• Founded in 2016 as the first and only orchestra in Cleveland, Tennessee
• Our mission is to promote excellence and creativity in the arts communities of Cleveland and Bradley County
• TCO’s musicians and choral members come from different walks of life; they are teachers, nurses, business professionals, homemakers, students, and composers.
• We serve regional audiences from our home stage at Cleveland State Community College.
Founded in 2016 by a group of 35 local musicians, including Music Director and Conductor Sarah Pearson, the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus of Tennessee (TCO) is the first and only orchestra in Cleveland, Tennessee and serves regional audiences from its home stage at Cleveland State Community College and additional venues like Museum Center at 5ive Points in historic, downtown Cleveland, TN.
Our mission is to promote excellence and creativity in the arts communities of Cleveland and Bradley County, in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation. We strive to foster artistic education, opportunity and enrichment in our local sphere.
The vision that brought forth the TCO was to create a professional quality orchestra that would offer five to seven performances per year for area audiences, including masterworks concerts, concerto competition concerts, pops concerts, Messiah sing-alongs, and gala concerts. The chorus, which was added during the orchestra’s inaugural season, includes approximately 25 members and typically performs with the orchestra twice per season. We are built on and draw strength and inspiration from our diversity. TCO’s musicians and choral members come from different walks of life; they are teachers, nurses, business professionals, homemakers, students, and composers. We range in age from 15 to 70 and represent different religions and races.
The TCO has completed four seasons and is just beginning their fifth season together. Our most recent season, 2019–2020, featured a November concert showcasing John Rutter’s “Gloria” for orchestra and choir with guest soloists, and a special performance of “The Polar Express Suite” and “The Snowman” for local junior high and elementary students, which was narrated by a local radio celebrity and featured an accomplished local 12-year-old singer/actress. The 2019–2020 season also included an all-Beethoven concert in February in honor of the composer’s 250th birthday and two world premieres of new works by composers Jamie Lee Sampson and Andrew Martin Smith. Unfortunately, we were unable to offer the 2nd Annual George R. Johnson Concerto/Aria Competition Concert planned for April and the 3rd Annual Gala Concert in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those performances have been re-scheduled for the 2020–2021 season, which debuts September.
TCO’s founder, Music Director Sarah Pearson, relies on a group of volunteers and fellow musicians to help manage the activities of the organization. Pearson is a dynamic, multifaceted, international conductor and advocate of music education. She is active in the fields of orchestra, musical theater, choral, wind ensemble, and music media production. In addition to being founding director for the TCO, Pearson currently serves as the Music Director and Conductor for The Cleveland Pops, Assistant Conductor for the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA), Music Director/Conductor and Professor at Cleveland State Community College, Orchestra Conductor for Lee University Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Conductor for Tabernacle Symphony Orchestra, Director of Choirs at Church of the Highlands, and Fine Arts Music Director for the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She received a Bachelor’s in Music Performance from Tennessee Temple University, and a dual Master’s Degree in Conducting and Music Education at Lee University School of Music.
Choral Director Dr. Ron Brendel manages the 25-member chorus that performs with the orchestra. Dr. Brendel is Associate Professor of Music at Lee University in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he teaches voice and graduate vocal pedagogy. He has a bachelor’s degree in music education from Evangel University and master’s and doctoral degrees in music from Temple University. An accomplished operatic tenor, he debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2006 as tenor soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass. He has also performed with the Vero Beach Choral Society, the Pensacola Choral Society, the Imperial Symphony Orchestra of Lakeland, Florida, the Central Florida Bach Festival, Treasure Coast Opera, Peach State Opera, South Florida Opera, Asheville Lyric, Springfield Regional Opera, Opera of the Ozarks. and at the Schumann Konservatorium in Zwickau, Germany.
Dr. Chery Brendel provides administrative support for the organization. She is a vocal instructor at Lee University in Chattanooga, a member of the TCO chorus, and a highly accomplished opera singer and performer. Dr. Brendel received a bachelor’s degree in music and voice performance from Evangel University, a master’s in voice performance from Temple University and a doctoral degree in music arts and voice performance from the University of Georgia. She has performed opera, recital, and oratorio in the U.S. as well as Germany and Italy.