Nashville Symphony Association (Nashville, TN)


Full-length picture of bassist Edgar Meyer bowing his instrument

Renowned bassist Edgar Meyer, co-host of the radio program American Encores. Photo by Jimmy Ienner Jr.

As one of the most active recording orchestras in the country, the Nashville Symphony has utilized recordings as a means to reach broader audiences and fulfill its mission—to perform and present the highest quality music, with a focus on the creation, promotion, and preservation of American repertoire.

In September 2006 the Nashville Symphony marked its inaugural season in its new home, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, by launching American Encores, an initiative that integrates work by American composers that is largely neglected or rarely performed as part of each classical subscription concert. In 2007 this program expanded through an NEA Arts on Radio and Television grant of $10,000 to include 13 one-hour radio programs featuring composers included in the American Encores program.

The radio program, also called American Encores, is hosted by renowned conductor and Nashville symphony music advisor Leonard Slatkin with co-host and Nashville composer and bassist Edgar Meyer, and includes both performances by Nashville Symphony and interviews with composers, conductors, guest artists, musicologists, and audience members.

The Nashville Symphony chose works to be a part of the American Encores initiative by looking for pieces that deserve repeated hearings, whether for their unique instrumentation, compositional techniques, or ability to attract a younger audience. For 2007-2008, featured pieces included Jubilee: A Tennessee Quilting Party for Orchestras by Kenneth Schermerhorn, former Nashville Symphony music director and principal conductor, and Joan Tower’s Chamber Dance, as well as two co-commissions by the Nashville Symphony: Philip Glass’s The Passion of Ramakrisna and Michael Daugherty’s Deus ex Machina. Ninety-two markets picked up the series, reaching approximately 2.6 million listeners.

In addition to the broadcast of the one-hour shows on the radio, the Nashville Symphony also created companion podcasts for each episode of American Encores. The 15-minute segments included additional commentary, interviews, and music, and could be downloaded through the Nashville Symphony’s Web site. Because of the symphony’s efforts, you no longer need a ticket to hear a rare performance of works by America’s greatest contemporary composers.

(From the NEA 2007 Annual Report)