Featuring acclaimed theatre organist Jelani Eddington;
Guest emcee, Cincinnati Opera Artistic Director Evans Mirageas;
Vocalist Michele Ragusa;
and dancers from Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy
CINCINNATI, OH – Another joyous season is about to kick off with the return of Happy Holidays with the Mighty Wurlitzer to Cincinnati’s Music Hall Ballroom on Tuesday, December 3 at 10:30 AM and 7:00 PM, presented by The Friends of Music Hall (formerly known as the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall). This festive annual concert has become one of the Tri-state’s most anticipated holiday music events.
Tickets are on sale now at www.CincinnatiArts.org, (513) 621-ARTS , and the Aronoff Center or Music Hall Ticket Offices. For groups of ten or more, call (513) 977-4157.
There’s nothing quite like the unique sound of the Albee Theater’s Mighty Wurlitzer − an orchestra and more all in one organ. Evans Mirageas, Cincinnati Opera’s Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director, will emcee this special event, with gifted theatre organist Jelani Eddington pulling out all the holiday stops!
Additional featured performers include acclaimed vocalist Michele Ragusa singing holiday favorites, and young dancers from the Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy dancing selections from The Nutcracker. This will be a nonstop musical performance with all the bells, whistles, and special effects that only an instrument as grand as the Mighty Wurlitzer can create. Relive nostalgic memories and create new holiday traditions with friends and family at beautiful Cincinnati Music Hall!
“The chill in the air during the winter holidays is no match for the warmth found in the memories of music,” says Holly Brians Ragusa, member of the Friends of Music Hall Board of Directors. “Traditional and treasured moments linger in the notes of each song with the ring of a sleigh bell reminding us of the magic of the season. What could be more memorable than time spent together in Music Hall, the most beautiful and historic place to celebrate in the city? Traditions are continued and built around the holidays. Here, we share in the past and present through music of the season, crossing ages and eras, bringing good fun to your holiday celebrations!”
Audiences are encouraged to come in the holiday spirit whether dressed for dinner out in Over-the-Rhine, or donning a snowman tie or a sprightly holiday sweater. Rumor has it that a certain visitor from the North Pole might turn up as well! It will be a performance to remember, full of the joy and wonder of childhood and the spirit of the season.
Friends of Music Hall
Friends of Music Hall (formerly the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall) is a volunteer-driven organization. Its goal is to preserve, improve, promote, and provide education about Cincinnati Music Hall. The organization’s vision is to perpetuate Music Hall as the premier cultural center of the region and as a National Historic Landmark of international significance.
The Mighty Wurlitzer
The Mighty Wurlitzer was first installed in Cincinnati’s ornate Albee Theater on Fountain Square in December 1927, where it accompanied silent feature films. When talkies took over in 1929, the theatre organ was mainly silenced. In 1969, it was donated to the Emery Theater in Over-the-Rhine, where it played for movies and other events. It was partially rebuilt by the Ohio Valley Organ Club, before being put into storage in 1999. In 2007, it was brought back to life in Music Hall’s historic Ballroom by Donald Siekmann and the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall (the predecessor of the Friends of Music Hall). Organ expert Ron Wehmeier completely rebuilt the Wurlitzer and installed it in the Ballroom, with anonymous support in the amount of $1.4 million.
Wehmeier expanded the organ’s tonal colors and effects from 19 ranks of pipes to 31 ranks of 61 pipes, able to create orchestral sounds including trumpets, flutes, tubas, strings, and more. A full array of percussion effects is also present – xylophone, marimba, glockenspiel, chimes, and even a large Steinway grand piano – all playable from the giant three-keyboard-and-pedal console, decorated in 22-karat gold leaf. Wind for the pipes is provided by a 15 HP high pressure turbine. Electrical switching is controlled by computer, and pipes range in size from 16 feet to the size of a pencil. In addition, the Wurlitzer is now fully computerized, so that it can be played without an organist through a digital input system.
Jelani Eddington (Theatre Organist)
During the years that Jelani Eddington has given concerts, he has easily established himself as one of the most prominent and sought-after artists on the concert circuit. He has performed in major concert venues across the United States, toured extensively abroad, and received numerous awards and recognitions, including his selection as the 2001 Theatre Organist of the Year.
Michele Ragusa (Vocalist)
Equity Actor Michele Ragusa, originally from Buffalo, New York, graduated Niagara University with a BFA in theatre. She has been an actor and singer since 1988, performing across the country and on and off Broadway. She is an incredible talent who brings an array of vocal attributes as well as comedy and poignancy.
Evans Mirageas (Emcee)
The Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director for the Cincinnati Opera, Evans in his 15th season is widely considered one of the most talented and respected artistic leaders in the classical music industry today. He brings to Cincinnati Opera a broad range of experience in both opera and symphonic music, as well as a long history of successful partnerships with many of the world’s leading singers and conductors.
Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy
Founded in 1997, the goal of the Otto M. Budig Academy is to provide excellence in technical and artistic training and to inspire a love of dance. With a curriculum based in the Vaganova tradition, instruction is also infused with contemporary influences. Academy students enjoy the opportunity to enrich their lives through dance while developing grace, poise, mental and physical discipline as well as an appreciation and awareness of the arts.
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