Nashville Symphony’s Music Director Passes Away

I received the sad news yesterday that the Nashville Symphony’s long time music director, Kenneth Schermerhorn passed away early at the Vanderbilt Medical Center on Monday, April 18th, 2005.  Maestro Schermerhorn led the Nashville Symphony for 22 years and oversaw everything from the organization filing for bankruptcy in the 1980’s through their recent grand accomplishment of commencing construction on their new $120 million dedicated concert hall which is named for the maestro; the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

In 2000, Maestro Schermerhorn led the orchestra on its first trip to perform at Carnegie Hall, which served as one of the catalytic events to begin their enterprising concert hall project.  Unfortunately, Maestro Schermerhorn’s life ended before he was able to conduct the orchestra during its inaugural season in the new hall, which is scheduled to open for the 2006-2007 concert season.

At the end of this month I will be traveling to Nashville to research the Schermerhorn Symphony Center construction progress. Interviewing Maestro Schermerhorn was part of that original plan and I am deeply saddened at the loss of that unique opportunity. 

However, I’m certain that in addition to examining the concert hall project I’ll also be able to talk to the Nashville Symphony’s musicians and managers about their enduring music director.  To learn more about the concert hall project and Kenneth Schermerhon, please visit the Nashville Symphony’s website.

According to the Symphony, in lieu of flowers, Maestro Schermerhorn’s family asks that donations be made to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center Memorial Fund, c/o The Nashville Symphony, 2000 Glen Echo Rd., Suite 204, Nashville, Tenn. 37215.

A memorial concert and service will be held in honor of Maestro Schermerhorn on Monday, April 25, 2005 at 4:00 p.m. at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, TN.

The following is a press release being issued by the symphony about Kenneth Schermerhorn’s life and career as a musician:



About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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