Paul Scanling, music director for the new Marietta Symphony Orchestra, poses with another group of musicians. There’s no picture of the MSO because they‘ll rehearse together for the first time the day of the their inaugural show.
Photo: Courtesy of Paul Scanling
Photo: Courtesy of Paul Scanling

Hey, Cobb: There’s a new symphony in town promising to be less stuffy

Tuxedo and tails. And conductor with his nose in the air flicking the baton. A massive concert hall reverberating no sound waves other than the ones from instruments.

Paul Scanling knows that’s what many think of when they hear “symphony.”

But he wants to change that perception with Marietta Symphony Orchestra, which will hold it inaugural show Saturday at Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Scanling is the director of bands at Oglethorpe University and music director with the Lawrenceville-based Atlanta Concert Band, which its Facebook page says formed in 1958.

He registered the Marietta Symphony Orchestra with the state as a business in January, gathered a board of directors and raised some money to pay the freelance musicians.

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“I’ve always wanted to have a professional orchestra, and I saw the need and space for one here in Marietta where we could do things differently,” said the Marietta resident.

The MSO also joins the established Georgia Symphony Orchestra in Marietta.

Scanling said he pulled from other music performance styles to form the Marietta Symphony Orchestra approach.

He liked how rock and roll performers interacted with audiences between songs and how jazz musicians introduced pieces by adding a story or context.

So at MSO shows, expect Scanling to actually turn around to talk to folks, solicit feedback and lead off songs with information.

But there was something else he wanted to change.

Usually, the orchestra “is dressed about as formal as you can get,” he said. “That to me is very off-putting because it’s formal wear from 100 years ago.”

So you won’t see penguins playing music to one penguin swinging a stick. The male performers will still have ties on, but they just might not be black ties.

Here’s what else Cobb has going on this weekend:

• The Battery has events for kids, adults, pets on Halloween weekend

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• Smyrna Fall Jonquil Festival to bring plants, crafts, fair food

• Nerd it up for cheap at the Cobb library fall book sale this weekend

He said the symphony, which has a regular roster of 36 musicians, has two other shows scheduled; at one in April, they’ll be premiering an orchestral piece written by a local composer.

Scanling said there’s a large community of classical musicians in metro Atlanta who refer to themselves as the “The Freeway Philharmonic” because they have to travel too much for oppurtunities to play.

“You go pretty much any direction in the South, there’s pretty much a musician from Atlanta playing,” he said. Now, performers will “get a chance to play and sleep in your own bed as well.”

Scanling said he feels classical music is for everyone and hopes that the changes from the norm he plans to implement with MSO will help people connect.

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“We will be a part of that contemporary music scene,” he said. “We’re going to play Beethoven, but we need to play local composers’ music as well.”

The line-up for the first show will be: Beethoven’s “Coriolan” Overture, Mozart’s 38th symphony, Dvorak’s “Humoresques” and finally the first movement of Beethoven’s No. 3.

Tickets are $30 in advance online and at the door.

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