Symphony Orchestras – Jewels in Small Towns

When many think of attending a symphony orchestra, larger orchestras in more affluent cities might come to mind – Boston, New York, Los Angeles among them.

However, it’s the smaller towns that breed a commitment-like attitude, relying on volunteers, small businesses and individuals to keep a symphony alive. While this attitude and giving spirit is important for all orchestras in every community, people in the smaller towns come together, like a family, in the spirit of music.

Vernon Humbert (photo: laird)

Consider The Coastal Symphony of Georgia, based in Brunswick. The orchestra is comprised of professional musicians of the Jacksonville Symphony, including JSO Cellist Vernon Humbert, the Coastal Symphony’s conductor and music director, and JSO Violinist Max Huls, Coastal Symphony’s concertmaster; area professionals; music teachers and others.

The Coastal Symphony opened their 28th season last night at the 650-seat Glynn Academy Memorial Auditorium. Nearly all the seats were full when the community turned out to support their local symphony, which presented a unique program to tie in with their season’s theme: “Ellis Island – Variations on a Theme.”

The concert focused on the United Kingdom, a fitting choice for a town founded and settled by the British, and featured works by Benjamin Britten: Canadian Carnival; George Frideric Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks; Percy Grainger: Molly on the Shore and Shepherd’s Hey; and Sir Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, with Vernon Humbert as soloist and Dr. Simon Shiao as guest conductor.

Humbert engaged the audience at one point when introducing Britten’s “Carnival,” providing a brief synopsis and warning patrons of the storm Britten creates with his music. He wasn’t kidding. Between the solo second trumpets, and odd clash of the composer’s 4/4, 3/4 timing, the title is appropriate for this kind of work.

What’s more important to this concert than even the music itself, is the community support. Orchestra’s are essential to the core of a community because it improves the quality of life; promotes understanding of other cultures; fosters pride in the community; and contributes to the education and development of children.*

Any town that has a symphony orchestra should take advantage of the gift they’ve been given.

How important is a community orchestra to you?

*Source: League of American Orchestras

Upcoming Coastal Symphony of Georgia Performances:
December 6, 2010

Christmas Around the World

February 21, 2011
Italy – Land of the Grand Opera
with Kimberly Gelbwasser, soprano

May 2, 2011
The Beat Goes On – Latin America

This entry was posted in Coastal Symphony of Georgia, Education, Symphony Orchestras and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Symphony Orchestras – Jewels in Small Towns

  1. Steve Marcus says:

    The large metropolitan area of Chicago needs community orchestras on the volunteer, semi-pro, and regional professional level because:

    – While the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is one of the finest ensembles in the world, access to their concerts at Symphony Center can be challenging for those who live in the suburbs. Ticket prices, transportation costs, and parking fees in the City of Chicago make the suburban ensembles a viable alternative for excellent live musical performances.

    – There are so many talented musicians who live in the Chicago area who need the outlet of an orchestra in which to play.

    – Chicago is home to several excellent Schools of Music on the collegiate and post-grad level. Many of those students come from other parts of the country (or internationally) and have no job to go home to when they graduate. Thus, many stay in the Chicago area; some continue to audition for orchestras around the world, some don’t. They (and their faculty) all want the opportunity to play in a fine orchestra. The community orchestras benefit from these well-trained musicians.

    • J.M. Lacey says:

      Hi Steve! Thanks for passing along this great information. There are so many opportunities that people don’t take advantage of either because they’re unaware they exist or they don’t always realize the value of the opportunity. Until someone willing to take risks steps up to the plate and takes the lead, these opportunities remain dormant. Sounds like Chicago has a need for more music.

      Hopefully we can get the word out. Appreciate you sharing with us!

  2. William Kendall says:

    Very important to me, actually. We’ve got a national orchestra here, quite well renowned, with a famed conductor, Pinchas Zukerman, who believes in involving the orchestra with the community and the country, particularly at the school level.

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