L’Abri Symphony Orchestra: Serving the community for 30 years | Local News

We are back!

After a two-year COVID-induced hiatus, Dalton’s own community orchestra announces its fall concert, “It Is Well.” An uplifting selection of familiar and sacred music will be performed Thursday, September 29 at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church in Dalton.

It’s 30th anniversary season and plans are already underway for the annual Christmas concert on December 8th.

For three decades, L’Abri Symphonie has offered middle and high school musicians the opportunity to advance their education by playing in an orchestra, an opportunity that does not exist in their schools.

Historically, L’Abri’s membership has been approximately 60% student, with adult amateur musicians and a core of music teachers and professional musicians making up the remainder. Teachers and professionals all volunteer their time, and there are no membership fees. Concerts for the public are also free.

The orchestra rehearses and performs at the First Baptist Church in Dalton, which has provided a large practice room and use of the sanctuary for concerts. Without such a sponsor, the orchestra could not exist as a voluntary organization. Financial support came from the Brown-Whitworth Foundation, the Community Foundation, several area businesses, and individual donations at concerts.

It all started in 1992 with L’Abri Academy of Fine Arts, founded by Reverend Ron McKinney of Kinsey Drive Baptist Church and two retired music teachers, Gene and Betty Lindauere. The original ensemble of music students gradually grew, and by 2000 was a small orchestra. He was invited to base his operations at the Colonnade Convention Center in Catoosa County, which had a 500+ seat theater. After several years, however, the direction and commitments changed, and L’Abri had to find another home.

The chamber orchestra returned to Dalton in 2012 and, having been established at First Baptist, was able to grow into a full symphony, numbering 67 members by 2020. It presented two major concerts at the Dalton Convention Center in 2013 and 2014 , but later chose to perform only at First Baptist.

Then COVID hit and indoor facility restrictions meant the orchestra could no longer rehearse or perform. When restrictions eased in 2021, the band attempted to restart, but so many members missed so many rehearsals due to the COVID surge that it was not possible to prepare a gig. Finally, it has managed to regroup this year and will present its 30th anniversary concert.

The orchestra faces a major challenge for its future, however, it remains a teaching organization, but students have not returned post COVID. More than financial support, the orchestra depends on the involvement of the music departments of our schools, parents and teachers of student musicians. If they refer promising students, L’Abri can continue to provide an excellent learning experience for years to come.

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