Out & About

If the Macon Symphony Orchestra asked for help, would the community have rallied?

Conductor Janna Hymes leads the Macon Symphony Orchestra last month before its season opening performance. The symphony is scheduled to close in October.
Conductor Janna Hymes leads the Macon Symphony Orchestra last month before its season opening performance. The symphony is scheduled to close in October. Georgia Public Broadcasting

With school starting soon, the last two weekends in July fittingly bring summer entertainment to a delightful crescendo.

Just look: We have two musicals running, the Macon Film Festival in progress, Bragg Jam approaching and Jazz in the Courtyard closing out the month at the Douglass Theatre.

Looking ahead, also at the Douglass, the Live in HD series from London’s British National Theatre will bring us a revival of “Angels in America.” Part I (“Millennium Approaches”) will be screened Aug. 6, followed by Part II (”Perestroika”) on Aug. 20. Meanwhile, we have opportunities to see “Sweeney Todd” and “Happy Days” live on stage.

Overall, it’s been a glorious summer, dampened only by the announcement of the untimely death of the Macon Symphony Orchestra.

When American cities are evaluated, near the top of the checklist, right up there next to boasting comprehensive health care and ample recreational opportunities, is a symphony orchestra. Even people who have no interest in attending a symphony concert still insist a proper city ought to have an orchestra. It’s a civic necessity. Most importantly, it plays a vital role in education.

Most people in the midstate have probably heard the devastating news that the Macon Symphony Orchestra is about to end its long and distinguished life of enriching our community.

The question I have been asked repeatedly is, “Why didn’t the orchestra leadership cry out for help as others have done? Do they not realize that our orchestra is beloved?”

There can be no doubt that many would rush to the rescue, perhaps even a few with deep pockets.

Surely if a cry for help had gone out, the community would have responded. Last season should have been titled not “A Season to Celebrate” but “A Season to Gird our Financial Loins.”

Our orchestra belongs not to the board of directors but to the people of the community. Thousands upon thousands of people’s lives have been transformed by what we have long called the flagship of Macon’s institutions.

There can be no doubt that many would rush to the rescue, perhaps even a few with deep pockets. Where was the transparency? During the last season, the reports at each concert were upbeat, and there was talk of expanding the season. And then, bam, the public is blindsided.

I realize that hindsight is 20/20, but the outcome may have been different if last season had been spent in a massive fund-raising campaign. It is not unseemly to cry out in distress; indeed, it is essential for survival. It’s one of the great lessons of life: It’s OK to ask for help.

Contact Larry Fennelly at LarryFennelly@avantguild.com.

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