While the Schermerhorn Symphony Center remains dark, the Nashville Symphony was at the center of a citywide celebration on the second Saturday in December, thanks to the televised Symphony Ball event. In a year when “pivot” has become a four-letter word, Symphony Ball co-chairs Melinda Balser and Susan Holmes expertly transitioned the white-tie gala into a successful TV fundraiser that brought the beauty and magic of the Nashville Symphony into homes across the city.
An Evening in Harmony, the hour-long special that aired on Channel 4, recognized the Nashville Symphony’s long history and its crucial role as a cultural institution in the city. It also included the presentation of the Harmony Award — an annual honor “established to celebrate the connections between Music Row and the Nashville Symphony” — to country star Maren Morris and blues musician Keb’ Mo’. Both artists performed throughout the television special, in between remarks from Nashville Symphony CEO and President Alan Valentine, Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero and Board Chair Pamela Carter, among others.
On the stage of an empty Laura Turner Concert Hall, Alan presented the Harmony Award first to Maren, who he celebrated for “breaking boundaries since she burst on the scene,” and, later, to Keb’ Mo’, who he called “a force in contemporary music.” Both musicians seemed truly touched by the distinction and expressed their gratitude for the honor, along with their support to the musicians of the orchestra currently furloughed due to the pandemic.
And while the hour-long special honored these remarkable performers, it also served as a reminder of the Nashville Symphony’s role in investing in the next generation of musicians. Two students of Accelerando, an intensive music education program for gifted students of diverse backgrounds, performed and shared what the program has meant to them. With the orchestra and much of the staff furloughed, all programming canceled through at least the summer of 2021 and other programs currently paused, funds raised through the event are more important than ever. Fortunately, the city showed their love and support for the Nashville Symphony, and the event exceeded the organization’s goal of $800,000. Now that’s certainly something worth celebrating.