Atlanta Symphony –

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Herself is playing Mozart cds and it puts me in the mood to remember Mozart concerts. My best friend’s dad frequently took us to the symphony in what must have been the late 50’s and/or very early 60s? I seem to remember an opera or two along in there somewhere. Maybe gray cells lying down on the job. I think the input/output still works pretty good, it’s just that the magnetic media is loosing its zip. Not to mention the ram reset every night.

The opera may have been on my friend’s record player or mine. I vaguely remember him as being quite partial to Don Giovanni, (I can still hear the hell scene cranked up full) whereas The Magic Flute has my vote for best opera ever. Though I am most partial to Mozart, I have to admit to a liking for a lot of Joe Green’s (Giuseppe Verdi) stuff. I tell you, Joe could write the best overtures of them all. And well, Carmen is pretty decent. OK, OK, I also admit to liking a bit of G & S from time to time, but don’t tell just anyone. And yes, I do like Wagner when I’m in the right mood.

Anyway, I got somewhat nostalgic and looked up Henry Sopkin. He is finally being recognized as the founding father of the Atlanta Symphony (which he was). I can still see his white fringe and gleaming head atop the spare frame, trying to encourage the max out of his musicians (and usually succeeding).

I worked for Bill Baron’s DeKalb Musicians Supply Company about ‘67 or thereabouts. They supplied all the schools in North Georgia at the time. (This does get back to the point). I worked on the band instrument repair side. The other side of the old barn-like building that was the repair shop housed the stringed instrument repair facility. Old German cellist named Fred Lincoln (nee Linke) and a younger Italian import whose name I don’t remember. Fred did the repairs for 99% of the symphony musicians. They just didn’t trust anyone else. 1967 was also when Robert Shaw took over and raised the symphony from semi-pro to full pro status. There were tears. There was wailing. There was gnashing of teeth. We could hear it all through the thin wall that separated the two shops. Many of the people that Henry had kept on for years were furious at having to re-audition to keep their jobs. A lot of them did not keep the jobs. Shaw was cursed. Henry Sopkin was cursed. And for years Sopkin did not (I felt) receive his full due as founder of the Symphony and the one who built it up to the point that it could become full pro. Symphony web sites are now beginning to honor Henry properly. He certainly entertained and educated two lost-ball boys. Herself also fondly remembers the kiddie concerts of the 50’s and credits Sopkin with elevating her already strong love of symphonic sound to a grand passion.

I went several times when Shaw was conducting the revised and re-formed group. Damn fine. The Arts Center was impressive. But it didn’t hold the magic that the old Municipal Auditorium did. Booming slide in wooden floors and all. Not quite first-rate orchestra. But there was a feeling of community and a joy and love of music for the sake of music. It was good back then.

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2 Responses to “Atlanta Symphony –”

  1. John M Baran Says:

    Hi…my name is John Baran…and I am the eldest son of Emile Baran, the shop owner you mentioned in the article….I remember Fred very well…and Gino Cappacelli…the young Italian violinmaker from Cremona who was recruited by my father in his travels in Europe..I have lots of info about this shop and Fred….would love to talk about it…email me John M Baran or go to my FB page!!

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