Symphony of the Mountains has a strong and proud heritage. What began as a community orchestra in 1946 has grown to a fully-professional, regional orchestra serving Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Western North Carolina. The three pillars on which we stand are Entertaining, Educating, and Enriching.
Today, Symphony of the Mountains consists of more than 70 professionally paid musicians led by Conductor Cornelia Laemmli Orth. The Symphony performs throughout the Mountain Empire region and strives to reach even the most rural areas. In addition to playing symphonic orchestral music, we collaborate with world-renowned soloists such as Bela Fleck, The McLain Family Band, Emmet Cahill, Edgar Meyer, and The Kruger Brothers with whom in addition to U.S. performances, we presented a concert tour in Switzerland as the first Tennessee based orchestra to perform abroad.
To further our endeavor to change as many lives as possible through the power of music, we present annual Family and School Concerts that bring music to school children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to hear a live symphony orchestra, provide free musical instruction to high-risk children at their most vulnerable time in the learning process and offer a Free Student Ticket Program as a natural outgrowth of our commitment to bring top-quality classical music education to our region. The Symphony also operates a Primo Orchestra for younger, up-and-coming musicians.
In keeping with its mandate to be enriching the community, Symphony of the Mountains has initiated an outreach program to raise awareness regarding concerns for people who are homeless. As part of this effort, the Symphony co-commissioned a Violin Concerto called “Paths to Dignity” by Lucas Richman. It addresses the “Paths to Dignity” for people who are unsheltered. In the weeks leading up to the concert, extensive outreach helped educate our communities about the issues of people who are homeless and provided music in places where individuals and families who are unsheltered can enjoy it.
Cornelia Laemmli Orth, Director
Cornelia Laemmli Orth is in her sixteenth season as Music Director of Symphony of the Mountains.
In addition to Masterworks Series, she has developed new series of Summer Outdoor, Family, Young People, Pops, Patriotic and Cross-Over concerts. World renowned soloists are regular guests with Symphony of the Mountains. As an advocate for Contemporary Music, Cornelia brings a variety of new music to the region. Her concert lectures, involvement with area schools, colleges and universities, speeches for civic organizations, regular TV and radio appearances and collaborations with regional art organizations have made her a vital part of the community.
In October 2017, she appeared as guest conductor with the Brevard Philharmonic in Brevard, NC.
From 2010-2012, she held the position of interim music director for the Appalachian Philharmonic and the Appalachian State University Opera Program in Boone, NC. She serves now on the advisory board for the Hayes School of Music.
During the 2014-2015 Season, Cornelia had her debut as guest conductor with the Asheville Lyric Opera in Asheville, NC. Prior to her engagement with Symphony of the Mountains, Cornelia held the position of music director and conductor of the Oak Ridge Symphony and Choir. She served as Associate Conductor and later Principal Guest Conductor of the Knoxville Symphony from 2002-2008 and since then has had several appearances with this orchestra.
In Europe, she was music director of the Operetta Theatre in Moeriken, Switzerland, guest assistant conductor under Philippe Jordan at La Scala in Milano, Italy, worked with the Bohuslav Orchestra in the Czech Republic, and conducted many concerts with choirs and ad hoc orchestras with musicians from the Zurich Opera House and the Tonhalle Orchestra.
Cornelia received her Lehrdiplom in piano from the Conservatory at Winterhur and graduated from the Conservatory and University in Zurich with her Masters in Music Education and Choral Conducting.
She obtained her Masters in Orchestra Conducting from Northwestern University, where she studied under Victor Yampolsky. In a variety of workshop settings, she studied under Larry Rachleff, Marin Alsop, Joann Falletta, Robert Spano, Kirk Trevor, Tsung Yeh, Milen Nachev and Johannes Schlaefli.
Cornelia convincingly combines the classical-romantic tradition of her old-world origins with the unique American flavor that her international background and extensive work experience in her adopted country has provided and is a sought-after guest conductor in the USA and in Europe.