Monday, May 14, 2012

Schermerhorn Symphony Center

While on our whirlwind 3,100 trip, we stopped in Nashville. Along with its impressive recording industry, Nashville is known as home for the best of country western, bluegrass, and gospel music. Everywhere you turn, you cannot help but see young musicians vying for attention with that special sound and voice hoping to barnstorm their way to the top or at least catch the attention of some curious record producer.

Wandering through the streets of downtown, we passed the new construction sight of the Country Music Hall of Fame and found that their hockey team, the Nashville Predators, were in the playoffs at the nearby Bridgestone Arena.  McGavock Street was swarming on that early Friday morning with anxious fans, media crews, and supply trucks shuffling back and forth around the adjacent Nashville Music Garden, just east of the arena. This garden is filled with roses of every color and scent you could imagine and located at the center of the thriving SoBo neighborhood.

On the north end of the garden was the impressive new Hilton Hotel providing convenient and luxury accommodations for business people, hockey fans, and tourists alike. To the east of this garden was our destination: the brand new Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home of the well respected Nashville Symphony Orchestra. This building, nestled among all of the other new construction, was our final destination.

Only recently completed, free hour-long tours are available at 1:00PM most Wednesdays and Saturdays allowing you to explore this striking new concert hall (see The brain child of its recently departed musical genius, Maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn, this monstrous building employs Greek architecture with massive columns flanking its entry above which appears an ornately carved facing.

The center formally opened on September 9, 2006, with a gala concert conducted by Leonard Slatkin and broadcast by PBS affiliates throughout the state. But from the devastating May 4, 2010 flood that damaged the organ and the instruments housed in its basement, the center just reopened prior to our arrival.  Aside from rivaling some of the best concert halls in the world, classical music seems to be an unlikely musical,style juxtaposed in a town focused primarily on other venues. But this apparent contradiction does not stop there: did you know that the Nashville Symphony is also one of the most listened to symphony orchestras in the world?

Selling more recordings than any other orchestra in the world, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra if nothing else is lucrative. Performances are available at and older recordings through eBay and local used record stores. We wandered through the entry and into the concert hall stunned by its attention to detail. Dozens of microphones were suspended from the ceiling at strategic points providing the best positions without the visual distraction of floor stands. The seats were plush and comfortable and we were fortunate to hear a xylophonist rehearsing for an upcoming performance.

I sat there imagining what it would be like to hear the entire orchestra and feel the magic that transforms those walls into a work of art. One day I will return and hear with my own ears what my mind could only imagine. With luck, that will be sooner than later.

Support the music in your home towns and encourage the musicians that struggle to bring beauty into our world. Attend every performance you can and listen intently to it as if it were your last. It is with this attitude that true music appreciation can be found.

Yours for higher fidelity,
Philip Rastocny

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