Orchestra Sono Music Director Andrew Neer and his wife, Mary Lynn, join Vice President Kathleen Mastrangelo and, her husband Vince, during a fundraiser for the orchestra Nov. 2.

Orchestra Sono Music Director Andrew Neer and his wife, Mary Lynn, join Vice President Kathleen Mastrangelo and, her husband Vince, during a fundraiser for the orchestra Nov. 2.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Birmingham Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra is reborn as Orchestra Sono

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 12, 2019

BIRMINGHAM/BLOOMFIELD — For every ending, there is an opportunity for a new beginning.

That was the idea behind the formation of Orchestra Sono, a nonprofit organization formed in 2018 from the 40-year-old Birmingham Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra, which had been on hiatus for three years, according to Sono’s music director, Andrew Neer.

“That (orchestra) wasn’t working the way they wanted, and we kind of reemerged out of the Birmingham Bloomfield Symphony,” he said.

But Neer’s vision to resurrect symphonic music in the suburbs included areas beyond Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills and Bloomfield Township, with outreach efforts in Pontiac and Waterford Township schools. So even though the level of professional talent is as high as the BBSO, the new name allows for a new tone.

“The fun thing about Orchestra Sono, in Latin sono means ‘tone.’ So we’re setting a tone for musical experiences,” Neer said. “I really believe that. The quality of musicians we have in the orchestra is top rate, but it’s also a different kind of experience than you might get in Detroit. We want to put something right in your backyard.”

In fact, some of the Sono musicians are pulling double duty, also performing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Michigan Opera Theater, the Flint Symphony Orchestra and other well-known organizations. Neer said Sono is working hard to make sure its performances don’t overlap with big shows at those venues. But heading down to the big city isn’t always a feasible or desirable option for music lovers.

“I think having a local organization that is the same caliber of musicianship is important. Downtown can be hard to get to for residents up here,” he said. “And this isn’t a community-based orchestra. It’s not volunteer nonprofessionals — though there’s a place for that.”

The first Sono performance took place in early October, and the next is coming up at 7 p.m. Nov. 23 at St. Regis Catholic Church in Bloomfield Hills. That evening, Sono will team up with the Oakland Choral Society for a concert of baroque favorites.

With every event, Neer hopes Sono will make a name for itself, gaining an audience of fans and supporters.

“Once we’re more functional, we’ll do more with our programming,” he said of outreach in underserved communities. “I think a lot of times people look at nonprofit organizations and they don’t realize it actually takes a lot to keep that going. Musicians, board members — it takes a lot to put that together. In the future, we hope to put more dollars (toward) playing in schools and an educational scholarship program to grant students private lessons for a year.”

For more information on Orchestra Sono, including a schedule of upcoming performances, visit orchestrasono.org.