Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pops, Pops and More Pops! (corrected)

While the KSO Masterworks Series has a lot to offer with its all-star repertoire and its parade of guest maestros, the Pops Series packs a wallop, too, with six concerts that run the gamut of popular culture and music.

Starting with a bang is the “Classical Night Fever,” a 70s disco revue that will whisk you away to the days of dance floor derring-do, platform shoes and disco balls. Our guest ensemble, Motor Booty Affair, keeps a busy schedule around their Maine home base, but they will board their flying funk machine to the Tennessee Theatre on FRIDAY, Oct 2nd at 8:00. (Please note that except for this one, all of the subsequent Pops concerts will be Saturday nights, and will start at 8:00 at the Knoxville Civic  Auditorium).

1940 was a great year for movies, with The Great Dictator, The Grapes of Wrath, The Philadelphia Story and Foreign Correspondent all capturing the imagination of adult viewers, and Pinocchio  and The Blue Bird  charming the kids. One movie was released, however, that won over movie-goers of all ages, and that was Fantasia,  celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.  On January 16th, 2016, the KSO will be providing music to scenes from Fantasia, including Mickey Mouse's ever-popular Sorcerer Scene. IMDb has a lotto say about this wonderful film, and also provides some interesting trivia.

As a prelude to Valentine's Day, the KSO will present songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein on February 13th. Wouldn't It Be Loverly if you took your sweetie to the Civic to hear love songs and songs you love? (Say yes). Tunes by other Rodgers collaborators, such as Lorenz Hart and Jerome Kern, will also be performed, adding up to what will surely be Some Enchanted Evening.

The Fifth Dimension will grace us with a return engagement on March 12, 20 years after their first appearance with us in May of 1995. Their 60s and 70s hits are baby-boomer anthems, hearkening back to a pre-Auto-Tune era when what you heard was what you got.

In 1975, I bought my first stereo, and was thus indoctrinated into the world of record collecting. My first purchases were Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, by Elton John, and Led Zeppelin IV. I wore out that Led Zep album, trying to unlock the secrets of Jimmy Page's guitar playing, while my parents wondered when I would unlock my cello case. On April 9, Windborne (who brought us The Music of Queen this past April) will be back, this time with a program of Led Zeppelin's music. This very first of Windborne's productions is now in its 20th year, and features gritty Classic Rock hymns such as Kashmir, Black Dog, Stairway to Heaven, and Good Times, Bad Times. I don't need to add that this will be a GOOD time.

For the grand finale of the News-Sentinel Pops Series, we will be hosting none other than Kenny G! OMG!   If songs like Yakety Sax and Junior Walker's Shotgun helped put the saxophone on the pop map, Kenny G built an entire empire based upon the sax. Songs like The Moment, Songbird and Forever in Love are staples in a genre that really only includes him.  This smooth jazz feast will take place on May 7th.



Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summer Reading List, Part 2


Where were we, I guess it was January! Personally, the bulk of next season's uncharted (by me) territory will be trod by the end of January. After that, the repertoire tends to be more familiar and includes some more of my all-time favorites. On the 21st and 22nd at the Tennessee Theatre, our guest conductor, Aram Demirjian, will lead the orchestra in an eclectic program that begins with music of John Adams and Gyorgy Ligeti. My favorite violin concerto, the Bruch, will follow, spotlighting violinist Philippe Quint, and what better way to get you over the January blues than Beethoven's radiant 7th Symphony? The 2nd movement Allegretto is as perfect a piece of music as has ever been written; if you have seen The Fall, Mr. Holland's Opus, The Darjeeling Limited, or The King's Speech, then you've heard it and know what I am talking about. There are probably three dozen movies all told that have sampled it.

Another eclectic Masterworks concert comes along on February, 18th and 19th, this time with guest conductor Eckart Preu. The repertoire comes from Spain-via-Weimar (Strauss' Don Juan), Verona-via-Moscow (Prokofiev's Suite from the Romeo and Juliet ballet), and..... Seymour!? Yessiree, Heritage High graduate Jennifer Higdon's blue cathedral is the most-performed orchestral work written in the last 25 years. In the classical realm people say “Higdon” as they would “Strauss” or “Mozart,” especially now that she has won a Pulitzer Prize for her Violin Concerto. Anyway, the wingspan of this repertoire will have us burning the midnight oil, for sure.

Mention the words “Brahms Sextet,” around string players, and they will coo. Both of his sextets are lush and captivating earlier works of his that set the bar out of reach for their genre. Gabe Lefkowitz and Friends performed the B-flat sextet in March of 2014, and will complete the cycle on April 6th and 7th at the Knoxville Museum of Art with the G Major Sextet. Coooo.... Gabe will return to the spotlight on the April 24th Chamber Classics concert, soloing on the Mozart G Major concerto. This concert, directed by Resident Conductor James Fellenbaum, will conclude with Dvorak's Serenade for Strings. As radiant as the Beethoven 7th but on a smaller scale, you can practically smell the kolaches during the 2nd movement Tempo di Valse.

By May, we will mostly likely have chosen a new Music Director.  Many things will be learned and revealed about the candidates, and I am really looking forward to the process.  The final Masterworks concert on May 12th and 13th will again be led by James Fellenbaum, and will feature Beethoven's longest (and IMHO, best) overture, the Leonore No. 3, with its cockamamie violin outburst and offstage trumpet call.  The concert (and the season) will end with a suite from Wagner's monumental Ring Cycle, music which always pushes the envelope on orchestral achievement.  It's fitting that maestro Fellenbaum gets the last word in on this season, a reward for his tireless, quality work piloting the orchestra between Music Directors, and for his capable and tactful handling of every duty with which the KSO has entrusted him in during his tenure here. We look forward to his continuing presence on the podium and in the community. Way to go, Jim!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

COME FORTH ON THE FOURTH!

It's just a few days away, the biggest Independence Day celebration and concert since... last year! Saturday night at 8:00 the KSO will take the stage on the Performance Lawn (formerly the South Lawn, apparently) of World's Fair Park to commemorate the USA's 239th birthday. There will be something for everyone at this party, starting at 4:00 pm with the Regal Cinemas' Kids Zone, and music from bands Handsome and the Humbles, Bantum Rooster and Misty River. As usual, there will be an impressive array of food vendors, a flyover at the start of the concert, and of course, those fabulous fireworks will pack a charge! Here is an official link to Festival on the 4th with more details, as well as a Go Knoxville article with many other attractions

The KSO itself has some goodies up their sleeve. Anyone who tweets to @knoxsymphony, or uses the hashtag #KSOJuly4, will automatically be entered to win a pair of tickets to a KSO Masterworks performance of his/her choice. Resident Conductor James Fellenbaum will lead the orchestra in a program of festive favorites like Sousa's El Capitan and Stars and Stripes Forever, an Armed Forces Salute arranged by Bob Lowden, The Pledge of Allegiance, and John Williams' suite of music from The Patriot. Other great tunes you won't want to miss are Let It Go from Frozen, Ashokan Farewell, Selections from The Sound of Music, and a suite from Williams' landmark score to Star Wars.
Our guest will be soprano Katy Wolfe, who will sing the Pledge and Gershwin's Summertime.
Anyone who has attended the KSO's Very Young People's Concerts (where she is Picardy Penguin's charming sidekick), the Sound Company show choir (which she leads), or one of scads of productions involving her at the Clarence Brown Theatre, is acquainted with Katy's talents.


The concert will be rain or shine, and free parking will be available at several area garages- although the 11th street lot, which is closest to the venue, has had some legendary post-concert traffic snarls. Garages on Locust Street, Walnut Street, State Street & Market Square are just a few blocks walk from the show, and there will be ADA Parking at the Fort Kid Parking Lot. Hope to see you there with bells on!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Reading List Part 1

Ok, enough lollygagging. It's time to peruse the repertoire for next season for new and challenging (to me) works. I am not including every work from every concert, just the most prickly ones, so refer to the calendar and you won't miss a thing.

I first played the Mendelssohn Overture to the Hebrides (September 27th Chamber Classics) as a freshman in high school. I found it super difficult then, but very rewarding to finally get it right. The BSO used it as background music to Tanglewood's advertisements on TV back then, showing a car (I guess) driving up the twisty, conifer-lined road leading to the Tanglewood Center. The transcendence of this piece compelled me to mention Mendelssohn in my high school Yearbook write-up. Only once since then have I performed it, in February of 1990 with the KSO. I'd say it's about time, and maestro Jim Fellenbaum thought so, too.

October has a trio of new works for me to Starting with the Concertmaster Series shows on the 14th and 15th, it's Mendelssohn again! And it's a trio. This time, the D Minor piano Trio. How I have missed this gem so long escapes me. I have actually performed the slow movement a couple times, but never the whole thing. Shostakovich's brilliant 1st Symphony, with guest conductor Marcelo Lehninger, comes the very next week, bringing with it a monster cello solo that takes some “living with.” This concert concludes with Resphigi's Pines of Rome, which is no, umm, walk in the park.

On the first of November, “October 32nd,” it's the Haffner Symphony. Every string player's audition nightmare. Mozart's most challenging symphony caps off a lush Chamber Classics concert that also features Mozart's timeless Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Wagner's tender Sigfried Idyll. The other end of November brings guest conductor Shizuo Kuwahara, with two works that I doubt many of our current corps of players have performed; Rachmaninoff's 3rd Symphony and Rodion Shchedrin's 1963 Concerto for Orchestra No. 1 (aka “Naughty Limericks”). Run, do not walk to youTube (here, let your fingers do the running) and check this work out, it's a hum-dinger in the best sense of the word and probably some of the jazziest Russian music ever. These two works will be sandwiched around Tchaikovsky's immortal Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring pianist Stewart Goodyear.

After Christmas, chamber music will be my mantra for a couple weeks in January. While last year's Principal Quartet concert came five months earlier than it had the year before, just after Halloween, this coming season's show rides into town hot on Santa's heels. Three new-to-me (but loved-by-me) works will appear on the January 10th program: Schubert's Quartettsatz “(Quartet Movement),” Prokofieff's 2nd Quartet, and Brahm's 3rd Quartet. Three amazing works whose dry, unassuming titles sadly give no clue to the brilliance that lay within. A scant four days later, Gabe Lefkowitz and Friends (pianist Kevin Class, violist Katy Gawne and I) will collaborate on Dvorak's rollicking Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat. This is a late work of Dvorak that I have been waiting a long time to play. The time has come to break it out of hiding, because that cello part is a BEAR.


You know what else is a bear? Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Our Independence Day Concert is fast approaching and I know that camera is gonna be on me... So I'll finish out the season in a future post. Goodnight!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Celebrate July 4 with a BANG!




This Independence Day, a thirty-year tradition continues as the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra performs patriotic music with a spectacular fireworks display on Saturday, July 4 at World's Fair Park.


This concert is free to attend; no tickets are required. View program here.

The Festival on the Fourth, presented by the City of Knoxville, begins at 4:00 p.m. with food vendors, entertainment, and family-friendly activities. As dusk draws near, the Knoxville Symphony members will take the stage for the KSO 31st Annual FREE Pilot Flying J Independence Day Concert at 8:00 p.m.

During the Armed Forces Salute, audience members stand when the song of their Military branch is played; a moving moment every year.



KSO Resident Conductor James Fellenbaum conducts the Orchestra
in the Star Spangled Banner, Armed Forces Salute and more recognizable tunes including "Rocky Top," "76 Trombones," and music from Disney's Frozen and classics from the Sound of Music.

Talented soprano Katy Wolfe will solo for these classics. Katy is a well-known local singer who is no stranger to sharing the stage with the KSO. She has performed in holiday concerts and has held a leading role in the Very Young People’s Concerts, a symphony orchestra performance designed for students in Kindergarten through second grades.


Blankets and lawn chairs are encouraged for this free, family-friendly event. Should you choose to enjoy the concert from your couch, the performance will be live broadcasted on WBIR-TV Channel 10 at 8:00 p.m. EST. Don't forget the fireworks!


This post authored Rachel Dellinger, KSO Director of Communications

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dearly Beloved...

Our big, happy KSO family has taken on a couple of new members in the past few months. In two seperate celebrations, (and the events leading up to them), wedding bells have (re-)acquainted us with two fine men.

On March 29th, our Assistant Principal Second Violinist, Ruth Bacon, became Ruth Bacon Edewards. Her husband, tenor and conductor Ace Edewards, is a very recent (last month!) recipient of a DMA in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Arizona, Tucson. The wedding was in Albuquerque, NM, her home town, but a reception was held for us easterners on May 17th at Remedy Coffee.





AND, just two days ago, violinist Sara Matayoshi and clarinetist Peter Cain were wed at the Lighthouse Knoxville. You may remember Peter from his stint as Principal Clarinet here when Gary Sperl spent the 2011-12 season in Tanzania. Peter now holds the 3rd / bass clarinet position with the Dayton Philharmonic, and is the clarinet professor at Lee University in Cleveland, TN.




Our best to the happy couples! More proof of music's ability to bring people together.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The End of an Era

Hello!  Yes, it has been a while, and what a while it has been!  The close of Maestro Richman's tenure was fulfilling and fun.  The audiences for last Thursday and Friday's Masterworks concerts stood immediately upon his entrance in a very heartfelt and deserved tribute.  Concertmaster Gabriel Lefkowitz's performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto rivaled any I had witnessed, and the orchestra as a unit shone throughout the Mahler and Ravel which wrapped things up.

I can't imagine any new Music Director coming to Knoxville and facing the culture shock that our city must surely present. One telling instance was at an early September outdoor concert, where he announced the artist for the Opening Gala concert.  “Martin Short!” he said, and there. was. nothing. in response from the audience.  It was still relatively soon after 9/11, and the orchestra had been having some deficits.  The idea that a Music Director whose experience was rooted on the West Coast, as opposed to Western Europe (to which the orchestra had for the previous three decades become accustomed) represented a major change of direction for the organization, and particularly the board.  In no time at all, though, Lucas drew a bead on the town.  His focus on American music and his awareness of diverse repertoire earned him the respect of both younger and older audiences. His seamless assimilation into and continuation of the tradition of the Clayton Holiday Concerts was impressive.  It must be said that compared to the town to which Lucas came in 2003, Knoxville is now culturally head and shoulders taller, and some of this is his doing.  The orchestra is deeper, more visible and more efficient.

Most importantly, though, the celebrations and parties really hit their marks! Lol. The first fete was on April 30th at the Emporium Building on Gay St., downstairs from the KSO offices.  County Mayor Tim Burchett made a proclamation and awarded the Maestro permanent citizenship in Knoxville, as well as the rank of “Colonel.”  In addition, after the Friday night Masterworks concert, Club LeConte was opened up to the players and other guests for one final goodbye gala.

                                      Some fun photo ops came along at both events, enjoy!


A major jewel in the crown of Maestro Richman's tenure was the Music and Wellness Program. Here is Lucas, with (from the left) violist Eunsoon Corliss, cellist Stacy Miller, violinists Sean Claire, Ilia Steinschneider and Sara Matayoshi.


Here is County Mayor Tim Burchett in a selfie-op with the Maestro, proclamation in hand.


Lots of people in this shot from the Emporium! Hard to pinpoint who is who, but sort of left-to-right, Ruth Bacon, Gabe Lefkowitz, Chase Hawkins, Rachel Loseke, Ikuko Koizumi, Sean Donovan, Stacy Miller, Eunsoon Corliss, Alice Stuart, Brad MacDougal, MAESTRO, Sean Claire, Sara Matayoshi, Cindy Hicks,Gordon Tsai, Aaron Apaza, Steve Benne, and Yan Peng.



 From the Club LeConte reception.  Again left-to-right-ish, Edward Pulgar, Sean Claire, Gabe Lefkowitz, Katy Gawne, Eunsoon Corliss, Julie Swenson, MAESTRO, Helen Bryenton, yours truly, Stacy Miller, Sara Ringer, Sara Matayoshi, Mary Pulgar, Claire Chenette (with the EYES), Bill Pierce, Elizabeth Farr, Jill Bartine.