“Where words fail, music speaks.”
Hans Christian Andersen (1805 – 1875)

It’s curious that a figure so beloved for his writing is credited with the above quote, “when words fail, music speaks.” And yet, for anyone who has found themselves enveloped by a profoundly moving concerto or an energetic overture, Hans Christian Andersen’s sentiment rings true. Without a doubt, there are times when instrumental voices communicate what ordinary speech cannot.

The Norton Center is no stranger to the powers of instrumental music. Since officially opening our doors in 1973, audiences have been presented with no fewer than 79 large-scale orchestral performances from groups like the Czech Philharmonic (1987), the New York Philharmonic (2009), and most recently, the Shanghai Opera Symphony Orchestra (2019). Of course, this impressive number of concerts does not include the scores of small-scale ensembles and soloists the Norton Center has hosted over the years. From groups like the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma (2013) to Russian Renaissance (2019), the Norton Center has made it a tradition to showcase diverse instrumental programs with roots in countless eras and regions.

This custom of presenting outstanding instrumental music to Norton Center audiences was slated to continue this Mother’s Day with a special afternoon concert from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. And of course, we’re disappointed that COVID-19 concerns have prevented this concert from taking place. That said, we are delighted to know that in light of the current circumstances, the CSO has committed to “LET THE MUSIC PLAY” by inviting listeners to engage with their work in many exciting ways. From podcasts and videos to playlists and live-streams, CSO has put their incredible talents within reach, giving us an opportunity to experience the spirit of their performances from the safety of our homes.

So, while we won’t be celebrating Mother’s Day with an in-person CSO concert this year, we do hope that you will take part in their “Virtual Listening Party” which will be hosted by the Orchestra on Sunday, May 10 at 8pm EST. Hosted by CSO Artist-in-Residence Guy Braunstein as well as Assistant Conductor François López-Ferrer, we are sure this special live event will be a perfect way to spend the evening.

Are you looking to connect with even more instrumental performances? Here are three more ways you can engage with world-renowned orchestras and ensembles from home. (And, an extra bonus? Each group mentioned below has also performed at the Norton Center!)


  1.       Watch the “Inspired by Art and Literature” Video playlist from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
  2.       Tune in for “Streaming Sundays” with the Academy of Ancient Music. Each Sunday will bring a free, full-length concert.
  3.       Visit the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s extensive webcast archive for years of concert recordings

Molly Baker is a graduate of Berea College, where she studied Art History and Asian Studies. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Art History from the University of Kentucky. Before joining the Norton Center for the Arts, Molly held the position of Gallery Manager at TAMARACK: The Best of West Virginia. Later, she served as Assistant Curator/Gallery Manager at the Doris Ulmann Galleries (Berea College) as a sabbatical replacement. Molly is especially dedicated to the study and promotion of the arts and arts-based experiences using creative methods. Specifically, her goal is to bridge arts presentations with inclusive opportunities to learn about context, creators, and cultural significance, pointing to our combined human experiences in order to encourage critical thinking and understanding.