Despite Financial Woes, Symphony Opens Season With Full House

Holst's “The Planets” Highlights First Concert of 2013-14 Season

Friday, September 27, 2013 - by Andrew Clark

The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera (CSO) opened its 2013-14 Masterworks season Thursday, drawing capacity crowds to the historic Tivoli Theater to hear the strains of Copland and Holst.

Chattanooga's CSO, which ceased producing full-scale, staged operas nearly seven years ago, has admittedly floundered financially in recent years.

Indeed, in recent months both the chairman of the board of directors for the organization, Spencer McCallie, and Molly Sasse, the symphony's executive director, have sent letters to longtime subscribers warning of the possibilities of financial catastrophe and ultimate closure.

The expense of renting the Tivoli, a fee that once topped $90,000, coupled with the price tag of paying professional, unionized musicians, has put a strain on the CSO, even after abolishing opera from the organization's curriculum to trim costs.

In addition, the CSO has realized a constriction in normal attendance, forcing the organization to cut its number of Masterworks concerts by half.

On top of this, the non-profit self-governed, fundraising arm of the CSO, the CSO Guild, a group run by volunteer devotees of the CSO, was in recent years disbanded by invitation of the CSO's executive director. Before being disbanded, the CSO Guild conceived, planned and implemented the CSO Gala each spring, an event that at one time netted more than six figures annually for the CSO coffers.

Despite the poor fortune that has befallen the CSO in recent years, an energetic, crowd of nearly 1,600 classical music lovers filled the Tivoli Thursday night in what locals hope will be an upswing year for Chattanooga's Symphony.

Opening with Aaron Copland's “Fanfare for the Common Man” under the baton of conductor and music director Kayoko Dan, the orchestra was strong and seemed comfortable under the executive leadership of new concertmaster, Holly Mulcahy.

According to the CSO's program, “Despite our overexposure to the music (“Fanfare for the Common Man”), on TV and elsewhere in popular culture, its appeal endures.” And, this appeal was evident Thursday night as the large crowd relished every note, while watching a montage of images and video clips on a vast screen which was hung above the Tivoli stage.

Following “Fanfare” was Copland's “Appalachian Spring Suite,” which was also accompanied by images and video clips on the same large screen.”

After intermission, the more-than-ever casually attired symphony-goers returned from the lobby—drinks in hand, as dictated by new city policy—to hear Gustav Holst's “The Planets.” Symphony newcomers applauded after all seven movements, which was a new and enthusiastic addition to the traditional symphony protocol which suggests applause at the end of a selected work.

The same large screen above the orchestra displayed images of the planets as the music swelled: “Mars, the Bringer of War”; “Venus, the Bringer of Peace”; “Mercury, the Winged Messenger”; “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity”; “Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age”; “Uranus, the Magician”; and “Neptune, the Mystic.”  

williamandrewclark63@gmail.com


Lee Wind Ensemble To Present Concert Dec. 2

The Lee University Wind Ensemble will conclude the fall semester with a concert on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Conn Center. The concert will feature the 55-member instrumental ensemble under the baton of conductor David Holsinger, professor of music at Lee, and associate conductor Winona Holsinger, director of instrumental projects. Timothy Linley and Seok Joon Keun, ... (click for more)

Free Concert Sponsored By The Chattanooga Songwriters Association

The Chattanooga Songwriters Association is sponsoring a free concert featuring Jamion Williams, Katrina Barclay, Kyle MacKillop, and hosted by Anthony Quails. The concert will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 9 from  6:30- 9:30 p.m. at Heritage House Arts and Civic Center, 1428 Jenkins Road.  Meet the songwriters at 6:30 p.m.  Concert begins at 7 p.m. "Come ... (click for more)

Kiser Takes Witness Stand For First Time; Says He Did Not Kill Deputy Donald Bond

Marlon Duane Kiser took the witness stand at his post-conviction hearing on Tuesday to declare that he did not kill Deputy Donald Bond, who was gunned down at a produce stand in East Brainerd 13 years ago. Kiser had not opted to go on the stand when he was convicted by a Nashville jury and given the death penalty in 2003. He said he believes it was Mike Chattin, the man he ... (click for more)

Courtney Godwin, 25, Was Victim In Monday Night Fire In Hixson

Chattanooga firefighters battled a fully-involved structure fire in Hixson Monday night, and the incident involved at least one fatality.  Dr. Steve Cogswell with the Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as Courtney D. Godwin, 25. Dr. Cogswell said Ms. Godwin died from smoke inhalation.   The first call to 911 Communications was received ... (click for more)

Chattanooga State Faculty Has No Business Being Involved In Hiring Decisions

This letter will hopefully bring some clarity to the recent situation created by the faculty of Chattanooga State Community College. It is based upon my tenure as a member of the faculty at Chattanooga State Technical Institute, the transformation to Chattanooga State Community College, and my service as the financial and administrative officer at Chattanooga State until my retirement ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Grand Thanksgiving Feast

I’m not really sure how it all came about but a few days before Thanksgiving last year, what was usually a crowded table had dwindled down to just Mother, Aunt Martha and me. Just the idea of getting dressed up made both of them tired, which happens when you are 89 and 87, respectively, and the thought of preparing the traditional feast brought only further groans so I announced ... (click for more)