August 30, 2006
A Little Less Country
In his recent article “Grand Ole Symphony Hall,” writer Stephen Zacks reveals the ignorant underbelly of his commitment to Progressive Modernism before even deploying ten words, by referring to the new Nashville Symphony Center as “neo-classical.” This building is not copying a specific monument from antiquity-as Jefferson’s Rotunda aped the Pantheon-but rather is a new […]
In his recent article “Grand Ole Symphony Hall,” writer Stephen Zacks reveals the ignorant underbelly of his commitment to Progressive Modernism before even deploying ten words, by referring to the new Nashville Symphony Center as “neo-classical.” This building is not copying a specific monument from antiquity-as Jefferson’s Rotunda aped the Pantheon-but rather is a new creation, a unique statement never before made. Zacks has confused the classical with the neo-classical, a mistake as amateurish as labeling actual Gothic “Victorian Gothik Revival.”
Perhaps even more tragic is Mr. Zacks’ “analysis” of the Schermerhorn, apparently conducted without his actually seeing it. If he had observed with the opened eyes of a scholar, he would have noticed that the building is covered in Egyptian sculptural language-from the Papyrus capitals to the winged sun-god motifs. The building may be, in this sense, a revivalist essay-but it is a classical Egyptian Revival structure, not a Neo-Classical Honky-Tonk Brothel. In an attempt at cuteness, the author managed to produce a bigoted, regionalist satire that would be considered unfit for publication had it been directed at any other stereotype-burdened community.
As a long time Nashville native I find this rather shallow review of our new concert hall insulting and condescending. I suppose, after all, we are looked upon by the rest of the civilized world as a bunch of redneck, country music lovin’ hicks.
Quite the contrary folks!
Roy Cleveland Wallace III
The second half of this article is fine, but the first have is ignorant at best. Every square inch of the Symphony Center was carefully thought out. The building is in tradition with Nashville’s love of neo-classical things. The symphony hall could not face the other three structures do to its length. I don’t hear you complaining that the main entrances to the GEC don’t face the square. If the author could have spent more time on facts and less on his uneducated and biased remarks, this article would have been informative.
Whether Schermerhorn Symphony Center becomes a major destination for classical music lovers will depend as much on its sound as its architectural style. The Nashville Symphony is already pleased and the appointment of Leonard Slatkin as Music Advisor is bringing international attention to the orchestra and their new home. In January 2007, the Cleveland Orchestra (not a bad band at all) arrives for a test drive. In June 2007 the American Symphony Orchestra League will hold its annual convention in Nashville. So it would appear that the Schermerhorn Center has already become a destination for classical (and other) music lovers, even before its opening.
The new symphony hall seems like a spectacular, quality, and dignified building. The cut-price modernists are afraid…very afraid. That’s why they lash out in anger. Congratulations Nashville.