MONROE – When Kim Norwood first got involved with the Union Symphony Orchestra five years ago, she was a volunteer, working to market the organization and grow its recognition in the county.
Now Norwood’s the orchestra’s interim executive director, and she’s making it her mission to grow the symphony’s programs as well as community awareness.
“I still run into people every week who haven’t heard we exist,” Norwood said.
Norwood, a lifelong Union County resident, is replacing Martha Allen, who stepped down a few weeks ago, after she took over for founding executive director Nola McCollum who stepped down last year.
And while she was initially brought on to assist the organization with marketing, creating newsletters and press releases, Norwood was instrumental in growing the Union Symphony Youth Orchestra.
So, three years ago, with the help of the strings community, the charter group of the Union Symphony Youth Orchestra included 68 members and the program has continued to grow and mature.
This year the program had 89 students, 54 percent of which attend Union County schools.
The symphony includes students from elementary school to 21 years old.
The Youth Orchestra just had its final performance of the season and played to a packed auditorium at the Batte Center at Wingate University.
With a handful of seniors leaving for college, there are openings in several sections. Auditions for the youth orchestra are May 20.
While the season is done for the youth orchestra, Norwood still gets to oversee the May 5 performance of the Union Symphony Orchestra, and Union Jazz on May 15. Both performances will be at the Batte.
Norwood said she’s excited about the May 5 performance because it will feature the adult symphony’s new maestro, Richard Rosenburg, who is world-renowned for his unique renditions of classical pieces.
“He has a way of taking classical pieces and structuring them in a way that will make the music sound completely new to a listener,” Norwood said.
Norwood doesn’t have a musical background, but she said her appreciation for it runs deep as her entire family, including her husband and children, play musical instruments.
“I don’t even read a note, I’m just a facilitator,” she said. “The musicians are a lot more forgiving of me because I don’t have both feet in the world, but I’m a huge music admirer and love what they do.”
With just two more performances scheduled this spring before the season ends in June, Norwood said the organization still has plenty of work to do in the offseason.
“We’ll be doing a lot of fundraising and continue to grow our programming,” Norwood said. “And not only are we strengthening our programming, we’re also building the infrastructure of the organization, which is dynamic programing and community awareness.”
Norwood said, while the organization has been around for six years, it’s still in its infancy and still trying to get the word out. Bringing in Rosenburg as the orchestra’s new maestro will help with this effort, she said.
“We’ll be doing some interesting, unique programming,” Norwood said. “We’ve had great support from other area orchestras, but we’re not them. We’re trying to be something a little different. I want people to come check us out and see what we’re about. For those who have never seen us, it would be a rewarding experience.”
“Our mission is to educate,” she continued. “Through classical and contemporary music, we want to educate, entertain, serve and inspire. And not just the youth, but the entire community at large, and bring new cultural life to Union County. I believe Union County is more than ready for what we have to offer and I’m excited to take it to the next level.”
Norwood said when the season ends in June, the board of directors will form a search committee to find a permanent executive director. They could ask Norwood to stay on, but she said no decisions have been, or will be made until after the committee performs its search.
To learn more about Union Symphony Orchestra, visit www.unionsymphony.org.