Cutting the Ribbon In Nashville

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.

Dragons and Drums
Dragons and Drums

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.

"music creates community."
“music creates community.”

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.

Cal Turner
Cal Turner

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”.

A proud Nashville Symphony patron.
A proud patron.

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.

Those in attendance were treated to lunch.
Free lunch.

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.

Nashville Symphony board chair, Martha Ingram, holds the ribbon for Mayor Purcell to cut .
Nashville Symphony board chair, Martha Ingram, holds the ribbon for Mayor Purcell to cut .
The Nashville Symphony trumpet section in full blown fanfare mode.
The Nashville Symphony trumpet section in full blown fanfare mode.
The crowd slowly makes their way into the new symphony center
The crowd slowly makes their way into the new symphony center
Patrons see their first views of the building's interior.
Patrons see their first views of the building’s interior.
Isn't this ptron the model of southern genteelism?
Isn’t this patron the model of southern genteelism?
Some of Nashville's younger generation capturing some of the concert hall for posterity
Some of Nashville’s younger generation capturing some of the concert hall for posterity
The first groups of patrons enter the concert hall.
The first groups of patrons enter the concert hall.
The crowds were entertained by the symphony's keyboardist performing on their Steinway concert grand
The crowds were entertained by the symphony’s keyboardist performing on their Steinway concert grand

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.

Related Posts

Comments (powered by Facebook)

Leave a Comment

TWO WAYS TO SUBSCRIBE BY EMAIL:

Subscription Weekly
weekly summary subscription
Subscription Per Post
every new post subscription

Send this to a friend