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Schermerhorn Symphony Center announces contest winner and free summer concerts

You all know that I write often about the concerts and other fantastic events that are always happening at Schermerhorn Symphony Center here in downtown Nashville. And I'm always saying that there is so much more than classical music at the Center, with concerts including jazz, blues, rock, soul, country, comedy and so much more being presented there consistently. And there is. But at the core of that great symphony hall is still the very foundation which makes it the concert venue it is, and that is indeed, Classical Music.

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Nashville Symphony

What I'd like to share with you today is an example of what goes even deeper into the heart of that Classical Music foundation and that is what our great symphony hall gives back to our musical community here in Nashville, the home of Music City.

The Center and Nashville Symphony host many programs that teach and expose our children to the unbelievable history, culture and class of Classical Music. For instance, offering two competitive annual award programs showcasing aspiring and unbelievably gifted young musicians. This year, Viola player Olivia Palazzolo took away a $3000 scholarship and an Aegis Sciences Classical Series ticket package for four in the 2014 Curb Competition. The lucky young lady will also have the honor of performing at the Nashville Symphony's Side-by-Side Concert on May 22 at the center, as the featured soloist in Bartok's Viola Concerto. That's a big deal for a young lady. Or an old lady, for that matter.

The Nashville Symphony is excited to announce that the 2015 Curb Young Artists Concerto Competition Final Round will be open to the public for the very first time next year. Registration for the 2015 competition will begin September 1, 2014.

Thor Johnson Scholarship Awarded

Serious music students grades 5 through 12 living in Middle Tennessee are eligible to apply for the Thor Johnson Scholarship each year. This award covers all genres of music and is open to a wide range of students. Musicians on all instruments, as well as vocalists are invited to apply.

The award is named for Thor Johnson, who held the Nashville Symphony’s director of music position from 1967-1975 and is presented by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra League, developed to support and motivate young musicians through cash awards that can be used to further their music education. Awards are presented in two divisions: pre-college (for high school seniors) and grades 5-11. All submissions and auditions were judged by a host of Nashville Symphony musicians.

Let's give a huge round of applause to the 2014 Thor Johnson Scholarship winners:


First Place – Mary Grace Bender, Cello ($1,500 Scholarship)

First Runner-Up – Emily Stewart, Harp ($1,000 Scholarship)

Second Runner-Up – Kayla Thiemann, Violin ($500 Scholarship)

Grades 9-11

Winds/Brass First Place – Sarah Besand ($600 Scholarship)

Winds/Brass Second Place – Marilin Kelley ($400 Scholarship)

Strings First Place – Chloe Harvel ($600 Scholarship)

Strings Second Place – Kristina Jolly ($400 Scholarship)

Percussion/Piano/Harp First Place – Dennis Poythress and Jonathan Tyree ($600 Scholarship)

Percussion/Piano/Harp Second Place – Emily Stone ($400 Scholarship)

Wild Card First Place – Marcus Wanner ($600 Scholarship)

Wild Card Second Place – Farzin Manshadi ($400 Scholarship)

Grades 5-8

Winds/Brass First Place – Daniel Leighton ($300 Scholarship)

Winds/Brass Second Place – Elisabeth Jackson ($200 Scholarship)

Strings First Place – Sarah Rogers ($300 Scholarship)

Strings Second Place – Noah Rogers ($200 Scholarship)

Percussion/Piano/Harp First Place – Noah Rogers and Nathan Springman ($300 Scholarship)

Percussion/Piano/Harp Second Place – Samantha Jo Schrecker ($200 Scholarship)

Wild Card First Place – Nolan Harvel ($300 Scholarship)

Wild Card Second Place – Tate Welch ($200 Scholarship)

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center also makes sure everyone can enjoy symphony music, free of charge all summer during the Summer 2014 Community Concerts series. The series, an annual tradition, is all about the Center's mission to bring outstanding music and culture to audiences all throughout Middle Tennessee, regardless of age or background – or income level.

It's an incredible opportunity for all of us to learn, listen and love the Nashville Symphony. Here is the calendar list for the upcoming season of free (all but one and only $5 for adults) concerts.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 4 – Centennial Park

8 p.m. Thursday, June 5 – East Park

8 p.m. Friday, June 6 – Bicentennial Mall State Park

7 p.m. Sunday, June 8 – Crockett Park

7 p.m. Tuesday, June 10 – Cumberland University, Lebanon*

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 11 – Key Park, Lafayette

7 p.m. Thursday, June 12 – Two Rivers Mansion

*Admission for this concert is $5 for adults, free for students and children

The last free outdoor concert will be on July 4 in Riverfront Park, when our own orchestra takes part in Music City's Independence Day celebration. This event will also include performances by Billy Currington, Ashley Monroe and Striking Matches before the South’s largest fireworks show.

Learn more about the 2014 community concerts here. For more information about the 4th of July celebration, visit

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