Monthly Archives: September 2014

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Musician Profile: Susan K. Smith, Assistant Principal Trombone, joined in 1994, from Clearwater, Florida.

_DSC0004I was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, lived there two years, and then moved to Florida. I got my music education degree at the University of Kansas, and my masters degree at the University of North Texas. Before joining the NSO I freelanced in Chicago and New York. I also played in the Baltimore Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, the South Bend Symphony, and the Naples Philharmonic.

I am also the Instructor of Trombone at Austin Peay State University. I consider teaching my hobby because I enjoy helping young trombonist fulfill their dreams in music.

I like living in Nashville because of all the friendly people. We have a fantastic hall and an excellent orchestra. My hope is that new audience members will come and experience the sheer beauty of the music that a wonderful acoustical hall can provide. Just the orchestra in the hall and you, is as fine an aural art as can exist.

Nashville Symphony Musicians Accept Contract Proposal

NSO Ratification 1

Victor, Connie and our bass section!

Bass soloist Victor Wooten and composer Connie Ellisor met with the members of the bass section after our educational concert this morning. We are performing the premiere of Connie’s work “The Bass Whisperer” featuring Victor this weekend!


In Support of the Atlanta Symphony Musicians

The Musicians of the Nashville Symphony would like to offer their support and encouragement to the Atlanta Symphony Musicians as they have recently been locked out by management for the second time in two years. The behavior of the Woodruff Arts Center and ASO Managements is deplorable, and we call on these parties to return to the negotiating table in good faith. The musicians have offered to continue to play under their previous concessionary terms of employment while negotiations continue, as we were doing in Nashville prior to the ratification of our new contract. We encourage everyone to visit the musicians’ website,, and social media outlets to learn the facts and offer what support you can. This great symphony is once again under the threat of such cuts that would destroy the orchestra’s artistic integrity and deliver a severe blow to the rich cultural history that Atlanta has enjoyed for many years. We stand with our neighboring colleagues in their pursuit to uphold the highest artistic standards, serve the community, and protect their livelihood, so that the Atlanta Symphony can remain a musical beacon for generations to come.

The musicians of the Nashville Symphony have voted to send $5000 to our colleagues in the Atlanta Symphony, who have been locked out for nearly three weeks now. At a time when orchestras across the country are celebrating the opening concerts of their seasons, Symphony Hall in Atlanta is deafeningly silent. We are happy to provide what assistance we can to the musicians in Atlanta to help them through this difficult time, and we will continue to closely monitor the situation with the hope that our colleagues can get back to work in their home soon.

In Solidarity,

The Musicians of the Nashville Symphony”

We welcome our new members!

Kate and Paul at Robert's Western Wear

Kate and Paul at Robert’s Western Wear

The Musicians of the Nashville Symphony are thrilled to add two new musicians to our ranks. Bassist Kate Munagian and Principal Trombonist Paul Jenkins both won highly competitive auditions in May and began their new jobs with the symphony in September. The musicians who served on the audition committees were very impressed with their technical and musical abilities.

So we could get to know them better, a few of us invited them to Robert’s Western World on Lower Broad so they could experience a bit of Nashville. Needless to say, they were very impressed with the house band and are looking forward to many more great experiences in Music City.

Kate grew up in Central Wisconsin where, as the daughter of music educators, she began the violin at a young age. When she was 12, she saw Nashville bassist Edgar Meyer perform with the Central Wisconsin Symphony. She put down the violin, picked up the bass, and never looked back. (Thank you Edgar!) She attended the University of Minnesota where she became friends with our own Principal Clarinetist, James Zimmermann.

Kate went to Rice University for graduate studies and was in the same bass studio as NSO bassist Kevin Jablonsky. To further prove it is a small world when you are a classical musician, she attended the Colburn School of Music in LA with Paul. She was working with the Portland (Oregon) Symphony with a one-year contract when she won the Nashville audition.

Besides Classical music, Kate enjoys Bluegrass and artists like Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, and Regina Spektor. She loves the outdoors and is looking forward to the wealth of running, hiking, biking, and kayaking opportunities Tennessee has to offer. Starting with the day she arrived in Nashville for the audition, Kate loves this town and is very impressed with how friendly our city is.

Principal Trombonist Paul Jenkins is a native of Plano, Texas located near Dallas. He vaguely remembers coming to Opryland when he was 8, but hasn’t been back to Nashville until he came to audition. Paul attended Northwestern University and then went to Colburn where he ironically met Kate out in LA. Little did they know that they would both win auditions in Nashville within a few months of each other.

Paul had a one year contract with the St. Louis Symphony when he took the Nashville audition. His busy schedule didn’t allow him to practice for the audition as much as he would have liked, but the experience of playing in a professional orchestra certainly paid off. After winning the audition, Paul went walking down Broadway and recalls it was an amazing experience winning this audition and seeing the lively city that would become his home.

Besides his passion for classical music, Paul likes many styles of music including early Blues, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and Radiohead. For hobbies, he is pursuing guitar and woodworking. Like Kate, he thinks Nashville is super-friendly and East Nashville reminds him a bit of Austin, Texas. He also loves the pizza at 5 Points Pizza.

Please join us in welcoming Kate and Paul to the Nashville Symphony. Be sure to watch for them next time you come to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Musician Profile: Ann Richards, flute, from Nashville, Tennessee

Ann Richards, Flute

Ann Richards, Flute

When I left Nashville for school at California State University, San Jose, followed by two years in Europe for lessons and master classes, and finally graduate school at Northwestern University, I never dreamed I would return with a position in the Nashville Symphony. The town (and I) grew up while I was away, and I am happy I could help my parents as they had help me.

My Iowa-born Dad, who played clarinet, sax, and violin in big bands, was brought by Johnny DeGeorge to Nashville in the late 1930s. Even then, Nashville had many opportunities for musicians. Mr. DeGeorge later became President of the Nashville Musicians Association, and my Dad was a Life Member and also a founding member of The Establishment, a big band that provides music scholarships.

Piano lessons fell by the wayside when the flute was put into my hands in 5th Grade at Dalewood Elementary, one of Nashville’s public schools which fed into Isaac Litton High School, infamous for marching in parades such as the Rose Bowl and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My mother loved symphonic music, my father loved jazz, and my older brother listened to and performed 50’s era rock, so I felt my homelife exposed me to many genres of music.

Playing in the Nashville Youth Symphony and now seeing how important music education is to our young students has compelled me to participate in teaching at W.O.Smith, sit on the symphony’s Education Committee, and help at our son’s school, Metro’s Nashville School of the Arts.

My NSO bassist husband Glen Wanner and I wrote two popular books Bicycling Middle Tennessee and Bicycling the Natchez Trace and enjoy hiking, kayaking, and serving on the Board of Walk/Bike Nashville, a safe walking and bicyling advocacy group in Nashville.

The New Season Starts!

We are opening our new season with a presentation of West Side Story, the movie version, accompanied with full orchestra. This is a great movie, and is arguably Leonard Bernstein’s masterpiece – it was a huge hit, and won 10 Oscars – the most any musical has ever won.

Dennis Solee, one of regular saxophone players, will be playing a bass saxophone, an instrument not often used. The instrument he is playing is 90 years old!