We Know How to Symphony Here!

By:

Introductions and Tacos

This past week was the opening concert of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, and it was a nice homecoming after a busy summer away. The first rehearsal back was packed with catching up with as many people as possible and introducing new members as well.

This season, the CSO added a number of new violins. While people can socialize somewhat before rehearsal starts, and somewhat at the break, it can be hard to really meet people and say hello before rushing off. So I thought a fun way to get to know one another would be to have lunch at the new downtown Mexican restaurant (which actually offers authentic Mexican food!), Taqueria Jalisco.

The CSO violin sections get to know each other better
The CSO violin sections get to know each other better.
Sheri Peck, Principal Second and new CSO member, violinist Sophie Tang
Sheri Peck, Principal Second and new CSO member, violinist Sophie Tang.

I was pleased so many violinists could join for lunch, we had a marvelous time trying various taco dishes, burritos, and tortas. I know we’ll be back multiple times, so many delicious options on the menu and the service was outstanding. But also important was the atmosphere in the restaurant. It was perfect for this gathering: a long communal table that fit us all nicely. But the space was intimate enough that we didn’t have to talk loudly to hear one another.

It was a blast comparing what orchestras we’d worked for, where we lived, who we studied with, and non-musical topics such as hiking and biking. This will definitely be a tradition!

P.S. Welcome new colleagues and friends, Assc. Concertmaster Josh Holritz, and section violinists Cal Lewis, Nick Naegale, Shannon Cho, and Sophie Tang!!

Another Lunch Meetup

An impromptu lunch the next day found several CSO members at the new Maple Street Biscuit Company. While deciding what to order, I noticed person hand making real biscuits behind the counter. These were clearly from scratch which meant all the selections on the menu were extra tempting! I finally chose a simple chicken and dill pickle sandwich with a side of collard greens.

Biscuits are made from scratch, not by a machine
Biscuits are made from scratch, not by a machine.
Chicken biscuit sandwich and a side of collard greens.
Chicken biscuit sandwich and a side of collard greens.

Since the restaurant was newly opened the founder, Scott Moore, was there to help the Chattanooga Maple Street owner, Zeke, get a smooth start to his restaurant. Both were very friendly and explained the concept of the restaurant. Scott said his vision was to offer a community place, where people could have meetings, hang out, have coffee, and enjoy a sandwich.

Founder, Scott Moore, sits between violinists Carl Johnston and Cal Lewis. Principal bassoonist and principal horn, Eric Anderson and Gordon James sit on the opposite side
Founder, Scott Moore, sits between violinists Carl Johnston and Cal Lewis. Principal bassoonist and principal horn, Eric Anderson and Gordon James sit on the opposite side.

Scott’s idea was certainly working for us; during our lunch, plans to go biking were made, future hiking options were discussed, and our CSO potential sellout concert was mentioned as we invited the employees to hurry and get their tickets!

CSO executive director, Molly Sasse and owner Zeke discuss breakfast and coffee options for meetings.
CSO executive director, Molly Sasse and owner Zeke discuss breakfast and coffee options for meetings.
Desserts were certainly delicious, our whole table happily shared these delicious treats, perfect with coffee.
Desserts were certainly delicious, our whole table happily shared these delicious treats, perfect with coffee.

Opening Night: SOLD OUT

There was a tremendous pride floating around the CSO offices for opening night. Each day of the week leading up to concert there was an office wide countdown of tickets left. On Tuesday, there were just few hundred left, by the day of the concert just a handful, and there was a happy announcement later in the day of a complete sold out concert.

Since it was the first concert of the season and since we had some new faces in the violin section, I thought it would be fun to take a group picture. Typically brass sections, bass sections, or bassoon sections will take a group shot. I’d never heard of a group picture of a violin section so it clearly had to be done, especially since one of my colleagues said: “Chattanooga Symphony; where even the violins get along!”

Group photo of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera violin sections.
Group photo of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera violin sections.

After the concert there was a champagne gathering in the lobby. It was fantastic to meet the audience, many of which were still wiping tears from their eyes after the emotional final notes of Beethoven’s 9th.

Audience enjoying the post-concert champagne and conversation
Audience enjoying the post-concert champagne and conversation.

Since last year’s post-concert hang after our season closer was so popular, I called the folks at Easy Bistro & Bar and said we were coming back after this concert. They graciously offered a late snack and cocktail menu, and even offered a place for many of us to stash our instruments. The post-concert hang was open to everyone: audience, chorus, orchestra, board members, and staff.

Our season is off to a great start, and to quote friend and CSO patron, “We know how to symphony here!”

The mix of people sharing their version of the concert was almost indescribable. It was as if there were cameras at every angle, capturing all the notes and everyone’s thoughts from the concert. The performers shared what they heard and felt from stage, the staff and board shared they exhilaration of a sold out house, and many of the patrons shared how their own feelings were morphed with each passing movement.

Audience members and orchestra members (who are now friends!) share their individual experiences from the concert..
Audience members and orchestra members (who are now friends!) share their individual experiences from the concert..

But it wasn’t all music talk, it was a general community celebrating a partnership, a stewardship, and an art that brought people together to experience what we all are: Human. I think we’ll have to do this again and again! Our season is off to a great start, and to quote friend and CSO patron, “We know how to symphony here!”

About Holly Mulcahy

After hearing Scheherazade at an early age, Holly Mulcahy fell in love with the violin and knew it would be her future. She currently serves as concertmaster of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra. She spends her summers at the celebrated Grand Teton Music Festival. Believing in music as a healing and coping source, Holly founded Arts Capacity, a charitable 501(c)3 which focuses on bringing live chamber music, art, artists, and composers to prisons. Arts Capacity addresses many emotional and character-building issues people face as they prepare for release into society. Holly performs on a 1917 Giovanni Cavani violin, previously owned by the late renowned soloist Eugene Fodor, and a bespoke bow made by award winning master bow maker, Douglas Raguse.

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