Then, in unison, The First Note

By Julie Paysen

“For our last piece of music this evening, we will perform Chopin’s Funeral March. The actual name of this piece is Piano Sonata No. 2 in B Flat Minor but most video gamers will immediately recognize the music as that music that started to play in most video games when your character died, only to be born again, renewed. Please enjoy and thank you all so very much.”

Wm David Stufft is the current conductor of the Toccoa Symphony and he normally shares small insights before each piece of music so that classical music lovers and soon to be classic music lovers can further appreciate the piece of music. He always tries to bring modern audiences into the world of classical music and finds some way to connect the two. He hopes, and his record shows, that all music lovers adore his anecdotes.

The Toccoa Symphony is certainly a small town orchestra with a big town band and a large city sound. Their 50 – 60 musicians play 3 concerts per year and often include regional guests and soloist vocalists. Their Spring concert series starts May 1 at the Garrison Auditorium in Toccoa. Come out and smell the “rosin in the air,” listen closely with heightened sensitivity as the musicians “tune their instruments,” feel the goosebumps on your arms and the scratch at the back of your neck as the conductor goes “tap, tap, tap” with his baton. Finally, delight in “the first note.” From the first note to the last, your feet will be tapping along with the conductor’s baton. It is virtually impossible not to enjoy these live performances…well unless, you don’t have a heartbeat.

Toccoa is also home to Ida Cox Music Series which takes place each Saturday in Summer starting June 4 and lasts through July 30. The Ida Cox Music Series showcases and highlights the rich history of music in Toccoa and is located on Doyle Street, Sage Street and Pond Street. When people think of Toccoa, people normally associate the city with Toccoa Falls or Toccoa Falls College or where the famous “Band of Brothers” (the 101st Airborne in WWII) trained. However, Toccoa’s rich and virbrant music history and scene is quickly gaining recognition.

During the series, visitors are welcome to bring a lawnchair or blanket and delight in the rich history of music in Toccoa. The wide variety of music will surely entertain all patrons. A local artist will begin the show and then the headliner will perform. All of the shows are free of charge.

The Ida Cox Music Series is named after Ida Cox who was born Ida Prather in 1896 in Toccoa. From a very young age, she started out as a vaudeville performer and she eventually left Toccoa as a teenager and eventually teamed up with Gertrude “Ma” Rainey and Bessie Smith. All three ladies would go on to found female blues music.

julie paysen picture

Julie Paysen is an Atlanta native and is President of the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce. A graduate of Georgia State University with a background in sales & marketing most recently with Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting, Curtis Media Group/Raleigh, and Cox Media Group/Athens.