Nashville Symphony - 70 Years
Founded in 1946, the orchestra is one of Tennessee’s largest and longest-running nonprofit performing arts organizations. With 140 performances annually, the Symphony’s concert schedule encompasses a diverse mix of classical, pops, jazz and family programs, along with extensive community outreach efforts.
The Nashville Symphony's beginnings can be traced to 1945, when World War II veteran and Nashville native Walter Sharp returned home intent on establishing a new symphony orchestra for Middle Tennessee. With the assistance of a small number of fellow music lovers, he convinced community leaders of this need and the Nashville Symphony was founded. Sharp retained William Strickland, a young conductor from New York, to serve as the first music director and conductor. Strickland was responsible for setting the high performance standards that the orchestra and its conductors have maintained to this day.
Guy Taylor (1951-1959), Willis Page (1959-1967), Thor Johnson (1967-1975) and Michael Charry (1976-1982) followed Strickland in the role of music director, with the orchestra performing at historic War Memorial Auditorium in downtown Nashville until the opening of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in 1980. From 1983 until his death in early 2005, the Nashville Symphony flourished under the dynamic leadership of Music Director and Principal Conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn. Under his leadership, the orchestra performed a critically acclaimed debut concert at Carnegie Hall and undertook a sold-out East Coast tour in 2000, and it embarked on fruitful partnership with the Naxos label that has, to date, yielded 20 critically acclaimed recordings.
While the orchestra conducted a search for a new music director to succeed Maestro Schermerhorn, renowned conductor Leonard Slatkin assumed the post of Music Advisor. Under his guidance, the orchestra earned three GRAMMY® Awards for its recording of Joan Tower's Made in America in 2007 and produced an internationally syndicated radio program, American Encores.
With the arrival of current Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero in 2008, the Nashville Symphony has continued its spectacular rise to prominence with an ambitious schedule of recordings, commissions and world premieres. In 2011, the Nashville Symphony's recording of Michael Daugherty's Metropolis Symphony earned three GRAMMY® Awards. In 2012, Guerrero and percussionist Christopher Lamb earned a GRAMMY® for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for their performance of Joseph Schwantner's Concerto for Percussion, recorded with the Nashville Symphony on Naxos. Since the beginning of its partnership with Naxos in 2000, the orchestra's recordings have received a total of eight GRAMMY® Awards out of 17 nominations.
The Schermerhorn Symphony Center Celebrates its 10th Anniversary in 2016
Construction of Schermerhorn Symphony Center began in December 2003. Less than three years later, the building opened to the public on September 9, 2006. The design was inspired by some of the world's great concert halls, many of which were built in Europe in the late 19th century. The building's main venue, the 1,844-seat Laura Turner Concert Hall, is one of the few halls nationwide to feature natural interior light through 30 special soundproof windows. Seats are distributed over three levels, including a special choral loft behind the stage, which can seat up to 146 chorus members or audience members during non-choral performances. The stage can accommodate up to 115 musicians. The design of Laura Turner Concert Hall provides vivid acoustical clarity, warmth and reverberation specifically catering to the sound of natural instruments. An automated system of movable banners and panels located around the hall can adjust the acoustics to accommodate a variety of musical genres.
The hall also features a custom-built concert organ, crafted by Schoenstein & Co. of San Francisco, comprised of 47 voices, 64 ranks and 3,568 pipes with three 32-foot stops that create a lyrical sound with expressive range.
In addition to this state-of-the-art concert hall, Schermerhorn Symphony Center houses the Mike Curb Family Music Education Hall, a 3,000-square-foot space designed to accommodate performances, educational events, meetings and other gatherings. The building regularly hosts concerts for schoolchildren and a wide variety of special events, including weddings, conferences, luncheons and corporate meetings.
Visit nashvillesymphony.org for more information and to purchase tickets to experience the Nashville Symphony.