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Biography

The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera was the first combined professional resident symphony and opera company in the nation. Kayoko Dan, the CSO's youngest and first female conductor will lead the Orchestra in the 2012-13 season.

The Symphony can trace its roots back to Melvin Margolin and other graduates of Chattanooga High School who frequently came together and performed in the community.  The ensemble grew and in 1938 came under the direction of Julliard trained, Dr. Arthur Plettner.

The Opera began under the direction of German opera house fixtures, Dr. Wener Wolff and his wife, Emmie Land Wolff, who escaped to Chattanooga from Nazi Germany.  With the help of Dorothy Hackett Ward, the Chattanooga Opera Association mounted it's first production, La Traviata, in February, 1943.

In 1985, the Chattanooga Symphony and the Chattanooga Opera merged, becoming the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Association (CSOA), the first and only symphonic and opera organization of its kind in the United States.  In 1992, the CSOA and Chattanooga residents welcomed Maestro Robert Bernhardt as Music Director and Conductor. Under his leadership, the CSOA has experienced significant increases in concert attendance, community involvement and musical quality and has emerged as a leading regional orchestra. Under his baton, the CSO has hosted famous guest artists such as Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Stella Zambalis and Edgar Meyer.

In 2011, Kayoko Dan was named as the new Music Director and Conductor of the CSO.  Music Director Dan is the youngest music director and the first female to lead the CSO.

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