Artists turn violins into storytellers for Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra

Summermusik violin depicting genius siblings Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn

Music and art long have been expressive partners in storytelling. Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra music director Eckart Preu took this collaboration in a new direction by challenging visual artists to reimagine long-neglected violins in such a way as to convey the theme of each CCO mainstage concert during last year’s Summermusik festival. The resulting creations were auctioned off to benefit the orchestra.

Given its success, the project is being expanded for 2019 to incorporate a guitar and cello among the violins. Gallery owner Holly Doan Spraul of Wash Park Art in Over-the-Rhine has chosen seven artists to tell Summermusik stories this year.

“Visions of da Vinci” – artist Evan Hildebrandt. This concert is in honor of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s passing. The music, old and new, will thematically surround da Vinci, while the audience is enveloped in visual imagery from this true Renaissance man, provided by Liquid Video Solutions.
Concert: Saturday, Aug. 3.

“Hidden Genius” – artists Carin and Robert Hebenstreit. In the 18th and 19th centuries, women did not have a prominent place in the music world, often working behind the scenes in support of a brother or husband. This concert explores these dynamics in the families of Bach, Mozart and Mendelssohn, with the help of the Silver-Garburg husband-and-wife piano duo.
Concert: Saturday, Aug. 10.

“España” – photographer Tina Gutierrez and luthier Larry Brown. Classical guitarist Pepe Romero joins the CCO for a program of Spanish music, complete with flamenco dancing and hand clapping, in addition 20th century orchestral favorites. The artists’ focus for this concert is the guitar.
Concert: Saturday, Aug. 17.

“Blissful Mozart” – artist Mary Barr Rhodes. Mozart, his father and his contemporaries – including Cimarosa and Salieri – vie for audience favor in this concert of music from the 1700s, including Mozart’s exquisite Clarinet Concerto, performed by the evening’s namesake, Jonathan Bliss.
Concert: Saturday, Aug. 24.

Summermusik, the festival – artist Alison Shepard. The artist’s task here is in representing the festival, with all its varied components, as a whole. In addition to its four orchestral performances, the CCO hosts {A Little} Afternoon Music series concerts on Sunday afternoons during the festival and evening Chamber Crawl performances in bars and other unlikely spaces.

For more details regarding Summermusik 2019, visit

All five instruments will be exhibited at Wash Park Art’s companion exhibit, again titled “Virtuosity,” along with other works by the seven featured artists. The exhibit will open with a reception Friday, July 26, 6-9 p.m. 

All funds raised will support the artistic and educational programs of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. After the instruments have been won by their successful bidders, the seven artists’ works will be on view and for sale at the gallery through Oct. 13.

Bidding will start at $500 for each instrument, and bids will be taken until midnight, Aug. 24. As of July 26, online bidding is available at

CCO Development Manager Lyndsay Coleman, 513-723-1182 x101 or

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