College-community orchestra announces new name

MACCO now called “The Orchestra at Maryville College”

October 22, 2003
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of News and Public Information
865.981.8207; karen.eldridge@maryvillecollege.edu

The only question now is what to do with the MACCO men.

The seven-foot wooden placards, cut and painted to resemble an orchestra conductor, were previously posted at Maryville College’s entranceways to announce upcoming performances of the Maryville-Alcoa College-Community Orchestra (MACCO).

MACCO has undergone a name change, and taking an “out with the old, in with the new” attitude, the Advisory Board for the orchestra is debating new advertisements.

“Some people suggested that we auction [the MACCO men] off,” said Genevieve Michael, general manager for the orchestra. “I don’t know. We’re still talking about whether or not we’ll use them.”

The debate over the placards is relatively small considering the one experienced a few months ago, when the 15-member Board mulled changing the name of the organization after nearly 25 years. Eventually, Board members and members of the College’s leadership agreed to retire “MACCO” and introduce a new name: “The Orchestra at Maryville College: A College and Community Ensemble.”

New name, new life

“There were several reasons for the name change. We discussed it at length last spring,” Michael explained. “In the end, everyone decided that the new name was a better reflection of what we do and who we are.”

While the previous five-word name accurately described the organization, Michael said it was too long to voice, forcing most people to shorten it to its acronym, “MACCO.” And the acronym, she argued, didn’t offer many clues to newcomers about the mission, composition or location of the organization.

Now, she’s hoping that when people shorten the new name, the result will simply be “the Orchestra.”

With a new title, Michael said she, conductor Lee Kull, the Advisory Board and the 55-member orchestra are hoping that a broader audience will be reached, raising the awareness and visibility of the orchestra.

“ Our audiences are growing,” she said. “With the new name, we hope to reach out to even more members of the community – to both those groups of people who play an instrument and those who enjoy listening to good, quality music.

“Our Board president, Dick Cox, said recently that the Orchestra is a jewel in this community that most people in the area haven’t discovered yet. I think he’s correct.”

With the new name, the Orchestra also hopes to attract new Board members and generate added interest in a new fine and performing arts/civic center that might be constructed on campus in the near future, the general manager added.

Orchestra mission stays the same

The mission of the Orchestra at Maryville College has not changed. It is “to provide an ensemble learning environment for students at Maryville College, a performance opportunity for area musicians and cultural enrichment for the community.”

Auditions are not usually required to join the group, but that doesn’t mean the full symphony orchestra doesn’t attract highly qualified players.

The age range of the musicians involved is just one facet of the organization that makes it unique. High school students as young as 16 years old sit next to musicians who are enjoying their retirement years. And while most participants are either students at the College or residents of Blount County, several drive to weekly practices from homes as far away as Oak Ridge.

“ The Orchestra really is a society of volunteers,” Michael said. “It’s a way for people to have fun, to express themselves musically and meet people who share their interests.”

The educational value of the Orchestra for high-school and college-age students is worth noting. Every year, the Orchestra offers a Showcase concert that features local young musicians who have auditioned for a spot in the program. Michael said that for some young people, the Showcase concert is the first opportunity they have to perform with a full symphony orchestra.

“Students come from great distances to audition,” she said. “It’s usually one of our most popular concerts.”

Name change not new

Orchestras have had a presence on the Maryville College campus for 90 years. Name changes have become a part of that history.

According to Dr. Jim Bloy, Maryville College professor emeritus and Orchestra Advisory Board member, the organization has seen six names since 1913: The Maryville College Orchestra, the Maryville College Little Symphony Orchestra, the Maryville College Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra, the Maryville-Alcoa, College-Community Orchestra and today’s “the Orchestra at Maryville College.”

So far, reaction to this most recent name change has been positive, Michael said. Envelopes recently addressed to her from people purchasing new season tickets were all marked with the new title.

“I’m glad that so many people are already on board with the name change,” she said. “I expect there will be a transition period, though. It will take a while before the new name is really rooted in the community.”

The Orchestra’s 2003-2004 season begins Oct. 27. Other concert dates are Dec. 8, March 8 and April 26. Season passes are still available for purchase. Costs are $35 for adults; $22 for seniors 60 years old and up. Individual tickets purchased at the door are $10 for adults; $7.50 for seniors. School-aged children through high school are admitted free. Tickets for college students (other than MC students) are $5 each. For more information, call Genevieve Michael at 865.273.8871 or e-mail her at genevieve.michael@maryvillecollege.edu.