The folks from the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra held a little reception downtown earlier this week to unveil some of the highlights from the upcoming 2019-2020 season. Let me urge you to get your tickets as soon as possible, because it’s going to be a great season.
December 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. KSO Music Director Aram Demirjian has programmed Beethoven’s masterpieces throughout the entire season’s Masterworks and Chamber Classics series.
“We will have lots of romance this season,” Demirjian said during the reception at the Emporium Center on Gay Street.
One big highlight is a March 2020 appearance by the Knoxville Symphony at the SHIFT Festival in Washington, D.C., where it is one of four orchestras selected to perform on the stage of The Kennedy Center. Many supporters are planning a trip to D.C. for the occasion, but the KSO also has programmed a “send-off concert” here in Knoxville so the folks not making the trip can get a sense of what the performance will hold. Hint: It will be very Knox-centric. Knoxville’s first poet laureate, R.B. Morris, has a role.
And, in another example of how our arts organizations work and play well together, the KSO has teamed with the Knoxville Museum of Art to commission composer Michael Schachter to create a violin concerto based on glass artist Richard Jolley‘s installation, Cycle of Life, which is on permanent display in the museum’s Ann and Steve Bailey Hall.
That piece will close the season in May 2020.
Demirjian said he worked hard on the upcoming season. “Programming is not a science, but an art,” he said. “You are always trying to balance the old warhorses that people want to play and people want to hear along with pieces that aren’t heard so much. And you try to put them together around a theme.”
The process must be working because Demirjian said that audiences at the current 2018-2019 concerts “are the largest and most enthusiastic that I’ve seen since I’ve been here.” He arrived in 2016.
Some other highlights:
- The Chamber Classics’ Christmas show has been a sellout at the Bijou Theatre for the past several years. So, it is moving to the Tennessee Theatre, which is substantially larger. This year’s show will feature a heaping helping of Handel’s “Messiah,” a sure-to-be crowd-pleaser.
- In addition to Beethoven, Beethoven, Beethoven, Demirjian has scheduled Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, called “Titan.” “Mahler said this symphony should sound like the entire world,” Demirjian said. “And it does.” (Well, I’ll have to hear that!)
- The season will open this coming September with “The Planets” by Gustav Holst featuring video images from NASA. Also on that program, one of my personal favorites, “On the Beautiful Blue Danube,” by Strauss. It was my grandmother’s favorite, too.
The season officially will be announced in a few days. The KSO website will have full info. The KSO box office, located in The Emporium Center at 100 S. Gay St., is open Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The phone number is 865-291-3310.