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A Symphony by the Lake

By Jeff Eason (

Article Published: Jul. 16 | Modified: Jul. 16
A Symphony by the Lake

Cornelia Laemmli Orth conducts the Symphony of the Mountains at 2013’s Symphony by the Lake.
Photos by Frank Ruggiero

Classical music just wouldn’t be the same without the violin.

Every other instrument in the orchestra can “take five” every now and again, and you wouldn’t really notice its absence.

But the violins, heading up the ever-powerful string section, are usually front and center.

The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce’s annual Symphony by the Lake event will spotlight the violin this year, with the theme, “Fiddles and Fiddleheads.” Both the opening act, the Lugo Family Players and the featured orchestra, the Symphony of the Mountains of Kingsport, Tenn., will perform pieces that emphasize the zing of the violin string.

The event will feature prizes for the best decorated tents, raffles, a book signing with photographer Todd Bush and much more. Attendees can either bring in their own picnic dinners or purchase sandwiches and other items from Timberlake’s Restaurant’s outside buffet.

The Symphony by the Lake event takes place at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock on Friday, July 25. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. The music begins at 6 p.m., and the fireworks display begins at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Symphony of the Mountains

The Symphony of the Mountains has a strong and proud heritage. The orchestra began when a small group of musicians dreamed of having a civic orchestra in 1946.

At the time, it was known as Kingsport Symphony Orchestra. Twenty-seven musicians attended the first rehearsal, and the number quickly grew to more than 40. The first concert was free to the public, and neither the conductor nor any of the musicians were paid.

Through the decades, the musical enrichment included classical concerts, entertaining pops and light musical offerings, captivating soloists and empowering opportunities for young musicians.

The Kingsport Symphony Youth Orchestra was formed in 1965 and presently consists of 80 young people representing the entire region. The mid-1980s brought the premier run out performance in Bristol, plus the beginning of the Education in the Schools Outreach program. In 1994, Musicians in the Schools began.

In 2003, Kingsport Symphony was renamed Symphony of the Mountains. The chorus merged with the Bristol Concert Choir under the name, Voices of the Mountains.

In the ’80s and ’90s, the orchestra grew steadily and increased its outreach. As mandated by the board of directors, the commitment to service encompasses the entire region, without regard for state or county boundaries. In 1998, the symphony board added to the long-range plans the goal of becoming an orchestra for the entire Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region, a service area of approximately 450,000 citizens. They mandated the orchestra to become a fully-professional orchestra.

Today, the orchestra consists of more than 70 professional musicians and is conducted by Cornelia Laemmli Orth.

Lugo Family Players

The Lugo Family Players, a family of children ranging in age from 6 to 17, will open the Symphony by the Lake event with some skilled violin pieces and infectious fiddle tunes. The group includes Cameron, Natalie, Jonathan and David Lugo from Jonesborough, Tenn.


Tickets for the Symphony by the Lake event are $32.50 and can be purchased by calling the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at (828) 295-7851. The chamber’s regularly scheduled hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Due to construction at Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway, additional satellite parking options will be available.

This year, the chamber has added an additional parking area and shuttle service. Parking will be available at Tweetsie Railroad, and a shuttle will pick up and deliver concert-goers to the Tanger/Chetola back gate. There will also be a shuttle service taking people from the parking decks in downtown Blowing Rock and a third shuttle from the Food Lion parking lot. According to the chamber, the Food Lion shuttle is the best choice for the mobility-challenged, as it is wheelchair accessible.

For more information, call the chamber at (828) 295-7851.

Additional Images

Cornelia Laemmli Orth conducts the Symphony of the Mountains at 2013’s Symphony by the Lake.
Photos by Frank Ruggiero

Friends, families and colleagues gather at Chetola Lake for the Symphony by the Lake, returning to Blowing Rock July 25.

A near-capacity crowd attends 2013’s Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock.

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