Ex-Bengal to play with MSO

Carmon DeLeone gathers some ‘Best Friends Forever.’

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Conducted by Carmon DeLeone, The Middletown Symphony Orchestra will continue its 75th anniversary and final season with “Best Friends Forever!” on Jan. 29 at Dave Finkelman Auditorium.

“I’m really looking forward to this program. The concert contains music that I love, but it also brings several of my “Best Friends Forever!” to the stage to highlight their musical talents,” said Carmon DeLeone, the symphony’s musical director.

In addition to the 55-to-60 member Middletown Symphony Orchestra, DeLeone said the concert will feature some of his closest friends, including Tim Berens on guitar, and Rick VanMatre on alto saxophone.

The performance will also showcase the musical skills of Mike Reid, a star for the Cincinnati Bengals in the early 1970s. Reid went on to become a successful Nashville songwriter. He co-wrote “Stranger in My House,” a big hit for Ronnie Milsap in the 1980s. He also co-wrote the Bonnie Raitt staple “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

Reid will sit in on keyboard and vocals with DeLeone and The New Studio Big Band.

“Mike is best-known to many Cincinnatians as a former Bengal football player,” DeLeone said. “He was number 74, an All-Pro defensive tackle for The Cincinnati Bengals. He was a great player, but at the same time, he trained as a piano player at Penn State University. His major was music, and when he ended his football career, he moved down to Nashville and started writing hit tunes.”

Featuring Berens, a guitarist for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, orchestrator and conductor, the program will open with “Procession of Bacchus” from Sylvia by Léo Delibes.

Among other highlights, VanMatre will perform “Escapades” by John Williams, which was written for the movie, Catch Me If You Can. Led by DeLeone, The New Studio Big Band will perform selections during the second half of the concert with Reid. The New Studio Big Band is a 17-piece, all-star jazz ensemble.

“The whole season features my choices, especially here, where I can bring in people that I know very well, and that I’ve made music with in the past. It’s wonderful to bring them back, and have them help us celebrate the final season of the orchestra,” he said.

This year marks the 75th anniversary and final season of MSO, and DeLeone’s 35th anniversary with the orchestra.

How to go

What: Middletown Symphony Orchestra to perform “Best Friends Forever!”

When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29

Where: Dave Finkelman Auditorium, Miami University Middletown

Cost: $30 adults, $20 students. Call (513) 424-2426

More info: www.middletownsymphony.com

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