5 violins hanging in Wash Park Art

Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra is right on the cusp of kicking off their annual Summermusik concert series. Each of the concerts in that series has a unique theme that serves as a string to tie it together. Of course, the main expression of these themes is found within the music itself. But this year, while still using musical instruments, CCO is exploring an additional mode of expression.

Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra music director Eckart Preu is known around the halls of the CCO for his out-of-the-box thinking. This spring he had an idea that was no exception. He wondered if used and abused violins could be given new life while supporting artistic and educational programming in our community at the same time. His vision was that the violins would be paired with several of Cincinnati’s fantastic artists, who could use them as a canvas to tell the stories of the orchestra’s four Mainstage concerts for the Summermusik festival.

The result is "MusikArt," a visual art collaboration between Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and Washington Park Art Gallery. It is a collection of five violins that have become canvasses for visual artist. Each violin has been transformed, either through being painted or becoming part of a collage or sculpture. Each finished piece is inspired by some the concerts in CCO's Summermusik 2018 series.

The opening night concert at SCPA on August 4 is "British Invasion," followed by "An Afternoon with Jane Austen" at the Taft Museum the next day. To represent these concerts, Cedric Michael Cox created a violin that showcases his distinctive style and musical interests. Nicole Trimble was invited to create a violin for "The Four Seasons: Reimagined" and "Postcards From the Sky" — the concerts that will take place on August 11 and 12. Nicole’s violin appears to be sculpted out of ice and is beautifully stark, conjuring images of winter.

The Red Violin (of movie fame) is coming to Cincinnati and will be played by owner Elizabeth Pitcairn at the CCO concerts on August 18 and 19. This historic violin inspired a sculptural work by Thomas Hieronymus Towhey, "2E." And finally, to create a violin that would speak to the hearts of veterans for "The Hero Within" concert (August 25), the CCO turned to artist David Laug.

These beautiful pieces will be exhibited at the four CCO concerts held at SCPA in August, and at Washington Park Art Gallery from July 13 until August 25, along with other paintings by the five featured artists, for their exhibition, "Virtuosity." On August 25, the violins will be auctioned, with all funds raised going to support the artistic and educational programs of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. After the violins have been won by their successful bidders, the five artist’s paintings will remain on view and for sale at the gallery through September 15.