Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Ode to Ohio 

The Summit Choral Society pays tribute to the first 200 years.

Symphony composer David Howard Pettit.
  • Symphony composer David Howard Pettit.

Everybody's doing something for Ohio's bicentennial, but the Summit Choral Society wanted to do something special. Instead of holding a community festival or a history lesson disguised as entertainment, it commissioned Cincinnati-based composer David Howard Pettit to write An Ohio Symphony, an original, nine-movement piece that tells the story of Ohio via a symphonic score. It premieres Saturday at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron.

"I got the idea just from driving back and forth, [visiting relatives in] Indiana," says artistic director Frank Jacobs. "I'd see these bicentennial barns and was inspired."

The story starts two years ago. The Choral Society -- which includes a 70-piece full orchestra, an 80-singer Masterworks Chorale, and a couple hundred children from its various youth programs -- wanted to commemorate the state's 200th birthday by doing what it does best: making music. "We wanted a piece that would reflect the whole of the Society -- the chorus, the orchestra, and the children's choir," Jacobs explains.

The symphony is broken down into nine pieces, including a prologue, a celebration of prehistoric people, a look at 18th-century pioneer times, an Underground Railroad ride, and an epilogue. "It varies in style," says Jacobs, who will conduct. "Some of it is melodic; some of it is very rhythmic and dance-like."

An Ohio Symphony is the 45-minute climax to the Ohio Bicentennial Celebration on Saturday, featuring a concert of songs by and about Ohioans. "Each piece symbolizes the state's history, development, and cultural diversity," Jacobs says, before retraining his focus on the symphony. "I hope this is performed at other places. You always hope that a commissioned piece will catch on and have a life beyond its premiere. This piece stands on its own."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of Highlights

More by Michael Gallucci

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation