MASON, Ohio – The Cincinnati Civic Orchestra surprised Ephraim Roth Sunday with a concert just for him.
It was a special occasion – Roth’s 100th birthday – that brought the orchestra to his retirement home. And they did it to honor a special man.
Roth was a violinist for that same orchestra for 57 years.
“I'm on cloud nine, it’s so great,” said Roth, a World War II Navy veteran. “I have all these honors. I don't feel like I'm deserving of it.”
Hearing the orchestra took Roth back almost a century.
"Music means everything. I've been playing since I was 7 years old,” he said. “When you have music in your soul, it's a special feeling."
Roth sat back and soaked in the sounds - and the love.
"It's overwhelming the love I'm getting from all these people. All the nice things they're saying about me. Sometimes I wonder if they're talking about me," he said.
Laurence Bonhaus, music director of the orchestra, said Roth has been an inspiration to him and many other musicians.
"I first met Ephram over 50 years ago,” Bonhaus said. "There's a twinkle in his eye that reminds you of Santa Claus. There's a grin that's there when he meets you.”
Bonhaus said Roth's enthusiasm and love of music left a legacy with the orchestra.
"It’s infectious. That will be with us when we do 100th concert. It'll be with us when we do our 150th concert," Bonhaus said.
"He believes music is a special gift people have. He's been so good at inspiring us when it just seems like the next step forward is going to be so hard to take that next step."
Roth, who won a Bronze Star during three years in the Pacific theater in WWII, shared his secret for a long life.
“Just don't stop breathing," Roth said.
The Cincinnati Civic Orchestra, now in its 89th season, will play next at the Colerain park amphitheater on July 13.