MOREHEAD — The Morehead Hometown holidays started Saturday with the traditional tree lighting and local shopping, but ended with what could be the start of a classical musical era.
The 60-member Cave Run Symphony Orchestra performed its inaugural concert to more than 800 to cap the 12th Hometown Holidays, a Christmas-themed festival that draws shoppers onto Main Street with businesses hosting musical entertainment.
“We had a packed house,” said Ewell Scott, chairman of the Cave Run Symphony Orchestra steering committee. “We have wonderful performers, good music and the crowd loved it; I couldn't be any more pleased.”
“It was a great gift for the community,” said Margie Hunter, who was in the audience. “It goes to show how much talent is in this community.”
The steering committee hopes the orchestra will serve as an educational outlet for citizens, faculty or students who are determined and willing to play in an orchestral setting, while helping Morehead profit from such concerts, such as Hometown Holidays.
“One way we can help is to historically provide that opportunity in an orchestral setting, sort of a semi-professional group,” said Dr. Donald Grant, Morehead State's music department chairman. “It brings together the community, the university and artistic faculty to create an ensemble.”
A similar orchestra was started in the small community of Toccoa, Ga., in 1977, and performs three concerts a year. Sharon Mahon, a board member of the Toccoa Symphony Orchestra, said the cultural value of small-town orchestras is priceless.
“The orchestra provides a wonderful outlet for talented locals and college musicians to perform,” said Mahon. “It provides a cultural experience typically only available in much larger cities, which happens to be quite far from here.”
Bass player Jared Davis, a music major at Morehead State , said being in the orchestra has helped strengthen his playing abilities and given him the experience needed to further his education.
“It has definitely helped me become more comfortable with my instrument,” said Jared. “It has given me the experience needed for playing in a professional setting.”
Grant and Mahon pointed to the possibilities a small-town orchestra could bring by the way of cultural diversity and economic growth opportunity.
“Hopefully the community will see some economic fruits because of the number of people that will come to town,” Grant said. “Not only for the concert, but they may eat at a restaurant, stay the night at a motel or even buy gasoline. Hopefully, this will catch on and it will be something people enjoy.”
“I think there is a definite future,” Scott said. “With enthusiasm that’s been generated, I don’t think we will have any trouble gathering the money to support three or four concerts a year.”
“Financial institutions in town purchased advertisements in the first program,” Scott told the crowd. “We will be requesting donations in the next three to four months, asking people to donate whatever they can afford in addition to becoming a member. We need to raise $20,000 to $25,000, but I don't think we will have much trouble doing that.”
While the intent of the holiday music was to boost the theme of the evening-long community celebration with songs like “A Christmas Festival,” the patriotic songs “American Salute,” and “Armed Forces Salute,” were played to honor active servicemen and veterans, while reminding the audience of the tragedy of Pearl Harbor.
“I think an orchestra gives the public a way to celebrate the seasons and, in this case, honor the veterans since it's Pearl Harbor remembrance day,” said Nordlund.
Briana Perry, Megan Pesut and Corey Patrick are members of the Morehead State Convergent Media Program.
Video produced by Briana Perry, with Ji Hoon Heo and Patrick Brumback