Essay Example on Cultural Immersion in Cincinnati: Rich Cultural Identity

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1803 Words
Date:  2023-01-29


Cultural immersion (CI) refers to the act of immersing oneself in a culture by living in the community and challenging the cultural and Individual assumptions associated with that culture (Schiller & Peck, 2014). In CI, the sojourners engage with and interact with the Cincinnati's culture to learn, and appreciate the host cultural values and assumptions (Mak, Watson & Hadden, 2011). Cincinnati is renowned for its unique and rich cultural identity. Despite being a wilderness in the frontier at the turn of the 18th century, music was embraced in the area as a civilizing and social influence. On the 26th of July, 2019, the music festival was more fun than usual, but to me, that was a learning session as I was an ethnographic study. Invariably, music played, and continues to play a significant role in Cincinnati and has been hailed as one of the main factors that resulted in the wilderness acquiring a home-like feeling. In contemporary times, Cincinnati is recognized for being the Midwest's most prominent cultural scene, with a distinct and well-developed representation of all the mainstream disciplines of the arts. These include theater, symphony, art museum, opera, and ballet. It boasts of numerous theaters and museums, the Cincinnati Ballet, the Cincinnati Opera; the second most enduring opera company in the United States, numerous orchestras, and a diverse community of artisans and working artists. An analysis of how privilege, power, and oppression can manifest at societal, cultural, and individual levels based on Cincinnati's magnanimous musical culture evolution is therefore pertinent, based on this background.

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Part 1

The high number of musical activities in Ohio; Cincinnati, that paralleled the emergence of the locality as a prime destination for settlement in America's Midwest culminated in the incarnation of the area's distinct symphony from as far back as 1895 (Santangelo, 2017). At the onset, church groups, such as the Singing Society of the Episcopal Church, pioneered the non-denominational, passion-driven performance of music. Along the way, other similar non-profit entities emerged, such as the Apollonian Society and the Haydn Society (1819). They stated their objective as cultivating instrumental and vocal music. Most of these singing entities were formed by migrant groups. To be specific, singing groups formed by German immigrants were most popular from 1800 to the middle of the century.

An ode to their popularity was the choice of Cincinnati for the inaugural Sangerfest of North America in 1849. The success of the first festival resulted in significant growth in the musical tradition of Cincinnati. By the beginning of the 20th century, Cincinnati had hosted the festival seven times (Korman & Meyer, 2015). After the seventh performance, a guide to the performance of the festival was availed in written form in both the English and the German languages. It outlined instructions, directions, and schedules for performances, alongside a list of administrators and performers, and was specifically intended for potential attendees and singing groups.

Cincinnati's well-established commitment and interest in cultural entertainment can be attributed to several organizations that were established towards the end of the 1800s. For instance, the choral extravaganza; the May Festival, was initiated in 1873 and is still held annually to date (Cincinnati Experience, 2017). Every year, during May, the Music Hall hosts the presentation of choral masterpieces for the duration of two weekends by the May Festival Chorus, the Symphony Orchestra of Cincinnati, and invited soloists. The Symphony Orchestra of Cincinnati then takes over the performance of similar choral masterpieces from September to March, alongside renowned artists.

The orchestra was established in 1893. This established orchestral tradition has inspired the emergence of numerous similar organizations in this regard. They include the Symphony Orchestra of Kentucky and the Chamber Orchestra of Cincinnati. Of late, the Concert Nova and the Constella festival have made the initiative to bring the performance of classical music out of concert halls to avenues of a smaller size, such as pubs (The Cincinnati Bengals, 2015). They blend the performance of classical music with performances by a wide array of musicians and visual artists, with the cardinal aim being to provide audiences with a more intimate experience with classical music. The Cincinnati Pops is the umbrella body that houses the Symphony Orchestra of Cincinnati and is recognized as an assembly of Broadway, pop, and country music stars that performs all through the season. In July, the ensemble performs at the Music Center of Riverbend; an amphitheater that is ideal for outdoor performances

It is a matter of conjecture that the Sangerfests, through their success, pioneered the establishment of the now renowned Cincinnati May Festival, which was first held in 1873 (Suess, 2015). Indeed, it was based on these two festivals that the initiative to construct the now celebrated Cincinnati Music Hall began. The hall, alongside other prominent buildings in Cincinnati, is recognized as established symbols of Cincinnati's dedication to the perpetuation of her unique symphony.

At present, singing groups claiming German-American ancestry still throng the Sangerfest. Besides, countless theater productions and music performance outfits keep Cincinnati's unique symphony alive and ensure its evolution (Cincinnati Business Courier, 2018). The most prominent of them are the Opera of Cincinnati, the Music Conservatory of Cincinnati, and the Symphony Orchestra of Cincinnati. Furthermore, the annual music festival that is held in May has seen the emergence of other similar annual music festivals that have cemented the position of Cincinnati as a major driving force in America as an avenue for cultural evolution through music.

Part 2

The Cincinnati Music Festival Presented by Proctor & Gamble (2019) was the main music cultural event in Cincinnati to be attended and appraised in this project. Originally referred to as the Jazz Festival of Ohio Valley, the festival is a celebration of Cincinnati's African-American community Jazz musical heritage; specifically Jazz music. As previously stated, music paralleled cultural expression in Cincinnati from its identification as a major settlement in the Midwest. As such, the various migrant communities developed their musical styles and compositions to accompany the expression of their distinct identity. Their efforts have culminated in the annual Cincinnati Music Festival.

The festival heralds the beginning of the Cincinnati tourism weekend. This year's event was held at the Paul Brown Stadium from July 25th to July 27th. Major artists headlining the event were Mary J. Blige and Maxwell, alongside other seasoned performers such as Earth, Wind & Fire and Frankie Beverly. On July 25th, which was the only day when I attended the event, EPMD, Slick Rick, and Kid Capri took turns to deliver electrifying performances late into the night that left them massively enthralled. It was indeed the perfect ensemble to open the annual celebration of jazz music in Cincinnati, and after the first day, it was abundantly obvious that the fans could only expect more immersive entertainment from the lined-up stellar cast. There were close to 100,000 fans packed in the stadium. Despite the audience being predominantly black, there were significant numbers of non-black attendees, thereby attesting to the cross-cultural popularity that the festival has acquired after decades of religious performance. The fans could only expect more from other prominent artists such as Raheem DeVaughn, Tamia, and many others who were slated to perform on July 26th and 27th.

Part 3

A one-on-one interview with Billie Walker; a local pianist who schooled with Artie Mathews- the luminary figure credited with pioneering the Jazz music genre in Cincinnati, is quite revealing. Walker states that the identification of Jazz music as a distinctive feature of Cincinnati's African-American community's heritage began in the 1920s. Walker asserts that Artie Mathews is credited with introducing ragtime, which was the original form in which Jazz musical compositions were presented. Hailed as the Jazz music luminary in Cincinnati, Mathews' musical style enjoyed runaway popularity within the African-American community, and by the end of the decade, had designated areas for its performance throughout Cincinnati. Mound Street's Cotton Club became the main hub for jazz performances. Also, as Walker explains, Cincinnati became a fertile breeding ground for major jazz musicians who were to later export their talent to the rest of the country. Cincinnati was to be hailed as a jazz Mecca during this time and became the crossroads in the heart of America where renowned jazz music performers would cross paths as they traveled to other major destinations such as Kansas, New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago, and New York. It became a sort of pilgrimage for these performers to travel to Cincinnati on riverboats and trains as they explored avenues to perform and export this unique African-American musical heritage. Additionally, as Walker elaborates, WLW radio, which was then referred to as the "station of the nation", emerged as a major melting pot for jazz musicians and enthusiasts throughout the United States, with its 500,000-watt wavelength. These developments precipitated the eventual recognition of Cincinnati as the Queen City by the end of the 1930s decade; luring every major jazz talent to the city.

Walker further explains that in the beginning, Jazz music was shunned as a preserve for African-Americans, which was quite a setback to both Jazz music performers and enthusiasts. He explains that at the peak of its popularity during the 1930s, hotels in Cincinnati would not allow black artists to board in their facilities. Therefore, the artists would be compelled to seek accommodation among black families, even as their performances attracted a high number of fans. This kind of alienation of African-American Jazz music performers would be extended to musicians' unions, and there were distinct unions for whites and blacks. Walker explains that this kind of alienation is still being perpetuated to date, with music players and audiences at Jazz music festivals hailing predominantly from one race. Walker further asserts that despite the general appreciation of Jazz music across racial boundaries owing to its appeal, this kind of segregation of the music as an African-American invention has continued. For instance, the jazz Music Conservatory of Cincinnati University has just one faculty member who is black and is otherwise dominated by trombonists and other Jazz music performers who are non-black.

Walker thinks that the African-American community in Cincinnati that should be credited with introducing the Jazz music genre is being robbed of this identity by a multitude of factors that are directly related to oppression, power, and privilege that has characterized inter-racial relations in the United States since the slavery era. Jazz music, as Walker expounds, is closely related to the African-American heritage and its roots can be traced back to the days of slavery. Originally, it was the West African drumming patterns and the larger African technique of marrying rhythms which were imported to America by slaves that precipitated the birth of Jazz music. The genre therefore originally developed among communities of slaves as a means to deal with the serious oppression that was associated with slavery. As such, Jazz music was from its emergence replete with messages that reflected issues that were pertinent to the African-American community. However, the association of Jaz...

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