The Nashville Symphony officially opened the Schermerhorn Symphony Center yesterday with a ribbon cutting ceremony. All things being equal, I’m not a big fan of heavily scripted events but I was pleasantly surprised at how this one turned out…
To begin with, the event was very well attended, with over 2,000 in the crowd. Next, the ribbon cutting ceremonies were short, sweet, and sincere. There were only three brief speeches, a dedication prayer, and then they went right into cutting the ribbon. In fact, the speakers came in early and the dignitaries ended up cutting the ribbon a full five minutes before a scheduled fly-over of blackhawk helicopters that was timed to coincide with opening the hall.
One of the first surprises in the afternoon was a fascinating drum and dragon presentation by the Nashville Chinese Cultural Alliance. I have to say that honestly wasn’t expecting that at the ribbon cutting ceremony for an orchestra hall.
I also enjoyed the theme delivered from all of the speakers centered. Instead of focusing on canned language and other such nonsense, the majority of speakers focused on the collective sense of ownership in the new symphony center. There was also a sense that the opening of the center was an integral part of a larger sense of development and improvement throughout Nashville.
Nashville’s Mayor gave a brief speech that centered on that theme the most. He said “We are at a special time where all of our accomplishments have come together to realize this dream. This block will be a gathering place for all Nashvillians”. He also had one of the best sound bytes from all the speeches that morning with the phrase “music creates community” which elicited considerable applause from the crowd.
The communal theme was carried on by the final speaker for the ceremony, Cal Turner, who was representing the family of the concert hall’s namesake, Larua Turner. He never used the words “our hall” or “my hall”; instead he repeatedly used the phrase “your hall” while speaking to the crowd.
The sense of pride in the cultural consciousness of the community was touched upon in the dedication prayer where the speaker praised the new symphony center will “compliment our reputation as he Athens of the South”.
The sense of pride and ownership really hit home as I was taking pictures of the crowd as it worked its way into the building. You can see the sense of gratification and honor in the face of the patron pictured below. All it took to pull those feelings out in a public display was a camera and a press badge – he wanted others to know how he felt.
All in all, it was a good time and everyone that showed up not only had an opportunity to explore the new building but was also treated to lunch prepared and served by the Schermerhorn Symphony Center’s professional kitchen; and at 2,000+ patrons, that’s a lot of food.
Tomorrow promises to be another busy day as I continue to comb my way through the center taking pictures and gathering information for next week’s articles. In the meantime, enjoy some more pictures from the opening ceremonies.