Entertainment and Music Lifestyle

Asheville Symphony Will Perform at First Baptist Church of Asheville for Three Years

By Gina Malone

The Asheville Symphony has announced a three-year partnership with First Baptist Church of Asheville (FBCA) so that performances of the Symphony’s Masterworks series can continue in a venue that provides an optimal listening experience for audiences. For the 2024-2025 season, all seven of the Symphony’s Masterworks programs will be performed at the historic FBCA. Other concerts, including recitals, pops and the ALT ASO series, will continue to be produced in various venues throughout Asheville.

Photo by Ezekiel Coppersmith

During the 2023-2024 season, the Symphony held five of its seven Masterworks Series performances in FBCA’s sanctuary after the closure of the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in 2023 because of a failure of its HVAC system and other issues.

“The audience has raved about the experience at FBCA,” says Asheville Symphony executive director Daniel Crupi. “Basic patron amenities such as parking, restrooms and sightlines are outstanding, but the real gift to the Symphony and its audiences has been the acoustics. You can literally feel the music resonating in your body, which is a powerful experience when dealing with unamplified, acoustic music.” Patron comments in anonymous surveys mention appreciation for the sound and the intimacy at FBCA as well as for the Symphony’s superior performances.

Music director Darko Butorac agrees that the sound quality is exceptional, and he is taking that into account with plans for the 2024-2025 season. “We discovered string soloists sound spectacular in the setting this season, so I would look at Alexi Kenney’s Sibelius Concerto on the season opener,” he says. “If there is a concert that I would point out, it would be performance of the Bizet/Shchedrin Carmen Suite in March of 2025. It is a piece that uses the percussion section in such a unique and creative way, and I can’t wait to share the subtlety of all those colors and textures in such a vibrant acoustic.”

Crupi expresses gratitude for the partnership between the Symphony and FBCA. “At the same time,” he adds, “the Symphony also looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with the City of Asheville and other community leaders to help solve Asheville’s large indoor venue dilemma. Our neighbors in Asheville deserve a large-scale, 2,000+ seat performing arts center, and the Asheville Symphony is committed to serving as a key partner in bringing this vision to reality.”

With the FBCA being a smaller venue, the Symphony offers both matinee and evening performances, something that the musicians find rewarding. “Getting to perform these programs twice is such a gift to us as musicians, as much as it is for our community,” oboist Cara Jenkins says. “When we sit on stage and we can see your reactions to the music, it just energizes us.”

For more information about the Asheville Symphony and its upcoming performances, visit AshevilleSymphony.org. The First Baptist Church of Asheville is located at 5 Oak Street, Asheville.

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