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‘Symphony by the Lake’ moves mountains (again): Party on!

By David Rogers. BLOWING ROCK, N.C. — There may be nothing more sporting than jostling through a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd on uneven ground with an arthritic hip and an ankle that wants to turn out because there are no ligaments to keep it straight and stable. Then again, we only get to experience “Symphony by the Lake” once every year.

As many of the patrons of the 36th annual edition of “Symphony by the Lake” on July 21 will attest, any age-related physical shortcomings melted into mere inconveniences in the baton-waving hands of Cornelia Laemmli Orth, conducting her Symphony of the Mountains — this year with a bonus collaboration: the Swiss-born, North Carolina-based Kruger Brothers, one of the region’s most popular bands and a fitting representative of Appalachian music in its many forms and styles.

Party on! at Symphony by the Lake in Blowing Rock
For many among the 3,500 paid patrons, ‘Symphony by the Lake’ is the best party of the year, and spirits are high. Photographic image by David Rogers

And, speaking of uneven ground, the theme for the 26th Annual Symphony by the Lake, presented and hosted by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at Chetola Mountain Resort was, “From the Alps to the Appalachians.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic put severe limits on the number of tickets sold, the Chamber was already trying to get a handle on the bulging crowds that were, for all intents and purposes, overwhelming the venue. With the pandemic hopefully behind us, the interest has again surged and Symphony by the Lake was once again sold out (at 3,500 tickets) for Blowing Rock’s cultural-event-not-to-be-missed. Combined with beautiful weather — a perfect respite for Piedmont and Coastal residents from the oppressive heat found off the mountain — there are few more appropriate opportunities to celebrate with a mid-summer party. Along with the sold out crowd, there seemed to be a record number of sponsor and patron tents lining the lake and the top of the gentle slope descending from the resort to the lake that serves as the audience’s amphitheater seating.

Big crowd at Symphony by the Lake in Blowing Rock on July 21.
A reported record number of patron tents were sponsored on July 21 for ‘Symphony by the Lake’ in Blowing Rock, adding to the festival atmosphere for the 3,500 paid guests. Photographic image by David Rogers
A Terrific Programme

And boy, was that audience entertained on this night.

The Orth-directed “Symphony by the Lake” opened, as it traditionally does, with John Stafford Smith’s National Anthem (AKA “The Star Spangled Banner”). Then they quickly started their musical journey in the Swiss Alps with Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell, Galop” overture, followed by a Michael Story arrangement of “It’s About Time.”

Allen Tate Companies and Allen Tate Realtors had a big buffet spread for Symphony by the Lake on July 21.
Almost all of the patron tents had big spreads of catered food and beverages. Before Allen Tate Companies’ guests tore into it, this spread looked sumptuous and certainly well-appointed. Photographic image by David Rogers

To get from the Alps to North Carolina, of course, requires an ocean journey. What better musical transition for the “Symphony by the Lake” theme than the Badelt/Ricketts arrangement of “Pirates of the Caribbean?” Robbery on the high seas certainly qualifies this as a sports story!

“Pirates” was followed by Benjamin Dawson’s “Appalachian Medley” and Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.”

sunflower bouquet by Hendrick Automotive Group-sponsored gazebo at Symphony by the Lake
Hendrick Automotive Group always has the prettiest sunflower-centric bouquet for ‘Symphony by the Lake.’ Photographic image by David Rogers

As usual, the Symphony performed an “An Armed Forces Salute,” arranged by Bob Lowden, then a fitting follow-up in “Amazing Grace,” arranged by Matt Riley. The Symphony of the Mountains closed their main body of work with a poignant violin solo by Sean Claire and music by John Williams for the 1992 movie, “Far and Away.”

After intermission, it was The Krueger Brothers turn on stage with:

  • Up 18 North
  • Watch the Clouds Roll By
  • Winterport Intro
  • Winterport
  • Swing the Maul
  • Carolina in the Fall
  • Fields of Gold
  • First Settlers/Building on a Dream
  • Welcome to Ogden

At the end, the Symphony was again front and center with John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” reaching a climax with brilliant fireworks into the sky and over Chetola Lake.

Like the 35 Symphony by the Lake events that preceded it, this year’s musical extravaganza was a great excuse for the year’s biggest party in Blowing Rock, and something to look forward to, each and every year.

Photographic image by David Rogers



Photographic image by David Rogers




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