The Seasons Pass

The first public performance of Carmen Ohio took place in the month of December in 1903. As such, I wish to dedicate this month’s post to Carmen Ohio — a brief overview of how The Ohio State University’s alma mater came to be.

In 1902 or 1903, the song was set by Ohio State freshman athlete and Men’s Glee Club member, Fred Cornell, to the tune and harmonies of the Methodist hymn “Spanish Chant.” This Spanish melody was used as a basis for “Come Christians, Join To Sing” with text by Christian H. Bateman (1843).

According to some, Cornell wrote the lyrics on a train trip returning to Columbus from Ann Arbor, Michigan, after the Buckeyes suffered a 86-0 loss in football to the Wolverines. Additionally, there are accounts that Cornell was simply invited to set the song by the Men’s Glee Club, and that he did so without the good-for-storytelling drama of a post-defeat train ride. The title translates from Latin as “Song of Ohio.”

The Men’s Glee Club first performed Carmen Ohio in 1903. Shortly thereafter, Carmen Ohio would be performed and included in the programs of commencement ceremonies, athletic events, and other celebrations. In 1955, Carmen Ohio was adapted for the all brass marching band by director Jack Evans and arranger Richard Heine. In this instrumental setting, the sound of the Orton Hall chime bells were added as a musical introduction.

Carmen Ohio has grown to become more than a school song, more than a Buckeye anthem. It has become a ritual and a celebration where a community is bonded together as one in friendship. Just as this piece of music gives us pause to reflect on both our past Ohio State experiences and to dream about what our University will become, this time of year provides us with the same reflective opportunity across all aspects of our lives. Wishing you a peaceful Holiday, and an energized and prosperous New Year.

How Firm Thy Friendship,


A Tribute to Youth

With November 1 marking the first day of National Gratitude Month, I want to take a moment of reflection and share with you an important group of people for which I am grateful – our youth. Youth in many facets. Young people with ideas, curiosity, questions, and vigor. 

For those of us in mid-career and mid-life, we can reflect on our own past youth in the form of memories, lived experiences, many firsts, and early inspirations. In addition, the ways in which we all have an eternal youthful spirit, a curiosity for something new, and a youthful zest for life.

In our shared  youth, our values, experiences, challenges and aspirations connect us. We rely on our youth in ways too often understated.

“The Fountain of Youth is life on a college campus! It’s hanging around with young people who are standing at the edge of the diving board, waiting for their chance to dive into the deep end of the pool.” – Robert J. Ward


Later this month, The Ohio State University Marching Band will host their annual Hometown Concert at Mershon Auditorium on Ohio State’s campus on Sunday, November 20.  A very special concert specifically for youth will take place Friday, November 18, 2022, at 10 a.m. at Mershon Auditorium. The Best Damn Band in the Land will entertain its audience with selections from some of their most popular halftime shows, fan favorites and traditional Ohio State tunes.

Large Ensemble

Finally, our Music Celebration Youth Concert for student groups in grades 4-12 will take place Friday, December 2, 2022 at 10 a.m. at Mershon Auditorium. Led by our most cherished ensembles, the concert is a fast-paced musical adventure through a wide ranges of styles and traditions. Our non-stop collage style concert includes jazz, orchestral, choral, chamber, wind band, solo, percussion and piano offerings showcasing the remarkable artistry of students and faculty from across the School 

“This concert provides the confidence to my students that there is a bright future in band for them, and the knowledge that band can continue after middle school, and it builds their passion for learning more music in my class. This event is by the far the most popular school trip my students attend all year. They talk about it for months and months after we attend. It is so well done, I would take students to this multiple times a year if we could.” – Ryan Alexis, Kilbourne Middle School, Worthington Schools


Hope to see you there with your youthful smiles!

A New Day is Here

October 2022 marks the month where the School of Music will celebrate the culmination of an effort, an initiative, and a campaign known as a “New Day.”  In April 2012, more than 150 community members, alumni, and friends of the School of Music helped celebrate a “New Day” at a gathering in Ohio Union’s Performance Hall. The then Director of the School of Music, Richard Blatti, Executive Dean and Vice Provost, Joseph Steinmetz, Division Dean, Mark Shanda, and President E. Gordon Gee shared a vision to develop a vibrant arts district on campus with world class performance and teaching spaces. And now, since the beginning of this Autumn semester, hundreds of students, faculty, and staff have been experiencing and celebrating the realization of that vision on a daily basis.

Thank you to President Johnson, Past Presidents Drake and Gee, and the upper administration for their vision to see through a thriving Arts District; to the College of Arts and Sciences, Deans David Horn, Dana Renga, and Sergio Souve, for their commitment, support, and collaboration to make this happen; to previous Directors of the School of Music, William Ballenger and Eugenia Costa-Giomi for their steady leadership in helping to ensure this incredible project moved forward during unprecedented times; to Holder Construction, AE/Design, and A.M. Stern Architects for their state-of-the-art design and expertise; to our alumni and benefactors, and to those across the Columbus community and Ohio, who value and support the arts. And lastly, to The Timashev Family. Your generous gift is a bright future ahead for the School of Music.

I hope you might join the School of Music in sharing our enthusiasm and appreciation at the Timashev Family Music Building Celebration & Dedication event on October 23. Our special concert at 3 p.m. features music which has never been performed before. Music that is creative, expressive, and in the same essence as our new home, completely new.

Event information:

Opus 88

With almost two weeks of the semester behind us, I am continually lifted by those around me, those placing people at the center of all we do. Faculty are quick to point out that they don’t teach music, they teach people. Staff continue to problem-solve the unsolvable. There is a palpable spirit that seeks to make connections among people and ideas. As a result, an observation and an inspiration has been found.

Ohio, the Buckeye State, is home to 88 counties. The piano has 88 keys. This coincidence has sparked the curiosity of the School of Music to sound each unique key, to trek the state, and to engage with individuals and communities of each county. We are naming our project Opus 88.

County Map and Keyboard

88 Counties, 88 Keys

Some of the most important and exciting work an institution embarks upon seems to question the lines which define research, teaching, and service. I believe we can find shared space among all three. How can we both show and tell the importance of music education? How can we reconnect with alumni and Buckeyes across the state? And so, we are hitting the road!

We hope to support the University’s beautiful vision, “The Ohio State University is the model 21st-century public, land grant, research, urban, community-engaged institution.” We look forward to reconnecting with the Buckeyes in every corner of the state. Together, as a school, we share music, we share the journey, we share the joy.

Stars of the Hughes Hall Era

An icon of the style, architecture and furnishings of mid-century American collegiate buildings, the musical sounds emanating from Hughes Hall arrived at their double bar line just shy of the building celebrating its 75th year as the nurturing home of the School of Music at The Ohio State University. Hughes could be described as a somewhat stubborn building, maybe even a bit of a curmudgeon. Through all of its days, Hughes held fast to its checkered tiled floors, yellowed walls, worn wooden desks and stuffy practice rooms. It was only in its last few decades that Hughes finally did adopt one slightly modern comfort — window air-conditioners.

But just as brilliant music is more than simply vibrating air molecules, the Hughes era of the School of Music is much more than its extra-vintage building. As we move the last of our musical instruments from Hughes Hall to the new Timashev Family Music Building, please allow me to celebrate a few of the many historical figures of the Hughes era.

1949, Jack Fullen, President Bevis, Royal Hughes and looking over plans for Hughes Hall

1949, Jack Fullen, President Bevis, Royal Hughes and looking over plans for Hughes Hall

Royal Delaney Hughes was among the first appointed music faculty members at Ohio State in 1921, and in 1925 was appointed the first chairman of the Department of Music, a position he held until 1938. Hughes, a beloved music teacher, hired several key faculty members including Eugene J. Weigel.

Eugene Weigel, the director of the Ohio State Marching Band from 1929–1939, was first to create the “Script Ohio” performed in Ohio Stadium in 1936. Weigel was a violinist, an orchestral conductor and a marching band director. He became chairperson of the Department of Music after Hughes’ death in 1938. Weigel was instrumental in the advocating for the groundbreaking of a new music building in Hughes’ honor.

Original design of Script Ohio

Weigel’s original design of Script Ohio

A subsequent star in the school’s early history is Donald E. McGinnis who began a 40-year career at Ohio State in 1941. Under his baton, the Ohio State Concert Band earned a national and international reputation, having taken the ensemble to Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. With the Columbus Symphony he performed principal clarinet for two years, and principal flute for ten.

In 1953, Jack O. Evans directed the Marching Band, taking it to new heights and overseeing the naming of the then “Buckeye Band.” The band included students from across the university, and appeared in both formal and twilight concerts.

Composer Donald Harris taught music at Ohio State for 22 years, serving as Dean of the College of the Arts from 1988 to 1997. He was a close collaborator with Gunther Schuller and won numerous awards as both a composer and an administrator. He established funding from the Getty Foundation to support the Ohio State Contemporary Music Festival. Harris was an inspiring mentor to decades of students.

Burdette Green, a musical polymath, dedicated 54 years of service as a faculty member to the School of Music. His cross-discipline expertise includes saxophone, clarinet, jazz, musical acoustics, and history of music theory.

Music composition and theory professor Gertrude Kuehefuhs had the nuanced balance of high expectations with immense compassion. She was a legend of music theory, and as a pianist she collaborated significantly with faculty, particularly known for her ability to “sight-read anything.”

Irma Cooper taught voice and opera for 20 years at Ohio State. She co-founded Opera Columbus, and was a champion of teaching young singers. She created multiple awards, funds and scholarships to support them. She was involved with the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.

James B. Jones was a celebrated horn professor who was highly active as a chamber and orchestral musician. He played in several ensembles including The Ohio State University Brass Quintet, The Ohio State University Woodwind Quintet, the Columbus Symphony, was principal horn with the Toledo Symphony, and toured and recorded with the Cleveland Orchestra.

Born on a farm in Ohio, Mary Ruth Tolbert was an alumna of Ohio State. She taught music education at Ohio State for over 40 years, and was well-known for her book This is Music, an elementary music textbook series used across the country. She was “ahead of her time” in social and educational issues. She was multi-faceted as an educator, a musician, intellectual, a farmer and an Ohio historian.

It’s both fascinating and humbling to look back at the path the School of Music has taken. Just as we view the many stars in the night sky, we look back to the incredible figures — so many faculty and staff — who have inspired generations of student musicians.

Last spring, we invited our alumni and faculty to reflect on their time in this iconic building. As you read through these heartwarming and entertaining Hughes Hall memories, you will detect the emerging theme — it is not a building, but the relationships that inspire creativity and success. That is the legacy of Hughes Hall.

Unboxing a School of Music

If you happen to spend a lot of time with a child between the ages of five and ten, you are likely familiar with the phenomenon of kids watching toy unboxing videos. A grown-up version of this dopamine rush might be the doorstep arrival of a package from Amazon or Grubhub. And for a college administrator, there is a parallel thrill in the unboxing of a School of Music.

In preparing for my new role over the past couple weeks, I feel as though I’ve ripped off the ribbon, torn away the gift wrapping, and I find myself grinning (and pinching myself) over the Timashev Family Music Building. Its spaces are modern and fresh. The hall and rehearsal spaces sound resonant and clear, the teaching areas are full of natural light and beautiful campus views, and there are plenty of common areas to simply be around others. What a stunning and impressive gift from the Timashev Family to The Ohio State University, to the field of music, and to generations of music students to come.

Timashev Family Music Building

West facade of the Timashev Family Music Buidling.

But wait — there is more.

This gift appears to be a matryoshka — a nested doll — with layers to crack open. After all, a School of Music is more than the building, the classrooms and halls where it lives and breathes. After opening the building doors, I can clearly see the devoted staff preparing, planning and problem-solving with warmth and a lively sense of humor. Cracking open the next layer, I see faculty creating an inspiring learning environment. And I already hear and see students enjoying the Youth Summer Music Programs — students studying flute, saxophone, leadership and jazz; with happy campers in the form of bassists, oboists, bassoonists and marching band students soon to arrive in the weeks to come.

Dr. Katherine Borst Jones performing.

Professor Katherine Borst Jones performing as part of the summer Flute Workshop.

Outside of the building, I am thankful to continue to open further nested gifts, meeting with faculty and staff for coffee and lunch — free of any pixels, audio delays or robotic stutters. Additionally, discovering for my first time the arts community of Columbus, developing an understanding of the School of Music’s history and traditions, collaborating with music colleagues and college partners to the further the school’s inclusion efforts, and being uplifted by the vision and support from the college and university leadership.

Each layer is truly a gift to open with curiosity and excitement. While I don’t expect to be able to follow in the footsteps of Ryan Kaji, the world’s most successful toy unboxer on YouTube, I hope that this blog will capture and share my enthusiasm as I unbox more facets of the School of Music at The Ohio State University.