The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera was the first combined professional resident symphony and opera company in the nation. Kayoko Dan, Music Director and Conductor, leads the company's artistic vision and is beginning her first season with the CSO. Music Director Emeritus, Robert Bernhardt, is beginning a new role after serving as the CSO’s Music Director and Conductor for 19 seasons.
The CSO has an annual budget of about $2.2 million, managed by a full time administrative staff of seven with part-time staff and volunteer assistance. Our season begins in September and ends in May, and we perform at the Tivoli Theatre, better known as "The Jewel of the South."
The orchestra size changes for each particular concert and ranges from 49 to 100 musicians, of whom ten section leaders are our "core" musicians. These players perform in each main stage performance and appear regionally as the CSO Woodwind Quintet and CSO String Quintet.
Our flagship program, the CSO Masterworks Series, features a total of fourteen performances. This series features a wide variety of music and guest talent. The CSO Opera Series includes one fully staged opera with two performances and one semi-staged performance, featuring internationally and nationally renowned guest artists. The CSO Pops Series is a constant favorite among all age groups. The Pops Series is made up of five concerts with eight performances. The CSO Chamber Series was re-established in the 2007-2008 season and is comprised of four concerts, showcasing a collection of pieces performed by the CSO Chamber Orchestra.
The CSO continues to create and develop outreach and educational programs that appeal to all ages, all presented under the umbrella CSO in the Community. We are committed to music education and the integration of music and arts into the school curriculum. To this end, CSO ensembles perform for more than 15,000 area students each year.
Other CSO Education programs include, "Operatunity" which offers high school and college students the chance to experience a complete opera in a final dress rehearsal and "Young Peoples' Concerts" which allow grade-schoolers to experience an orchestra performance and features section players and occasional soloists from the CSO Youth Orchestras.
CSO Outreach programs include "Music Arts and Healing" which allows CSO ensembles to reach an underserved market: healthcare facilities' patients, families and caregivers and "Out & About" allows CSO ensembles to visit area community centers and other public institutions, presenting performances primarily for young people, senior citizens and others who are unable to attend regular CSO concerts at the Tivoli Theatre.
CSO Pops on the River is an annual concert produced by the Chattanooga Downtown Partnership held at Coolidge Park in celebration of Independence Day. The CSO Orchestra performs live to over 25,000 spectators at this event each year.