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Gainesville Symphony Orchestra calls it quits

POSTED: March 29, 2013 1:22 a.m.

After more than 30 years of operation, the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra has announced that it is shutting down.

With the bleak economy looming over the community and an overall lack of public support, the GSO decided it no longer could sustain itself.

“This is a sad day, indeed,” said Vanessa Hyatt, vice president of the symphony. “We made every effort to save the GSO. But in the end, we did not have enough public support to save it.”

Hyatt said this decision has been prolonged since about five years ago, when the board first saw a dramatic drop in donations.

“It seemed like donations were cut in half,” she said. “But when an organization has been going on as long as the Gainesville Symphony (Orchestra) has, it’s hard to just make that quick decision. You want to do everything in your power to keep it going.”

The GSO started as the Lanier Symphony Orchestra in 1982.

Brenau University has provided facilities and financial support since the symphony started.

“It was a shame” the symphony had to shut down, said Sandra Thornton, vice president for Financial Services at Brenau. “My husband and I did enjoy the concerts. We’re classical music enthusiasts ... and we regret that it didn’t work.”

The GSO used Pearce Auditorium and Brenau’s amphitheater for its concerts.

“In bad economic times, the arts are the first to lose their funding,” Hyatt said. “I think the general consensus is that the arts are a frill, or they are nonessential.”

Public support for the arts is important for local organizations, and this support should be specific, she said.

“Anyone that’s interested in supporting any local arts organization needs to give direct support to that organization,” Hyatt said.

Hyatt said she believes that a new symphony will eventually emerge under new management and a different name.

The GSO’s annual Patriotic Pops Concert, usually held at Brenau, will be carried on by the Northwinds Symphonic Band. It will instead be held at the Smithgall Arts Center.

Ron Evans, who leads the Northwinds Symphonic Band, said he believes there are many challenges for symphonies in today’s culture.

“Symphony orchestras all over the country are suffering from the same sort of thing,” Evans said. “The musical taste of the country has changed.”

Evans also said economic times have affected the symphony because the costs of operation are high.

“You have these fundraisers and they just can’t seem to generate enough funds to run a 60- to 80-member symphony orchestra,” he said. “Everyone is cutting back on everything.”

He said arts and physical education are the first programs that typically are cut in public schools, which affect adult organizations like the symphony also.

The Northwinds Symphonic Band sympathizes with the GSO, who it has partnered with over the years.

“We’re saddened to see it go,” said Evans.

The Northwinds Symphonic Band will continue to provide entertainment locally. It is a volunteer orchestra with players from all over North Georgia.

The GSO board recognizes this orchestra and urges local arts enthusiasts to support the organization.


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