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Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
KSO blogger Andy
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On Saturday, a very special honorary event took place at the James Cox Auditorium on the UT campus. A contingent of Korean War veterans was honored and feted for their distinguished service. The ceremony included a presentation of medals to the veterans by Korean General SeungWoo Choi, a sword dance, a fan dance, some martial arts demonstrations, and a performance by a traditional Korean orchestra.
Resident Conductor James Fellenbaum led a small orchestra, which included past and present KSO members and KSO Youth Orchestra Manager Kathy Hart's Suzuki Hart Strings in a performance of the Armed Forces Salute, heard recently at the 4thof July concert. As each branch of the service had its respective march played, veterans of those branches stood and were recognized with applause.
You learn something every day. What I learned, through reading the News-Sentinel item, is that our own Eunsoon Corliss, (assistant principal violist), is vice-president of the Knoxville Area Korean Association! She was quoted extensively at the end of the article, and her beautiful words made it plain that this event-- and these veterans-- meant the world to her. She is also responsible for these fabulous pictures of the dancers and of little Kiri, Fellenbaum (daughter of Jim  and Sarah), who had the distinct thrill of meeting the fan dancers and their fans...

So beautiful, colorful and and precise...

Who is that behind the fan??

It's Kiri!!




6 months ago | |
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It may have slipped by, bundled in with some other KSO news as it was on my June 6th post, but a great fundraising opportunity for KSO fans will still be available until August 21. The First Tennessee Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the First Tennessee Bank, is holding an online grant vote, the prize from which is $5,000 for whatever non-profit organization totals the most votes each day. This is all to celebrate First Tennessee Bank's 150th birthday, which was March 25th. There are WAY more than 150 nonprofits participating in the contest, so it is by no means a slam-dunk to get an award; there are 68 REMAINING entries under the letter “T” alone.

It is often said jokingly on election day, “Vote early and often,” but with this contest, you actually can! You are allowed to vote from MULTIPLE DEVICES for (the KSO and) up to 10 nonprofits EVERY DAY. We're shooting for the week of July 21 (next week) for a big push to vote. So log on to their website, tell a friend, tell your boss, tell your DOG if she's online. You don't need to be in Knoxville, or even in the USA to vote, and the “captchas” are easy to read. It IS a popularity contest. Share this link which leads you to the vote and explains things with much more detail and quality than I am capable of, in a charming video.
Speaking of voting, I feel the need to remind those of you in the Knoxville area, there is a very important election coming up on August 7th. Make sure you get out and vote; no one can do it for you.
6 months ago | |
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In our last episode we looked at the first four Masterworks concerts, up to the January pair. February's (19th and 20th) pair will consist of a single work, Dvorak's Stabat Mater. This will be a new one for me, I believe, although the Knoxville Choral Society performed a Dvorak choral work at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church many, many years ago that may have been this. Dvorak's rich musical language is perfectly suited to this very touching text.
On March 19thand 20thwe will welcome Maestro James Feddeck to the podium and pianist Conrad Tao to the footlights. Mr. Tao will be performing Mozart's Piano Concerto in C, K. 503. It is always nice to hear some of the less-frequently performed Mozart Concerti, such as the A Major concerto we performed this past January. The Mozart will be bookended by Rossini's iconic Overture to William Telland Mendelssohn's Third Symphony, the Scottish. This concert is bookmarked in my mind because of the gigantic cello solo and tender cello quintet that open the Rossini. Ascending arpeggios in the solo cello part are supposed to represent a sunrise. I have always wondered, with five such arpeggios, what kind of solar system this opera must have been composed for, to have five suns rising every morning! It must be a hot place. Later on in the work comes an English Horn solo, which has been quoted in countless Bugs Bunny cartoons, and the famous “galop” (aka “the Lone Ranger”) closes the work.
The April concerts will start off with a bang. Bedrich Smetana's Overture to The Bartered Bride is a relentlessly exciting work that helped earn Smetana the title (in the Czech Republic, at least) of the father of Czech music, over and above (and slightly before) even such a force as Dvorak. Pianist Antti Siirala will then perform Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 1, and guest conductor Vladimir Kulenovic will wrap things up with Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, Pastoral. I probably don't have to say this, but I will anyway: this is not the Pastoral Symphony from Handel's Messiah, which at the hands of lesser choral conductors becomes the musical equivalent of Sominex. Au contraire, this is Beethoven's “slice-of-life” symphony, with arguably the most amazing storm scene in the repertoire. It seems fitting to perform this bucolic work in April, which happens to be National Straw Hat Month, National Garden Month, and Grange Month.
All of this is leading up to Lucas Richman's final concert with us on May 14 and 15. This eclectic concert will be jam-packed with goodness, starting with Beethoven's powerful Egmont Overture. Concertmaster Gabe Lefkowitz will then be the soloist in the Tchaikowsky Violin Concerto, with the famous first movement after which everyone always claps. The second half of the concert will feature the Adagio (slow movement) from Mahler's Symphony No. 10, and Ravel's dazzling La Valse.

I Can't Wait! All concerts are at the Tennessee Theatre and start at 7:30.
6 months ago | |
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It's here! The founding fathers had exactly such a day as today in mind when they were picturing a 4th of July celebration. It's 82 degrees and sunny, and memories of rainy 4ths in 2009(?) and 2013 shall be banished. In fact, record low temperatures are possible tonight, so hold on to your glow sticks, people..YOU ARE GONNA NEED A JACKET LATER. I never thought I would say that in July. In Knoxville.

Parking is very much available right now. There are typically more people on Market Square at the Saturday farmer's market than there were when I just came through downtown a few minutes ago. (3:00 pm). While you may find a dandy space, consider what it will be like when leaving. The 11th St. garage is very close to the venue, but traffic can be pretty gnar afterwards. It's a good place to park if you are going to stay downtown or on the strip after the fireworks; by midnight- but maybe not much before- it should be cleared out. Sometimes parking downtown is a good option, if you don't mind walking. It's a long schlep with a cello, but I've done it.

Please come join us in  Lucas Richman's final 4th of July concert, tonight at 8:00 at the South Lawn of the World's Fair Park!! God Bless America!
6 months ago | |
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Time has gotten away from me somehow; Mid-June flew by, and now it's the Mid-Teens! We took a trip to Vermont to deliver our son Richard to Middlebury College, where he is attending the summer language program. (speaking of “Midd”-teens, har har har). Big brother Thomas lives in Middlebury, so it was a family reunion for sure. And YES, we watched the World Cup. Hopefully the USMNT will still be in contention on the 4th, GO USA!
I just don't know how I have gotten this far into the summer without rapping about the KSO's 2014-2015 season! It's inconceivable... I know I've told people about it, but not through this grapevine, I guess, so here it is...
The Masterworks Series starts on September 18th and 19th with a diverse concert featuring Hindemith's colorful Symphonic Metamorphosis, and finishing with the Brahms 1stPiano Concerto. Jon Kimura Parker will be the piano soloist in a show that also offers Michael Torke's Bright Blue Music, speaking of colorful. (Please note that he is not related to the ex-Monkee Peter Tork; the names are spelled differently).
I don't know if you saw the Metro Pulse on May 8th, but there was a letter from a reader, a classical music fan, who longed to hear the KSO perform some scary, Halloween-ish music in a darkened theatre. He listed some pieces, and I had to chuckle, because I knew already that there was quite some overlap between his list and the repertoire for the October 16thand 17thMasterworks performances. Guest conductor Sameer Patel, Music Director of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, will lead the KSO in Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain,Dukas' Sorceror's Apprentice (with concertmaster Gabe Lefkowitz as soloist),and Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique.. Three wild rides, and our house lights are always down at performances...
November brings a touch of the Alps as Maestro Richman will continue his journey through the rich catalog of the works Richard Strauss, bringing his Alpine Symphony to life for the first time in Knoxville. Opening the show will be Verdi's Overture to La forza del destino, and arias by Verdi and Mozart will complete the first half.
The January Masterworks concert pair is one of the most action-packed shows imaginable. Three iconic works will be led by guest conductor Lawrence Loh, resident conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony. We shall go back to Berlioz, this time for his Roman Carnival Overture. Guest cello soloist Julie Albers will perform Shostakovich's manic 1stCello Concerto, and we will finish with Tchaikowsky's ridiculously beautiful 4thSymphony. Taking in the Shostakovich Tenth Symphony we just performed in may, his 8th String Quartet that the Principal Quartet will perform in early November and this Cello Concerto, an opportunity for a very significant overview of Shostakovich's musical vocabulary is in the offing.

Stay tuned for the rest of the season...
6 months ago | |
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It's right around the corner, the 2014 Pilot/Flying J Independence Day Concert! Come on down to the South Lawn of World's Fair Park at 8:00 on the 4th of July for a FREE musical (and ballistic!) celebration of our nation's inception. This is to be the 30th Annual 4th of July concert, and the 238th birthday of Uncle Sam. We can't predict the weather, but trust me, it's going to be a beautiful night. Last year we learned that we can make even a rainy night outdoors festive.
Concertmaster Gabe Lefkowitz will perform the Rondo from Mozart's HaffnerSerenade. This effervescent work has shades of Appalachian fiddlin' in it, but check it out: this Mozart work IS ALSO CELEBRATING ITS 238TH BIRTHDAY. Yep. Premiered the 4thof July, 1776, on the eve of the wedding of the SISTER of Sigmund Haffner the Younger, a pal and benefactor of Mozart. 
We heard that some of you missed Christopher Sanders (aka Santa Claus) at the Clayton Holiday Concerts this past December, so we've brought him back for the 4th. He will perform four numbers with the orchestra: the Pledge of Allegiance, Copland's The Boatman's Dance, America the Beautiful, and The Wheels of a Dream from the Broadway musical Ragtime.

I have to qualify a statement in the first paragraph. Yes, the fourth of July IS Uncle Sam's birthday, but I actually DO have an Uncle Sam, or should I say, my wife does. His name is Sam Ward. If you are up on your patriotic music, you'll know that the music for America the Beautifulwas penned by a Samuel A. Ward in 1880. Although not direct descendants of this composer (he died childless in 1903), my wife and her uncle are definitely related to him.
7 months ago | |
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It's time for the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestras' Summer String Camp! This will be the 20th annual camp, and it has come a long way since its humble beginnings. The first camp was held in the basement of (KSYO conductor) Kathy Hart's home 20 years ago, but the camp has grown to encompass four different levels of participation and takes place at Bearden High School. As explained on the KSYO webpage, the Prelude, Overture, Intermezzo and Finale groups are each geared toward a specific age group and talent level. Participants will get to work with KSO members and KSYO conductors for the week of June 16-20. I must add that the urgency for acting on your interest in this camp is high, since the deadline for applying to the camp is TODAY.





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As part of First Tennessee Bank's 150th anniversary celebration, there will be a sort of grant lottery, called 150 Days of Giving, which will award $5,000 DAILY to a different non-profit organization. By visiting FTB's website, you can vote for the KSO and as many as nine other non-profits daily. (The Memphis Symphony and the Chattanooga Symphony have already been awarded grants). Rules and guidelines are also posted on their website.

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Rebroadcasts of last season's KSO Masterworks and Chamber Classics series are starting up again soon, occurring on Tuesday evenings in July, August and September AT 8:00 on WUOT-FM, 91.9. Here is a schedule of broadcasts and repertoire that was performed on each.

July 7- Masterworks, September 19 (Reznicek Overture to Donna Diana, Beethoven Triple Concerto, Kodaly Hary Janos Suite, Wagner overture to Rienzi).

July 14- Masterworks, October 17 (Barber Overture to The School for Scandal, Richman Piano Concerto In Truth, Grofe Mississippi Suite,  Gershwin An American in Paris)

July 21- Chamber Classics, November 3 (Rossini Overture to L'italiana in Algieri, Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1, Respighi Ancient Airs and Dances, Stravinsky Pulcinella Suite)

July 28- Masterworks, November 14 (All Mozart)

August 4- Masterworks, January 16 (Strauss Overture to Die Fledermaus, Mozart Piano Concerto No. 23, Tchaikovsky Suite from The Sleeping Beauty, Strauss Emperor Waltzes)

August 11- Chamber Classics, January 26 (All-Mozart)

August 18-  Masterworks, February 20 (Yardumian, Veni, Sancte Spiritus, Hovhaness Symphony No. 23, Bloch Sacred Service)

August 25- Chamber Classics, March 2 (All-Baroque)

September 1- Masterworks, March 20 & 21 (Bach Brandenburg Concerti)

September 8- Chamber Classics, April 4 (Principal Quartet: Haydn Quartet op. 64, No. 5, The Lark, Villa-Lobos String Quartet No. 1, Schubert Quartet Death and the Maiden)

September 15- Masterworks, April 24 (Nielsen, Overture and Dance of the Cocks from Maskarade; Grieg Piano Concerto, Sibelius Symphony No. 5)

September 22- Chamber Classics, May 4 (Beethoven Symphony No. 2, Overture to Prometheus
and Romance No. 2 in F; Sarasate Zigeunerweisen,Paganini La campanella)

September 29- Masterworks, May 15 (Beethoven Overture to Fidelio and Piano Concerto No. 4, Shostakovich Symphony No. 10)
7 months ago | |
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Something that is approaching with startling velocity is the Principal Quartet performance in early November, on which will be performed a late Beethoven quartet, his opus 132. (The concerts that feature the Principal Quartet have traditionally taken place in early April). Late Beethoven quartets are considered to be the ultimate in quartet playing; profound, beautiful and challenging. We have scheduled some rehearsals for this summer before quartet members go whizzing off in all directions. Some ingredients for a successful performance of any quartet are: hours of preparation, a bottle of wine (for the rehearsals), and... a score.

In college I took it upon myself to assemble a collection of scores to many of the works, quartets or otherwise, that I would be performing in my future. While the majority of the scores are miniature scores, the score that I own for the Beethoven op. 132 is actually in a textbook that I used in Music History class in undergrad. This collection of scores was published as the Music Scores Omnibus. I unearthed this Omnibus recently, and although in college I had little inkling of what my future would bring, it is now apparent that this textbook held clues to my future. Unbeknownst to me at the time was the fact that the Omnibus was collated and edited by two University of Tennessee professors, William Starr and George Devine. Those were just names on the cover, but upon moving to Knoxville, I soon learned of their musical importance to this town.



George Devine was a longtime (1947-1985) member of the UT music department faculty, teaching music history, orchestration, and instrumentation. The start of his tenure corresponds with David van Vactor’s arrival as the KSO’s music director, and founding of UT’s music school as we know it. The music library at UT bears Devine’s name in dedication. Upon his death in 1999, a memorial statement was read at the KSO Masterworks concerts that September. For many years, Devine was the provider of program notes for the KSO concerts.



William Starr’s name is universally known in the Suzuki education realm, and his tenure at UT was Knoxville’s “Golden Age of Suzuki violin.” UT was a world-renowned teacher training facility for years, until he accepted a position at the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1986. Current KSO members Julie Swenson and Mary Anne Fee Fennell were products of this fine program. My wife Helen also studied with Dr. Starr at the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, Wisconsin (aka Suzuki Mecca). Along with starting this fine training program, Dr. Starr was concertmaster of the Knoxville Symphony orchestra during the David van Vactor years. Dr. Starr spoke at Schiniki Suzuki’s memorial service in 1998. (Photo courtesy Nancy Daby, former violinist with the KSO in the late 80's and early 90's).



7 months ago | |
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I have been thinking quite a bit about a recently deceased former member of the KSO, bassist Dale Watermulder. His death on May 8 cast a shadow on those who knew him, and the May performances that followed were tinged by that shadow.

Dale came to Knoxville from Michigan in 1977 and started his library career at the Fountain City branch, moving to the Lawson McGhee (downtown branch) in the early 80's. He was the force behind the establishment of that branch’s awesome Sights and Sounds (A/V) collection, which has been a valuable reference over the years for many musical endeavors of my colleagues and  I. He was always curious about my summer opera festival playing, and had a lot to say about even the most obscure works that I performed at Lake George and Des Moines Metro Opera.

We were both principal string players in the Oak Ridge Symphony for a time, roughly 1994-2000. As a fellow diabetic, we had many stories to swap. I always felt I had learned something after a conversation with Dale, but subtly so; the wisdom of his words took a little while to sink in. He cared deeply about the things he did and believed in doing them well.

Thank you, Dale, for making Knoxville a more cultured place– one dvd, one cd, one bassline at a time.


7 months ago | |
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The votes are in (after a nowhere-near-scientific poll) and the winner in the category of “favorite concert of the year” is the Shostakovich 10/Beethoven 4th Piano Concerto production from last week. Having mentioned in the last post that it was MY favorite concert had no influence on the “poll’s” results. The works just grew and grew on the players, and by the dress rehearsal the enthusiasm was tangible. These two familiar (but not overworked) classics showed off the orchestra’s strengths well and proved to be a great bonding experience for the players.

There are two events left in the KSO’s 78th season. The Principal String Quartet will be featured in a special event Wednesday at the Blackhorse Pub and Brewery, in Western Plaza at 4429 Kingston Pike. Already an awesome after-work venue, the Blackhorse’s ambiance will be further enhanced by the quartet starting at 5:30. The topic: beer and heavy hors-d’oeuvres. The special guest: Beethoven. Or is it the other way around? Anyway, nobody wrote string quartets like Beethoven, and we will throw in some tangos and such to mix it up. The success of “Scotch and Strings” at Boyd’s Jig and Reel (in spite of the yicky January weather) has spurred the KSO on to add another social event, “Beer and Beethoven.” Assuming that this, too is successful, I wonder what next season’s offerings will be in the “This and That” series: “Merlot and Mozart?” “Chardonnay and Chabrier??” “Sake and Satie???”

The next day, Thursday the 22nd, the Chamber Orchestra will travel to Maryville’s Theatre in the Park, across from the Blount County Courthouse for a FREE 7:30 concert that is a repeat of our May 1 Concert in the Square (which wasn’t really in The Square) and will reprise for the final time concertmaster Gabe Lefkowitz’s performance of Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen. An easy way to distinguish these last two concerts is to think hefeweizen on Wednesday, and Zigeunerweisen on Thursday. A rain date of Sunday evening is in force.
8 months ago | |
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