The anniversary of a tragic day ends gently

Stephen and April Harris, left, were the major sponsors once again this year of Symphony in the Park. Jupiter Entertainment was a sponsor, as well. Jupiter CEO Steve Land and his wife, Nancy, are at right.

Stephen and April Harris, left, were the major sponsors once again this year of Symphony in the Park. Jupiter Entertainment was a sponsor, as well. Jupiter CEO Stephen Land and his wife, Nancy, are at right.

It almost doesn’t matter what the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra plays during the annual Symphony in the Park concert at Ijams Nature Center. For 26 years, this event has created magic.

Also, for 26 years, the event has managed to avoid being rained out — although it was close this year! Just an hour prior to start time this past Sunday, South Knoxville (where Ijams is located) was drenched in an afternoon downpour. Tablecloths, napkins, everything became soaked.

Instead of being given a card with your table number, when you checked in you were given a wood chip with your table number! I loved this jaunty bird from Marble City Glassworks.

Instead of being given a card with your table number, when you checked in you were given a wood chip with your table number! I loved this jaunty bird from Marble City Glassworks.

But by the time we got there shortly after 5 p.m., the skies had cleared, the temperature had dropped to a tolerable level, and we didn’t mind that our linens were damp.

After a long (possibly too long) cocktail and silent auction period, we were called to our tables. The setting is just breathtaking. As longtime table sponsors, we have a table in the lower area near the bandstand. But the tables up on the hillside look like they would be fun, as well. And there’s just a feeling I can’t describe that descends on the crowd as dusk falls and you can hear the sounds of chirping insects and such.

Dinner always is served family style, which seems appropriate in such a relaxed atmosphere. This year caterer Nancy Kendrick charmed with big glass bowls of potato salad (was that a hint of nutmeg in it?) and broccoli salad served along with grilled vegetables and grilled chicken breasts with fresh mango salsa. Dessert was summer berry shortcake.

As everyone knows, Sunday had been a somewhat stressful day in general. The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it just had me and my friends a little on edge as well as sad and reflective.  I was glad to be in such a peaceful setting with some of our favorite neighbors and friends as that day drew to a close.

Singer Christa DeCicco poses with Maestro Lucas Richman after the performance.

Singer Christa DeCicco poses with Maestro Lucas Richman after the performance.

Appropriately, one of the first pieces Maestro Lucas Richman selected for the program was Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. He explained that a few days after the attacks in 2001, the KSO had a concert scheduled and they wrestled with what would be the appropriate course of action. Should they cancel the shows? Or would the audience members cherish the concerts as an opportunity to find comfort in the company of their fellow citizens and the healing power of music itself? The decision was made to play the concerts, but then-Maestro Kirk Trevor added the somber Adagio for Strings in honor of those who had died.

As the first notes of that piece wafted over us this Sunday, Alan and I instinctively nodded at each other in recognition because the melody instantly brought us back to that concert 10 years ago. It was startlingly powerful and the tears in my eyes were unexpected.

After that, the mood lightened considerably as we got a solo violin performance by the KSO’s gifted new, young (23!) concert master, Gabriel Lefkowitz. That was followed by a couple of children’s pieces that brought welcome chuckles and then the clear, pretty vocals of local favorite Christa DeCicco of the band Christabel and the Jons. It must have been a thrill for her to hear the power of the KSO swelling behind her delicate voice. It was for us.

Then it was a Sousa march and the evening was over. We were out of there by 8:30 and, after a quick drive around downtown Knoxville just because it’s our hometown and we love it, we went home to our center-city condo and our sweet calico cat, glad that this horrible anniversary had ended in such a gentle way.

Sam Bacon of Ijams shows guests an owl during the cocktail segment.

Sam Bacon of Ijams shows guests an owl during the cocktail segment.

Natalie Haslam, left, John Butler and Mickey Mallonee

Natalie Haslam, left, John Butler and Mickey Mallonee

Kay and Jim Clayton, left, Rachel and Terry Ford, and Billie Shelby, at right. Rachel is executive director of the KSO.

Kay and Jim Clayton, left, Rachel and Terry Ford, and Billie Shelby, at right. Rachel is executive director of the KSO.

When my friend Mickey and I saw billows of smoke coming from over a hill, we went to investigate. It was the caterers set up near several large grills!

When my friend Mickey and I saw billows of smoke coming from over a hill, we went to investigate. It was the caterers set up near several large grills!

Sam Maynard, left, and Bud Armstrong.

Sam Maynard, left, and Bud Armstrong.

This large twig sculpture was fascinating. Here Bill Lyons and Joe Walsh go over to investigate it.

This large twig sculpture was fascinating. Here Bill Lyons and Joe Walsh go over to investigate it.

We were a tiny bit disappointed when Joe, the city's director of Parks and Recreation, discovered the twigs were covering a base of rebar! I don't think the Indians used rebar when they made these things!

We were a tiny bit disappointed when Joe, the city's director of Parks and Recreation, discovered the twigs were covering a base of rebar! I don't think the Indians used rebar when they made these things!

The dinner setting was so picturesque.

The dinner setting was so picturesque.

Mayor Dan Brown and his new wife, Cathy, joined us at the Moxley Carmichael table.

Mayor Dan Brown and his new wife, Cathy, joined us at the Moxley Carmichael table.

The grilled chicken with mango salsa was beautiful and delicious.

The grilled chicken with mango salsa was beautiful and delicious.

From left, Bill and former state Sen. Jamie Woodson, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and his wife, Allison.

From left, Bill and former state Sen. Jamie Woodson, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and his wife, Allison.

From left, Mary Thom Adams of Ijams, caterer Karen Kendrick and Maestro Lucas Richman pose prior to the start of the music.

From left, Mary Thom Adams of Ijams, caterer Nancy Kendrick and Maestro Lucas Richman pose prior to the start of the music.

A shot of the crowd on the bottom tier of tables. Such a lovely night.

A shot of the crowd on the bottom tier of tables. Such a lovely night.

Here's that summer berry shortcake.

Here's that summer berry shortcake.

Paul James, executive director of Ijams, announces that the winner of this year's Spirit Award is Appalachian Mountain Bike Club for its work on our community's bike trails.

Paul James, executive director of Ijams, announces that the winner of this year's Spirit Award is Appalachian Mountain Bike Club for its work on our community's bike trails.

Dusk added its own special beauty to the scene.

Dusk added its own special beauty to the scene.

Jim Haslam, who flew in from a Pittsburgh Steelers game to attend the Ijams event, checks his program.

Jim Haslam checks his program.

It was so cute to discover various hiking and rain boots around the property filled with flowers!

It was so cute to discover various hiking and rain boots around the property filled with flowers!

Here's another.

Here's another.

Concert master Gabriel Lefkowitz wowed us.

Concert master Gabriel Lefkowitz wowed us. Sorry for the blurry photo. Flash was prohibited and it was getting too dark for my simple camera.

If you would like to hear what the Adagio for Strings sounds like, click here. It’s not the KSO playing it, but I think you will recognize it as one of the most well-known pieces of classical music in the 20th century.

3 Responses to “The anniversary of a tragic day ends gently”

  1. Thanks ever so much, Cynthia. I’m glad the event was enjoyable as ever. This is a fabulous way to showcase the evening.

    And although the Indians didn’t used re-bar in their day it really helps us to maintain and recreate the piece as the invasive privet begins to decay!

    Best

    Paul

  2. Great job with Symphony in the Park, Paul! I understand about the re-bar.

  3. I’d like to credit Stacy Adam, Blooming Earth Flowers, for the event floral design and decor, including the cute flowers in old boots.
    Thanks!
    Allison Roberts
    Communications Director
    Marble City Glassworks

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