Page 12 - A short history of the Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra
P. 12

He put on programs in cooperation with the Oak Ridge Playhouse and the Dance Arts Studio. Welsh also wished to demonstrate his ability for handling vocal works (chorus and vocalists) by performing concert versions of the Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, Kismet, and the Berlioz Requiem.
Rosemary Ahmad-Byers, chorus director (1978–96), who worked with the orchestra in numerous concerts and musicals, was instrumental in augmenting ORCMA's income. Her "shows" were extremely popular and attracted large audiences. When Rosemary resigned as chorus director in
1996, Serge Fournier was selected as conductor of the Oak Ridge Chorus. There was competition between the two conductors as to which one would conduct works which required both the chorus and orchestra. During Welsh's tenure, an increasing number of professional players were used in the ORSO to a point where two-thirds of the orchestra were professionals and the remainder were avocational players.
Welsh had always submitted "big" (expensive) programs to ORCMA which did not help him in negotiations with the ORCMA Board of Directors. In his last season (1999–2000), Welsh performed the monumental Mahler Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) with the aid of the Carson-Newman Choirs and Virginia Kelp as soprano soloist.
Welsh's contract was not renewed in 2000 when the ORCMA Board, in order to save money, decided to have one conductor for both the chorus and orchestra. After much discussion (during which 120 applicants had answered ads for the post in musical publications) ORCMA selected Serge Fournier as its musical director and conductor.
Serge Fournier (2000-2004) has been music director and conductor of both the orchestra and chorus. Musically very capable, Fournier has performed some works never performed previously and emphasized French composers. He has indicated that he would like the ORSO to be a wholly professional symphony, however ORCMA's budget limitations seem to

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