Jun 6, 2022 - News

Nashville Symphony plots comeback after COVID setbacks

Exterior of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Photo: John Greim/LightRocket/Getty Images

Three-plus decades into a career that's brought worldwide acclaim and six Grammy awards, maestro Giancarlo Guerrero is facing perhaps his most daunting challenge to date: rebuilding a Nashville Symphony orchestra that was knocked off course by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Driving the news: As a result of social distancing restrictions, the Nashville Symphony was forced to cancel shows and put orchestra members on furlough. Guerrero tells Axios several of them have since accepted other jobs or moved.

  • That's left Guerrero with the difficult task of permanently replacing about 10 musicians — a challenge he says will take a "couple of seasons" to solve.

Why it matters: Between replacing musicians and winning back fans, the Symphony is entering a vital stage in its history.

  • Guerrero, who serves as conductor and music director, has led the charge in turning the Nashville Symphony into one of the best in the nation.

What he's saying: Guerrero says other orchestras have been faced with the same challenge of replacing musicians.

  • "After 14 years with the orchestra, of building and getting the band breathing together, and thinking together, and making music together — that took a process. And then all of a sudden, to be taken apart, it's almost like putting the band back together again."

State of play: On the programming side, Guerrero and the Symphony are deploying a familiar strategy to win back the Nashville crowds. The Symphony returned to full crowds earlier this season.

  • There will be an array of free community concerts across the region. The next free performance is at the Antioch southeast greenspace tomorrow evening.
  • And the Symphony schedule will be programmed with a mix of concerts ranging from intricate classical compositions to unique collaborations with pop artists like the alt-rock band Guster and Broadway legend Bernadette Peters.
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