Honest to God, it’s exhausting rooting for Everyman in a town where last names, net worth, club membership and Leadership Nashville status are among the most used—and, ultimately, most worthless—measures of civic worthiness. Imagine all those monied folks at the Steeplechase minus their seersucker, faux tans, plastic surgery and Gucci clutches, and some of them start to resemble well-groomed Appalachian inbreds.
But that’s for another day. What we’re trying to say is, we’re for the infielders.
We root for the folks who pack their own coolers, the chicks donning flip-flops instead of fresh boob jobs, the guy in the ’89 Corolla with no hubcaps instead of the uppity sumbitch in the Beemer sport ute. And, yes, if forced to choose, baseball games over symphony performances.
Given those populist leanings, it was with not a small amount of righteous indignation that the Scene staff learned during a tour of the nearly complete Schermerhorn Symphony Center last week that the symphony set has asked the Nashville Sounds to forego summer fireworks on nights when the orchestra is entertaining the only 1,800 people in Nashville who can afford tickets to this highbrow cultural offering.
Surely not. Please tell us that the pleasures of beer, baseball and fireworks—which, like it or not, are enjoyed by many more people than Mendelssohn’s Third or Brahms’ Concerto No. 2—aren’t going to be truncated by the bluebloods who prefer their 1812 Overture minus the sounds of proletariat pyrotechnics bearing names like boomers, crackles, strobes and dahlias.
Surely Nashville’s most accessible, populist, family-friendly team, the Sounds, hasn’t been leaned on to put the acoustic pleasures of some silver-haired season-ticket-holding retiree over an impressionable child’s precious summer memories, or the wishes of some big-dollar donor over the perfect backdrop of a sweet teen couples’ first awkward kiss.
Oh, but affirmative. And affirmative.
We understand the value of classical music, and the new symphony hall is a significant addition to the city’s cultural and architectural landscape. But why must the symphony hall be isolated from the genuine sounds of a vital city to ensure the integrity of its product when the $120 million price tag is supposed to offer the most sophisticated acoustics money can buy? And why must the symphony horn in, even in a modest way, on a more populist Nashville tradition? Because that would represent a special kind of crappy.
Ever the diplomat, though, Sounds general manager Glenn Yaeger reminds us that the symphony boosters had long secured the site for their new home before the Sounds’ sights for their new stadium had settled on the real estate where the trash-burning Thermal plant used to be. “We want to be a good neighbor,” says the boyishly affable Yaeger, adding that he didn’t hesitate when symphony president Alan Valentine reached out to him to talk about what could be a problem once both new venues were up and running—bottle rockets vs. Bartok, that is. Besides, Yaeger says, with a shiny new stadium by the river, he doesn’t think the franchise will need 25 fireworks shows a season to lure fans. And with 72 home games a season, there will be plenty of opportunities to shoot off the stuff without somehow blurring the sounds of Mozart’s violin concerto. If a symphony performance ends at 9 p.m. and a home Sounds game is only in the sixth inning by that time, no worries.
OK, Glenn. If you say not to worry, we’ll try. But we’ll be watching for the moment when Martha Ingram complains that the riffraff next door is getting too noisy. In which case, we’ll be prepared with the foam fingers.