In the Key of Adaptability

Orchestra launches another new program to fit the times

The Café String Quartet is (l-r) Amanda Tant, Monique Pinelli, Eric Scheider, and Elizabeth Terry.
Photo by Naima Sutton

Just over a year ago, the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra launched a new program aimed at expanding its audience. HSO Director of Marketing and Special Events Paul Conroy explained at the time that the goal of its “HSO Presents” concert series was to “broaden our musical footprint.” Begun in October 2019, that program featured musical styles well beyond classical – jazz, swing, bluegrass, and more — in breweries and other venues outside the traditional concert hall.

The series got off to a strong start. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, like most every other live music endeavor, “HSO Presents” was stopped in its tracks. And the orchestra’s 2020 season was canceled, as well. But even audiences who can’t attend a live concert still hunger for the music, and the musicians still want to play. Responding to those demands in the challenging pandemic era, the orchestra is debuting another new program, “HSO Up Close and Personal.”

Conroy explains the concept of the online video-based series. “It’s clear that we won’t return to the stage with the full orchestra for some time,” he says. “So we have started this project to keep in touch with our patrons. These are brand-new performances created with this video series in mind.”

Getting the full orchestra together for a video recording would be logistically difficult — as well as irresponsible — in this time of social distancing. So “Up Close and Personal” features small ensembles. 

And although the format is dictated by circumstances, Conroy emphasizes there’s a significant advantage for the audience. “With 70 people onstage in the orchestra, the [musicians] tend to blend into the group,” he says. Smaller configurations allow greater focus on the individual players — and their diverse command of genres. “We wanted to give a more personal view of the musicians.”

At the time of Conroy’s conversation with Bold Life, three performances were in production. “Right now, we just have quartets,” Conroy says. “But we plan on doing duos and different combinations in the future.” And the videos won’t be shaky, hand-held smartphone affairs; these videos will feature multi-camera location shoots that bring the viewer deep into the performances. The concert locations are as varied as the music; quartets have been recorded at Echo Mountain Studio, at a historic home in Flat Rock, and at Burntshirt Vineyards. The local music venue White Horse Black Mountain is a future possibility.

The first recording is the Cello Quartet (comprised of HSO members) performing “Blue Tango” by Leroy Anderson, “Sarabande” by Bach, “At Last” by Etta James, and “Yesterday” by the Beatles. The second video is another orchestra configuration, the Café String Quartet, playing selections from Mozart, Piaf, Purcell, and Florence Price. 

In a true fulfillment of the theme, each video will also include interviews with the players. “You get to know what their background is — who they are,” says Conroy.

The “HSO Up Close and Personal” video series will be free to view for a limited time; visit the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra’s website ( or the orchestra’s YouTube channel to watch. For more information, call 828-697-5884 or e-mail 

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