The Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra is becoming another powerhouse of the Alabama area, with its talent and skill when it comes to classical music. For this Valentine’s Day, they’ll take a different direction, bringing some timeless hits to the stage. On February 9th, the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra will present their My Romance program. A program themed entirely around Valentines Day, featuring works from TV, film, and the stage. The orchestra celebrates its 36th year with this show, due in some respects to its new Executive Director: Dr. Jenny Mann.
Mann began her professional career in Texas when she receiver her Bachelors degree in Music Education from Baylor University. She would go on to receive masters and doctoral degrees from University of Texas, before moving to Tuscaloosa. In 2006, she signed on as the principle Bassoonist with the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra (TSO) while also serving on the player’s committee. After the resignation of the Executive Director, the Board President approached Dr. Mann with the opportunity to take on a greater administrative role.
“My previous experiences, on top of knowing the orchestra and the community, made it a great fit,” Mann said.
Her body of work goes beyond just the TSO. Mann is a professor of the Bassoon at the UA School of Music, making her position in the orchestra all the more rewarding.
“It is a wonderful and rare opportunity to be able to serve in all the capacities that I do. I am a part of an energetic, collegial, dedicated and highly skilled faculty,” Mann said.
She is not the only one who has formed this bridge between teaching and performing. In fact, Skip Snead serves as the dean of the school of music while also performing as the first chair French Horn in the TSO.
“All of these qualities translate over into our performing together. We get the chance to be both teachers and artists in the most positive of ways.”
Planet Weekly got a chance to sit down with Dr. Mann and ask her some questions about the My Romance concert, and the season in general:
PW: Could you talk a little bit about what makes the “My Romance” concert so special?
JM: For this concert we see the return of renowned pianist Simon Mulligan. He performed with us several years ago and has remained a friend of the orchestra. It will be a treat to hear him play. We will also be performing selections from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and An American in Paris. Both are audience favorites and just really fun music for the musicians to play. The generous diamond necklace giveaway from Hudson-Poole tops the evening off and will make it very special.
PW: What are some challenges that you face in your specific position, that may or may not relate to the Orchestra as a whole?
JM: It has been interesting to transition into this position from inside the orchestra. Because I have been a part of the organization for so long I feel like I know what the musicians need in order to grow and, being a part of the community as a consumer, parent and patron, I feel like I have an idea of how we can grow as a part of our community. The challenges that have been notable to me are thinking about things such as wiring for the phones, computer networking issues and software breakdowns. They don’t teach you about dealing with those issues in school. Definitely not part of the performance degree in bassoon or orchestral training!
PW: What are you most excited for in the spring concert series?
JM: It is really hard to pick one thing to be the most excited about this spring. For our next concert, Hudson-Poole jewelers has supplied a stunning 2-carat diamond necklace that we get to give away to one lucky audience member. For the March concert we will be performing for all of the 5th graders in the area and I love seeing all of their enthusiasm and bright faces in the audience. The May concert will have a large chorus and we will be performing two works: “1812 Overture” and “Night on Bald Mountain” with chorus. This is rarely done and a very special opportunity.

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