Thursday, September 30, 2010


This is my last post as blogger for the KSO. I've enjoyed writing about music and the symphony and I hope you've enjoyed reading. Keep an eye on this blog for a new mystery blogger....

Mitzi Hall, a horn player who often plays with us, posted this clip on facebook. It made me laugh - I hope you enjoy it too!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Deals and Steals

When I talk to people who aren't regular concert attenders, the things I hear over and over again are, "We used to be go to the symphony all the time, but we just can't afford it now." and, "I'd love to come to a concert, but it's simply not in my budget right now." I empathize because, once you pay for a sitter and the ticket it starts to really add up.

This season, though, there are some great deals that make attending concerts a whole lot more affordable for families.

I have mentioned the Arts and Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville's Penny Performance initiative before on this blog. I was excited to see more students at our Masterworks concert last week. This is a wonderful program and I strongly urge you to take advantage of it. A full list of events can be found on the Penny Performance website. This week alone there are four events including a concert by the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, an artist demonstration, a performance by the Tennessee Children's Dance Ensemble, and an open dress rehearsal for the Knoxville Opera's production of Madame Butterfly.

The other deal I wanted to tell you about is the KSO's Family Concert subscription packages. The package includes three concerts: our two family concerts at the Tennessee Theater in October (next Sunday, in fact!) and February, and our Clayton Holiday Concert in December. The pricing for this series includes one adult ticket and one child ticket for each concert. The packages range from $41 to $59. This works out to $6.83 to $9.83 per person, per concert! That is less than a ticket to see a movie! My family plans to subscribe to this series. As a musician, I get a discount on ticket prices, but I think this deal even beats my discount!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tchaikovsky Gala

I looked at the calendar today and am shocked that it is already the end of September. Things have been so hectic with rehearsals and performances that the days have started to run together. Although we finished performances of Amadeus on Sunday, this week has been just as busy. On Tuesday the KSO went "home" to the Tennessee Theater to begin rehearsals for the opening concert of our 75th anniversary season.

It's been a wonderful week. It's nice to be back in our own space. At the first rehearsal it was interesting to note the difference in acoustics compared to the stage at the Clarence Brown Theatre. The sound in the hall at the Tennessee is something that always takes me by surprise at the first rehearsal back from break, but it was even more pronounced this time. I'm also happy to be sitting in a traditional arrangement again with the winds and brass behind the strings.

This week has also been exciting because we had two guests attending rehearsals. Rudy Ennis is a long time champion of the symphony. Although he now lives in Texas, he still writes all our program notes. Also, Doc Severinsen is in town visiting our principal trumpet player Cathy Leach and stopped in to listen to a few rehearsals.

Tonight and tomorrow night the KSO will present our opening gala concert. The concert is an all Tchaikovsky program and features violinist Dylana Jenson performing the Tchaikovsky violin concerto. Ms. Jenson is a superb violinist, and she has also been great to work with. It's strange - the Tchaikovsky violin concerto is a cornerstone of the violin literature, but I think this is the first time in my ten years with the KSO that we have performed the piece.

The other pieces on the program are the 1812 Overture, Coronation March, and Capriccio Italien. It is a brass heavy concert and they are sounding awesome! More information about this concert can be found here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

There It Was...

Last night was the final performance of Amadeus. It was an amazing experience and I'm so glad I was involved. I have a few final observations about the production.

* The people at the Clarence Brown Theatre are wonderful - any problems that we had (and there were very few!) were dealt with immediately and thoroughly. It was a pleasure to work in their space; I hope we have an opportunity to collaborate with them again soon.

* Last night there was a reception after the performance. After seeing the actors in period dress and wigs for two weeks, it was really odd to see them in jeans and flip flops.

* The most difficult thing about the show was watching Mozart self-destruct every single night. During the scene where Salieri asks Mozart for forgiveness I could only bring myself to fully pay attention a few times. It was too intense for me to watch night after night. I can completely understand why Constanze took off for the spa in Bonn - and I was ready to go with her.

* This was an incredible way to kick off the KSO's 75th anniversary season. I expect people will be talking about this production for years.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Amadeus Observations

* After seeing the show 8 times, the orchestra is still laughing at the jokes.

* The schedule is just as difficult as I thought it would be. My hand hasn't been a problem, but I am not used to sitting still for that long! Not sure how you prepare for that. Andy, our principal cellist, suggested perhaps taking a job as a bus driver in the off season.

* Several people in the orchestra have plotted to swipe some Nipples of Venus candy off the stage. Sadly, most are inedible props.

* One of my favorite parts is during the Abduction from the Seraglio scene. Mozart is conducting by jumping up and down and back and forth while waving his arms in circles. THAT is some serious energy coming from a conductor!

* I predict the phrases "Ta very much" and "There it is" will be a part of our collective vocabulary for a very long time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Antonio Salieri

Subject: Antonio Salieri

Born: August 18th, 1750

Died: May 7th, 1825

Known for: Hmmm... This is tricky, because Salieri is known for very little aside from the rumor that he poisoned Mozart. In his time he was a very popular composer and enjoyed a high degree of success. These days his music is seldom performed. For our production of Amadeus, some of the music was impossible to find and ultimately needed to be transcribed and arranged from a recording.

Contribution to music: Salieri taught composition to several pupils including Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt.

Did he poison Mozart? Highly unlikely. The two composers were in competition for the same posts, but they were friendly.

So, what DID kill Mozart? The current thinking is that Mozart died from kidney failure brought on by complications from strep.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Amadeus Observations

* The costumes are stunning. I still have wig envy, but they can keep their hip bustles.

* The stage setup is amazing. I had a very hard time picturing how it was going to work until we were actually on the stage. I thought being in the middle of the orchestra was exciting, but being in the middle of the orchestra in the middle of a play is something else entirely.

* I have never seen someone give birth so gracefully, with their clothes on, and on stage, too.

* I have sat here for a good ten minutes trying to come up with a way to describe the acting to you. Mozart is Mozart, Salieri is Salieri, Constanze is Constanze... The people playing the parts have disappeared. I know this is what good acting does, but I have played in orchestras for many shows and I have never been drawn in to the characters as much as I have in Amadeus. There were times in the dress rehearsal where I almost forgot where I was - the fear of missing a musical cue was the only thing that kept me with one foot in the present.

* This is a rare production of Amadeus because of the live music. Most productions use a recording. Live music is better, if I do say so myself.....

* I love the music. Not too much of a shocker because it's MOZART (and a little bit of Salieri). The funny thing about Mozart's music is that he wrote so many great pieces of music that its easy (for me, anyway) to forget about pieces that I love. I've been listening to a lot of Mozart at home lately, which is unusual for me because I generally get so saturated with whatever we're rehearsing that I like to listen to something different at home. I think I could listen to Mozart for weeks and not get tired of it.

* This is definitely going to be a production that is talked about for many, many years.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Tuesday we had our first Amadeus rehearsal.

Oh my. This is going to be even cooler than I expected.

It was just an orchestral rehearsal, so I can't give you much of a scoop yet. (Check back tomorrow - I think we rehearse with the cast tonight.) The music is incredible, but that is no surprise. I knew that the orchestra was going to be on stage, but I had a really hard time picturing how that was going to work. What I was picturing was basically a set up that is typically used when opera is presented in concert format- an orchestra on stage with the singers and actors in front. This is not at all how the stage is set up for Amadeus. The orchestra is in the middle of the stage. We are on various risers and are not sitting as we typically sit. The winds and brass are in front, the strings are on risers toward the back. We are slightly lower than the main stages that surround us, but it is not at all like an orchestra pit.

If I can get permission to take some pictures of the set I will post them here. Meanwhile, you can see renderings of some costumes, actual actors IN their costumes, and a short clip of Tuesday's rehearsal if you go to the KSO's facebook page.