DISCOVER THE VOICE IN EVERYTHING

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History



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A festival for a city and its singers.

"The first May Festival, led by no less an eminence than Theodore Thomas, occurred in 1873 and proved such a success that it occasioned the construction of the Music Hall—the largest concert hall in America. The all-volunteer May Festival Chorus, 130 members strong, remains the event’s bulwark and chief attraction, and with good reason. The Festival is to be lauded!"
—David Mermelstein, Musical America

May Festival History

In 1873, a group of visionaries came together with the idea of presenting music festivals in Cincinnati. They wanted a project that would endure and grow. The festival they created put our city on the cultural map.

Over nearly 150 years, scores of nationally and internationally acclaimed guest soloists and conductors have gladly accepted invitations to participate in the May Festival. Explore the May Festival's historical guest artists and repertoire by season here. This isn’t just May Festival history—it’s music history.

From the start, the Festival has depended on the talent and generosity of people living in our communities. This is Cincinnati’s history too.

Dive deeper into the history of the May Festival with the Voices of the Past blog from Associate Director of Choruses and May Festival Youth Chorus Director Matthew Swanson. And join us at Music Hall, as we continue this remarkable project for our city and its singers.