By Jared Morrison, Director of Performing Arts –
From the Great Smoky Mountains to the Mississippi Delta, Tennessee is blessed with a wealth of symphony orchestras who call our state home. But when Covid-19 forced music halls and performing arts centers to shutter for over a year, these ensembles faced a challenging road to keep the music playing. From socially distanced outdoor concerts to inventive virtual collaborations, they persevered, leading to some remarkable – if unconventional – musical experiences. And now, thanks to rising vaccination rates and declining cases, Tennessee’s symphonies are reopening and getting back on stage with eager audiences at the ready.
For example, Kingsport’s Symphony of the Mountains recently presented its first concert since the beginning of the pandemic. “We were as happy as a kid having Christmas, Easter, and a birthday all at once!” remarked Music Director Cornelia Laemmli Orth. “While we have been able to do some streamed performances, this was the first time our wind section played in over a year. There was indeed great joy!”
The Memphis Symphony is also returning to normalcy with a celebration of its 70th year of music-making. “It’s been a very, very strange season, though I doubt many people are surprised by that,” said Peter Abell, president, and CEO of the Memphis Symphony. “As we were planning our 70th season, we wanted to make sure we presented programs that reflected a triumphant return to the stage. Imprinted throughout the concert season is music, both new and old, that should excite and inspire. Like all of our friends across the state, we are hopeful that audiences will miss us as much as we miss them.”
Orchestras from around the state have begun publishing details of their 2021-2022 seasons on their websites (see links below). While many are focused on the fall season, some, like the Johnson City Symphony and Clarksville’s Gateway Chamber Orchestra, are serving up summertime concert experiences. One of the most vital signals that industry is on the comeback trail comes from our state’s largest orchestra, the Nashville Symphony. They will be back on stage this Summer, leading the fanfare for Music City’s annual Fourth of July Celebration, with tens of thousands of excited fans ready to cheer them on.
Connect with your local symphony orchestra.
Appalachia: A Southern Wind Symphony (Knoxville)
Bryan Symphony (Cookeville)
Gateway Chamber Orchestra (Clarksville)
Iris Orchestra (Germantown)
Symphony of the Mountains (Kingsport)
Tennessee Philharmonic (Murfreesboro)