OAK RIDGE — Cornelia Kodkani-Laemmli will begin her final concert season as music director of the Oak Ridge Civic Music Association and conductor of the Oak Ridge Symphony when she conducts the Oak Ridge Chamber Symphony at a 3 p.m. Sept. 27 concert at Pollard Auditorium.
She is leaving ORCMA with mixed emotions. "With a crying eye, you know," Laemmli said. "But it is a necessary change."
With aging parents in her native Switzerland and her husband's work relocating to San Francisco, the prospect of long hours on airplanes and in airports was the major deciding factor.
"I have too many balls in the air," she said. "With moving and preparing for two concert seasons, as well as staying in touch with my parents, it's been a little crazy."
In addition to her responsibilities in Oak Ridge, Laemmli also is music director and conductor of the Symphony of the Mountains in Kingsport, a contract that is not due for renewal.
"It was necessary to cut down on one of my obligations," she said. "The complicated thing is the 'backstage work' and all the other things to go into making a program. Trying to do all these things over long distances was going to be too difficult. If I do something, I want to do it right. It's not fair to do anything less than my best for the organizations I work for."
But she is leaving Oak Ridge with a legacy. During her tenure, Laemmli has had an important impact.
"One of the things I am really proud of is the education and outreach program we have now," she said. "Oak Ridge has many very talented young musicians, and I am really proud of bringing students in to play in the orchestra and sing in the chorus."
Laemmli has especially enjoyed working with the people involved with ORCMA. "I like working with the committees. They are very dedicated people," she said.
"The interesting thing about Oak Ridge is the people really know the music and they have strong opinions about how things should go.
"They are also willing to hear new music and know a lot about what they are hearing. I don't think a series like Isotone, (a chamber music series dedicated to new music and the connections between music and science) would work as well in a lot of other communities," Laemmli said.
To end her final concert in Oak Ridge on May 1, 2010, Laemmli is bringing together the Oak Ridge Chorus and the Symphony of the Mountains Chorus for a performance of Christopher Theofanidis' contemporary choral work "The Here and Now."
"This is a really wonderful piece of music. We are also doing it in Kingsport," Laemmli said.
Tickets for Oak Ridge Symphony concerts are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors and $8 for students over age 18 with identification. Chamber music series tickets are $25 for adults and $12 for children and students. Tickets may be purchased by calling 865-483-5976 or online at www.orcma.org.
Harold Duckett is a freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.
© 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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