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Toe River Chamber Ensemble

Toe River Chamber Ensemble is a community orchestra sponsored by the Toe River Arts Council. It is based in Yancey and Mitchell Counties of North Carolina.

The Toe River Chamber Ensemble (TRCE) is a community orchestra created in 1976 largely through the efforts of Susannah Jones, local cellist and then director of Music in the Mountains. Over the years many musicians of all capabilities and walks of life have played in the group. The Ensemble has been blessed with hardworking visionary conductors and the steadfast support of Toe River Arts. The members currently come from Yancey, Mitchell, Madison, and Buncombe Counties. Weekly rehearsals are held at the First Baptist Church of Burnsville under the capable leadership of Maestro Lisa Mauney.


A note from the Maestro

Where has your local community orchestra, the Toe River Chamber Ensemble, been the last two years? Perhaps you attended the inspiring presentation of Handel’s Messiah two years ago this month. That performance in December of 2019 was the last public concert the TRCE and Community Chorus offered to our community. Like so many other performing arts, a global pandemic stopped all rehearsals and performances in March of 2020.

By late summer, ensemble members were feeling the loss of not being able to make music together and upon learning that being outdoors was a safer way to gather, the ensemble began to consider how they might. In partnership with the Appalachian Therapeutic Riding Center (ATRC), several string players began rehearsals using the indoor arena and outdoor areas. It might have been comical to watch as the musicians adjusted to wearing masks, sitting six feet apart, playing outside with horse sounds and smells in the background. In return for use of the ATRC facility, the small group offered two outdoor concerts for ATRC volunteers in September of 2020. Although this gathering brought much joy to the six that made music together, there were many other string and wind players still unable to participate.

With the widespread availability of vaccines by May of 2021, the TRCE returned to full ensemble rehearsals using the outdoor parking lot at the First Baptist Church in Burnsville. Just before the Delta variant arrived, the Ensemble was able to revive two movements of the Mozart piano concerto no. 21, featuring Issac Boulter. This performance was offered virtually with no in-person attendees. By mid-August of this year, all rehearsals stopped again.

In October, with masked musicians, rehearsals began again as infection rates declined in our area. For the first time in almost two years, TRCE was playing Christmas and holiday music together. However, to protect our musicians and their families, and our community, a public concert will not be offered in December of 2021. With much hope and anticipation, a public concert will be performed by May of 2022.

If you would like to help support this group, donations may be made to Toe River Arts, specifying the donation to be allocated to the Toe River Chamber Ensemble.

If you are a string player, are fully vaccinated, and would like to join us in rehearsals starting in February, please fill out an interest form here.

NC Arts Council

The Toe River Chamber Ensemble is made possible in part by a Grassroots Arts Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Cultural and Natural Resources Department, a state agency and by those individuals and organizations who believe in the benefits of music. Want to help the Arts Council keep the music flowing, sponsor more concerts? Donate to the Chamber Ensemble today.