The Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium will be home to a celebration of both history and future Wednesday night—a merging of joy for past success and hopefulness for success yet to come. 

The Ohio Symphony Orchestra will hold a free concert at 8 p.m. as part of the School of Music’s centennial anniversary series that coincides with the inauguration of the university’s 21st president, Duane Nellis. The concert will feature compositions holding special importance to Ohio University, as well as others selected by Steven Huang, the director of orchestral activities in the School of Music.

Huang had the idea to hold a concert that featured songs from the 1800s and from 1917 — the year the School of Music was established. 

If you go:

What: Presidential Inauguration Concert

When: 8 p.m., Wednesday

Where: Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium

Admission: Free 

The orchestra will also highlight pieces that were written specifically for the group by former faculty at OU, such as Erno von Dohnanyi’s “American Rhapsody” and Mark Phillips’ “Into the Streets.”  

Huang said those songs were written about certain points of Athens and OU history, as Dohnanyi’s piece features selections from folk music from Southeast Ohio and Phillips’ piece commented on OU during the Civil Rights Movement. 

“These are great, great, pieces by great, great, composers,” Huang said, touching on the “excitement of performing pieces specifically written for our orchestra.” 

Another source of pride for Huang is the orchestra’s opportunity to celebrate the future by welcoming Nellis into a university that has a long tradition of music, which he’s confident will be upheld. Huang said he’s “excited that this is a president who has mentioned the importance and support for the fine arts and performing arts at OU and in Athens.” 

OU students’ attitudes fluctuated on the concert. Cameron Howard, a freshman studying early childhood education, is excited to see the musical exhibition because she “was really involved in band in high school and that gave (her) a love for music.” 

On the other hand, students like Kait Dixon, a freshman studying psychology, said she would not choose to attend the concert. Dixon said the president “is against everything (she) stands for,” and she doesn’t want to celebrate his inauguration. 

“It’s important to honor the music program,” Dixon said, “But making it about a president who isn’t universally loved could hurt their attendance.” 

To Huang, the concert is on a larger scale than just OU because the university’s history of fine arts is something that affects Athens and Southeast Ohio.

“Fine arts play a really important position in quality of life for folks in this community,” Huang said. “There’s a lot of other communities, with a lot of jobs and a lot of amenities, but we have such a strong tradition of fine arts, and that’s part of the reason why folks come to Athens and stay.” 


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