CSO Look Around Napoleon Maddox
Napoleon Maddox performs at CSO Look Around

Last Saturday night, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra hosted a one-of-a-kind cultural event enjoyed by thousands in Over-the-Rhine. “CSO Look Around” took its inspiration from "Lost Generation," a spoken word piece by local poet and musician Siri Imani. It begins, "I need you to care / Not about yourself or obtaining your wealth / I need you to look around." Those words provided a clear vision for the artistic team that the CSO had assembled to design an event that would mark the start of the orchestra’s 125th season. In addition to Imani, the team included composer/singer Shara Nova and filmmaker Mark DeChiazza.

In curating the event, the creators reached out to dozens of Greater Cincinnati arts organizations. MUSE, Cincinnati's Women's Choir, dance ensemble Pones, African drum and dance group Bi-Okoto, Cincinnati Men's Chorus and others, quickly became involved. A participatory parade invited spectators to join in a music and dance procession that wove from Ziegler Park to Washington Park. The experience culminated in an immersive multi-arts performance, with the CSO, that fully enveloped the crowds in music and song.

“CSO Look Around” is the latest example of the dynamic way that Greater Cincinnati's arts groups collaborate, creating unexpected experiences as a result. ArtsWave's Blueprint for Collective Action encourages organizations to get outside the traditional concert hall or gallery and into the community, a strategy that has more than tripled the number of free and accessible public arts events over the last three years. In this case, the Cincinnati Symphony orchestrated a multidisciplinary, multicultural event that brought fresh energy to the OTR neighborhood – attracting an estimated 8,000 people in the process who visited restaurants and businesses along the way.

We’re reminded through this event of the powerful way that the arts create moments of shared humanity. Common experiences that bring people together. We've seen it time and time again our region. Just a few weeks ago, we saw it with the Price Hill Creative Community Festival. This month, we'll see it again with the second annual Cindependent Film Festival. And in the fall, we'll see the return of the multi-artist, multi-media, multi-neighborhood festival BLINK®, illuminated by ArtsWave. Join us. 

BLINK is a trademark of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr.,/U.S. Bank Foundation exclusively licensed by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.