HISTORY OF THE CHATTANOOGA
For over one hundred and fifteen years the Chattanooga Music Club has always sought to promote, encourage, and support the music activities of Chattanooga and the surrounding areas.
The oldest musical organization in Chattanooga and the oldest music club in Tennessee, this club has set and achieved numerous goals through the years. The Chattanooga Music Club is the parent organization of many of today's flourishing cultural groups, and through their efforts musical organizations and artists such as symphonies, opera companies, and dance groups were brought to Chattanooga. In 1931, the Chattanooga Community Concerts Association was formed to oversee this project, and was staffed by many of the Music Club members.
Seeking to encourage high standards of musicianship, the Chattanooga Music Club gave financial assistance to a small group of instrumentalists, which grew to become today's Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra. The Chattanooga Opera Association was the result of a dream that local singers could be a part of a real opera performance. The Symphony and Opera Association were combined in 1984. By supporting, sponsoring and encouraging the symphony, opera, Community Concerts, and Allied Arts, the CMC has made this city a receptive home for the fine arts.
Throughout the years of its existence, the club has been the inspiration for many talented performers who have appeared on its programs. The club opened its programs to the general public in 1958 and has given much pleasure to many people with its varied and innovative programs.
The establishment of a scholarship to be awarded through competitive auditions each spring was established in 1946 and has continued each year since then, supported by dues and donations from members, patrons, and friends. 106 promising and talented young people have benefited from the financial assistance awarded to them and have gone on to become outstanding musicians and teachers.
The work of the club was outstanding during World Wars I and II, and its contributions to the war effort were many. The club rendered service by presenting musical programs to the men and women in military service. They entertained the soldiers and WACS during World War II with programs at the USO in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia, and presented a new grand piano to the USO Club. Seasonal parties were given and contributions were made to the Red Cross. The club participated in the purchasing of musical instruments for hospital ships.
Following WWI, Memorial Auditorium was built; it was dedicated on February 22,1924, to those who offered their lives in service during WWI. The purchase and installation of the magnificent Austin pipe organ for Memorial Auditorium became the greatest project the CMC ever proposed. On February 12,1925, this great organ was formally dedicated, with the English organist Edwin H. Lemare presenting the concert. The organ was used for many years for the enjoyment of thousands. However, following WWII, the organ began to be neglected, fell into the hands of vandals, and much of the organ was damaged or stolen. In 1985 the Chattanooga Music Club undertook the restoration of the 81 rank organ, funded by contributions from members, friends, foundations, and businesses. Many people have donated their time, energy and expertise to the project.