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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Non-profit group allows musicians to keep performing.

Recently it was noted in The Times (Shreveport) that a group calling itself CODA [Concert Organizers for Diversity in the Arts of Northwest Louisiana] is trying to keep symphonic music alive in Shreveport. The term "diversity in the arts" implies that along with popular music, we need to support orchestras that cover a broad range of music, from serious classical compositions to lighter fare, such as movie soundtracks, orchestral arrangements of popular music (known as Pops) and musicals. There is a good reason why the orchestra as a performance group has survived over many centuries.

Here is the article in full describing the role of CODA (Sept. 5, 2009, The Times, Entertainment Section):

New group to support Shreveport Symphony
Board, musicians resume talks

By Donecia Pea • doneciapea@gannett.com • September 5, 2009

A newly formed nonprofit organization is reaching out to assist Shreveport Symphony musicians with a fundraiser concert.
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Concert Organizers for Diversity in the Arts of Northwest Louisiana will present its opening concert at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at First Baptist Church of Shreveport.

The concert will feature most of the symphony's 23 core musicians.

"Maybe two musicians won't be participating and that's only because their schedules won't allow it," CODA President Dorothy Rivette said.

Featured performers include the I-49 Brass Quintet, which includes Rick Rowell, Mike Scarlato, Tom Hundemer, Mike Davidson and Mark Thompson. Flutist Sally Horak will combine classical and jazz elements in a piece by Claude Bolling for classic flute and jazz piano trio.

The final selection will be the traditional Symphony No. 5 by Beethoven, performed by a full orchestra and conducted by Kermit Poling.

Rivette said the group is not designed to replace the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, which has been embroiled in a negotiation battle between symphony musicians and the board members for two years.

Rather, she said, CODA was formed to support the musicians and give them a way to continue to perform.

"CODA intends to keep the seasoned and educated musicians performing and living in the community so that when the day arrives, whatever orchestra our city ends up with will be one of high quality rather than one that sounds like a community orchestra," Rivette said.

Rivette said she foresees CODA working hand in hand with the symphony, similar to the Symphony Guild, but with its fundraisers solely being concerts.

"If an agreement is able to be reached, CODA would like to offer its assistance to the symphony in possibly continuing to help organize some concerts of the variety that the symphony has given up on in recent years, such as a chamber series, children's concerts, etc.," Rivette said. "Our organization is not made up of people who have money to donate, but of people who can provide a service in order to keep music alive."
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Rivette reached out to symphony board president Richard Bremer asking for his support of CODA.
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"She did send me an e-mail and explain what they're doing. Basically, if it's helpful to musicians, that's fine," Bremer said.

Bremer further noted that the board members and musicians, along with their union representative, have resumed talks and plan to meet again shortly after Labor Day.

"The musicians and the board continue to use our best efforts to hopefully overcome the impasse and be successful," Bremer said.

However, Bremer would not comment further on the status of negotiations or the future of the symphony.

"It's too early to comment. I'm just going to leave it there," he said.

Symphony musician spokesman Rick Rowell could not be reached for comment.

Rivette was a former board member of the short-lived Red River Chamber Orchestra, formed last September by community volunteers Kevin Hill along with Bill Causey and Bob Maynard to assist the musicians. However, the group never attained its 501(c)3 status.

Rivette eventually left that group and formed CODA in December, receiving 501(c)3 status in June.

Rivette said they haven't determined how many additional concerts they will present after the inaugural concert.

"We are taking things one day at a time right now. We'll just see how this one goes and see what we want to plan after that. A lot of it depends on what happens with the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra," Rivette said. "If they begin producing large symphony concerts again, there won't be a need for us to do it and maybe we'll do some chamber or children's concerts."

For further information about the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, which has an uncertain future, but might still rise out of the ashes, visit Shreveport Symphony Orchestra.

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