I was saddened to hear the news that former Chattanooga Symphony & Opera (CSO) executive director, Molly Sasse French, passed away the morning of Tuesday, October 11, 2016.
Working with Molly was always a pleasure. She had an enormously generous spirit and was a quintessential host who never tired of filling the role of enthusiastic host for her community. When visiting Chattanooga for the first time, she was the one meet me at the airport and was eager to give me a first-hand tour of the community she cherished.
Whether it was simply talking shop or working on projects, she brought a refreshing amount of pragmatism to find win-win options. She was also key in helping the CSO successfully transition through a rough patch that would have been otherwise disastrous, so losing leaders with those unique skillsets is always difficult.
It was fascinating to learn about Chattanooga’s renaissance as it evolved from a depressed post-industrial city into what my wife, CSO concertmaster Holly Mulcahy, aptly describes as “the Jackson Hole of the south.”
Molly recognized that the CSO needed to stay with curve during the extraordinary years of city growth as it transitioned into a center of tourism, culture, and technology. This not only helped the CSO avoid becoming just another doom-and-gloom story but placed it squarely in a leadership position within their performing arts community.
The ensemble, its stakeholders, and the larger community were fortunate to have an established leader with vision in the right place and the right time.
The CSO released an announcement yesterday and the orchestra’s upcoming performance on October 20, 2016 will be presented in her memory. According to the CSO, memorial gifts to the orchestra may be made by calling 423.267.8583 x 2103 or visiting their website.