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Founded In The Midst Of WWII, The Oak Ridge Symphony Is No Stranger To Difficult Times

The city of Oak Ridge, TN was essentially born out of a need to solve a problem. Established in 1942 as a production and development site for the Manhattan Project, scientists came to live and work in this small town where the atomic bomb would be developed. Not long after arriving in Oak Ridge, one scientist, Waldo Cohn, a cellist, felt the need to play chamber music with some of his colleagues. Out of this grew the Oak Ridge Symphonette, which would later become the Oak Ridge Symphony, conducted by Cohn. In his later years, Cohn recalled that attending rehearsals at the High School wasn't always easy. There was gas rationing, due to the war, and round-the-clock work schedules at the Manhattan Project production facilities. But orchestra members did the best they could because they wanted to create and share music. A lot has changed in the orchestra's 75-year existance, but one thing remains true: the Oak Ridge Symphony intends on persevering through the current challenge of COVID-19 so that they can continue to enrich and represent the unique community of Oak Ridge, TN.

The umbrella organization, Oak Ridge Civic Music Association (ORCMA) https://orcma.org/ has had to cancel two performances due to the pandemic: one chamber music program and the season finale, which was to be a celebratory conclusion of the orchestra's 75th anniversary. In the meantime, orchestra musicians have been busy teaching online and music director, Dan Allcott, has been creating a series of "musician interviews" so that audience members can get to know them a little better. In addition, Allcott has been thinking ahead towards next season and says that the orchestra will be ready to play when it is safe to do so, even though it might "look" a little different from what we're used to as audience members. 

High-quality recordings of previous performances can be found on ORCMA's Youtube channel (link below), so if you're missing the concert hall and live performance, perhaps you can catch-up on missed concerts from the comfort of your own home.


Melony calls the beautiful mountains of Boone, N.C., home, although she was born near Greensboro, N.C. There’s just something about those Blue Ridge Mountains that got in her blood and never left after she moved there to attend Appalachian State University (ASU). While at ASU, she majored in piano performance and music therapy and began to cultivate a love for accompanying and for collaborating with other musicians. This soon led her to earn a master’s degree in collaborative piano at the University of Tennessee, which she attended from 2006-2008.
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