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ASO performing at Grand Opening for Porter Performing Arts Center
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. - photo by Submitted Photo

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is coming to Newton County Sunday, Oct. 2 for a 3 p.m. show presented by the Arts Association of Newton County.

“The Arts Association is very excited to welcome back the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) to Covington for the grand opening of the Porter Performing Arts Center,” said Buncie Hay Lanners, Executive Director of the Arts Association for Newton County. “The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s performance in Covington is an appropriate opening concert for the long anticipated completion of the civic center project voted on in the 2005 SPLOST.”

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra first performed in Covington in 1989. The orchestra’s performance was a part of the first concert series of the newly incorporated 501c3, and a brainchild of David N. Young, first Executive Director of the Arts Association (then Concert Association of Newton County) and Florence Turner Arnold who provided the funding for the Symphony’s performance. The ASO’s last visit to Covington was in 2003.

All of ASO’s previous visits to Newton County have been at the Porter Memorial Auditorium. Originally named for Olive Swan Porter, the facility was built and dedicated in 1985 as a collaboration between the city of Covington and the school system, with funds donated by the James Hyde Porter Trust. Built to be a civic center for the community and to be the host facility of a concert series presented by the school system’s Fine Arts Advisory Committee in 1985, the auditorium was the home of the Concert Association of Newton County (now Arts Association), the 501c3 that was an outgrowth of the original Newton County School System Fine Arts Advisory Committee.

From inception through today, the Porter Fund has been the largest single donor to the Arts Association’s arts series. The Porter Fund also provided the concert grand piano to the Concert Association/Arts Association for its programming.

On Oct. 2 the ASO will perform at the newly renovated Porter Performing Arts Center.

This year, under the direction of conductor Christopher Allen, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will perform a program including Wagner’s Overture to ‘The Flying Dutchman’, Tchaikovsky’s Overture-Fantasy Romeo and Juliet and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36.

Tickets for this show go on sale Sept. 1 and are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and $15 for students.

In 2005, citizens of Newton County voted to approve the SPLOST that included $5M for a Civic Center, specifically a civic center to be used for arts programming. The Arts Association spearheaded the effort for the approval and inclusion of the $5M on the SPLOST ballot. After the SPLOST passed, efforts were made and approvals given by the City of Covington and Newton County to build a downtown civic center public/private partnership with a hotel and business conference center, a plan that fell apart with the onset of the economic recession.

In 2015, the Arts Association once again spearheaded an effort to bring the county and the school system together to apply the $5M SPLOST funds to the renovation and expansion of Porter Memorial Auditorium on the campus of the Newton College and Career Academy, with the school system continuing to pay the M & O for the new and improved facility and the Arts Association managing the theatre. The county and school system approved the proposal. Construction began in January of 2016, and the facility will be officially opened on Oct. 2, 2016.

“Partnering to make this project happen were the Newton County Board of Commissioners, the Newton County School System, the Newton College and Career Academy, and the Arts Association in Newton County,” Lanners said. “We hope our citizens and neighbors will take advantage of this opportunity to hear the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in our own backyard with easy access, affordable ticket prices and easy parking. Come and celebrate this state of the art performing arts center and the world-class Atlanta Symphony Orchestra!”

Jasmine Floyd contributed to this article.