Classical Music

Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra

Last summer, after learning that my friend, Holly Mulcahy, had been selected to be the Concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, I promised her that I’d do whatever I could to make it down there at least once to hear her play. So I looked to see what was on the schedule.  There were lots of concerts to choose from – Masterworks, concerts at the VW plant (which would be awesome since I drive a Jetta!) and Chamber music concerts.

My favorite music is anything Beethoven and earlier, so I found a great Chamber concert that featured Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Perfect! Also on the program were a flute trio (my mom would have loved it!), Casterede’s Flutes en Vacances and a Trumpet Concerto by Vivaldi. I wasn’t familiar with the Casterede piece, but with classical and baroque on the same program? I was totally set.

I arrived at the Sheraton Read Ballroom and bought my ticket. Greeting us at the door was Executive Director, Molly Sasse. We’d Emailed a few times before so it was great to meet her in person. It was funny because I introduced myself and after the briefest of hesitations, she smiled really big and said – “oh – you’re the Itinerant Knitter!”  Yep – that’s me! Had to giggle at that!

She immediately told me she wanted to introduce me to someone and walked me into the ballroom where the concert was to be performed. She introduced me to one of the donors, Mr. Franklin McCallie, and told him he needed to take me under his wings because I’d traveled all the way to Chattanooga from Columbus, OH! Thanks, Molly! Mr. McCallie was a super nice guy and a lot of fun to talk to! I had the pleasure of meeting his wife, too – along with a handful of other people – a short while later.

Hall of Mirrors

Now, let me tell you about the setting. Imagine walking into a large, white ballroom with walls covered with huge mirrors reflecting the sparkle of the silver highlights and detailed molding. Located in the center were the chairs set up for the orchestra. Fanning out from each side of the orchestra were seats for the patrons. It was beautiful!

CSO-TN Tuning

Concertmaster, Holly Mulcahy, tuning the orchestra before the performance.

I was excited to finally be able to hear the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra perform! I’m quite happy to say they did not disappoint! Under the direction of Music Director, Kayoko Dan, the CSO-TN played the following were three pieces:

CASTEREDE: Flutes en Vacances
VIVALDI: Concerto for Two Trumpets in C Major
MOZART: Symphony No. 40

I wasn’t already familiar with the Casterede piece, but I enjoyed listening to it. It’s a flute trio played by Principal flautist, Kristen Holritz, Kayoko Dan and Nora Kile. As Kristen told us during her introduction, it was a happy piece. After all – it’s called Flutes on Vacation. You can’t go wrong! In four parts, Pastorales, Joyeuses, Reveuses and Legeres, (Pastoral, Joyous, Dreamy, Light) the piece was a happy, upbeat tune that was beautifully played.

Kayoko Dan

CSO-TN Music Director, Kayoko Dan

The concert actually opened with the Vivaldi Concerto in C major for 2 Trumpets and Strings, RV 537. Sure I chose this weekend’s concert because of the Mozart, but this was clearly my favorite piece of the whole day. Trumpet players Brian Roberts and Principal David Hobbs did a magnificent job with this piece. I just loved it – especially the third movement, the Allegro. Wow! I was taken aback at the clarity in their tone as it was so crisp and clear. I seriously could have listened to this about three more times as encores, it was so amazingly well-played. Well done!

Intermission was fun because I was introduced to a handful of musicians and donors. I was really given the star treatment while I was there!

The 2nd half of the program was dedicated to the Mozart piece: Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K 550. One of two minor symphonies that Mozart wrote, (the other’s being his Symphony No. 25 – listen to the opening of Amadeus – you’ll recognize it!) this is probably my favorite of the two, though they’re both terrific.

CSOTN program

Concert program – including my notes! While I had permission to take pictures of the performance, it would have distracted me from the music itself. That’s why we were all there, right? 🙂

It was for this piece that I really wish the concert set up were different. I was sitting off to the side of the orchestra and not in front of it, so the sound wasn’t as well-blended as I would have liked, but all things considered though, it sounded great and definitely made me happy! I probably had this goofy grin on my face the whole time, too. It was just so nice to get lost in the music – especially of my favorite composer! That’s why we go to concerts – to kick back, relax and enjoy fabulous music by wonderfully talented musicians.

Fortunately, there was no shortage of talent at this concert. The Mozart piece was just lovely. It started with all the intensity you’d expect from the Molto Allegro and then calmed down for the Andante. Things started ramping up for the Menuetto, but Maestro Dan saved the best part for last. The Allegro Assai was exciting! Remember the goofy grin I had? This movement is why I had it. What a great ending! Sure it’s the last movement – of course it’s the end – but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ok – along with the three additional playings of the Vivaldi Trumpet concerto for my handpicked encore, perhaps they can add in the Allegro Assai movement of the Mozart? Symphonies take requests, right?

Well – whether or not they do, it was a wonderful concert. I’m so glad I chose this one. Hmm…so which concert should I choose for next year’s road trip to Chattanooga? Yo-Yo Ma? OK – that would be incredible. Tribute to Boston Pops? Pirates of Penzance in November? I missed it here in Columbus. Basically Baroque Chamber concert in January? Jennifer Higdon’s violin concerto in March?

So many concerts. So little time.

Post-concert Mexican food

During my trip to Tennessee, I somehow ended up eating at three different Mexican restaurants. I thought Tennessee was known for its barbecued ribs or something. Who knew it had so much delicious Mexican food? Mas Tacos Por favor in Nashville on my way down and Taqueria Jalisco (Great tacos!) with Kayoko on Friday before going to the Aquarium and now Poblanos with more fun musicians! Oh well – last time I went to Mexico, I had Chinese food at a place called Palacio Hunan. Go figure. (It was really good) Anyway, after the concert I hung out with some of the musicians for some relaxing down time. We talked about Josh’s PhD (My offer to proof your paper still stands, Josh! – signed the language/grammar geek from Ohio!), all sorts of music and fundraising.

CSO-TN Musicians

Concertmaster Holly Mulcahy, 1st Violin Josh Holritz, Principal Flute Kristen Holritz, Principal Double Bass Taylor Brown.

What fun people. I’m so glad I had a chance to meet them. It was interesting getting their take on the challenges of fundraising. I wish I could do more to help out (Why yes – I do love the thought of working in the non-profit world. Someday!!) though attending concerts is important – and obviously my favorite part. That said, as I know from reading annual reports here in Columbus, ticket sales account for about 30-40% (TOPS!) of an orchestra’s annual budget. There’s a lot of talent in our cities which is why it’s so important that we support them to ensure their continued existence. The arts, good music, professional orchestras are an integral part of our culture and helping out a great organization like the Chattanooga Symphony takes about 2-3 minutes. Seriously – click here and see for yourself how insanely easy it is.

Anyway, I couldn’t have had a nicer day! I had a wonderful day full of great music and great company. Thank you for your hospitality, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra! I look forward to seeing and hearing you again!

It’s Holly Mulcahy’s fault, I mean, * thanks to * Holly Mulcahy that I went to the Rite of Spring concert here in Columbus because she was the guest concertmaster for that performance. Yes – because of her, Stravinsky is growing on me. But – in case you missed it here in Columbus – which was really cool because the dancers of Ballet Met Columbus performed to it as well – you should plan a trip to Chattanooga next month. On April 24, the CSO-TN will be performing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Check it out!

3 thoughts on “Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra

  1. Hi!

    This is David Hobbs, principal trumpet of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra. I was very pleased and honored to read your review of our chamber concert. I am very glad you enjoyed it! Brian Roberts and I had lots of fun performing the Vivaldi and we are glad that we made such an impression!
    In addition, Holly has become a great ambassador for us and having people such as yourself attend and write such glowing reviews will help our orchestra immensely! Maybe we can perform the Vivaldi again sometime!

    Thank you!

    David Hobbs
    Principal Trumpet
    Chattanooga Symphony

    • HI David – I’m so glad you enjoyed what I wrote. It’s the least I could do in exchange for the great music all of you provided. I seriously loved the Vivaldi though – LOVED IT! Even if I end up being limited to one concert a year, I hope you play more music like that – only next time maybe some Telemann or Hummel or who knows what else. (I’m picturing my Wynton Marsalis CD!)

      The music was truly fantastic – I’m so glad I got to hear you play and I’m definitely looking forward to next time. You have a baroque concert in January – it’s on a weekend, so I can add a Friday and Monday and make another trip down.

      – – off to plan my next Chattanooga road trip – –

      • I believe I heard we are doing the Stravinsky Octet on a chamber next year. I haven’t heard about Hummel, etc. It would be nice but I don’t think that is on the table for next season:( I am hoping for Quiet City sometime though!

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