Wednesday, October 28, 2015

About those venues…

St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Terrace Park

We receive many comments about the various venues that Catacoustic performs in for our concert series. Our annual Cincinnati Early Music Festival introduces even more spaces for musical performances. Many people comment that they like discovering new spaces and enjoy seeing the interesting architectural features – beautiful woodwork, stained glass windows – and exploring new corners of our city’s neighborhoods. What goes into a decision for a venue choice for Catacoustic season concerts, you may wonder?

Well, for early music, the acoustics are as important as the instruments themselves. The design of Baroque instruments means that the acoustics are an active collaborator in performance and are key for a successful concert. This is what leads us into churches, since their architects often had the same considerations in mind when designing those spaces. The acoustical properties of many churches, as well as seating size, are appropriate for the music we share.

Sometimes we hear from people who are uncomfortable attending concerts in churches, as they feel out of place in a sacred space that is outside their own beliefs. We understand this concern, and we continue to explore secular spaces for our events.

Occasionally, collaborations will drive the venue choice, as with our performance of Shakespeare-inspired music with concert:nova at the Mercantile Library, or the Cincinnati Opera collaborative Monteverdi concerts at 1st Presbyterian and our subsequent performances of La Calisto at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

Ambience is another factor. Our candlelight concerts at beautiful St. Thomas Church in Terrace Park have created wonderful multisensory experiences. We are certain that Old St. Mary’s Church will create a similar feel for our April concert of music for early trombones (sackbuts) and viols.

Old St. Mary's Church in Over-the-Rhine

One comment we have heard recently is that many of our audience members like to attend a concert that is near restaurants or bars for pre and post-concert meals and drinks, so all of our venues this year are within walking distance (or an easy drive) to such places.

Another important factor in our decision of venue is the relationship with the venue’s administrator or music director. A vision of collaboration from the venue’s viewpoint is paramount. I am grateful to the churches we work with who see it as their mission to open their doors to the community for events other than their own. We feel a special affinity for churches who believe that making their spaces available to the public for cultural events is an extension of their own ministry.

One comment since the beginning of our concert days here in Cincinnati is the discomfort of some church pews. (Perhaps churches want to keep their parishioners awake and alert!) We finally have addressed this issue by ordering Catacoustic seat cushions that are now available for purchase at our concerts.

I am quite excited about our venues this year. We performed for the second time at Trinity Episcopal in Covington, and the venue has a lovely acoustic and is a visual treat with glorious Tiffany stained glass windows. It is also a pleasure to bring our music to Covington. The gracious music director, John Deaver, teaches at CCM and is committed to having more music in his community.

Our second concert for this 15th season is at a new venue for us, St. Rose Church, in East End (Columbia Tusculum). The music director is Trevor Kroeger, who is working to make his church a musical destination. The space is beautiful!

St.Rose Church

Our upcoming lecture (“The Perilous Allures of Convent Singing”) as well as our third season concert featuring Baroque violin will be held at a favorite venue of mine, Church of the Advent in Walnut Hills. I am partial to this church, as it is in my neighborhood, and the church and community of Walnut Hills are extremely welcoming and supportive. The glorious woodwork and stained glass (more Tiffany windows!) are an added bonus.

Our fourth concert of the season is at another new venue for us: Old St. Mary’s in Over-the-Rhine. Old St. Mary’s was the triumphant venue last February for a Renaissance Mass, performed during the Early Music Festival. Music is an integral part of this church’s mission, and their music director is as eager to have us, as audiences are eager to discover all the hidden corners of Over-the-Rhine. The sanctuary is stunning, and it will transport us back in time for the other-worldly “Voice of God and Man.”

Finally, our Baroque opera will be held at First Unitarian Church in Avondale. You may know this spot as a regular venue for the Linton Chamber Music Series. The sanctuary platform (stage) is a flexible space, and the shape can change according to our needs. It boasts excellent parking and accessibility, and it is a beautiful space. There is sufficient room for the instruments as well as the singers, and the semi-staged choreography should work perfectly.

There you have it! Reasons why we choose the spaces we choose. We always appreciate hearing your feedback on our venues.

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