It was 1996…
The Cincinnati Metropolitan Orchestra (CMO) found early success becoming an established performing symphony orchestra. In their first year (1996) they completed three formal concerts, one college graduation, one church dedication, one country club soiree (collaborating with vocal quartet “The Jazz Connection”), one benefit, a young-audience outreach concert, and one free outdoor pops concert.
Appropriately deemed an “instant orchestra” by Jim Knippenburg of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the CMO was founded in January of 1996 by a group of area musicians, well- acquainted by shared performance experience, who were highly motivated to find a challenging musical experience in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. “It was amazing, really, how everything just fell into place, and we had a full orchestra right from the first rehearsal after only two months of planning,” says concertmaster Gail Harmeling.
At that first rehearsal, conductor David Allen was already pleased with the orchestra’s musical balance, proficiency, and sound. “This is such a nice group of people. They really enjoy playing music and working hard together to create something wonderful.” Allen, who has worked with some of the musicians for at least 15 years, is music director at St. William Church, an accomplished pianist (Cincinnati Conservatory of Music piano performance degree graduate), and music educator at Elder High School.
An independent, non-profit organization, the CMO is currently home to nearly 75 musicians of all ages from all over the greater Cincinnati area, which is why the orchestra chose their “Metropolitan” name. “We have musicians from throughout the Greater Cincinnati area, as well as traveling from West Chester, Harrison, Loveland, Pleasant Plain, and Verona, Kentucky.” says founding member Kathy Klug. Most of the group have been musical friends for years, performing around town in other ensembles. The CMO is a very social group, too, with members gathering at nearby restaurants after rehearsals and concerts.
Blessings and Gifts
In terms of the nuts and bolts (or strings and reeds) that are the mechanics behind a successful orchestra, the group has been “unusually blessed” says founding member, Fred Martens. Seton High School came on board as an initial sponsor providing equipment and music as well as performing and rehearsal space. Soon to follow was a local printing company to provide all printing, from programs and posters to stationery and announcements.
A large music library (over 50 complete works) was donated by a now-defunct local pops orchestra. “Other sponsors, both individuals and businesses, have expressed interest in helping us out. I think our enthusiasm is infectious. People are just too happy to help!” says Martens.