The Asheville Symphony is moving the majority of its season in light of a problem with the HVAC system at Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium that affects the ability to heat or cool the house of the auditorium.
While the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium is slated to remain open at a limited capacity, the audience portion of the venue will be heated and cooled primarily via an HVAC unit that heats and cools the stage, resulting in significant overheating or overcooling of the stage to keep the house regulated.
When orchestra members’ instruments become overheated or over-cooled, the quality of sound is affected, and instruments may sustain damage. The Asheville Symphony, in consultation with Harrah’s Cherokee Center-Asheville staff, determined that both the musicians’ and audience members’ experiences could not be simultaneously controlled sufficiently.
According to Asheville Symphony Executive Director Daniel Crupi, it is with those factors in mind that the Symphony made the decision to move all shows originally scheduled for Thomas Wolfe Auditorium to alternate venues for the duration of the 2023-2024 season. “We are aware that the problem with the HVAC unit will require significant lead time to repair – it could take upwards of nine months before we are back in a full capacity, temperature-controlled Thomas Wolfe,” said Crupi. “While changing a planned season is not ideal, our goal is to provide a high-quality musical experience in a space that meets our patrons’ needs and creates a comfortable atmosphere.”
All planned shows for the season will still go on, now in several locations across Asheville. The majority of the Asheville Symphony’s classical “Masterworks” series will be held in the First Baptist Church of Asheville in double shows, with Saturday matinee and evening performances. Other new venues include Salvage Station, Harrah’s Cherokee Center-Asheville’s ExploreAsheville.com Arena, and Brevard Music Center. A previously scheduled performance in the Wortham Center for Performing Arts will go on as planned.
“We are profoundly grateful to our community partners for enabling us to respond so quickly to the need to change our primary venue for the season,” said Crupi. “It is a testament to the strength of our community and the Symphony’s role in it that we were able to collaborate with fellow arts organizations and venues to identify exciting alternative venues for this season. The Symphony is also grateful to the staff at Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville for their open communication and help problem solving, as we ultimately determined it was best for the Symphony to ‘hit the road’ in Asheville for the season.”
While many of this season’s performances will be held in alternate locations, Crupi emphasizes that the 2023-2024 season is full of unique and exciting offerings: the popular free Symphony in the Park concert in Downtown Asheville’s Pack Square Park, a seven-concert Masterworks series, a four-concert ALT ASO series featuring rock, bluegrass, and klezmer, a Star Wars themed concert held in conjunction with Beer City Comic Con, a soulful New Year’s Eve show, a world-class piano recital, and a new residency concept celebrating the violin.
“The Asheville Symphony is woven into the fabric of Asheville, and it has been our goal in recent years to make the Symphony earnestly resonate with our community – embedding ourselves into venues across the community does just that,” said Crupi. “Last season saw our first-ever award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which is one of the highest marks of excellence in the country. We have a truly remarkable and creative team that remains poised to continue our growth and commitment to excellence.”
The Asheville Symphony Orchestra performs and promotes symphonic music for the benefit, enjoyment and education of the people of Western North Carolina. Related organizations include the Asheville Symphony Guild, Asheville Symphony Chorus, Asheville Symphonettes, and education initiatives such as the Asheville Buncombe Youth Orchestra, Music in the Schools, MusicWorks, Spotlight on Young Musicians, Symphony Talk, and pre-concert lectures. Learn more at www.ashevillesymphony.org.