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CSO Look Around Brings 600 Performers Together for Musical Celebration

To kick-off the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s (CSO) 125th anniversary season, the Orchestra presents CSO Look Around, an immersive experience incorporating what’s akin to multiple flash mobs performing a diverse array of music — at times overlapping and interacting — and all inspired by the cultural tapestry that is Cincinnati. This two-and-a-half-hour celebration of the Queen City showcases more than 600 artists from 20 local ensembles, and culminates in a massive performance with the CSO conducted by Music Director Louis Langrée. This special event is co-created by acclaimed artists Shara Nova, Mark DeChiazza and Siri Imani (with an additional composition by Nathan Thatcher) along with the CSO. 

The event encompasses Cincinnati’s Washington Park and Ziegler Park, transforming them into a musical environment, from 7:00 to 9:30 PM on Saturday, August 3, and is free and open to the public. Like an interactive museum exhibition, participants choose their own path. How one decides to enter the two parks, how one moves about, and the way people quite literally “look around” and listen will determine their unique experiences. 

The creators are re-orienting the parks for participants, toward the music and toward each other as the community shares the space together. The event’s title, “Look Around,” is taken directly from Imani’s poem “Lost Generation.” In it, she poses the question: “How can people better see one another?” 

“Look Around is about seeing your neighbor. How can we look atour neighbor and not just past our neighbor,” said Nova, CSO Look Around’s co-creator and composer. 

In writing the music, Nova took inspiration from the mockingbird and its ability to listen and repeat the songs of other birds. “The mockingbird is teaching us how we can hear one another, learn from one another, and acknowledge one another,” said Nova. “So, I built that into the music.” 

This call and response technique encourages audience participation in Look Around. “We are trying to dissolve the preconceived division between audience and performer, and make that much more porous,” said co-creator DeChiazza. “You can’t really say, ‘this is the audience space and I’m going to sit here and watch.’ Instead, there will be times when the person next to you might start singing, because they are part of a chorus, and that chorus has been embedded in the ‘audience’—surprise!” 

“I can think of no better way to kick off this celebratory season than to bring people together through music in the spirit of seeking and sharing inspiration,” said Langrée, who begins his seventh season as CSO Music Director. A complete list of the participating ensembles is available on the 

CSO website