The KSO’s new music director, Aram Demirjian, conducts the “Star-Spangled Banner” to open Symphony in the Park on Sunday.
The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra launches its 81st season tonight and Friday with new conductor and music director Aram Demirjian taking the podium at the Tennessee Theatre for a program called “Russian Passion” featuring the works of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky.
But Demirjian started his week in a much more pastoral setting with the 31st annual Symphony in the Park at beautiful Ijams Nature Center on Sunday. The weather could not have been more perfect and, as the sun set and the moon rose, it was almost magical to hear the ambient sound — cicadas and the occasional high-flying jet — mingle with the ethereal melodies wafting from the bandstand.
While attendance was down this year — something apparently was going on in Bristol the evening before! — those who made it to the 300-acre urban green space were treated to music ranging from that of Rossini and Elgar to Nat King Cole. And local composer and pianist Ben Maney, one of the guest artists, provided three works of his own, one performed by the riveting vocalist Yasameen Hoffman-Shahin.
The setting was stunning.
Lyn Bales, a senior naturalist at Ijams, greeted guests. Lyn and I worked together at the Mountain Press in Gatlinburg 37 years ago. Later, he would join me at Moxley Communications as a graphic designer. It’s always fun to see him.
Ken Stamps and Allison Jordan during the cocktail hour.
Lisa McClung, left, with Bob and Becky Paylor.
Paul James, executive director of Ijams Nature Center, with Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.
From left, Martha Kern, Sue Humble and Beth and Bo Townsend, who just moved back to Knoxville from Austin. Bo used to be executive director of Ijams.
These little BLT knock-offs (basil instead of lettuce) were amazing. Caterer was Nancy Kendrick’s Creative Catering.
Carol and Joe Pelliccia.
Becky Hancock, left, and Kellye Coleman.
Beth Ford and Mike Driskill.
Goat cheese tarts with grapes.
From left, Butch, Meredith and Dulcie Peccolo.
John Butler came prepared!
Neil and Maureen Dunn McBride.
Rose Sampley, left, with KSO executive director Rachel Ford and her husband, Terry. Rose just joined the Symphony staff as director of operations.
Susan Brown, left, and Cindy McConkey Cox.
Soloist Yasameen Hoffman-Shahin with Seth Hopper.
Very popular: marinated shrimp.
Cheers! My husband, Alan Carmichael, with his bug spray and Rachel Ford with a much better liquid.
When it was time to sit, we at the Moxley Carmichael table started with a toast. Here’s Mayor Rogero, Alan and Mintha Roach, at right.
Jon Roach, left, and Rachel Ford.
The food was fabulous picnic fare like this fried chicken.
Adored the pimento cheese sandwiches.
But the black-eyed peas were my favorite.
Here’s Mintha with all that health food!
Danielle and Jim Hemsley were at the Moxley Carmichael table, as well. She’s with Johnson Architecture, a great Moxley Carmichael client. He’s with Techmer PM, a great KUB client.
Eddie Mannis and Mayor Rogero getting ready for the music.
I want to give a shout-out to Eddie. As you will soon see, the new conductor is being outfitted this season by Knoxville’s premier tailor, John H. Daniel. He will be appearing on billboards for John H. Daniel starting later this week. But it takes time to make men’s formal wear and Demirjian only arrived in Knoxville a few days ago. So, until his clothes are completed by John H. Daniel, Eddie, who owns Prestige Tuxedo, is supplying him his snappy evening wear. I can’t wait to see him in his Michael Kors tux tonight and tomorrow.
But for this evening, Aram and Eddie selected a white dinner jacket accented by a UT-orange bow tie, pocket square and socks.
Concertmaster Gabe Lefkowitz is playing his last season with the KSO. He will be joining the Louisville orchestra as concertmaster. He’s been here five years.
Another shot of the scene.
From left, Stephen and Nancy Land and April and Stephen Harris. The Harrises are the largest sponsor of Symphony in the Park. Land’s Jupiter Entertainment also is a major supporter.
Deb and Dr. Joe DiPietro, the president of the University of Tennessee.
Lynn and Anthony Wise. He’s president of Pellissippi State.
Tony and Tonja Johnson.
KSO board member Tom Shaw and his sweet wife, Evelyn.
From left, Winston and Louise Frazier with Callie and Bill Taylor.
Robin Thomas and Chris Crouch.
Gay and Bill Lyons.
Kathy Boyd, left, and Sherri Lee.
From left, Karen Moore, Jana Dovgan and Betsy Tonkin.
From left, John Trotter, Meg Long and Betsy and Michael McBrien.
John Niceley and Martha Kern.
Debbie and Ron Watkins.
Anna and Tom Ford.
From left, Allison Burchett, Mike Strickland and Beth and Bo Townsend.
These little pecan pies didn’t last long at our table!
Composer Ben Maney.
After a job well done! From left, Deniz Ayca Yayman, Andy Bryenton, Stacy Nickell, soloist Yasameen Hoffman-Shahin, Ilia Steinschneider, Edward Pulgar, Eunsoon Corliss, Sean Claire and Mary Pulgar.
Karen White, left, with Aram Demirjian and Eunsuk Jung.
Aram Demirjian with Adrian and Larsen Jay.
Alan Carmichael and Aram Demirjian.
Good bye to, from left, Cindy Hassil, Maureen Bosch and Birgit Clark. (Thanks to Cindy and to Jake Hudson for a special favor!)
Don’t forget to get your tickets to the Knoxville Symphony! This season’s slogan is “The Aram Era: Be there from the Beginning!” Be there!