Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Association (Chattanooga, TN)


A woman watches a display of artwork held up by wire pannels.  In the foreground is a large wooden harp.

Students' art is displayed in the performance hall before the concert as part of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Association's Sight and Sound project using visual art in connection with music.    Photo by Louis Sohn

The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Association (CSO) is a unique organization in the United States. Merged in 1984 from separate performing arts entities, the CSO is the oldest successfully combined organization of its kind in the country. It presents more than 25 performances of classical, operatic, pops, and youth-oriented musical programming annually.

In FY 2004, CSO received an NEA Challenge America grant of $10,000 to support a classical concert as part of the Sight and Sound project. CSO collaborated with nearby Hunter Museum of American Art to underscore the creative connection between music and visual art, especially for elementary through secondary school students. The CSO performed Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition on October 28 and 29, 2004, as a starting point in a discussion of one art form influencing another.

The project included a series of visual art workshops held at several locations, including the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the Association of Visual Artists, for high school age students participating in the juried art competition. Members of the CSO also visited area elementary and middle schools participating in a special program centered on Pictures at an Exhibition.

The concert performances coincided with a juried show of the students' work. Student pieces were displayed in the performance hall before the performances, and projected above the stage during the concert. Conductor Robert Bernhardt led a special post-concert symposium after the October 29 performance for students and the general audience.

(From the NEA 2004 Annual Report)