A joyful smorgasbord of food and music

Nancy Anzalone with a small sampling of the delicious dishes prepared by members of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra for “Symphony Soiree.”

I think of the Knoxville Symphony League‘s “Symphony Soiree” every year as an elevated potuck — in both the dinner and the entertainment departments. You never know what you are going to get — but you know it’s going to be good!

The party, one of the League’s “Elegant Dining” series of fundraisers, is held in the community room of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Knoxville. Cost is $85 per person and it’s always a sellout with a waiting list. With good reason.

The Symphony’s musicians — themselves a virtual United Nations due to their wide variety of histories and heritages — prepare the dinner dishes themselves. They also select and perform the musical after-dinner entertainment — and it’s not necessarily classical music. Members of the League are responsible for desserts.

This year, the emcee, KSO percussionist Michael Combs, had each performer tell us a bit about his or her instrument. I was amazed by how complicated some of them are – the harp, in particular.

Anyway, there are a very few tickets left to a couple of the remaining Elegant Dining events. You really can’t go wrong with them, so you should check them out if you are looking for something different to do! And for a good cause.

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra violinist Sean Claire bringing in some herb salmon he prepared for the buffet. Yum.

Michael Combs with Jane Venable, of the Symphony League.

Megan Venable of VIP Knoxville magazine with KSO Board Chair Rick Fox.

Sandra Pease, left, with John and Diane Arguelles.

Richard and Dawn Ford with Tom Russell, right.

A look at some of the dinner offerings!


A masterpiece that one guest put together.

The possible combinations were endless!

From left, Taylor and Brittany Royalty with Jeff and Lyn Johnson waiting for their table to be called to the buffet line. “We are dining with Royalty!” Jeff announced! Ha.

From left, Steve Hawkins, Cindy Nelson, Patricia and Paul Busse.

The sweet centerpieces were produced and donated by Kathy Laseter. You could take one home for $15.

From left, Roy Cockrum, Rick Fox, Kim Cunningham, and Ralph Cianelli.

From left, Joyce and Debbie Dalton, Sabrina and Ken Moreland.

Alan Lee, left, with Rudy Koester, who generously donated all the wine for the festivities.

Barbara Crist, left, and Janice Cole.

The KSO’s principal cello, Andy Bryenton, left, with Alan Carmichael.

Happy folks in the buffet line.

Deborah Winkleblack and Tom Quick.

From left, Ken Searcy, Joyce Ouimet, and Todd Mauer.

Linda and John Stebbins.

Michael and Patricia Ferkany.

From left, Robin Smith, Lesli Wright, Debbie and Michael Emery.

Desserts were a hit, of course! This is just a portion of them.

Becky Benedict, co-president of the Symphony League, made welcoming remarks.

Symphony League board members Kim Cunningham, left, and Audrey Duncan.

The well-fed crowd was attentive.

Violist and violinist Joshua Ulrich.

Cindy Emory, principal harpist, telling us about her instrument. It’s more complicated than you might think!

Violinist Zofia Glashauser is from Krakow, Poland.

Brooke Ten Napel, French horn.

Adam Ayers on cello.

Oboist Ayca Yayman also has a beautiful voice, as you will see in the following clip!

I think she could give Barbra Streisand a run for her money!

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