Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra members cope with flood ahead of - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra members cope with flood ahead of opening night concert

Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB

A month after floodwaters ravaged much of the Capital area, the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra is in final rehearsals for their opening night concert of the season. 

However, some orchestra members are struggling after losing their instruments in the flood – some damaged, others destroyed.

"Without my instrument, I don't feel like much at all," said Jill Swetnam, who plays the flute. 

Swetnam teaches at Runnels School. Her flute was inside as the facility took on water.

A colleague in the orchestra loaned her a flute while her personal instrument waits for repairs. Fixing it could cost upwards of $4,000 and take several weeks.

"Any moving part has to be replaced now, and we have tons of moving parts," she said, motioning to her loaner flute. "It's tough."

Swetnam is one of a handful of performers impacted by the flood. Some were forced to evacuate as the waters rose, though their homes never flooded. Others were not so lucky. Some LSU students could not even audition because their instruments were destroyed by the water.

Orchestra conductor Timothy Muffitt said getting the orchestra back up and running is key in times like these because it provides a sense of normalcy. Muffitt has served as director for 17 years, including through Katrina, 9/11, and other world-changing events.

He also said music has a healing quality.

"We know inherently as musicians and artists that we are the glue that brings a community back together after a tragic event," Muffitt said. "It's a common cause, a common passion, and a common experience."

For the instrumentalists in rehearsal, every movement of the bow and every note is a chance to come together. It is a chance at normalcy for a hurting community both inside the concert hall and out.

"It is the greatest thing, because they understand," Swetnam said.

The orchestra has set up a GoFundMe account for orchestra members impacted by the flood.

Their opening night concert, "From Spain to America," is Friday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.

They have also planned a concert featuring Broadway stars. Money from that concert will be used to help fund schools and music programs impacted by the flooding. That concert is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. 

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