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Emery Sessions breathe new life into historic theatre

Filed in Cincinnati, Emery Sessions and Music News 4 comments

A historic downtown Cincinnati theater might be in line for a curtain call. The Emery Theatre in Over-The-Rhine has a rich history in our city. It opened in 1911 as the home for a trade school (the Ohio Mechanics Institute), but its large, impressive auditorium was intended for public use. In the past 100 plus years, the Emery has been the home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (1912-1936) and it’s legendary acoustics have been compared to that of Carnegie Hall in New York City by famous conductor Leopold Stokowski.

In the past handful of decades however, the Emery has gone mostly unused. There have been a few events here and there in an attempt to jump start the venue, but none have breathed enough life into its halls for consistent use. Plenty of well intentioned people have done their best to dust off the place and swing its doors wide open, but maybe the timing just wasn’t right. Well, maybe the time is now.


So what is happening at the Emery? Well, quite a bit has gone on while we weren’t watching, and that is why I’m writing about it today. In the past couple of months, local musicians have entered the theatre and left their mark on it. The results of their time is a brand new video series called ‘The Emery Sessions.’ Recording Label founder and local musician Cameron Cochran is one of the minds behind the project, and he had the following to share…

If we are consuming light then sound is accompanied by sight. Many musical performers understand this concept and will incorporate a visual component to their audio performance. The idea behind the “One Shot Music Video” is to approach music from the opposite direction. The audience approaches the music from a visual perspective first because wether they know it or not the first performance they see is the photographer’s. It is the photographer’s eye that navigates them through the musical performance. The hidden live performance is the one done with the camera.

The Emery Theatre was the perfect place to begin our exploration of this relationship between listening and watching live musical performances. Each musician we have recorded and that we are going to record have a love for this amazing space and understands what the Emery Theatre means to our great city of Cincinnati. It is perhaps our own experiences working in this theatre and the pride that has developed for our hometown of Cincinnati that inspired us to change the name of The Recording Label to Cincinnati Recording Service. This name change is also a tip of the hat to another person who loved his city as well as the power that American music has to bring people together, Memphis’ very own Sam Philips.

We will be recording ten artists at The Emery Theatre for what we are affectionately calling, The Emery Sessions.

Behind the camera for the sessions is someone that is no stranger to capturing musicians in their element, but up until now is known for his still photography. Cincinnati’s own Michael Wilson recently added music video shooting to his already polished resume. Michael recorded The Emery Sessions using the “One Shot” technique Cameron described above, and the results bring out the best in everyone who is involved. The musicians shine, the sounds ring clear and the Emery Theatre looks as inviting and immaculate as ever.

So I’m happy today to get the opportunity to present the first video of The Emery Sessions, which features Daniel Martin Moore and Joan Shelley. If you haven’t been keeping tabs on Daniel, you might not know he launched his own recording label called Ol’ Kentuck Records.

Since launching last year with Daniel Joseph Dorff’s “Living Room”, Ol’ Kentuck has added several notable names to it’s roster including Ric Hordinski, Maiden Radio and Joan Shelley. Moore released a Joan Shelley solo album just last week and has another record with Joan and himself slated for an early May release.

And don’t worry, the Emery has not just opened its doors to these musicians, but is opening them to you too, and soon. Daniel Martin Moore and Joan Shelley have what promises to be a special show at the Emery on April 27th! Oh, and the show is FREE! So soak in the sounds and scenes of the video, then prepare to see it all go down live in concert at the end of the month. I’m hoping this is the first of many shows at the historic Emery Theatre.

Posted by Joe Long   @   16 April 2012 4 comments


Apr 17, 2012
10:13 am


What is the major hurdle to the Emery permanently re-opening as a venue? It seems there is a strong undercurrent of support for it from artists, at least, and awareness of throughout the scene. Is it a historic rehab / money issue? How can we support any ongoing efforts?

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