Knoxville Symphony Board: many reasons to celebrate

Knoxville Symphony Board Chair Russ Watkins and his wife, Holly, at the party last night.

In addition to the holiday season, the Knoxville Symphony Society’s board of directors had much to celebrate last night when members gathered at the Historic Middlebrook mansion for a little conviviality.

Hosts Rick Fox, a KSO board member, and Ralph Cianelli put out a sumptuous cocktail spread and wine for every taste as board members listened to Mike Benjamin perform Christmas carols on the piano while they admired Fox and Cianelli’s 10 over-the-top decorated Christmas trees. And that’s just counting the trees that were inside the historic estate!

KSO Music Director Aram Demirjian and his wife, Caraline, rushed into the party straight from the final of four performances of the popular Clayton Holiday Concert at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium. This was the 32nd year for the seasonal favorite.

Other reasons for the KSO Board to be joyous:

  • The board was able this year to negotiate a three-year extension of Demirjian’s contract to conduct the orchestra, a real win for the KSO and the community, which has embraced the young maestro.
  • While some other orchestras across the country have struggled, the KSO was able to end its season in the black for the 12th year in a row when the fiscal year concluded in May.
  • The Knoxville Symphony was one of four American orchestras to be invited to perform at the prestigious SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras during its 2019-2020 season. Sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Washington Performing Arts, the 2020 festival will begin on March 23 and last until March 29.
  • The Knoxville Symphony was included in a national radio broadcast on the show “Performance Today” in April of this year.
  • The Knoxville Symphony Ball was a record-breaker, hauling in $144,000. Reasons for the big success: moving the date from early December to March and arranging for the members of the Knoxville Symphony to actually perform at the ball.
  • The Knoxville Symphony League had a successful ShowHouse earlier this year, the first one to be located in downtown Knoxville.

All this provides a great reason to celebrate. Plus, it’s the holidays! Cheers!

From left, board member Sharon Laing with her husband, Bill, and Caraline and Aram Demirjian.

Rachel Ford, executive director of the Knoxville Symphony, left, with board member Jenny Hines, right, and Hines’ guest, Madge Cleveland.

Marshall Stair, center, is a KSO board member as well as a mayoral candidate. Host Ralph Cianelli is at left, and KSO board member Rick Fox, the other host, is at right.

From left, KSO board member Rick Stone, Angela Howard, board member Bette Bryan and Richard Bryan.

Madge and Jenny examining one of the beautiful trees.

I loved this special ornament.

Of course, there was a fox!

Mike Benjamin putting out the tunes!

Nobody was going away hungry.

Or thirsty. That’s Jeff Taylor, formerly in development with the Knoxville Symphony and now with WUOT-FM, at left. And Rick Stone to the right. It was nice of Jeff to come back and help out the KSO.

Board members Theresa Stone, left, and Joanne Mounger with Jay Mounger.

Board member Elizabeth Offringa with Sande MacMorran, left, who plays tuba with the KSO, and Terry Ford.

Bill and Alexa Riley. He’s the incoming president of the KSO board.

How about this jacket? That’s board member John Winemiller, left, with R.J. Hinde.

Amber and Josh Mullins. She’s development manager for the KSO.

Loved this jester on the stairs!

David Rechter and board member Suzanne Schriver.

Gay Lyons was there, covering the festivities for VIP Knoxville magazine. Her buddy, Sam Maynard, was helping with photos.

Rachel Ford with the gold tree.

And then, these crazy hats came out! From left, Rick, Madge, Jenny and Ralph.

Gotta love it!

Marshall and Alan Carmichael posing with a handsome nutcracker on the porch.

Umm. Rachel and Amber as reindeer?

Bette and Richard Bryan, left, with Sharon and Bill Laing.

Here’s the car in which those four arrived!

Angela and John would have won the best dressed awards — if we had had them!


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10 Responses to Knoxville Symphony Board: many reasons to celebrate

  1. Bette Bryan, on December 17th, 2018 at 4:18 pm said:

    Great article, Cynthia. Rick and Ralph were so gracious to host this Christmas party. The house is beautiful and so, so festive! Everywhere we looked, there was another Christmas delight! Thank you, Rick and Ralph, for a great event. You really put us all in the Holiday Spirit!

  2. Gay Lyons, on December 17th, 2018 at 4:20 pm said:

    Nothing says Christmas like a holiday party at Middlebrook. Fun night! Great photos!

  3. Rachel Ford, on December 17th, 2018 at 4:23 pm said:

    Those hats! Thanks to the hosts for opening up their home–and their hat closet. 🙂

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on December 17th, 2018 at 4:26 pm said:

    Bette: Thanks! I agree, it was a fun, fun time and definitely put everyone in the spirit of the season!

    Gay: Can’t wait to see your pictures (and Sam’s) in the next VIP Knoxville.

    Rachel: Those hats made for the best photos! Congrats on your leadership that has led the KSO to such a successful year.

  5. Angela Howard, on December 17th, 2018 at 4:49 pm said:

    Such a beautiful and HISTORIC setting! Absolutely loved the house tour complete with introductions to the presiding ghosts! There was no detail left out by our gracious hosts Rick and Ralph….Thank you!

  6. Cynthia Moxley, on December 17th, 2018 at 4:50 pm said:

    Angela: Every good party needs a few good ghosts!

  7. Alan Carmichael, on December 17th, 2018 at 4:57 pm said:

    Great photos. Ghosts?!

  8. Diana Salesky, on December 17th, 2018 at 8:27 pm said:

    Aram and Rachel are both treasures! Congratulations on another great year!

  9. Theresa Stone, on December 18th, 2018 at 6:33 pm said:

    It was great to relive this beautiful party and you did a wonderful job covering it. There was so much to see, and you pointed out things I missed. Thanks to Rick and Ralph for a stellar evening which is definitely a highlight of the Christmas season for me.

  10. Cynthia Moxley, on December 19th, 2018 at 9:29 pm said:

    Alan: Yep!

    Diana: Agree. And thanks!

    Theresa: Thank you. It definitely was a season highlight for us, as well.

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