The Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga doesn't shy away from provocation. In fact, most of their productions are downright gutsy. The non-profit theater company— founded by local artists who eat, drink, and breathe stage dust—specializes in professional stagings of new and classic works that stir the imagination and gleefully push buttons. Not just geared toward grown-ups and theater connoisseurs, the ETC also conducts a youth program of camps and classes for the next generation of thespians.
The Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra sets the mood for the holiday season with a compilation of festive favorites led by guest conductor Joseph Hermann. Douse your ear canal with musical eggnog as violins pluck their strings and glockenspiels spiel their glocks to "O Holy Night," "Sleigh Ride," selections from The Nutcracker, and other aural wintertime classics. Special guests include the Riverdale High School Singers and soloist Diane Pulte, both of whom will stuff sensory stockings with quarter notes and treble clefs throughout the mellifluous evening. From your premiere seat in the majestic First United Methodist Church, you'll enjoy an up-close view of the professional symphony musicians as they coax your body into Yuletide-tinged hums, foot stomps, and restrained reindeer impersonations.
As part of the Alabama Symphony's Sounds for Summer series, both shows bring contemporary musical entertainment to the ornately gilded, classy venue. The Act of Congress and Three on a String show tickles tiny earhammers with modern bluegrass and genre-spanning hits. Or hear Country's Hit Makers: Behind the Hits, which packs a 15-song set with recent country billboard toppers such as "Cowboy Casanova" and "American Honey." Both shows are conducted by Christopher Confessore, the ASO's principal pops conductor.
Even though it opened in 2006, Schermerhorn Symphony Center looks like it's been a part of the landscape for centuries. That's because the center, which is named for Nashville Symphony's late maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn, took its design cues from famed European concert halls. Its classic appearance is enhanced by 30 soundproof windows, which allow natural sunlight or unnatural spaceship lights to stream in. A custom-built organ rings out through the hall, and a convertible seating design allows the hall to morph into a ballroom floor for cabaret shows or weddings.