The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera looks towards a new future
After nine years as the executive director of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Molly Sasse French is out of the job she worked so hard to achieve.
Not for professional reasons, management changes, or a change in the organizational structure of the CSO. Sadly, Sasse French had to step down due to medical reasons.
She has been on medical leave since the beginning of November and made the move official in early January to focus on her health and her family. She respectfully declined to comment for this story for those same reasons.
“Molly Sasse French became the Executive of the CSO when its very existence was challenged by changes in funding and by a difficult economy,” said CSO past Board President, Spencer McCallie in a statement. “She brought together an efficient and effective staff, controlled expenses, increased fundraising, and enhanced our musical and educational missions to the community.”
Filling the rather large shoes is interim executive director Samantha Teter. With over 15 years of experience in both the CSO, Colorado Symphony and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, a seamless transition seems to be in the works.
“It’s hard to summarize what an executive director does without saying everything,” said Teter. “He or she has to oversee marketing, accounting, organizing staff, putting together years’ worth of scheduling, and gathering the resources so that our conductor has the musicians and performers they need. It’s definitely a job that requires a lot of attention to detail.”
In the months following Sasse French’s retirement, Teter proudly noted the organization’s operations were running as smooth as ever. Not much changed around the offices, and the business of putting together a new season was a welcomed distraction.
“It honestly hasn’t been all that different because we’ve been so busy, which is a good thing,” said Teter. “We’ve tried to keep everything running as smooth as possible and staying on schedule. And having good communication really helps.”
A major task that landed on Teter’s desk was putting the final touches on the 2016/17 season and announcing the very exciting news. In an exclusive preview event to subscribers and donors, the organization announced that the CSO will be performing its first fully-produced opera since 2009: Madame Butterfly, conducted by CSO Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt with Camille Zamora in the title role.
Other highlights include The Barnett & Company Masterworks Series opening with Strauss’ Don Juan, Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, performed by Ning An, and performances of works from four living composers, including Joan Tower, James Stephenson, Kendra D’Ercole (a world premiere), and returning composer, Ola Gjeilo.
Now, notes Teter, it’s about marketing and getting the word out. “All the scheduling is pretty much wrapped up, but now we have to get people in the seats. We have to get the word out, facilitate the ticket office at the Tivoli, make sure our conductors have the musicians they need and just get the community more engaged and informed.”
The complete schedule is at chattanoogasymphony.org
Photo by Stefan Vogt