Lumenocity 2016: It's coming back for one last time — and it's moving to Taft Theatre

Posted at 1:58 PM, Apr 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-05 09:51:57-04

This is it — your last chance ever to see Lumenocity.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra announced today that Lumenocity 2016 – officially named “Lumenocity: Re-imagine” – will take place Aug. 5-7.

For the past three years, the wildly popular midsummer program has blanketed Music Hall’s east wall with an extravagant light show. This year, though, Lumenocity will move inside the Taft Theatre, the CSO’s home for the 2016-2017 season. And that’s just the first of many changes to the show:

  • “Lumenocity: Re-imagine” will consist of 10 one-act shows, each lasting 45 minutes. (Last year, there were four two-act shows and an open dress rehearsal.) 
  • The elimination of one act – the non-light-show portion of the show – means there will be no appearances by ancillary groups like the Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Opera. The light show is the same length as previous years.
  • Lightborne, an Over-the-Rhine creative design and production company, will provide the projected images, replacing Brave Berlin, which created projections for the first three editions of “Lumenocity.”
  • A free event called Lumenocity Block Party will take place on Fifth Street between Sycamore and Main streets. It will retain many of the same elements of last year’s Lumenocity Village, including craft, food and drink vendors and live performances, and will add art installations and an enormous LED screen so those outside the Taft can see the performances inside.

Moving inside will limit attendance to just 2,000 people per show, compared to 6,000 per show last year. Despite shorter shows, ticket prices will remain comparable: $12 for obstructed-view seating and $20 for unobstructed seating. (Last year, tickets were $15-$20.)

Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. July 5 at Subscribers to the CSO and Pops 2016-17 Taft Theatre season or donors of $250 or more will qualify for a guaranteed pre-sale of up to four tickets.

Relocating the show was a no-brainer. Besides signaling the CSO’s one-year relocation, no one really knows what impact the Music Hall renovations will have on the area surrounding the building. Heavy equipment, excessive dust and a variety of temporary fences and walls are all possibilities.

The CSO's rationale for discontinuing “Lumenocity” is also simple. It’s expensive and, for the staff, all-consuming. The cost of this year’s production is estimated at $1.5 million, roughly 3 percent of the company’s annual operating budget. And by August 2017, the CSO will want to focus all of its attention on returning to the renovated Music Hall.

Location Signals New Home for CSO

Infographic created using Venngage.


“Lumenocity will mark the launch of our yearlong residency in the Central Business District,” CSO President Trey Devey said. “There are a lot of people who have not experienced the Taft for many years. They may not be aware of all the improvements we have made there.”

In 2011, the CSO-owned Music and Event Management Inc. assumed management of the Taft, which, as part of the Cincinnati Masonic Center, remains the property of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Since then, MEMI has put more than $3.2 million of improvements into the building, including air conditioning, all-new seating and greatly expanded restroom capacity.

Cincinnati Pops conductor John Morris Russell recalled leading a couple of concerts at the Taft before all the improvements were made.

“It was a little rough around the edges back then,” he said. “But it had an intimacy that belied the size of the theater.”

Today, he said, everything is different — except that the intimacy is still there.

“Now, it is a beautiful venue,” Russell said. “It’s very audience-friendly. And it’s good for the musicians, too. Everyone onstage can hear each other. We are all really thrilled about performing in the space.”

For parents of younger children, the new location and schedule will be a boon, too. Because the light-show portion of Lumenocity was dependent on darkness, it couldn’t get underway until nearly 9:30 p.m. That was an unrealistically late start-time for an event intended to be family-friendly.  

Now that it’s moving inside, Lumenocity can take place any time of day, which has led to a schedule that has as many matinees as evening performances. Each show will feature the CSO and the Cincinnati Pops. Conductors are the same, too: CSO music director Louis Langrée and Russell. The program will include works by John Williams, Leonard Bernstein, Johannes Brahms and Dmitri Shostakovich. 

Changes in Store for Light Show 

Another change will be the scope and details of the light show, based on a technique known as projection mapping. Instead of projecting over the audience’s heads and onto a massive wall hundreds of feet away, Lightborne’s projections will cover 180 degrees, spanning the proscenium – the arch above the orchestra’s heads – and a portion of the side walls of the theater.

Cincinnati-based Lightborne is no newcomer to this sort of entertainment.  It has created large-scale video content for the live tours of many leading entertainers, from Jay Z and Blake Shelton to Andrea Bocelli and Deadmau5, as well as being responsible for the projected and LED animation content for Katy Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX halftime show in 2015.

“It’s a different kind of music that we’re dealing with in this case,” Lightborne President Scott Durban said. “But we’ve spent many years deeply involved with musicians and working with artists onstage to bring their brand or message to life.

“We don’t have all of the details settled yet,” he said. “What we do know is that for us, it will be a pretty dense 45 minutes of projection. To prepare for this, there will be a month and a half’s worth of design and then six to seven weeks of hardcore, round-the-clock animation. We’ll be busy.”


The Shows:

  • 8 and 9:40 p.m. Aug. 5
  • 2, 3:40, 8 and 9:40 p.m. Aug. 6
  • 2, 3:40, 8 and 9:40 p.m. Aug. 7


  • Tickets are $12 for obstructed-view seating, $20 for unobstructed seating. “Obstructed view” seats are main-floor seats that are far enough under the balcony to have a partial view of the projections.
  • From June 13 to 17, subscribers to the CSO and Pops 2016-17 Taft Theatre seasons or donors of $250 or more will qualify for a guaranteed pre-sale of up to four tickets. You must subscribe by June 1 to qualify for the pre-sale. Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. July 5 at There will be no phone sales.
  • As in 2015, 10 percent of the approximately 20,000 reserved seats will be held aside for distribution by human service organizations.

Alternate viewing options:

  • On TV: WCPO and CET will air the 9:40 p.m. Aug. 6 Lumenocity show. Coverage will start with a Lumenocity special at 9 p.m., followed by the live show and then the post-show "Afterglow."  
  • Online: The Lumenocity shows at 9:40 p.m. Aug. 5 and 3:40 and 9:40 p.m. Aug. 6 will stream live at WCPO also will stream the 9:40 p.m. Aug. 5 and Aug. 6 Lumenocity shows on and the 9 On Your Side app.
  • On radio: The Aug. 5 performance will be simulcast on 90.9 WGUC.
  • Lumenocity Watch Party: People at the Lumenocity Block Party can watch Lumenocity on a giant LED screen at 9:40 p.m. Aug. 5, and 3:40 and 9:40 p.m. Aug. 6 and Aug. 7. 

The Lumenocity Block Party:

  • Hours are 7 p.m.-midnight Aug. 5; 1 p.m.-midnight Aug. 6; and 1-11 p.m. Aug. 7. The Lumenocity Block Party will be on Fifth Street, between Sycamore and Broadway, and in the P&G pavilion. 
  • The free gathering will bring together a variety of craft, food and drink vendors, art installations, live music and an enormous LED screen so that those outside the Taft can see the performance going on inside.
  • University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and Northern Kentucky University’s College of Informatics will oversee the outdoor interactive experiences.

The Music:

  • John Williams: “Planet Krypton”
  • John Williams: “Olympic Fanfare”
  • Leonard Bernstein: “Symphonic Dances,” from “West Side Story”
  • Leonard Bernstein: Overture to “Candide”
  • Johannes Brahms: “Symphony No. 3,” Movement III
  • Dmitri Shostakovich: “Symphony No. 5,” Movement IV