Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to house extensive Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra library during Music Hall renovation

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County made a joint announcement today that the CSO’s library – the largest orchestra library in the world – would be housed at the Public Library’s facility located at 800 Vine Street in Cincinnati during the extensive renovation of Music Hall.

The CSO, which also performs and records as the Cincinnati Pops, will move out of Music Hall in June for an intensive construction period and will move back once the Music Hall renovation is completed in the fall of 2017. The Orchestra will perform at the historic Taft Theatre starting next year during the 2016-17 subscription season, which runs from September to June.

“The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s extreme generosity with this space is truly essential to the success of the Orchestra’s transition to the Taft Theatre and back to the renovated Music Hall,” said CSO President Trey Devey. “We’re grateful to the many community partners and leaders who are making this tremendously complex transition possible. Their work is protecting one of Cincinnati’s greatest cultural assets in the Orchestra.”

The Orchestra’s library includes music from 120 years of CSO history with some markings on scores dating back to the 1800’s. An extensive recording legacy is also responsible for many unique arrangements in this collection, particularly for the Pops. The Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra have sold over 10 million recordings worldwide, more than any other orchestra on the planet.

The collection, which includes music for the CSO, Pops, May Festival Chorus, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestras, Vocal Arts Ensemble, Classical Roots Community Mass Choir and May Festival Youth Chorus, totals approximately 750,000 pieces of music and is currently housed in eleven different locations throughout Music Hall. CSO librarians will be able to access all of this music from one single location for the first time at the Public Library during the renovation thanks to high density storage, and then in a new library with high density storage at Music Hall once the renovation is complete.

“The CSO collection is an invaluable resource for the musicians who enrich the lives of Hamilton County residents,” said Kimber L. Fender, the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director of the Library. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to extend our long-standing collaborative relationship with the CSO to help the organization with this need.”

Storage of the music was not the only challenge the CSO faced with finding a temporary location for the largest orchestra library in the world. With approximately 130 performances a year, the Orchestra also needed the collection to be accessible and for its librarians to have workspaces. Fortunately, the Public Library was able to fulfill both of those needs.

“Finding a temporary home for the CSO’s library was a significant challenge and working with the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is a brilliant solution,” said CSO Principal Librarian Mary Judge. “We are immensely grateful for their help. This collection is invaluable to us and the Public Library will be the perfect temporary space until our library’s return to the renovated Music Hall in the fall of 2017.”

The CSO’s music library is not accessible to the general public.

Building on a spirit of collaboration
This newly-announced partnership continues a longstanding relationship between the CSO and the Public Library. Ensembles of CSO and Pops musicians regularly perform at Public Library branches around the city, and the Public Library has been a leading partner of the CSO’s One City, One Symphony community initiative since it launched in 2012. The Public Library hosted poetry readings of the winning poems from the CSO’s recent Poetry Contest on Nov. 7 and Nov. 11. The Public Library has also been working with the CSO on archiving and digitizing historic program books and other materials that document the Orchestra’s rich history.