Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Knoxville's Classical Heritage

Opening night of the 2017-18 Masterworks series is at hand! As the season unfolds, the repertoire will resemble a travelogue, with the first concert's offerings appropriately enough delving into things Knoxvillean.  Acclaimed soprano Joelle Harvey will grace our stage for Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a work which has put our town on the map in the most positive way possible.  Preluding that performance, Knoxville's Poet Laureate R. B. Morris will read the text of the work, which is pulled from James Agee's Pulitzer-winning novel from 1959, A Death in the Family.


The Agee connection will be evident again in Aaron Copland's Suite from his opera The Tender Land, which is inspired by Copland's brush with that author's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.  No one does classical Americana better than Copland, and this luminous work contrasts beautifully with the Rachmaninov.  A commissioned work by Michael Schachter entitled Overture to Knoxville will open the concert.  Schachter's compositional style is somewhere between Copland's and Rachmaninov's; I will be curious to hear audience members' opinions as to how the work musically relates to our city.  A crew of brass instruments placed in various places in the the Theatre gives the piece a "surround-sound" ambiance that will take you away.

The concert will close with Sergei Rachmaninov's final composition Symphonic Dances, a suite of three darkly vivacious movements brimming with Rachmaninov's orchestrating genius.  The Knoxville connection here is that the composer-pianist's last public recital took place at UT's Alumni Gym, just six weeks before his death.  The work means a lot to me because our son Thomas performed the two-piano version of the work at the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts in 2006.  Luckily, Thomas will be in attendance at the Friday night concert.  Yay!

This will all be Thursday and Friday night, at the Tennessee Theatre, 7:30 pm, tickets and info here. Please be aware of and bear with the various road closures in the immediate vicinity of the Tennessee; right now, it looks as though Clinch Ave. between State and Gay is closed to traffic, but the sidewalks are open.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Arts Educator Profile: teacher, violist, conductor Nina Mikos

Arts in Education week celebrates those making a difference through arts and music education in our community. Nina Mikos has been teaching in Maryville City Schools for 8 years and has been conducting with Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra for 4 years. She is most passionate about music education because it truly makes a difference in children's lives by fostering creativity, discipline, and social interaction.

Ever since the moment I played my viola for the first time, music has been at the center of my life. I was very fortunate to have incredible orchestra directors and private teachers in my community. Growing up, I was involved in as many musical groups as I could be whether it was orchestra, choir, or piano. Music became my identity and my source of inspiration.

As much as I have always enjoyed performing, I enjoy the human connection to music even more. The friends that I have made through music will last a lifetime. The students that I have
taught over the years have probably made a bigger impact on my life than I have on theirs. I started teaching private lessons when I was 15, and I have always felt strongly that to be a good performer, you have to be a good teacher, and to be a good teacher, you have to be a good performer. Because in the end, we are all working on the same skill sets and have the same drive to be successful.

"As much as I have always enjoyed performing, I enjoy the human connection to music even more. The friends that I have made through music will last a lifetime. The students that I have taught over the years have probably made a bigger impact on my life than I have on theirs."




Teaching has dramatically improved my playing, and performing has informed my teaching. I have
seen children grow in to young adults through the discipline, focus, and training that being in an
orchestra gives them. I don’t believe in talent – I believe that every child can be successful in music
through hard work, persistence, and dedication. There’s always a “hook” to loving music for every
child. Some students thrive off of challenge, some love collaboration with peers, and others simply
enjoy the music-making process. But every child will continue if they feel successful. And it is my
job to make them successful from the very first note they play on their instrument.

I am so fortunate to be a part of a vibrant musical community in Knoxville. I have 140
students in my orchestra program (grades 5-7) at Montgomery Ridge Intermediate School in
Maryville, I have the tremendous honor of conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra with Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra, and I also often play viola with the Knoxville Symphony. I feel blessed beyond words to be a part of this wonderful community with amazing friends and colleagues.


This post was authored by the KSO Communications Dept.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Arts in Education Profile: Violinist Zofia







This profile highlights a new KSO violinist and arts educator who spreads joy through music in many ways. Zofia Glashauser joined the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra as a core violinist in the 2017-18 season and has contributed to Education & Community Partnerships programs such as Musical Story Times and Classroom Quartets in addition to lighting up the main stage with her professional and passionate playing. She has shared her personal story of how music education shaped her life path and changed her future, leading her to Knoxville. During the week of Sept. 10-16, Arts in Education week, the KSO is celebrating all arts educators, especially our beloved music educators, including Zofia, by telling their stories.


It is almost impossible for me to imagine life without the influence of the arts. My mother was a professional violinist and teacher. I grew up in Krakow, Poland where I went to a public music school from elementary through high school. At this school, music was not an elective, but the primary focus of

my studies. And so I began playing the violin at the age of seven, the same time I was learning to read and write. As a result, music is a fundamental part of who I am; it has shaped my personality and perhaps even my soul. It has helped me to appreciate the beauty found in the natural world as well as in artistic expression,
and has motivated me towards the pursuit of excellence in all parts of my life. A lifetime of music study has helped me to better appreciate history, style, and the diverse cultures of different countries.

"Music is a fundamental part of who I am...it has shaped my personality and perhaps even my soul."

Music opened my mind to a bigger world from a very young age. As a child, I traveled and performed with my school choir in many European countries. Later, I traveled even more with high school orchestras and an international youth symphony. Although being able to travel was in itself a wonder, meeting many great world class musicians was an eye opening experience. It was the primary reason I wanted to become an even better violinist. And, of course, music brought me to the United States, where I received music degrees from Western Michigan University and Northwestern University.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of learning a musical instrument, even for those who have no intention of pursuing music as a profession. It demands a strong attention to detail, a high level of preparation, and a great deal of personal responsibility. These are all traits that are valuable in most
professions. In my case, violin study helped form me into a bit of a perfectionist who can juggle multiple responsibilities and manage time well in the pursuit of meaningful artistic expression.



Before I joined the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, I was a member of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Northwest Indiana Symphony, and I was the Concertmaster of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. This position in particular gave me some very memorable experiences, including the opportunity to perform as a soloist several times with the orchestra. As a result of the various roles I played in these orchestras, I developed a strong work ethic in my preparation for a performance in addition to a strong understanding of the importance of the role of each member of an orchestra. Whether as a soloist, chamber musician, or as a section member, I am always thinking of being as
prepared as possible to play as beautifully as I can.


This post authored by the KSO communications dept.

Friday, September 8, 2017

This Season's Heavy Hitters

It's September! I think we're all surprised. There's a full musical inbox for the musicians of the KSO, with a season that I can only describe as “hard-hitting.” Every month brings a major repertoire piece with a signature moment for every instrument. Month by month, it's Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances, Ravel Bolero, and in November Strauss' Death and Transfiguration AND Tchaikovsky's tone poem Romeo and Juliet. January starts up with Dvorak 8th, then in February both Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini AND Scheherazade! Carmina Burana will be our March Madness, then Schumann's 2nd Symphony with that ridunculous violin part in the Scherzo. We'll close out the season in May with an all-American concert featuring both Rhapsody in Blue AND Copland's 3rd Symphony.

The Chamber Classics series is no less laden with treasures. Right off the bat, our October begins with Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, which along with the Schumann 2nd are violin audition staples. February 4th brings Bach's cherished 2-violin concerto featuring principal 2nd violin Edward Pulgar and new Concertmaster Will Shaub. The finale of the series looks to be one of the best ever, highlighted by Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks Concerto and Mozart's final symphony, the Jupiter.

I have to interject that it happens to be Antonin Dvorak's birthday! What a great canon of works has been left to us, and along with Tchaikovsky, one of two great composers to have spent time in the USA. I'm going to give my best effort at a pronunciation here, "div-OR-Jacques." Our season will include two keystone Dvorak works, the 8th Symphony in January, and his “American” Viola Quintet on the final Concertmaster Series concert in March.  Dvorak is best known for his New World Symphony and his “American” String QUARtet, but there is so much more than that. Recent years have seen KSO performances of his Piano Quintet and Quintet, his Bass Quintet, Symphony No. 6, Carnival Overture, Stabat Mater, and the Scherzo Capriccioso. His compositional style is always highly European, but his stateside stint cast a distinct PENUMBRA on his works, from the New World through to that phat Cello Concerto he wrote. Although I have never performed the concerto in its entirety, the techniques it requires have served me well in countless other musical circumstances, be they jazz, chamber, or orchestral. They force the cellist to learn to play in B Major, which is not a particularly kind key for the cello.


So anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TONY!!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

September Songs

Just around the corner lay the 32nd annual Ijams Nature Center Symphony in the Park, on September 10. I have only missed one of these concerts, back in 2014 when I had a broken finger. It's also notable that not one of these concerts has been rained out or even rained upon. Gates open at 5:30, and the music should start around 7:15. These concerts, set in South Knoxville's urban wilderness, have always represented a delightful return to the season. The concert is a fundraiser for the Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville's escape zone from metropolitan drudgery. The guest artists have also been a perennial treat, be they local entertainers (David Keith), UT coaches (Pat Summitt), or public figures (Senator Lamar Alexander). This year's guest will be Knoxville singer-songwriter Zoƫ Nutt. Check her website out here.



Tickets to the Ijams Nature Center 32nd Annual Symphony in the Park event here.


The KSO's celebration of Knoxville continues on September 21 and 22 with “Knoxville Postcards.” Along with relevant works by Barber, Rachmaninoff and Copland, a world premiere work by Michael Schachter will be offered, entitled Overture to Knoxville. In programming and commissioning the work, Maestro Aram Demirjian said; “...this program isn't just about the past -- it is also about the future, and the future partially depends on bringing new music into the world, which is why we have commissioned a new overture by one of my dearest friends, Michael Schachter. Michael is a composer who was just as endeared by East Tennessee's musical landscape as I was when he traveled here to soak in our city as he was writing the piece...” Mr. Schachter is busy composer, teacher and scholar who resides in Ann Arbor, MI. Here is a link to his website with musical examples.

See you at the symphony for opening night!


Friday, August 18, 2017

2017-18 Season Hits the Ground Running

Hello!  I'm back.  I've had some time this summer to reflect and clean out my mental in-box, and the 2017-18 season looms on the horizon. I hope you didn't miss me too badly! It's going to be fun, with some old musical friends combining with some new musical trends to create a crop of concerts well worth harvesting. Old friends like Carmina Burana, Dvorak's Symphony No. 8, Scheherazade, Rhapsody in Blue, and Bolero. New trends like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone live with orchestra, and “KSO Unstaged, which promises to break the mold of traditional concert venues. All of this, brought to you by “that old gang of mine,” the players of the KSO.

In the first 23 days of the 2017-18 season, we will be performing six comPLETEly different programs from six different series. Our first Masterworks concert, Knoxville Postcards on September 21 and 22, will be dedicated to the influences of Knoxville on classical music. Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, narrated by Knoxville's poet laureate, RB Morris; Copland's Tender Land Suite, the composition of which is said to have been inspired by Copland's reading Knoxville writer James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men; and Rachmaninov's captivating Symphonic Dances are the major players in those shows. Hot on the heels of that pair, on the 27th, will be the first Q Series concert at Market Square's Square Room, with the Principal String Quartet performing works of Mozart, Mendelssohn and Piazzolla.


The opening of the Chamber Classics series will be October 1 at 2:30 the luscious Bijou Theatre. Haydn's Symphony No. 60, “Il distratto” (“The Distraught”), Prokofiev's freaky Classical Symphony, and a theater piece by Austrian composer HK Gruber entitled Frankenstein! New concertmaster William Shaub will then launch his build of the Concertmaster recital series on October 4 and 5 at 7:00 with music by Franck, Sarasate and Brahms at the acoustically spacious Great Room of the Knoxville Museum of Art.

On October 7 and 8 we will tap into one of the most successful series of children's books ever written, when we provide the soundtrack to the first movie based on J.K. Rowling's smash success, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone TM  at the Civic Auditorium. (Tickets to this show are sold through Ticketmaster, not the KSO box office). Then, after going FOUR WHOLE DAYS without a performance, we will host the Classical Mystery Tour, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album at the Tennessee Theatre at 8:00 p.m.


Hmmm, I'm going to drift into an advanced state of relaxation, as I am exhausted from simply WRITING ABOUT these concerts. Just wait until they actually happen! Check the KSO website for concert times and venues. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Single Tickets on Sale Monday, including "UnStaged"

KSO Goes “UnStaged.”

If you like classical music and craft beer, we have good news for you. KSO is launching a new series of events, "UnStaged," where guests can expect to hear the KSO with craft beer in hand or while standing in the midst of the Orchestra in an airplane hangar, with sound “taking flight” all around. Contrary to the typical concert setting and structure, small ensembles of musicians will play several sets of 10-15 minutes of music throughout the night.

The first of these events will take place in November at The Standard at Jackson Row. Crafted for your pleasure, one beer tasting from four local breweries will coincide with each of the four musical sets, all surrounding the theme of “creating” or “crafting.” Click here to find out more or invite your friends on Facebook.
Keep Calm: All tickets go on sale August 14 at 9 a.m.
Monday morning, both season and individual tickets to all KSO concerts will go on sale. Tickets are available by web, phone, or in person. Patrons can buy tickets to an entire series or one singular show. During the week of Aug. 14, handling fees will be waived for purchases made over the phone.


Get Opening Night Tickets for Just $20.
During the week of August 14, patrons may purchase tickets to the KSO Season Opening Concert, Knoxville Postcards on Sept. 21-22, FOR JUST $20 by calling the box office. This special $20 ticket price includes seats anywhere in the Tennessee Theatre pending availability.
Not sure what you’ll like? Here is a quick guide. View the entire KSO concert calendar here.

This post authored by the KSO communications dept.