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Mission

The mission of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is to inspire, engage, and enrich the greater Chattanooga community through music and music education.

History

1930's, First picture of the CSO

1930’s, Melvin Margolin and the newly formed Chattanooga Symphony

The Chattanooga Symphony traces its roots to an enterprising group of young people looking for an opportunity to play classical music together. Led by Melvin Margolin, several recent graduates and students from Chattanooga High School, joined by a few adult musicians in town, gave the first concert of the Chattanooga Symphony on November 5, 1933.

Earlier efforts to launch an orchestra at the turn of the century had never taken root, but the young players won the hearts of community leaders and music lovers with their tenacity and talent. Melvin Margolin and his friend Borden Jones led the group in its first four years. By 1938, the group had progressed enough to warrant professional leadership and Dr. Arthur Plettner from Juilliard was engaged to become the conductor for the next 11 years.

At the same time, a remarkable pair of musicians was escaping from Nazi Germany and bringing their expertise with them to Tennessee. Dr. Werner Wolff and his wife Emmy Land Wolff had been fixtures in German opera houses. They founded the Chattanooga Opera Company along with Dorothy Hackett Ward from the University of Chattanooga, mounting a production of Il Trovatore with local singers in February, 1943.

Because of their connections in the opera world, the Wolffs were able to draw internationally known stars to Chattanooga to join with local singers. These stars included Beverly Sills, John Vickers, Norman Triegle and Phyllis Curtin. Guest artists with the Chattanooga Symphony over the years include Isaac Stern, Artur Rubenstein, Oscar Levant and Robert Merrill.

In 1985, the Chattanooga Symphony and the Chattanooga Opera merged, becoming the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Association (CSOA), the first and only symphonic and opera organization of its kind in the United States. Vakhtang Jordania served as the Conductor and Artistic Director from 1985 to 1991. A native of the former Soviet Union, Jordania escaped to the West in the 1980’s through conducting.

Maestro Jordania guided the CSOA through a period of growth and transition; the establishment of a core orchestra and the comprehensive blending of classic, romantic and contemporary works. Over the years, the CSOA featured famous guest artists including Itzhak Perlman, Gidon Kremer, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Gary Karr.

In 1992, the CSOA and Chattanooga residents welcomed Maestro Robert Bernhardt as Music Director and Conductor. Under his leadership, the CSOA experienced significant increases in concert attendance, community involvement and musical quality and has emerged as a leading regional orchestra. Under his baton, the CSO hosted famous guest artists such as Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Stella Zambalis and Edgar Meyer.

The CSO celebrated its 75th Anniversary in the 2008-2009 season with a Gala celebration attended by current and former orchestra members, city and state officials, and of course, the many Friends of the CSO.

In 2009, Maestro Bernhardt announced his decision to take on a different role at the CSO, the organization’s first Music Director Emeritus, thus beginning a two year search for the CSO’s next Music Director and Conductor. Nine candidates from across the globe conducted the CSO from 2009-2011, allowing the CSO to display its extraordinary musicianship under each new baton.

Maestro Bernhardt’s final season with the CSO included the release of Black Tie and Bluegrass, a CD featuring Fletcher Bright and the Dismembered Tennesseans and the CSO’s String section.

The 2011-2012 season marked the first for CSO’s new Music Director & Conductor, Kayoko Dan. Music Director Kayoko Dan is the youngest conductor in the CSO’s history, as well as the first female to serve in this role. The 2014-15 Season celebrates 82 years of bringing classical and orchestral music to the greater Chattanooga community.

1930's, CSO musicians

1950’s, CSO musicians

Early Musician Photo

Early Musician Photo

1950's, first Tivoli Theatre performance

March 1963, first performance in the Tivoli after the City of Chattanooga acquired it

CSO Brass players on the Chattanooga Choo-Choo

1980s, CSO Brass players on the Chattanooga Choo-Choo

Early image of CSO

1950s, Julius Hegyi and the CSO

2008, CSO's 75th anniversary

2008, CSO’s 75th anniversary

 

CSO Facts

The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera was the first combined professional resident symphony and opera company in the nation, merging in 1985.  Kayoko Dan, Music Director and Conductor, leads the company’s artistic vision and is in her third season with the CSO. Principal Pops Conductor and former Music Director, Bob Bernhardt, is beginning a new role after serving as the CSO’s Music Director and Conductor for 19 seasons.

The CSO has an annual budget of about $2.2 million, managed by a full time administrative staff of seven with part-time staff and volunteer assistance. Our season begins in September and ends in May, and we perform often at the Tivoli Theatre, better known as “The Jewel of the South.”  In addition, we perform at the Sheraton Read House, Volkswagen Conference Center, Memorial Auditorium, Coolidge Park, and other area venues.  The CSO performs for and collaborates with over 200 community partners each season, including schools, hospitals, libraries, and at local celebrations.  To see a map and listing of these partners, download the PDF below.

CSO Community Partners
Spring 2

 

 

Executive Committee

Spencer McCallie; President
Mark A. Smith; Treasurer
Kim Gavin; Secretary

Directors

Jeanine Alday
Warren Barnett
Dr. Gordon Bietz
Gail Chapman
Michelle Chastain
George S. Clinton
Jo Coke
Mike Cooper
Nick Coussoule
Linda Friberg
Bill Green
Mai Bell Hurley
Gordon James
Eva J. Johnson
Ian Leavy
Pat Ledford
Eddie McCrary
Don McDowell
Claudia Moore
Jean Rader
Colleen Russell
W. Keith Sanford
Tyler Siira
Teresa Spilko
Pat Starke
Linda Thompson
Lindsey Ann Waldrep
Jeffrey Wilson
Katie S. Wilson

Honorary Directors

Ruth S. Holmberg
William L. Montague, Jr. (deceased)

Contact the CSO Board

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CSO Administration

Molly Sasse, Executive Director
Molly Sasse; Executive Director
423.267.8583 Extension 2103
msasse@chattanoogasymphony.org

Bio

MOLLY K. SASSE is the Executive Director of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. She oversees the production of as many as 15 concerts and opera productions every year. Active in the arts in Chattanooga for over 22 years, she served as executive director of Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga from 1987 to 2002. Allied Arts raised over $20 million for the arts in Chattanooga during her tenure.

Molly’s work in the united arts fund movement led to two national awards. She received the Michael Newton Award from Americans for the Arts in 1998, as well as the Arts Administrator of the Year Award, presented by Arts Management News Service and the Kennedy Center in 2000. She was a founding board member of Americans for the Arts, after serving on the steering committee to merge the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies and the American Council for the Arts.

Molly took a five-year break from the arts to serve as Vice President for Development at Siskin Hospital, Tennessee’s only not-for-profit rehabilitation hospital, where she was responsible for all phases of a comprehensive development program.

In October, 2007, Molly became the Acting Executive Director of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, after serving on its board of directors for 2 years. Following a national search, she was named Executive Director in April, 2008.

Molly holds a degree in music from Centre College and a Master’s degree in Arts Administration from Indiana University. In her spare time she sings with Choral Arts of Chattanooga, an auditioned group of 32 singers. She has two children.

Samantha Teter; Director of Marketing
Samantha Teter; Director of Marketing and Corporate Partnerships
423.267.8583 Extension 2104
steter@chattanoogasymphony.org

Bio

Samantha Teter has over 14 years of experience in arts and non-profit marketing, public relations, and sales. She moved to the Chattanooga area in 2012 from Denver, where she was Director of Marketing and Sales for the Colorado Symphony. Prior to that, she was Director of Marketing and PR for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic in Indiana.

Other arts and non-profit experience includes Director of Marketing and Auditorium Events for the Scottish Rite Center in Fort Wayne and Marketing Specialist for Indiana Tech. She is currently a contributing writer on ArtsHacker.com and serves on the programming committee for SoundCorps. Samantha enjoys performing in community theatre as a singer/actor. She is married and has an 11-year old daughter and two adult stepchildren. 

Kathy Allison; Operations Manager
Kathy Allison; Operations Manager
423.267.8583 Extension 2113
kallison@chattanoogasymphony.org

Bio

Kathy joined the CSO in January 2009 as production coordinator. Kathy has over 30 years of experience in the Hamilton County School system serving as the Dean of Fine Arts at Chattanooga Center for Creative Arts, Coordinator, and Music Teacher. Ms. Allison has also worked as Wardrobe Mistress/Costume Coordinator for the CSO since 1977.

She holds a Master of Music in Music Education, as well as the Administration and Supervision Endorsement, from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Ms. Allison is a current or former member of International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees-Local#140, Chattanooga Music Teachers Association, Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church Handbell Choir, City of Chattanooga Public Arts Committee, and Delta Omicron Music Sorority.

Eric Anderson; Photograph by Brad Cansler
Eric Anderson; Personnel Manager
423.267.8583 Extension 2105
CSOActingPM@aol.com

Bio

In addition to playing the Principal Bassoon, Eric Anderson also serves as the CSO’s Orchestra Personnel Manager.

Eric has been Principal Bassoonist of the CSO Orchestra and Bassoonist of the CSO Wind Quintet since 1996. He attended the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he received a Bachelor of Music degree and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University for Post Graduate work where he studied with Benjamin Kamins. He has performed with the Florida Orchestra, the Virginia Symphony, the Bergen (Norway) Philharmonic Orchestra and the New Hampshire Music Festival. In addition to playing Principal Bassoon with the CSO, he currently plays Third/Contrabassoon with the Alabama Symphony.

MCP Headshot
Megan Chisom Peyton; Orchestra Librarian
423.267.8583 Extension 2108
library@chattanoogasymphony.org

Bio

In addition to performing as a member of the viola section, Megan Chisom Peyton also serves as the CSO’s music librarian.

A native of Dallas, Texas, Megan began studying the violin at the age of six in a public school Suzuki strings program. Since agreeing to “try on” the viola at the age of twelve, she has performed across the United States as a chamber and orchestral musician. In recent years, she has performed as principal viola of the Spartanburg Philharmonic and as a member of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, and has served on the faculty of Erskine College as instructor of violin and viola. She is also a Suzuki-trained teacher, and maintains an active studio where enjoys working with private students and chamber music groups of all ages.

Megan is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance from the University of Texas at Austin, and Master’s and Doctoral degrees in viola performance from the University of Georgia, with a doctoral minor in music theory. Find out more about her at meganchisompeyton.com.

Tiffany Feltner; Patron Sales and Service Manager
Tiffany Feltner; Patron Services Manager
423.267.8583 Extension 2101
tfeltner@chattanoogasymphony.org

Bio

Tiffany joined the CSO as Patron Services Manager in 2013 after playing substitute French Horn with the orchestra for seven years. She brings more than 5 years of customer service, sales and concert hall staff experience to the CSO. Tiffany is a freelance musician in the Chattanooga area and maintains an active private studio. She also coaches the Chattanooga Youth Symphony Brass Ensemble. She holds a Master of Music Performance from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Lee University.

Tiffany lives in the Chattanooga area. She has three dogs – Tessa, Jessie and Rufus – and her hobbies include instrument repair, traveling and outdoor activities.

Sarah Marczynski; Community and Patron Engagement Manager
Sarah Marczynski;Community Engagement and Education Manager
423.267.8583 Extension 2100
smarczynski@chattanoogasymphony.org

Bio

Sarah joined the CSO in 2010 working with the Marketing and Development staffs and quickly became interested in community engagement and education. She holds a Master’s of Public Administration focusing in Nonprofit Arts Management from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where her capstone and other work under Dr. Christopher Horne examined attendance patterns in high-art cultural institutions and network relationships between local arts agencies and cultural partners. She also holds a Bachelor’s of Vocal Music Education from UTC, where she studied under Dr. Kevin Ford and Ron Ulen.

Sarah has been active in the Chattanooga arts community, serving as the founding chair of the Chattanooga Young Artistic Network (CYAN), graduating from the Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute, and working with the Chattanooga Boys Choir, the Choral Arts Society, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Chattanooga Bach Choir.

Steve Tonkinson; Education and Youth Orchestras Manager
Steve Tonkinson; Youth Orchestras Manager
423.267.8583 Extension 2112
stonkinson@chattanoogasymphony.org

Bio

Steve Tonkinson received his Bachelor of Music degree (clarinet) from Midwestern University (Wichita Falls, TX), Master of Music degree from the University of Oklahoma (clarinet), and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Missouri at Kansas City (conducting). He taught music in schools for more than 20 years in Texas, Missouri, and Tennessee. He has played clarinet with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra (1969-72; 1975-79), Springfield (Missouri) Symphony Orchestra (1987-1991), and the CSO Orchestra (since 1991). He has been Manager of the CSO Youth Orchestras since 2009.

A_95036 web
Kayoko Dan; Music Director & Conductor
kdan@chattanoogasymphony.org

Bio


CSOYO Thumb
Gary Wilkes; CSOYO Conductor

Bio

A native Chattanoogan, Gary Wilkes is an alumnus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. After graduation, he attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and was awarded a Master of Music Diploma in Bassoon Performance. It was at Southern Methodist University where he studied conducting with James Rives-Jones, associate conductor with the Dallas Symphony and the Colorado Symphony.

Over the past thirty-five years, he has taught both bands and orchestras in Texas and Tennessee. Currently, he is the orchestra teacher at the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences. Gary is proudly beginning his twenty-first year as the music director of the Chattanooga Symphony Youth Orchestras and the conductor of the Chattanooga Youth Symphony.

Gary has professional affiliations with the National Association for Music Education, Tennessee Music Education Association, East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, American String Teacher’s Association, National School Orchestra Association, International Double Reed Society, Tennessee Education Association, Hamilton County Education Association, and the American Federation of Musicians – Local 80. He recently completed a six-year tenure on the Executive Board of Directors with the Tennessee Music Education Association and is also past President of the Tennessee chapter of the American String Teacher’s Association. He also holds membership in the Phi Beta Mu Honorary Band Director’s Fraternity, and was recently honored as one of Tennessee’s outstanding teachers by the Board of the Tennessee Governor’s School of the Arts.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he is Director of Music at First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. He is proud to be a husband to Lisa and Dad to Richard, Michael, Kathryn, Karen and Olivia.

CSO-Icon-Briefcase

The CSO is currently seeking candidates for Fall 2015 Internships.

Community Engagement & Education Intern

Community Engagement & Education Intern Description (PDF)

Position Description

Summary

Title:                Community Engagement & Education Intern
Reports To:    Community Engagement & Education Manager
Salary:            $8.00 per hour

Position summary: The Community Engagement & Education Intern will assist the Community Engagement & Education Manager with a variety of CSO activities and programs, developing materials, researching trends and best practice, and other duties as assigned.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

  • Under supervision of Community Engagement & Education Manager, develop educational materials for upcoming concerts and events
  • Assist in preparing musician, educator, and community mailings
  • Under supervision of Community Engagement & Education Manager, develop and implement project of intern’s choosing
  • Assist with research of best practices
  • Assist in coordinating guest artist itineraries
  • Assist with volunteer coordination and communication
  • Work with staff on developing content, posting, and maintaining social media sites and blogs
  • Work with staff members to coordinate attendance at several CSO concerts and events (Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the semester)

The duties listed above are not all inclusive.  The person in this position is expected to perform other work-related duties as assigned even though they may not be considered primary duties.

Work Requirements and Qualifications

  • College sophomore, junior, or senior and/or graduate student pursuing degrees in Education, particularly Music Education, Arts Management, or Public Administration preferred.
  • An ability to problem-solve and think quickly on one’s feet and deal with a variety of different personalities and situations while conducting duties in a positive, professional manner in the best interest of the CSO.
  • Basic computer skills.
  • Knowledge of classical music and educational standards is helpful, but not required.
  • Approximately 10-15 hours a week, flexible schedule, but some weekends and nights
  • Fall term: August 31 to December 21; Spring term: January 4 to April 29

To apply:
Submit a letter and resume by August 21 to smarczynski@chattanoogasymphony.org or mail to:
Chattanooga Symphony & Opera
ATTN: Internships                                  *Please include the title of internship that you are interested in.
701 Broad Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402



Graphic Design & Web Intern

Graphic Design & Web Intern Description (PDF)

Position Description

Summary

Title:                Graphic Design and Web Intern
Reports To:    Director of Marketing and Corporate Partnerships
Salary:            $8.00 per hour

Position summary: The Graphic Design and Web Intern will assist the Marketing Director with day to day design and marketing needs, email campaigns, and website updates for the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera.  This internship is paid and the CSO will work with universities for course credit.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

  • Using standard CSO templates, design promotional materials such as posters, postcards, invitations, web graphics, print ads, etc., using Adobe InDesign.
  • Under supervision of Marketing Director, write, create, and send eblasts.
  • Website management including posting press releases and other news online, creating events, creating graphics, and general maintenance.
  • Work with staff on developing content and graphics, posting, and maintaining social media sites.
  • Attend any additionally scheduled meetings with supervisor

The duties listed above are not all inclusive.  The person in this position is expected to perform other work-related duties as assigned even though they may not be considered primary duties.

Work Requirements and Qualifications

  • College sophomore, junior, or senior and/or graduate student pursuing degrees in Marketing/Communications, Business, Graphic Design preferred.
  • An ability to problem-solve and think quickly on one’s feet and deal with a variety of different personalities and situations while conducting duties in a positive, professional manner in the best interest of the CSO.
  • Ability to use a standard office phone.
  • Working knowledge of Adobe InDesign on Windows (CS6).
  • Approximately 10-15 hours a week, flexible schedule
  • Fall term: August 31 to December 18; Spring term: January 4 to April 29

To apply:
Submit a letter and resume by August 21 to steter@chattanoogasymphony.org or mail to:
Chattanooga Symphony & Opera
ATTN: Internships                                  *Please include the title of internship that you are interested in.
701 Broad Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402

Volunteering with the CSO

There are a variety of ways to volunteer at the CSO, not just on concert nights. Volunteers are found in our box office every day, at the front door of the Tivoli, working a registration table at UnCorked!, or preparing mailings in our conference room. We are constantly looking for ways to include volunteers in our day-to-day operations, our concerts, and other special and community events. Listed below are regular opportunities to volunteer with the CSO this season.

Box Office

Box Office
Volunteers in the box office provide customer service assistance to the Ticket Sales and Services Manager, including greeting patrons, selling tickets over the phone and in person, and answering phone calls. Good computer and customer service skills are needed and training on our ticketing software will be provided.

Concert Box Office

Concert Box Office
Volunteers working with the concert box office will assist the Ticket Sales and Services Manager in selling tickets using our ticketing software, passing out will call tickets, and answering patron questions. The ability to handle money and ability to stand for up to 2 hours are needed. Training on our ticketing software and frequently asked patron questions will be provided.

Concert Greeter

Concert Greeter
Concert greeters provide a first face on concert nights. They are responsible for greeting and welcoming patrons, checking tickets, setting up program tables, and handing out programs. In addition, concert greeters answer basic questions about seating and accessibility. The ability to stand for approximately an hour is needed as is a personable demeanor.

Education & Engagement

Education and Engagement
The CSO has exciting education and community engagement plans for the coming season. Opportunities to volunteer here include serving as an usher for our Young People’s Concerts or open rehearsals, setting up and greeting for Spotlight Talks, and other special events. The ability to stand and the ability to greet and answer questions are needed.

Marketing & Development

Marketing and Development
Volunteers with marketing and development activities will generally assist the staff in preparing mailers. Typically, this happens in August, November, and February. Marketing and development staff may also ask volunteers to assist in calling subscribers and donors and thanking them for their support.

Merchandise

Merchandise
Volunteers working with merchandise will staff and sell guest artist CDs and other merchandise at Masterworks and Pops concerts when there is a need. In addition and when necessary, they will assist with guest artist autographs after the performance. The ability to stand for long periods of time and the ability to handle money are needed.

Archives

Archives
The CSO celebrates its 82nd season this year and has accumulated a variety of concert materials, articles, and other items over its history. Volunteers are needed to assist in scanning, recording, and entering notes about various objects.  Time commitment varies. This could be done around your schedule but should be done in the CSO office.

Other opportunities to volunteer may arise during the season. Volunteers will be notified of these through email or phone calls.

To learn more about Volunteering with the CSO, including volunteer policies and procedures, download the CSO Volunteer Manual.
Volunteer Manual

To volunteer with the CSO:

  • Download the Volunteer application below and return to Sarah Marczynski by email, by fax at 423.265.6520, or by mail at 701 Broad Street; Chattanooga, TN 37402
  • Complete the online form below.

Volunteer Application

Volunteer Application

Volunteer Application
  • Emergency Contact

  • CSO Volunteer opportunities

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Download IRS Form 990s

As part of the CSO’s commitment to organizational transparency and effectiveness, we are pleased to make available the following financial disclosure documents and link to our organizational page at GuideStar.org.

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