The Central Ohio Symphony is marking its 45th anniversary this fall, and a constant has been Warren Hyer.
“I think those who founded the orchestra back in 1978 had high hopes it would endure, and it has,” Hyer said in a statement announcing the sapphire season. “To celebrate this milestone, we think we are bringing the community a spectacular set of concerts, guest artists, premieres, and more.”
The Gazette recently visited the symphony’s downtown office, fittingly on Central Avenue and still new enough that its sign hadn’t been put up yet, to learn why it has endured.
Hyer said he has played percussion in the Central Ohio Symphony since 1978 and has spent the last 31 years as its executive director. There are more than a thousand symphonies in America, many of them local, like the Central Ohio Symphony, which has partnerships with Delaware City Schools and the Ohio Wesleyan University.
The symphony’s core 65 players, that can expand to 102 depending on the program, are drawn from a talent pool of Delaware, Franklin, Knox, Licking, Logan, and Union County musicians. They range in age from their early 20s to their 40s and 50s.
“The good is in our backyard,” Hyer said. “We’re Delaware’s orchestra and the area’s orchestra. It’s a world-class orchestra.”
As for its repertoire, the Central Ohio Symphony performs traditional classical music as well as premiering contemporary commissioned symphonic music.
The Central Ohio Symphony is unique among orchestras in that it does “Play it Again,” meaning an underrepresented composer’s work can get a second or third hearing.
“All music was new once,” Hyer said. “It reflects our age. Music can have commentary. I think the music is approachable. Orchestras aren’t museums.”
He also said that some Romantic-period pieces once considered too technically difficult to perform are now considered standards of the repertoire.
Music Director Jaime Morales-Matos is in his 21st year as the symphony’s conductor, and he selects the more traditional works they’ll perform.
Hyer said the symphony is trying to broaden its audience, which is currently ranging from their 40s to senior citizens. He is hoping to increase attendance from OWU and young students countywide.
The season-opening concert will be on Oct. 21 in Ohio Wesleyan University’s Gray Chapel, 61 S. Sandusky St., Delaware. Tickets can be purchased for the five-concert season at www.centralohiosymphony.org or by calling 740-362-1799. Students 18 and under can get a free ticket and a discounted adult ticket if they show their local library card (Community, Delaware County or Wornstaff).
Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at the above email address.