Summer is finally here, and for the Nashville Symphony, that means it’s time to head outdoors for its free CommunityConcerts series at parks and public spaces throughout the area.
A central component of the Symphony’s community engagement programming since the 1950s, the series has become a local tradition. The concerts draw thousands of Middle Tennesseans every year to hear the orchestra free of charge and play a key role in fulfilling the Symphony’s mission to deliver great music to people of all ages and backgrounds.
With the full 80-member orchestra performing works by Bernstein, Rossini, Bizet, Dvorˇák, and more, the concerts bring the great classical repertoire to locations ranging from Centennial Park to the neighboring communities of Lebanon and Lafayette, where concertgoers sit on blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy picnic dinners in a relaxed environment.
For Nashville Symphony associate conductor Vinay Parameswaran, who will lead the orchestra on all seven Community Concerts this year, these evenings are one of the highlights of his year.
“Nashville has some truly beautiful outdoor spaces, and it’s such a treat to be able to perform in them,” he says. “The casual settings often allow all of us to interact with attendees, and it’s incredible to hear from so many people about how much they love and look forward to these concerts each summer.”
Though a longstanding tradition, this year’s Community Concerts are notable for a couple of new features this year. One is the addition of a new location: Southeast Park Greenspace, located next to Ford Ice Center in Antioch. Finding new venues for these concerts is another way that the orchestra is able to reach new audiences, giving them access to ive orchestral music in their own neighborhoods.
This year’s Community Concerts series also features another special twist: a popularly selected encore. Members of the public were invited to vote for this year’s encore on the Nashville Symphony website in March, with eight initial selections. After a strong response and three rounds of voting, Bernstein’s “Mambo” from West Side Story won the encore slot by a mere four votes.
These aren’t the only things that will make this year’s concerts new and different for loyal audiences. As Parameswaran found out during last year’s concert at Bicentennial Mall, you never know when a surprise will come along that enhances the experience even more.
“We were playing Copland’s John Henry, which has the subtitle A Railroad Ballad for Orchestra,” he recalls. “And just as we started, a train came right through on the tracks behind the amphitheater. It was perfect timing!”
For more information, please visit www.NashvilleSymphony.org/tickets/calendar/CommunityConcerts
Full 2016 Nashville Symphony Community Concert Lineup:
Thursday, June 2, Centennial Park at 8 p.m.
Friday, June 3, Bicentennial Mall State Park at 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 5, Crockett Park, Brentwood at 7 p.m.
Tuesday, June 7, Two Rivers Mansion at 7 p.m.
Thursday, June 9, Cumberland University in Lebanon at 7 p.m.
*$5 admission for adults, free for students and children
Wednesday, June 15, Key Park in Lafayette at 7:30 p.m.