The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra held a little cocktail party at The Emporium Center on Gay Street recently to unveil to its board members and major supporters the schedule for the 2023-24 concert season, which starts in September.
(You can see the entire Masterworks and Chamber Classics schedules when they are posted on the KSO website in a few weeks. The schedule for the next Pops season will be announced later.)
But — wouldn’t you know it? — the music I am most looking forward to seeing performed is near the end of the season. More than a year away. It’s the April 14, 2024, Chamber Classics program. It features a Charles Ives (whom I normally do not like) piece and four other classical works that are included on the so-called “Golden Record” that scientists sent into space in 1977 aboard the two Voyager spacecrafts.
The Golden Record is a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images that portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. Its contents were selected by a committee headed by scientific genius Carl Sagan. The four classical pieces are Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, “I;” Beethoven’s “Allegro” from Symphony No. 5; Beethoven’s “Cavatina” from String Quartet No. 13; and Mozart’s Symphony No. 4, “Jupiter.”
The Ives piece on the program is called “The Unanswered Question,” which KSO Music Director Aram Demirjian described as “the most important piece of music that Ives ever wrote.” He said it asks the questions, “Why are we here? Are we alone?” Anyway, all this sounds very interesting to me.
Other season highlights:
Masterworks in September 2023: Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” which Demirjian called, “a bombastic, dynamic, season-opener kind of piece!”
In October 2023, violinist Stefan Jackiw will visit from New York City to perform Beethoven’s “Pastoral” symphony, Symphony No. 6. Jackiw is a childhood friend of Demirjian. “You knew when he was in the second grade that he was going someplace,” Demirjian said.
Handel’s “Messiah” returns in November 2023 on the Chamber Classics series. “It’s traditional in every sense of the word,” Demirjian said. The KSO performed a portion of it this past holiday season. “Folks loved it,” he noted.
Mahler appears on the January 2024 Masterworks program with Symphony No. 4 featuring “The Heavenly Life.” “It’s the most approachable Mahler,” Demirjian promised. At 54 minutes, it’s also the shortest, he said. “It’s a child’s view of heaven,” he said. The Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra and Youth Choir will join in.
In February 2024, the Knoxville Symphony will be one of 30 symphonies to premiere a commissioned piece by composer Sarah Gibson: “to make this mountain taller.” It’s part of a League of American Orchestras initiative to introduce the works of more female composers.
Pretty interesting stuff, don’t you think?