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The Rome Symphony Orchestra

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Christmas 2020 season didn’t have the same sparkle as years prior. This year, organizations large and small are bringing much-needed holiday cheer and magic to reinvigorate the 2021 holiday season. The Rome Symphony Orchestra is excited to resume in-person live performances and seeks to entertain audiences young and old alike with their holiday offering, A Dickens’ Christmas on Broad, happening on Sunday, December 19th.

The RSO, known famously as the “oldest symphony in the South,” traditionally offers a holiday concert as part of their season slate. Due to pandemic restrictions last year, the 2020-2021 season began in January and skipped the fan-favorite holiday event in favor of virtual performances until live events could take place again.

With restrictions lifted and crowds permitted to gather again, the symphony resumes its mission to inspire, educate, and entertain through musical performances. But this year is big for the organization in other ways as well: the orchestra celebrates a milestone birthday with the 21-22 season: one hundred years of orchestral music in downtown Rome. In homage, the entire season slate pays tribute to all the “greatest hits” in music over the last one hundred years: from the introduction of music into the movies, the advent of Broadway, the rise of Aaron Copland and more.

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The holiday concert, however, skips the overall 100th-anniversary theme and stands as a love letter for symphony supporters. Maestro Jeffrey Dokken, now serving in his fourth year as conductor, is upping the ante by creating an immersive holiday experience with interactive elements alongside symphonic music.

“Nothing evokes thoughts and feelings of Christmas more than Charles Dickens and the Victorian Era,” Dokken says, “Our costumed carolers, seasonal readings, and musical selections will sweep the entire family away to a bygone era of Christmas magic, and we hope the performance will help audiences take that spark back to their own family holiday celebrations.”

The symphony’s late-in-the-holiday-season event (less than a week before Christmas!) aims to be an outing for the whole family. As part of their initiative to engage the next generation of symphony goers, the symphony board also moved the holiday concert two hours earlier than the traditional 7 p.m. start time, in order to provide an opportunity for the youngest family members to attend.

Maestro Jeffrey Dokken
Maestro Jeffrey Dokken

The concert will be held Sunday, December 19th at 5 p.m. in the afternoon at The Rome City Auditorium on Broad Street. As the symphony’s home base for many years, the city auditorium is sure to be decked in holiday decor and ready to resume holiday traditions. In December, there is truly no place like “Rome” for the holidays.

For more information on the symphony and to purchase tickets for A Dickens’ Christmas on Broad, please visit romesymphony.org.

In addition to the obvious intensity within the hospital, Segrest describes another, more subtle struggle that medical professionals and patients alike are facing. “Throughout my day, there is an overwhelming sense of isolation. Through my PPE I can’t communicate to my patients; I don’t know what my co-workers look like. I go home and sit alone in my rented apartment. It’s very lonely, but I am glad I came.” 

That sense of isolation extends beyond the walls of the hospital, as Segrest emotionally recalls a day she had stumbled upon a statue of a homeless man in front of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, “I realized in that moment, that many people feel this isolated every day, as they live among us.” As NYC’s prevalent homeless population has been especially vulnerable to the virus without anywhere to safely shelter in place, Segrest has been making a point to hand out extra masks when she sees someone living on the streets.  

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Segrest also describes the touching solidarity of the city. “At 7 pm everyone leans out of their windows and cheers, banging pots and pans. They are cheering for the healthcare workers. They are cheering for each other. Then an hour later the city stops. There is a silence for all those we lost.” 

With so much still uncertain in both New York City and Rome Georgia one thing is for certain- Rebecca Segrest is undoubtedly a hero. 

To be continued…..

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