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The Nashville Symphony will not host its usual Free Day of Music this year.

The Free Day, which the Symphony has hosted every year since 2006, as part of its commitment to providing accessible musical experiences to the community, was a full day of free musical performances  and other activities throughout the center.

In past years, the event offered a rare free chance to enjoy a Nashville Symphony concert in the magnificent main concert hall. Plus, visitors could enjoy dozens of multi genre performances  on stages in and around the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. 

The Nashville Symphony Free Day of Music was an annual event but the Symphony is not having it this year. (Photo:

There were also Q and A sessions with the conductors, a musical petting zoo, and Symphony Center tours. 

Announcement on Facebook

The “no Free Day this year” announcement, was made on the Symphony’s Facebook page, with a post saying, “it has been a joy and a privilege to welcome tens of thousands of visitors to our building over the past 13 years.

“More recently, our understanding of our role in the community has begun to change and expand. In response, we have started taking a closer look at our Free Day of Music so that we can assess how well we are serving our community with this program.

“This event requires hundreds of hours of staff, volunteer, and musician time each season. With all of this in mind, we have an opportunity and an obligation to explore how we can most effectively use these resources. For this reason, we will not host Free Day of Music in 2019.”

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Symphony chief operating officer Steve Brosvik said that the Free Day of Music has remained “largely unchanged in its 13 years” and that the staff is evaluating it and a lot of other programs to determine if they are the best offerings for listeners and performers. 

He said that the move is more of a decision to take a break from the Free Day rather than a definite end to the event.

The announcement on Facebook was met with comments of disappointment, tempered with understanding the tremendous effort and resources required to put on such an event.     

Cathryn Sommer commented: “Such a disappointment for Music City! There is no doubt that the Free Day of Music is a huge undertaking…I truly appreciate what you have done for the community.”

Free fall concerts

A bright spot for those looking for free activities, is that the Symphony’s fall calendar includes some free family- friendly offerings, including two full orchestra concerts plus an expanded Chamber Music series.    

There is a 7 p.m. Oct. 16 Nashville Symphony concert at Plaza Mariachi, featuring the full orchestra conducted by Enrico Lopez-Yanez. 

The second one is at 7 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Renaissance Center in Dickson. It will be a one hour full orchestra performance, led by new assistant conductor Nathan Aspinall. 

The free Chamber Music series, which is ticketed but free, is adding some morning performances. The full lineup and details will be announced Sept. 9, but confirmed dates include 6 p.m. Oct. 8, “Variation with Strings” with violist Judith Ablon and friends exploring the art of Theme and Variations.Tickets available starting Sept. 23

Next up is the Elliston Trio Plays Beethoven and Tower, with performances at  6 p.m. Nov. 6 and 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 8. This acclaimed piano trio returns to the Chamber Music Series, with a powerful program contrasting Beethoven’s classic “Ghost” trio with work from one of America’s leading female composers. Tickets available starting Oct. 21.

A musical petting zoo was a popular part of the Free Day of Music in past years. (Photo: Alan Poizner / For The Tennessean)

The Symphony statement noted that the Symphony’s popular free admission summer Community Concert series at local parks remains in place for the coming year. 

“As we take a break from Free Day of Music, we’ll also take a chance to explore how we can do an even better job of inviting the community to participate in these programs. Over the next year, we will take a thoughtful look at all of our free community engagement programming and continue to explore how we can best continue to serve our community.”

Brosvik emphasized that “we want to get a lot of feedback on this.”

He said that if you think the Free Day of Music is “perfect or if you have have ideas about how the Nashville Symphony can better serve the community”, send your thoughts to [email protected].

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