Last night we heard Beethoven's 9th under the starry sky. The Cedar Rapids Symphony opened its 2008-9 season with an outdoor concert at Brucemore, the historic mansion that's about a block from our house.
Robbie had heard about the concert, and asked if we were going. What a question! We walked over with our soccer mom chairs, some cookies and hot mint tea. The front lawn was packed with people--lots with elaborate picnic dinners, wine, candles--just like Blossom Music Center or Ravinia.
I'm glad the boys came, too--we discovered that both their music teachers were performing: Eli's piano teacher, and Robbie's trumpet teacher, both of them! And an ourdoor venue's great for when your son wants to tell you about his afternoon building project right in the middle of a piece . . .
The symphony's idea to have an outdoor concert was inspired. But it was also necessary. Their "home," the stately old Paramount Theatre (here's a photo)
was heavily damaged in the flood. They don' t know how long it will take to repair it. The old theatre organ, installed in 1928 when the theatre was built, was completely ruined by the floodwaters. They hauled it away, hoping to save part of it and/or rebuild.So for this year, the Symphony will be parapatetic, moving from venue to venue, but mostly performing at Coe College in our Sinclair Auditorium. There were several chairmen who spoke before the concert, stressing the need to be generous in our support of the orchestra. There were donation buckets here and there, and an envelope in the program (which we had to pay for).
But then they made another announcement, which to me, seemed ill-timed. The Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra will be changing its name to "Orchestra Iowa." As the director said "when we perform outside of Cedar Rapids, that will be our name."
I bet the people in power have been considering this name change for a while. It sounds much more sophisticated than Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra. I mean, where's Cedar Rapids? Is that the same as Grand Rapids? Maybe if you look for some gigs in other states or outside the country, a sleek name like that will help.
But at this time, right when the city needs to come together to recover from the flood, it seems like a name change like this is badly timed at least. The simple idea of getting away from a non-recognizable name could be interpreted as an attempt to distance themselves from the community that they need to help save them.
I wonder what kinds of conversations went on over the summer as the board of trustees and/or the marketing committee discussed whether or not to make this change. Would have been interesting to hear them.