Everyone who has stepped inside Cincinnati Music Hall’s Taft Suite has been mesmerized by the display of art-carved panels. These panels—plus 91 more—once graced the front of the huge Hook & Hastings organ.
It was known as “The Great Organ,” and great it was!
The organ was fifty feet wide, thirty feet deep and the pipes reached sixty feet high. From an organ this size came what was called “pure, resonant, musical tones.” The organ fit well in the new large hall, which was known for its excellent acoustics.
Women attending two art schools presented designs, which were approved, and they eagerly began carving.
The women volunteered their services. They had five months to complete their work.
They used cherry wood, a hardwood that is excellent for carving.
The designs that were carved were symbolic. The carvers incorporated elements of nature that were believed to be the inspiration for music: singing birds, many types of flowers and foliage, and even time of day and recurring seasons.
When you take an SPMH Tour, you can see examples of these themes in the panels.
Their work included musical instruments and notations, and panels honoring great composers.
The Panels Today
The story of how the panels came to be rescued, restored, and displayed in the revitalized Music Hall is told in this video. Filmmaker Melissa Godoy produced and directed the film, which features SPMH Vice President Kathy Janson, the driving force behind the restoration.
Come to Music Hall to see the panels! They are in a private room, but available for you to experience during an SPMH Tour. Sign up for a tour today!