Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Autumn Leaves

Nashville and middle Tennessee this week experienced their first freezing temperatures of the season. It must be autumn in the south!

The colors this year are not as vibrant, because of the drought this summer, but it is still possible to find a splash of beauty if you look close enough.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Flag Presentation

As you undoubtedly know, before athletic events, a color guard presents the flags while everyone stands, covers their hearts, and sings the National Anthem. Yes, that is a piano in the middle of a football field.

The red flag with three white stars is the Tennessee state flag. They represent the three regions of the state, eastern, middle, and western.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

He's Got The Whole World in His Hands. . .

This marble globe, located on Bicentennial Mall, floats on a fountain of water only 1/8 inches thick. You can go up to it and turn it (which isn't as easy as it looks!). If you look closely, on the left you'll see the USA. The white state is Tennessee. The globe, itself, weighs 18,000 lbs.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

LP Field. . . .Go Titans!

LP Field is home to the Tennessee Titans who played the Oakland Raiders today. (Titans won 13-9.) The city and Titans' owner Bud Adams built the stadium on the east bank of the Cumberland River with hopes, I believe, of revitalizing the area. If you look at the night photo I posted a few days ago, the stadium is directly across the river from that scene.

I'm going to be teaching art classes out of town for a week or so, so I won't have a lot of commentary for a week or so. While I'm gone, my husband will be uploading photos for me.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mum's The Word 10-27

In addition to fruits and vegetables at the Farmers' Market, there are also plants. We found these great mums while searching for trees to replace the ones we lost due to the drought this summer. An interesting note. . . The mums shown above - HUGE pots - were $12.00 at the market. At a home improvement store near our house, the same size pot was $50.

I'm going to be teaching art classes out of town for a week or so, so I won't have a lot of commentary for a week or so. While I'm gone, my husband will be uploading photos for me.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Legislative Plaza

Last week, I posted a photo from the Southern Festival of Books which was held at Legislative Plaza. Legislative offices are in the Federal-style building in the photo, and the state legislature holds public hearings in the auditorium there. The state capitol is on the north side of the plaza, or to the right as you look at the photo.

Note the lack of traffic, due in part to the fact that I took this photo on a Saturday morning. However, a couple of years ago, the legislature tried to pass a state income tax, which didn't go over too well with Tennesseans. Hundreds of people crowded the plaza in protest, and others drove their cars around the plaza, honking horns and creating quite a traffic jam during the business day. It worked. We still don't have a state income tax. We do, however, have 9.25-9.75% sales tax on almost everything. Most foods are taxed at a lower rate - 8.25-8.75%.

I'm going to be teaching art classes out of town for a week or so, so I won't have a lot of commentary. While I'm gone, my husband will be uploading photos for me.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

City Lights

We just happened to be out for a drive after dark, and I took this photo of downtown Nashville from the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge over the Cumberland River. You can see part of the city reflected in the river. The tallest building in the shot is the former BellSouth Tower. I heard that it is currently for sale, but it until then, it's the AT&T Tower. Locals, however, call it the "Batman Building" because it resembles caped crusader's costume. Note the mural on the lit building wall just under the Batman Building. That belongs to the Hard Rock Cafe. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can make out the guitar on the mural, as well as the General Jackson (riverboat). On the far left side of th photo, the peaked roof that you can make out in the enlarged photo is the Ryman Auditorium. . . .Original Home of the Grand Ol' Opry.

On the waterfront, you can see the boat dock on the left, and the seating for concerts held at Riverfront Park (We have a floating stage.). The outdoor seating is basically wide, cement steps, although there are a number of grassy areas, too.

And, you may remember my post a few months ago about Fort Nashborough, Nashville's first settlement. Note the trees on the right side of the photo, just beyond the concert seating. If you enlarge the photo, you can see the fort between the seating and the trees.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rub Dub Dub. . .

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, the Tennessee History Festival included a number of exhibits. Some of the exhibitors set up "camps" complete with campfires, shelter and more. Note the day's wash hanging on the line, as well as the four, metal tubs.
The two in the middle were actually bathing tubs. The one on the right is styled more towards the eastern (as in Oriental) style, where the tub was longer so that the bather could lie down in it. The one with the higher back was of the western style. The high back allowed the bather to sit up while bathing. Of course, his/her legs hung out of the thing. The other two tubs were mainly vessels in which the early settlers washed anything - clothing, food, the kids.
Of course, the water had to be poured in or pumped in by hand, and removed the same way. To keep the water (and bather) somewhat warm, the settlers moved them near a fire. Several bathers would share the same water, warming it up a bit with fresh water heated on the fire.
One interesting side fact is that many thought that bathing, especially in winter, was not good for you. . .that it caused chills and fevers and such. In medieval times, people believed that water carried all sorts of diseases, and that belief stuck for hundreds of years. In 1835, Philadelphia's leaders tried to pass a law banning bathing during the winter. It failed. In 1845, Boston's leaders forbade bathing except in cases of medical need.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tennessee History Days

For the fourth year, the Tennessee History Festival was at Bicentennial Mall. The Festival chronicles 300 years of Tennessee history, starting with the Woodland Indians and DeSoto's explorations and ending with the current Gulf War. Included in the festivities are a mock WWII battle, roving characters such as Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett, and a campground (above).

The gentleman in the photo was actually baking oatmeal cookies over a wood fire. He said that it took about 10 minutes to bake most cookies, although the oatmeal cookies took a bit longer because the dough is a bit heavier. I thought that wasn't too bad until he mentioned that the cherry pie he had baked the day before took over three hours. Everyone who tasted his cookies said they were delicious.

Note his "tent" in the background. Tomorrow we'll look at it a bit more closely, but for now, can you guess what he has on display in that tent?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Baptist Sunday School Board?

With tension mounting between the members of the Northern and Southern Baptist churches, in 1845, the leaders of various Southern Baptist churches broke away from established the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). However, during most of the 1800s, the American Baptist Publication Society, based in Philadelphia, published all literature for Baptists throughout the United States. In the interest of unifying the denomination, the SBC formed the Baptist Sunday School Board (BSSB) around 1891.

In 1914, the SBC built the Baptist Sunday School Board building (above) in Nashville. The BSSB printed everything for every Southern Baptist Church - hymnals, prayer books, bibles, Sunday School books, religious, books, Sunday School teachers' manuals, etc. JM Frost, head of the SBC at the time commented that it looked like a "Baptist Business Temple."

Known today as LifeWay, the organization still prints all church-related publications for the Southern Baptists as well as other evangelical churches. In addition, it also produces audio and video productions and operates more than 140 LifeWay Christian Bookstores in over 20 states. And, while the original building is still part of LifeWay, the complex has probably tripled in size over the years.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Church Day

Being as today is Sunday, I thought I would post a photo of one of the many churches that grace downtown Nashville. First Evangelical Lutheran Church is on Eighth Avenue, about one block from Broadway (the main east-west street in downtown). Like most of the other downtown churches, First Lutheran has an active congregation.
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Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Cheekwood Gardens

The formal gardens that you see in the photo above (which I shot from a terraced patio on the south side of the mansion) are all part of the 55-acre Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Art Museum. The site includes ponds, pools, fountains, statues and a number of beautiful and varied gardens.

There are gardens on the entire 55-acre site, and visitors can see boxwoods, crepe myrtles, magnolias, daffodils, dogwoods, ferns, redbuds, Japanese maples, and hundreds of other plants in the many gardens sweeping the grounds. Robertson Ellis Color Garden is filled with colorful flowers. There is an avenue of crepe myrtles leading into the RECG. A Perennial Garden is a full-sun garden displaying dozens of perennials on limestone walls. The Martin Boxwood Garden includes terraced gardens planted with boxwoods. The Howe Wildflower Garden is filled with woodland wildflowers. The Carrell Dogwood Garden is planted with the many varieties of dogwood trees. The Herb Study Garden is just that. . . .a garden where one may touch and smell the many plants grown there. In addition, there is a Japanese Garden, the Burr Terrace Garden, the Turner Seasons Garden, and a sculpture garden.
Allow me to clear up a little confusion about the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company and Postum Foods. Joel Cheek, one of the founders of Cheek-Neal, developed a blend of coffee, and Nashville's Maxwell House Hotel served only that blend in the hotel and restaurants.

Legend has it that President Teddy Roosevelt had the coffee at the Maxwell House Hotel and proclaimed it "Good to the last drop!" The truth is that the phrase was the brainstorm of one of the company's ad men, and it was a great line as the company uses it to this day.

Postum Foods bought the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company in 1928, and the blend eventually became known as Maxwell House Coffee.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The House That Coffee Built

Situated on 55-acres west of downtown Nashville is the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. Cheekwood was the "country" estate of Leslie and Mabel (Wood) Cheek. Leslie's father, Christopher, was a founding partner in the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company which eventually sold to Postum Foods, which later became General Mills.

In 1929, Leslie and Mabel bought the 100-acre site and hired Bryant Fleming, an architect from Ithaca, New York, to design the 30,000 square foot mansion in a way that the design, architecture, landscaping and even furnishings created a unified statement. Fleming, who loved English country manors, and the Cheeks traveled to England together touring various estates and purchasing furniture, antiques, chandeliers, fireplace mantels, railings, door frames and more. In all, the Cheeks shipped more than four freight cars filled with items back to Nashville.

The family moved into the house in 1933, and Leslie Cheek passed away in 1935. When Mabel died in 1946, their daughter Huldah and her husband, Walter Sharp inherited the mansion. Sharp, who headed Vanderbilt's Department of Music and Fine Art, was instrumental (no pun intended!) in the formation of the Nashville Symphony (Remember the coffee bean border embossed in the Schermerhorn Symphony Center's elevators?). In addition, Sharp was founder of the Tennessee Council for Performing Arts, served on the Nashville Arts Council, and was a Fisk University Trustee.

That being said, it was no surprise when, in the late 1950s, the Sharps donated the estate and 55 acres for the creation of the Tennessee Botanical Gardens and Fine Arts Center. The museum opened to the public in 1960, and for the next 30+ years, Cheekwood served as *the* museum in Nashville. In the 1990s, extensive renovations to the gardens and the interior restored the landscaping's original grandeur and brought the mansion up to museum standards. Each year, Cheekwood hosts a number of exhibits and events, has an art education program, and owns a collection of American art, particularly that of Tennessee artists.

A couple of interesting collection facts: The museum owns (and displays) one of the largest collections of Worcester porcelain in the United States and has over 650 pieces in its antique silver collection. In addition, Cheekwood owns one of the largest collections of women's antique snuff boxes.

Join me tomorrow for a look at the estate's gardens.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


If you drive Interstate 40 through Nashville, you will undoubtedly pass a seemingly abandoned building (above) just west of downtown near the Charlotte Avenue Exit. The building, which had started its life as a cotton mill, became home to the Marathon Motor Works around 1910. Marathon was Nashville's only automobile plant. During the height of its operation, Marathon produced four or five different models, all touring cars. The plant ceased making cars in 1914, although it did continue producing parts for another four years. From what I could find out, of all the cars produced at the plant, there are fewer than 10 still in existence.

Since 1990 or so, the developer who bought the long-neglected building has been renovating it. Presently occupying the studios and spaces are a number of fine and commercial artists, a radio station, and Yazoo Brewing Company, Nashville's own microbrewery. In addition to the brewing company, Yazoo also operates a pub (very limited hours) on the property.

The 250,000 square-foot building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

(PS The Mini Cooper in the photo is not mine. . . .)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Are You Ready for Some Football?

When Bud Adams moved from Houston to Nashville in the mid-90s, there was a lot of controversy in Nashville about bringing them here. City and state leaders had wooed the Houston Oilers and promised to kick in funds to build the stadium. Opponents in Nashville, however, were able to get enough signatures to force a vote on the city package. As you can guess, the majority of the voters wanted to bring Nashville to the "big leagues."

Although the now-Tennessee Oilers moved to Nashville in 1997, their new stadium was not ready, and wouldn't be until 1999. They played their first season in Memphis and their second back in Nashville at Vanderbilt University. Toward the end of the 1998 season, the team announced it was changing its name to connect more with the fans and city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee. An advisory panel chose "Tennessee Titans" to reflect not only power, strength, leadership and heroism, but also to refer to Nashville's nickname as "Athens of the South."

I took this photo during the Titans/Hawks game last weekend. We were sitting in the south endzone, and the team was at about mid-field. QB Vince Young (#10) had just released the ball (which you can see just above his head). Unfortunately, the receiver didn't catch the ball. Young's next pass did connect. . . .with a Falcon defender. Thanks to the defense, the Titans won the game.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Screaming Eagles

The Tennessee Titans are very active in community activities in the Nashville area, and they are huge supporters of the troops stationed at Ft. Campbell (which is about 60 miles north of Nashville). Before games, spectators may experience a fly-over by jets, recognition of soldiers who recently returned from the Middle East, presentation of the flags by soldiers from the base, or demonstrations by the soldiers. At the Titans/Falcons game, three Screaming Eagles parachuted from a plane (right), landing perfectly on the field.

It's a little difficult to explain exactly how they did this, but the jumpers were able to control how quickly they descended and which way they moved by pulling on the cords of their parachutes and changing body position.

Based at Ft. Campbell, the Screaming Eagles are part of the 101st Airborne Division (air assualt) of the United States Army. Established during WW II, the division has served in Europe, Japan, VietNam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. If I remember correctly, all three of the guys who jumped at the game served in Iraq, and the one in the main photo has recovered from injuries he received there.

Two interesting notes: During the Civil Rights protests in the late 50s, President Eisenhower deployed part of the division to Little Rock to enforce court-ordered desegregation.

You can see the eagle-themed emblem on the parachute above. While the division was serving in Viet Nam, the Viet Cong, who had never seen an eagle, called them "Chicken Men."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Oldest Building in Nashville

The building behind the wrought-iron fence on the left side of this photo is the oldest building in downtown Nashville. Built around 1810, it sits on what used to be a livery stable and was part of the Underground Railroad. Slaves who were fleeing the South would hide here during the day and continue their journey north under cover of darkness.

The McCann family added the building on the right in 1847 and opened The McCann Grocery. The McCanns operated the grocery for many years. Several individuals owned the buildings over the years, and one of the last owners remodeled it using architects specializing in historic renovation.

Of interest: These two buildings are just around the corner from Broadway, which is the main east/west artery through downtown Nashville, and across the street from the Sommet Center, home to the Nashville Predators Hockey team. Note a few tall buildings in the background.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Southern Festival of Books

Humanities Tennessee annually sponsors the Southern Festival of Books during the second weekend of October. A celebration of the written word, the free, three-day Festival features over 200 authors who lecture, participate in panels, and sign books. In addition, there are over 50 exhibits set up on Legislative Plaza (above), including booksellers, organizations, children's activities, a cooking stage, a music stage, and more. One of the first festivals of its kind in the US, the Southern Festival of Books has served as a model for many others.

For 15 years, the Festival was held only in Nashville. In 2004, however, organizers moved it to Memphis for logistical reasons. Since then, the Festival has alternated between the two cities with Nashville hosting on odd years.

Elizabeth Edwards, author of Saving Graces and wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, spoke Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend her lecture. We did, however, get to hear humorist Kinky Friedman, a former country music star and 2006 Texas gubenatorial candidate. Author of several books, Friedman's latest is You Can Lead A Politician to Water, But You Can't Make Him Think: Ten Commandments for Texas Politics.

by Steve of New Orleans Daily Photo.
Click here to go to his blog.

These are the rules.

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. List eight (8) random facts about yourself.
3. Tag eight people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving them a comment on their blogs.

Here are EIGHT Random Facts About Me:

1. Thirty years ago tomorrow (10/15), I married the love of my life, Michael (Mike to everyone else. . . And, yes, I got married when I was 10.)
2. I have one son, Jason, who is a graphic artist for a TV station in Florida. I miss him like crazy.
3. I have owned two businesses. In Las Vegas, I had a small PR/writing firm. After moving to Nashville, I opened Paper Moon (right), the first scrapbook/rubber stamp store in Middle Tennessee. I closed it in May of this year after over nine years of business.
4. I majored (and taught) Spanish and English after graduating from college. I am about to start classes for an MFA in Creative Writing. (I bet you couldn't tell that from the books I write here!)
5. I love the desert sun and ocean breezes.
6. I am a certifiable dog fanatic.
7. I'm a pretty good cook, although you won't find me putting onions or a ton of garlic in anything I make. And, since I gave up using white sugar 18 months ago, you won't find me using it, either.
8. I love to travel, and there aren't too many places I wouldn't want to visit.

Since I'm it, I'm tagging:
1. Fenix at Bostonscapes Daily Photo
2. Carlos at Barcelona Photo Blog
3. Quintin at Portuguese Man of War
4. Gwen at Miami Daily Photo
5. Glenn at Torun Daily Photo
6. Don at Everyday Rotterdam
7. Kate at Visual St. Paul
8. Lynette at Portland, OR Daily Photo

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dog Day Afternoon (and morning!)

"I can't envision my life without a dog.
It is as integral a part of our lives
as anything you can think of. "

- Morley Safer

Today is the annual Dog Day Festival at Centennial Park. Sponsored by the Nashville Area Humane Society (NAHS), the festival celebrates man's best friend with a variety of activities and contests. Included are the Mutt Strutt Dog Walk which raised over $19,000 for the NAHS, a micro-chip clinic, and a number of fun contests (Waggiest Tail was my favorite!). In addition, there are a number of information booths on breed rescues, canine health, spaying and neutering, kennels, etc., as well as pet photographers and doggy arts and crafts (Yes, you read that right!).

I admit that I am a huge dog fanatic. I have two Welsh Terriers - Kasey and Decker. The female (Kasey) is a puppy mill rescue , and the Decker is a retired champion. I didn't take them to the Festival because we had other places to go afterwards, and I didn't want to leave them in the hot car. However, I thought you might enjoy meeting some of the fun dogs that slobbered on me today!

If you want to check out more photos from the Dog Day Festival (and meet the dogs in my life), check out my other blog by clicking here

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Fitting Tribute

The architects and others involved in designing the Schermerhorn Symphony Center wanted the Center to be more than just a building. They wanted it to be part of a grand experience, and while all of the interior spaces and their design elements contribute much to that experience, the Center's exterior also plays an important role. In addition to the building's beautiful, neoclassical facade, four sculptures and several granite and limestone fountains surround the building. On the west side of the Center, the Martha Rivers Ingram Garden Courtyard is open to the public daily, providing an oasis of calm in the middle of frenetic, downtown Nashville.

Located in the middle of the courtyard is The Flutist, a sculpture by Martin Varo (above). The base of this sculpture (not visible in this photo) dedicates it to the memory of Kenneth D. Schermerhorn, music director and conductor of the Nashville Symphony from 1983 until his death in 2005.

A native of New York, Schermerhorn studied at Julliard and The New England Conservatory of Music, played trumpet with several orchestras, and studied under Leonard Berstein. Prior to moving to Nashville, he was music director of the American Ballet Theater and the New Jersey Symphony, was assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic under Bernstein, and music director and conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony. While in Nashville, he also served as music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

Under Schermerhorn's direction, the Nashville Symphony grew in both size and stature. For the first time in the Symphony's history, Schermerhorn took them on a concert tour, performing in halls in the northeast (including Boston) and ending with a critically acclaimed concert at Carnegie Hall. Several symphony patrons followed the orchestra on this tour, and I've heard that after hearing how the orchestra sounded in a good concert venue, the board made the decision to build an acoustically superior hall for the symphony.

Because of the conductor's contribution to the symphony, when they broke ground in 2003, the board announced that the new center would carry his name. Unfortunately, Schermerhorn didn't live long enough to see the completed building. His ashes, however, are buried at the base of The Flutist in the public garden.

Somehow, I think that's a perfect tribute.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Hidden" Meaning

As one walks into the Schermerhorn Symphony Center's main lobby(above), the grandeur and elegance of the building is very apparent. However, there are design elements throughout the entire building that one may notice but not realize the "hidden" meaning behind them.

If you look closely at the lobby photo, you will see that the railings all have an iris as the focal point. The iris is the Tennessee state flower, and its icon appears on everything from the interior balcony railings and staircases to the mechanical grills (right) and elevator doors.

Note also, the columns in the lobby. If you look closely at the tops of the columns, you'll see iris buds tucked into the little nooks (left). And what are those little squares under each of the iris buds? Sugar cubes! The architects put the cubes there to pay a lighthearted tribute to the Symphony president, Alan Valentine, who apparently likes a lot of sugar in his coffee.

Speaking of coffee, the top of each elevator car in the building has a brushed metal border featuring coffee beans (right). The Cheek family, who founded the coffee company that eventually became Maxwell House Coffee, were patrons of the Nashville Symphony in its infancy. In addition to holding board meetings at the family's estate, Cheekwood, the symphony also performed there.

Inside the concert hall are a number of decorative panels (left) that adorn the walls of the hall (Most are located on the fronts of the box seats.). The panels, which are about three feet in width, pay tribute to Laura Turner (matriarch of the family that founded Dollar General), for whom the hall is named. Turner's love of music, gardening and horses is reflected in the panels. The five lines represent the musical staff, and across the bottom of the panels is a piano keyboard. The center flowers - a rose flanked by tulips - bloom from horseshoes. Of interest is the fact that, in addition to adding a decorative touch to the concert hall, the panels also provide an acoustic service by diffusing high-frequency sounds during concerts.

On the exterior balconies that grace the northside of the Center, the focal point is a riverboat pilot's wheel (right), recognizing the roles the Cumberland River and the barge industry played in the history of Nashville. In addition, the pilot's wheels pay silent homage to Ingram Industries, a barge company founded by the late husband of the Nashville Symphony board chairman, Martha Ingram.

If you walk around the building, you'll notice that the passion flower, the state's wildflower, appears on keystones that sit on the arches of the windows, and on the wall fountains on the north and south sides of the public garden (left).

I find it quite amazing that the architects and designers put all of these subtle references in the design elements of the building, and I have to admit that my favorite is probably the least ornate - the sugar cubes - simply because of the story behind them.

Join me tomorrow as we look at the public garden and a special tribute to the late Kenneth Schermerhorn.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Lights Fantastic

If you look at the the photos I posted of the Laura Turner Concert Hall over the past few days, you no doubt noticed the beautiful lighting fixtures. In the concert hall, there are eight grand chandeliers suspended from the ceiling, and a number of smaller, wall-mounted fixtures lining the east and west walls under the windows (Both shown above.). There are approximately 40 different fixture styles throughout the Center, and the basic design is the same for each style. The size and mounting vary, but the look and feel is the same. (The photos at right and below left show the light fixtures in the main lobby. )

Using inspiration from St. Leopold Church in Vienna, Austria, New York-based Susan Brady Lighting Design created custom fixtures that reflect the grandeur and feel of the Center. Each of the fixtures has polished nickel bases and six-inch globes that have a crackled texture to emulate candlelight. (By the way, note that the bases of the hanging chandeliers in the concert hall and lobby resemble an upside-down wedding cake!)

As with every other detail in the building, the lighting design came second to acoustics. There are eight massive chandeliers in the concert call, four of which measure seven feet in diameter by seven feet in height and have over 80 globes hanging from the base. Believe it or not, the fixtures were built in such a way that not one arm or globe vibrates at all.

Join me tomorrow as we look at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center's icons and the meaning behind them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"Organic" music

When the Schermerhorn Symphony Center opened last September, it was missing one major player - the $2.5 Martin Foundation Concert Organ. In the photo above, you can see some of the organ's pipes (and some of the additional on-stage seating).

The process of building, installing and tuning the organ, built by California-based Schoenstein & Company, took approximately two years (almost 14,000 man-hours). Once installed in the concert hall, the organ had to sit for a year to settle. . .get used to its environment, if you will. Tuning the massive instrument took almost seven months, and for eight weeks before the organ's September, 2007 debut, crew members worked 12-hour days to prepare it.

The organ's 3,568 pipes have lengths that vary from 3/4 inch to more than 32 feet. The length of the pipe determines the sound it produces. The shorter the pipe, the higher the note, and the longer the pipe, the lower the note. The smallest pipe produces a note two times higher than the orchestra's highest instrument. Likewise, the longest pipe produces a note two times lower than the orchestra's lowest instrument.

Only 20% of the organ's pipes are wood. The remaining 80% are a combination of tin, zinc and lead. There are three fan blowers (12.5 horsepower) in the Center's basement that push wind through the pipes, creating the sound. The organist sits at the console (not shown), which has three manual keyboards and one pedal keyboard and features over 250 pre-programmed settings. By playing the keys, stops and controls, the organist determines how much "wind" goes through which pipes and creates what and how much sound. (WHEW!! That's a lot of air!)

Join me tomorrow as we look at the Center's chandeliers and a few decorative accents that grace the Schermerhorn.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Seating and Clothing and Flooring! Oh, My!

The photo above is a reverse of yesterday's photo of the Laura Turner Concert Hall at The Schermerhorn Symphony Center. I took this photo from the seats at the back of the stage, and you can clearly see the three levels of seats in the hall. There are approximately 1860 seats in the hall - about 600 fewer than were in the Jackson Hall where the Symphony performed for years - providing a "more intimate" setting for performances.

A closer look at the seats shows that they consist of a wood frame with a padded, cloth seat and back. I've been told that the plans originally called for more cloth on the seats, but that engineers advised the Board that the cloth absorbs sound and would affect what the audience hears. Therefore, every seat in the house, including the expensive box seats (which are individual chairs instead of the "stadium-style" seats of the main floor and balconies), are mostly cherry wood.

Speaking of cloth and acoustics, the Symphony asks (read: requires) the audience check their coats when attending a performance to "enhance the acoustical experience" inside of the hall. There are several complimentary coat-check stands on each level of the Schermerhorn. Interesting, no?

Notice, also, that there is no carpeting on the floor of the hall. Like the chairs, the floor is cherry. However, one of the most interesting facts about the main floor is that it can be converted from the traditional concert seating to a cabaret-style floor in hours. A motorized system can lower the tiered rows of seats into a storage space below, replacing them with a flat, 5,700 square-foot, hardwood floor. The converted space can accommodate close to 600 people in a cabaret-style venue (tables and chairs), as well as food and/or buffet tables, bars, etc.

There is, by the way, a 3,000 square-foot, fully equipped commercial kitchen in the SCC, and the chef and staff can cater events held at the Center. In addition, there is a public garden and cafe that are open daily.

Please join me tomorrow as we look at the light fixtures and the concert hall's pipe organ.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Concert Hall

As I wrote yesterday, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center opened in September, 2006. Before moving into the new hall, the Symphony performed for years in a hall in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, a venue whose acoustics are not made for a symphony orchestra. The acoustics are definitely *not* a problem in the SSC as the Symphony Board advised the architects and engineers to design the best and most acoustically sound hall possible.

The designers of the 197,000 square-foot Schermerhorn Center looked to great concert halls of the world (Amsterdam, Boston, Vienna, and Zurich, in particular) for inspiration. The shoebox-designed Laura Turner Concert Hall (above) seats approximately 1860 people on the different levels. In this photo, you can see the main floor and, on either side, the Loge and Founders' Boxes and side balconies. The stage can accomodate up to 115 musicians. In addition, there is seating for 146 choral members which, if a choir is not performing, can seat additional audience members.

At the top of each of the side walls are soundproof windows (There are 30 in all.) which allow natural light in to the hall. The Schermerhorn is one of the few concert halls in the world and the only major one in the USA to have this feature. The "dual pane" windows are actually two panes of glass separated by 24 inches of dead air. While light comes in, outside noise does not. (Please note that I used natural light to take this photo.)

A two-inch acoustic isolation joint surrounds the entire concert hall to protect it from any vibration in other parts of the building. In addition, there is a hallway between the walls that you see in the photo and walls in other parts of the building. In other words, the concert hall is like a box within a box (I hope that makes sense!), and that extra buffer helps keep out exterior noises.

Everything in the hall, from the floor to the chairs to the lights to the molding and plaster used aid in making this hall acoustically sound. Be sure to join me tomorrow when I'll discuss the floor, the seats, and the concert-goers and their part in this acoustical marvel.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

*The* Music Venue in Music City

Most people equate Nashville with Country Music, but few people outside of Music City know that Nashville is home to one of the elite symphony halls in the world.

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center (above), named for Kenneth Schermerhorn who led the Nashville Symphony for 22 years before his death in 2005, opened in September, 2006. Previously, the Symphony performed in Jackson Hall at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC).

The neoclassical building sits on an entire city block in downtown Nashville. Designers used great concert halls all over the world as models for the Center, and everything, from lighting and acoustics to the railings on the stairs and entry balcony, is the way it is for a reason. The building also houses a music education hall, a public garden, a cafe, and a gift shop.

Today (October 6), was Free Day of Music at the Center. From 10 a.m. until almost midnight, area residents could tour the entire Center and listen to all kinds of free performances (I loved the salsa band!). For the next few days, I'll take you on a tour and explain what makes the Schermerhorn Symphony Center so great!

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Autumn Leaves

The Nashville area experienced a myriad of extreme weather conditions this year. We had a relatively mild winter, and the temperatures warmed up early in March. However, Easter weekend, we had a cold (and I do mean COLD) snap, followed by a couple of hard freezes and snow. . .UGH. A lot of trees and bushes, particularly the flowering trees, sustained a lot of damage. Many of them died, and those that recovered had fewer leaves than normal.

It seems like we went directly from that cold snap to HOT weather. And, this summer, we had day after day of 90+ degree weather days,. During August, we had weeks of triple-digit temperatures. In addition, we experienced a drought. Many trees or bushes, already taxed from the weird, spring weather, just dried up in the heat.

Normally, if we have enough rain in the spring and summer, the autumn leaves turn red, gold, orange, spice, burgundy and yellow. This year, the leaves are pretty lackluster. As you can see in the photo above, we seem to have two colors. . . .khaki and brown. Like so many other trees all over the mid-state area, the trees in the middle of this photo are, most likely, dead and not just losing leaves. It will be interesting to see what happens next spring.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


You might remember that a few weeks ago, I posted a photo of a mural painted on the side of a downtown building. I found this mural painted on a building a few blocks away from the other one.
Dandgure's is another southern, meat-and-three restuarant. . .cafeteria, actually. They advertise "classic, southern cookin'." I haven't been there, but one of the only complaints I've heard is that sometimes it's crowded. If that's the only thing about which people complain, that's pretty good! If you go, try the crispy, fried porkchop which is their specialty.
Two small notes: If you're new to NDP and didn't see a previous post about it, a meat-and-three is a restaurant that serves a meat and three side dishes.
Also, note the lack of graffiti on this building. I think my husband was right in his conclusion that graffiti artists want a blank slate for their work and don't want to compete with muralists.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A School of Firsts

In 1855, the first public school in Nashville, Hume School, opened on the corner of Broad Street and Spruce (now 8th) Avenue. Twelve teachers taught all grades in the three-story building.
Twenty years later, Fogg High School opened on an adjoining lot that faced Broad Street. (The front of the building above faces Broad. Spruce/8th Avenue is on the far left, and unseen, of this photo.) The high school classes moved there. In 1912, the school district combined the two schools into a new facility (The original two buildings were destroyed.) and renamed the school Hume-Fogg High School. And, in 1919, Hume-Fogg was the first school in Tennessee to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

For years, Hume-Fogg followed a basic high school curriculum, but gradually in the 40s-50s, the school added technical and vocational classes. In the early 80s, Hume-Fogg became the first magnet school in the Metro Nashville School District. Hume-Fogg continues to be the academic magnet high school, attracting approximately 900 students from all areas of the school district.

A couple of interesting notes:
The school became a magnet as a way to voluntarily comply with court-ordered desegregation. Academically gifted students from around the area, regardless of race or ethnic background, could attend Hume-Fogg. The school remains a magnet today, and students must qualify academically, apply, and be chosen via a lottery in order to attend.

While the school has no football team, students do participate in other sports, and the percentage of students participating in sports is among the highest in the school district.

The school, which resembles a castle, was designed in a Gothic style. The building has two ramparts out front, and the walls and floors are both 24-inches thick, adding more to the castle/fort feeling. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dinah Shore supposedly is an alumni of the school.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Orange Glow

While we were in Europe, summer gave way to autumn. At the Farmers' Market, mums replaced the begonias, and pumpkins replaced the tomatoes.

Did you know the following about pumpkins?

* Pumpkins originated in North America - specifically Mexico. Seeds found there date back 5-7,000 years!
* "Pumpkin" comes from the Greek, "pepon," or large melon. The French changed it to "pompon," and the English to "pumpion."
* Pumpkins were part of the Indians' diet long before Europeans arrived at Plymouth Rock. They used them in everything from stews to desserts.
* Europeans made the first "pumpkin pies" by filling hollow pumpkin shells with milk and spices and baking them in the ashes of cooking fires. (I prefer mine with crust.)
* Pumpkins come in a variety of colors, from white to various shades of orange.
* Pumpkins also come in a variety of sizes. Miniature ones can weigh less than a pound. The World Record for largest pumpkin was recorded just last week (9/27/07). The winner, from Massachusetts, weighed 1689 pounds! (Makes that 1000 pound one from Tennessee look like a sprout.)
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Monday, October 1, 2007

OctoberTheme Day: Cemeteries/Tombstones

The Nashville City Cemetery, opened in 1822, is the oldest continuously operating cemetery in the city. Over 20,000 people of all races, colors and creeds have been interred at NCC, including James Robertson, the founder of Nashville. The cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The resting places shown above are for Captain William Driver, his wife and a few children. Originally from Salem, Massachusetts, Driver is the person who coined the phrase, "Old Glory" when referring to the American flag. Driver designed his own tombstone which, as you can see, has an anchor resting on a tree stump. This grave is one of only three places in the USA where the US Flag can fly 24 hours (authorized by a Congressional act). You might notice that the flag was not flying on the grave today.

Two notes: A few weekends during October, volunteers dressed in period costume tell the story of many of the souls buried in Nashville City Cemetery. We had never gone but plan to do so this year.

The story of "Old Glory:" While the details of the story vary depending on who is telling it, the basic tale is that Driver's mother and her friends sewed the flag for him and presented it to him as he was ready to leave on a journey around the world. Legend has it that he was on his way to rescue mutineers from the ship, The Bounty (Mutiny on the Bounty). When Driver hoisted the flag on the ship's pole and saw it flying in the wind, he exclaimed, "Old Glory!" From that time on, Driver always kept the flag with him, adding to the original 20 stars as states joined the Union.

Driver moved to Nashville in 1837 and proudly showed the flag to everyone. When Tennessee seceded from the Union, Driver had his wife sew the flag inside of a comforter to prevent Confederate soldiers from destroying it. Eventually, Nashville fell to Union soldiers, and Driver removed the flag from the quilt and accompanied a regiment of Ohio soldiers to the state capitol where he hoisted the flag himself.

Be sure to check out the other City Daily Photo Blogs participating in October's Theme Day (Please remember that due to time differences, posts will show up at different times!):
St. Louis (MO), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Mainz, Germany - Hyde, UK - Arlington (VA), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Toulouse, France - Arradon, France - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - Joplin (MO), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Mexico (DF), Mexico - Seattle (WA), USA - Baziège, France - Baltimore (MD), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - Stockholm, Sweden - Austin (TX), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Grenoble, France - Seoul, South Korea - Greenville (SC), USA - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Nashville (TN), USA - Tenerife, Spain - Manila, Philippines - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Jacksonville (FL), USA - River Falls (WI), USA - Chateaubriant, France - Quincy (MA), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Inverness (IL), usa - Lubbock (TX), USA - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Moscow, Russia - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Minneapolis (MN), USA - New Orleans (LA), USA - Montréal (QC), Canada - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Toruń, Poland - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand - London, England - Paderborn, Germany - The Hague, Netherlands - Selma (AL), USA - Sunderland, UK - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Stavanger, Norway - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Weston (FL), USA - Portland (OR), USA - Forks (WA), USA - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Boston (MA), USA - Sydney, Australia - Wellington, New Zealand - Montpellier, France - Jackson (MS), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Evry, France - Saarbrücken, Germany - New York City (NY), USA - Santa Fe (NM), USA - North Bay (ON), Canada - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Cypress (TX), USA - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Paris, France - San Diego (CA), USA - Wichita (Ks), USA - Haninge, Sweden

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