Ever So Glorious, Blowing Rock Symphony Satisfies “Arts Desire”

Ever So Glorious, Blowing Rock Symphony Satisfies “Arts Desire”
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Cornelia Laemmli Orth was once again at the helm as Director of Symphony of the Mountains

By David Rogers. July 22, 2016. BLOWING ROCK, NC — What do Aladdin, Pope Alexander XI, and the Court Jester have in common? They were all at Blowing Rock’s “Symphony By the Lake” Friday evening — along with nearly 5,000 of their closest friends, known and unknown at Chetola Mountain Resort — enjoying the evening’s theme, “Music To Your Arts Desire.”

COVER IMAGE: (left to right) Erich Schlenker as “Aladdin,” Leigh Dunston as “Pope Alexander XI,” and Robert Warren as “The Court Jester” were all smiles in the Herterich tent, enjoying the music and the camaraderie. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News


Whatever words Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Charles Hardin whispered into the ears of the weather gods needs to be bottled and sold commercially.  “It IS a glorious evening,” one Symphony patron observed to Blowing Rock News midway through the evening. After thunder was heard rolling across Eastern Continental Divide earlier in the afternoon, by evening the clouds had cleared and the threat of rain evaporated.

It IS a glorious evening.

Artist Rick Reinert puts finishing touches on his “live art” of the symphony.

This year’s event had a special feature: artist Rick Reinert painted a large piece onsite — with the symphony as its subject matter. As the painting was progressing, patrons offered bids in $500 increments for a “silent auction”, which was held throughout the evening until intermission when Hardin announced the winning bid of $10,500.

Soprano soloist performed to an appreciative standing ovation.

If a patron wanted music, he or she found it in the 2016 edition of Symphony By The Lake. The numerous early arrivals got immediately into the swing of things around 5:30 pm, as the Steve Frank-led band, The Swing Step, performed the evening’s preamble set to the actual symphony. From show tunes to Sinatra, the accomplished local group set the mood of good times for all, helped by dancers from the Carolina Snowbelles, a precision dance troupe for dancers 10 and up (led by Blowing Rock resident and former Radio City Music Hall “Rockette,” Cheryl Cutlip). Ballroom dancers from Dima and Merin Sazinas’ Sky Retreat, along with a group of swing dancers led by Andy Harkins added even more energy to The Swing Step performance.

As the featured attraction, the Symphony of the Mountains directed by Cornelia Laemmli Orth did not disappoint. Orth told Blowing Rock News just minutes before the orchestra began its segment of the show, “We are so happy to be back. This is one of our favorite performances of the year. Our musicians just love to come here — and especially when it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit down the mountain in Tennessee as it was today!”

From show tunes to Sinatra, Swing Step set the mood of good times for all.

Court Jester Robert Warren photo bombs a family portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Glover while an amused patron looks on.

To be sure, it was quite literally a “Chamber of Commerce” evening. The weather was perfect for one of the High Country’s most anticipated events and the Orth-led Symphony of the Mountains came loaded with musical entertainment, from the dizzying array of full orchestra pieces to featured guests Scott Kallestadt, saxophone; Steven Sensenig, piano; and Bree Jordan, soprano. The symphony program included:

  • The National Anthem, John Stafford Smith (1750-1836)
  • Curtain UP, arr. Bob Krogstad
  • Symphonic Dances from Fiddler on the Roof, Bock/Harnick arr. Hearshen
  • Meditation from “Thais”, Jules Massenet (1842-1912)
    • Violin soloist, Cameron Lugo
  • Gianni Schicchi, O mio babbino caro, Giacomo Puccini (1712-1781)
  • From the musical Chicago, CHICAGO, Kander/Ebb arr. Lopez
  • Four Pictures from New York, Roberto Molinelli (b. 1963)
This young woman seemed to be in her “own little world” but was a brilliant performer and highly entertaining with what most call a hula hoop.


  • Circus Music, Entry of the Gladiators, Julius Fucik (1872-1916)
  • Kabalevsk, The Comedians Gallop, Dmitry Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
  • Send In The Clowns, Stephen Sondheim, arr. Lowden
  • The Irish Dragoon: Circus Galop, John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)
  • Selections from Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber, arr. Custer
  • Armed Forces Salute, arr. Lowden
  • Remembering The Beatles, arr. Lowden
  • Stars and Stripes, John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)

The evening ended with a dazzling fireworks display. For those seated “just right” it was a dual display, the lights and colors simultaneously bursting into view in the night sky, as well as being reflected in the lake surface below.

As leader of The Swing Set, local musician Steve Frank wailed on the saxophone — and vocally to great effect.

Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce encouraged the private party patrons to get with the theme and many took great pride in competing for “Best Tent” recognition. In the commercial competition, Westglow Resort & Spa won top honors with its “Cafe Van Gogh,” while the Herterich family’s four-themes combining music and art won in the non-commercial category.  Many of the Herterich guests wore costumes to match their themes: Cartoon, Jazz, Renaissance, and Broadway — which of course explains how Aladdin, the Pope, and a Court Jester all wound up in the same place.

Westglow’s private party guests visited “Cafe Van Gogh”

Primary sponsors for Symphony By The Lake included Hendrick Northlake Luxury Auto Mall, The Village Foundation of Blowing Rock, RockitmanRadio.com, the Ethel and H. George Kennedy Family Foundation, the Kennedy/Herterich Fund, Monkee’s of Blowing Rock, 100 West Union Menswear, Party Reflections and WNC Magazine.

From directing cars to available parking spots to manning the entry gates, setting up and cleaning up, each year the Symphony By The Lake relies on the help of scores of volunteers.

Volunteers like David Harwood (directing traffic to parking at Tanger Shoppes On The Parkway) are the unsung heroes of Symphony By The Lake.

As executive director of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, Hardin told Blowing Rock News, “We can never say ‘thank you’ too much to our sponsors and our volunteers. Of course we value our patrons who buy tickets, but without the sponsor funding and the volunteers to make things work, this would be a much different event.”






SLIDESHOW Of Captured Moments By David Rogers For Blowing Rock News


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