Now that the Cobb Symphony orchestra has dubbed itself the Georgia Symphony, it has upped its own ante. Don’t bet against it. Since music director Michael Alexander arrived seven years ago, the budget has grown from under $100,000 to half a million. The semiprofessional organization has wiped out all debt, grown from three annual concerts to more than twenty, started the largest youth orchestra in the Southeast, added a jazz ensemble, formed a chorus, and launched a private academy. It’s already booking dates in North Georgia. All of this without public funding from Cobb County.
Alexander credits the symphony’s success to an audience-friendly approach. Whether they’re presenting avant-garde contemporary compositions like Philip Glass’s Heroes, based on the work of David Bowie (coming in November), or familiar works like Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7, the performers explain—and even demonstrate—what makes each piece noteworthy. “Our audience has come to expect that they’re going to have something to talk about,” says Alexander.