Chattanooga Symphony & Opera announces season, guest conductors

Chattanooga Symphony & Opera announces season, guest conductors

September 6th, 2009 by Barry Courter in Life Entertainment

The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will open its 2009-10 season Sept. 12 with "Stay Tuned," a Pops Series performance that pays tribute to early television melodies, according to executive director Molly Sasse.

The season will feature two extra Masterworks shows, one extra Pops concert, a new Chamber Series and a family concert. The extra concerts replace the Opera Series, which had to be suspended due to lack of funding, according to Music Director and Conductor Robert Bernhardt.

"When we looked at the idea of taking away something so important and essential as opera, it seemed to me that if we could afford to, and we had a reasoned belief that we could, offer more, then we should," Mr. Bernhardt said.

"The good news is we've added concerts featuring wonderful music, including four concerts with four of the most talked about young conductors in the world."

The four guest conductors -- Thomas Wilkins, Tobias Foskett, Alondra de la Parra and Mei-Ann Chen -- will perform as part of an audition process designed to find the CSO's next music director.

Mr. Bernhardt, who enters his 16th year with the CSO, announced last year that he would like to step down in two years as conductor and music director, but wanted to stay on as music director emeritus for at least two years after that. He will conduct the Pops Series during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, as well as opera performances should funding become available.

A search committee has identified nine candidates, according to Sasse. Four will guest conduct this year and five next year. The committee and CSO musicians and patrons will be able to give feedback throughout the process, she said.

This year's season will include music from Beethoven and the rock band Queen, as well as Debussy and the Biscuit Brothers, who will headline an afternoon family concert.

"We will be doing Queen music with a full orchestra and our choir," Mr. Bernhardt said.

A Halloween performance, "Boo'tacular!," also is back on the schedule. In April, Chattanooga native George S. Clinton will return to conduct his "Austen Powers" suite and premiere a suite he has arranged from his "Bury Me at Wounded Knee" soundtrack.

The Chamber Series will be performed in the Silver Ballroom at the Sheraton Read House.

The schedule can be found at