MusicNOW festival returns to Cincinnati at Music Hall, September 24-25

The MusicNOW festival concerts on September 24-25 represent the first time Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra music director Louis Langrée (pictured) has led the full orchestra since March 1, 2020. Photo: Chris Lee.

MusicNOW is back. And once again, it is being presented in collaboration with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

You remember MusicNOW, right? Created by Cincinnati native Bryce Dessner (The National) in 2006, it brought to Cincinnati a who’s who of contemporary music. Some was rock-based. Some had a tinge of folk. But what really defined the music was its willingness to make adventurous forays from genre to genre. For those of us who write about music, it was a challenge to describe the performances. But for those in the audience, the concerts were intoxicating in the way they toyed with our musical expectations.

Like so many of other things, though, the 2020 edition of MusicNOW was a victim of the COVID pandemic. Even before that, it was an amorphous entry on the annual music calendar. In 2014, the festival became co-presentation with the Cincinnati Symphony. But in 2018, MusicNOW was merged into The National’s Homecoming Festival. Then it disappeared for a year. Then came 2020.

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