Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra Elevates the Youth's Listening - TribPapers

Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra Elevates the Youth’s Listening

Vela Knight, 9 years old, shows her love for The Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra. Photo provided.

Hendersonville – The Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra (HSO) has been a fixture of local arts enrichment since its inception in 1971. This non-profit organization’s mission extends beyond fostering a love for music among people of all ages in the community. It also encompasses extensive outreach programs that aim to inspire and educate the youth in the area. In addition to their five annual Symphony Orchestras at Blue Ridge Community College, they also provide free orchestral concerts for every third and sixth grader in Hendersonville. Knowing this convinced me that my own 9-year-old daughter was age-appropriate to attend the Friendship concert in March.

In preparation for our mommy-daughter date, I turned to HSO’s website for a wealth of knowledge on what to expect at the performance. We learned that the HSO has evolved from a mostly volunteer community orchestra to an all-professional ensemble comprising some of the most accomplished musicians in the region. Each concert employs up to 80 musicians on 4 basic types of instruments: strings, woodwinds, brasses, and percussion. I emphasized to my daughter, Vela, that these musicians have spent countless hours practicing and playing to become masters of their instruments, to which she related her own experience of trying to learn to play her own musical instruments.

Also, while exploring the website, Vela and I learned snippets of information, like the role of the concertmaster and why all the musicians tune to the oboe. We scrolled through the photo gallery and even watched videos posted to their YouTube channel, all of which added to our excitement and anticipation of the live performance.

When we arrived at the venue, we were graciously greeted by smiles and warm pleasantries. We were guided to our seats and listened as the musicians warmed up. As the lights dimmed and silence fell upon the audience, we mimicked the motions of the crowd by standing, applauding, and being seated as the concertmaster and conductor made their way to the stage. The collective body of the orchestra emitted an air of humble poise.

When the orchestra started to play, it was as if a wave of sound built up over the stage, crested, then softly broke onto the audience. Vela said, “The sound felt like dancing music bubbles that filled the whole place.” We soaked up the symphony like sponges, absorbing every note and nuance. 

It was awe-inspiring to watch each member of the orchestra in complete attentiveness, in both movement and repose. The audience was just as enthralled, resting in a state of awareness and receptivity. In the pauses of the music, we could have heard a pin drop. 

During the brief 15-minute intermission, I suggested to Vela that she sit with her eyes closed to see if turning off visual stimuli would change her perception. She said, “It made me feel like I was the music, like I was a music note.” Closing my own eyes elicited a visceral response that moved me to tears.

Taking my nine-year-old to the Hendersonville Symphony was an unexpectedly delightful experience. She witnessed a performance of elevated sophistication and proved that music is a universal language that can be appreciated by anyone, regardless of age. 

To draw a comparison to a well-known quote by Maya Angelou, Vela and I may not recall the names of the composers or specific pieces performed, but we will always remember how the symphony made us feel.

The HSO has listed concert dates for the 2023–2024 season on their website. The new season offers matinee showtimes, which are much more conducive to maintaining the early bedtimes of youngsters. HSO also offers reduced-price tickets for students of all ages.