What: Chattanooga Symphony and Opera performs "Pops in the rec" concert
Where: Eastdale Recreation Center, 1314 Moss St., off Wilcox Boulevard
When: 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. today
Lots of different sounds can be heard on any given day at the inner-city Eastdale Recreation Center.
Classical music isn't one of them.
That will change today with a concert by the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera's wind quintet.
"We've never had a [CSO] outdoor concert at any rec center, ever," said Greg Walton, president of Foxwood Heights Neighborhood Association. Walton invited the CSO to the Eastdale Recreation Center, where Foxwood Heights and the Eastdale Neighborhood Association meet.
The quintet will perform a variety of selections that may include anything from Bach to the Pink Panther, with Disney songs and jive standards in between, said Sarah Marczynski, CSO's patron and community engagement manager.
If all goes as planned, the Eastdale rec center concert will spark a "Pops in the Rec" series and the CSO will play at every recreation center in the city, said Marczynski.
The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera plays most of its concerts at the Tivoli Theatre, but the CSO realizes it needs to meet the community where it is, she said.
So the CSO is playing at schools, in libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, parks and now at recreation centers.
"This is important for us to break down the [symphony's] stiff image," said Marczynski.
The CSO concert also will improve Eastdale Recreation Center's image, said Dank Hawkins, the center's facilities manager.
Most of the sounds heard at the center are good ones. Basketballs hitting hardwood. Bass thumping from the music studio. Young people laughing.
But some are sounds no one wants to hear.
Two years ago Elijah Flemming was standing outside after playing basketball. The center had just closed.
Gunfire cracked and a bullet struck Flemming in the shoulder.
Even so, Flemming said he feels safe at the center and will be there tonight to hear the orchestra.
Today, Hawkins calls the Eastdale rec center a safe haven staffed with workers who provide a safe youth environment along with programming like the Lexia reading program and a music studio for youth to produce their own songs.
"Now we've got something other neighborhoods don't have," said Walton. "We have Pops coming."
This performance will be fun, held outside on the recreation center's lawn, said Walton. Hot dogs and Cokes will be served. Bring lawn chairs, he said.
Marczynski promised no stiff, starchy settings, just musicians connecting with listeners in the open air.
Instead of the black tuxedos and dresses worn for a Tivoli performance, Marczynski has asked musicians to wear T-shirts and khakis.
Listeners can enjoy the concert any way they want. Some people close their eyes and pick out flutes blending with bassoons. Others watch musicians move their bows as they play the violin. Some folks clap in the middle of the song or move with the music, Marczynski said.
"If you never heard it before, come ready to experiment," she said.
The concert will expose the neighborhood to a different genre of music, said 16-year-old Nesha Coonrod. She likes country songs like Conway Titty's "I See the Want to in Your Eyes" and rhythm and blues classics like Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love for You," but says she can't say for sure whether she's heard the symphony.
Darrell Burgess, 13, walked in the center with an iPod playing rock band Three Days Grace. He also listens to rap, country, R&B, but has never heard the CSO.
Renee Jeffries parked her black Kia across from the center and played her car radio so loud that rhythm and blues filled the street, but on Thursday she will turn her radio off and listen to the symphony.
"It's kind of different," she said. "It might make kids start learning how to play."
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at email@example.com or 423-757-6431.