One of Tennessee’s largest and longest-running nonprofit performing arts organizations, the Nashville Symphony has been an integral part of the Music City sound since 1946. Led by music director Giancarlo Guerrero, the 83-member ensemble performs 170 concerts annually, with a focus on contemporary American orchestral music through collaborations with composers including Jennifer Higdon, Aaron Jay Kernis and John Harbison. The orchestra is equally renowned for its unique commissioning and recording projects with Nashville-based artists including bassist Edgar Meyer, banjoist Béla Fleck, singer-songwriter Ben Folds and electric bassist Victor Wooten.
The Nashville Symphony is one of the most active recording orchestras in the U.S., with more than 25 releases on Naxos, the world’s largest independent classical label. Encompassing a wide range of repertoire, from Beethoven to Bernstein to Joan Tower, these recordings have earned a total of 11 GRAMMY® Awards and 20 nominations. Award-winning recordings include Tower’s Made in America, Stephen Paulus’ Three Places of Enlightenment and Michael Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony and Tales of Hemingway. Released in 2015, the orchestra’s recording of Ben Folds’ Piano Concerto debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Classical and Classical Crossover charts, and stayed in the Classical Crossover Top 20 in the first year of its release.
Education and community engagement have been at the core of the Nashville Symphony’s mission since its founding. Each year the organization reaches 80,000 children and adults with more than 20 free or low-cost programs, including Young People’s Concerts for K-12 students; sectional lessons with band and orchestra students; and free Community Concerts. In 2016, the Nashville Symphony launched Accelerando, a forward-thinking initiative designed to prepare young musicians from underrepresented ethnic communities for collegiate study and professional orchestra careers. Participating students receive individual instrument instruction, performance opportunities, and guidance on applying to colleges and conservatories.
Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the orchestra’s home since 2006, is widely considered one of the world’s finest acoustical venues. Named in honor of former music director Kenneth Schermerhorn and located in the heart of Nashville’s booming downtown, the building boasts distinctive neo-Classical architecture incorporating motifs and design elements that pay homage to the history, culture and people of Middle Tennessee. Within its intimate “shoebox” design, the 1,800-seat Laura Turner Concert Hall contains several unique features, including soundproof windows, the 3,500-pipe Martin Foundation Concert Organ, and an innovative mechanical system that converts the hall from theater-style seating to ballroom configuration in less than two hours.
In addition to its classical and education programming, the Nashville Symphony offers a wide variety of performances, including pop, rock, jazz, country and family concerts. Schermerhorn Symphony Center has become an in-demand venue for artists including Sheryl Crow, Tony Bennett, Diana Ross, Willie Nelson, Alabama, and Boyz II Men, all of whom have performed with the Nashville Symphony. The orchestra also performs regularly at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater.