Among the $42 million in damages sustained at Nashville Symphony's Schermerhorn Symphony Center during May's historic flooding was a collection of 42 musical instruments used for the NSO's Instrument Petting Zoo, a Symphony Education & Community Engagement program that allows children to sample and learn about various musical instruments. The first step toward rebuilding the Petting Zoo's instrument collection was made this week as Billy Ray Hearn, a longtime Nashville Symphony supporter, donated a violin for use in the program.
The new Petting Zoo instrument is a 1920 violin made in the former Czechoslovakia. Donated by Billy Ray Hearn, Founder and Chairman of EMI Christian Music Group and a member of the Nashville Symphony's Board of Directors and its Community Engagement Committee, the violin was tested and approved by Alison Krauss, who happened to be in the Nashville shop when Hearn purchased the violin.
"I've enjoyed and supported the Symphony for many years, and I was so saddened to learn of everything that was lost in the flood," Hearn said. "I'm happy to do my part in restoring the Nashville Symphony and one of the many ways in which it enriches our community."
"A vital part of the Symphony's mission within the Nashville community is engendering in our children a love for and appreciation of music," said Mitchell Korn, Vice President of Education and Community Engagement at the Nashville Symphony. "Our Petting Zoo is an important part of that mission, and we're so pleased to be taking this step toward rebuilding the Zoo."
The Instrument Petting Zoo has long been a staple of the pre-concert activities for the Nashville Symphony's Ann & Monroe Carell Family Trust Pied Piper concert series. The Petting Zoo also travels to local schools, churches and libraries, as well as to neighboring counties for community concerts and other events. The display includes a range of used and new classical, bluegrass and band instruments, which are accompanied by information about how the instruments function. In addition, a clinician is present at the zoo to demonstrate how the instrument is handled, and then assists the student in playing it. Prior to the flood, the Zoo was comprised of donated instruments, personal instruments belonging to the staff, and instruments on loan from the W.O. Smith/Nashville Community Music School. All 42 instruments were lost in the flood.