving indoors to highlight the best asset of the Taft —the  Neoclassical/Art Deco architecture — and also to give every audience member their own comfortable seat, air conditioning and protection from the elements (though we’ve been blessed with great weather the last three years!). The venue has given the CSO and our creative partners the opportunity to re-imagine the event in many more ways, leading us to name the event LUMENOCITY: RE-IMAGINE — a nod also to our city, which is undergoing an urban renaissance, propelled at least in part by the incredible wealth of arts, culture and artists in our city. 

What we're aiming for is for attendees to feel like they have stepped into an alternate reality, to see our radiant city of Cincinnati through a new lens, a city built from color, light, community, and creative expression. 

We are proud to partner with the spectacular OTR-based visual design firm Lightborne on the jaw-dropping visuals of LUMENOCITY. Highlighting and transforming the architecture of the Taft has been one of the priorities for Lightborne's team. They are going above and beyond to immerse attendees in the world of LUMENOCITY. 
AW: Exciting! Can you tell us about any of the artwork featured in the projections this year? Will there be any works from local artists (like Charlie Harper) again? 

: The visuals this year will be a break from the past, becoming more immersive and three-dimensional than before, as the canvas of the Taft Theatre explodes around you. While I can tell you that they do not feature works from local artists, I challenge you to look for bits and pieces of Cincinnati and its story throughout the show. 

AW: That sounds intriguing — we will definitely keep an eye out. How are the projections created? 

SP: The projections are very much a collaborative effort between the CSO and Lightborne. From the start, CSO Music Director Louis Langrée and Pops Conductor John Morris Russell met with Lightborne's creative team to listen to the score and brainstorm together the concepts and talk about the mood of the music, and the arc of a dramatic program. Since then, Lightborne has been hard at work making these ideas come to life, creating a dialogue of feedback between each other along the way. We can't wait for the show to share them with you!
AW: What can we expect from the community Block Party? 

SP: Like the show itself, the outdoor Block Party on 5th Street in front of the Taft, and also on the Plaza at P&G, has been re-imagined from the Village experience of years past. We will have than awesome food trucks and the official LUMENOCITY Glow collaboration beer. In addition, the Block Party will be activated with fun activities during the day, and will really come alive at night as elements begin to morph and glow. Admission to the Block Party is free and open to the public; no ticket is required to enter. We will also be kicking off the event in a grand style with a Lantern Parade presented by ArtsWave on Friday night, Aug 5, at 9 pm. We welcome attendees to dress up in colored lights, or stop by early to the Block Party to make a lantern and join us in a lively procession.  
We have partnered with a variety of collaborators to inform how the space will be activated, including University of Cincinnati’s DAAP (School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning) and Northern Kentucky University’s College of Informatics, the Contemporary Arts Center, Pones Inc., and designer Lindsey Whittle, among a throng of local performing groups. Expect to see the unexpected. 
AW: Will there be any secondary performances as part of the programming, as the ballet and opera portions are removed? 

SP: There will be multiple performances from a variety of local organizations across the weekend. Keep tabs on the website, as we will be announcing a schedule and more details soon! 
AW: Do you anticipate selling out this year? Will LUMENOCITY be simulcast for those without tickets? 

SP: We do anticipate selling out this year, so we advise to purchase your tickets as soon as possible. Tickets go on sale July 5 at 10 a.m. at

The Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops are committed to access for all, so we are offering a few options for those who would like to see the show but do not have a ticket. You can: 
  • Attend the free Block Party and join the Watch Party on the giant LED screen.
  • Tune into 90.9 WGUC on Aug. 5 for a radio broadcast.
  • Catch the broadcast on Aug. 6 on CET (Channel 48) or WCPO (Channel 9).
  • Watch the live webcast on on Aug.6-7.

We also reserve 10 percent of tickets for distribution to human service organizations across Cincinnati. For the first time, we’re offering a first-timer ticket drawing for the opportunity to purchase tickets to this year’s LUMENOCITY. Stop by the CSO/Pops Box Office outside of the Taft Theatre for more information when you’re at the festival, or check our website for more details as they are announced.

AW:Now that we know what amazing things to expect this year, we have to ask: Will LUMENOCITY ever come back? 

SP: We believe that every event has a life cycle, and that with the Music Hall renovation underway, celebrating our new home at the Taft with the fourth and final LUMENOCITY was the right thing to do. Next year, the CSO will be extremely focused on the grand re-opening one of the nation's most iconic concert halls, Music Hall, in October 2017, and as such, the major undertaking of LUMENOCITY will not be possible. But never fret, as an organization we are committed to experimentation, so look forward to what we might come up with next.