Knox Symphony makes good on its “License to Trill”

David and Sandy Martin attended the Knoxville Symphony Ball. And so did a pretty good photobomber, Dr. Ted Tsaltas.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a fancy fundraiser at a swanky country club as much as the next person. But sometimes, let’s be honest, they can get a little stale. That’s why I thought it was refreshing last year when the Knoxville Symphony moved its annual ball from the traditional country club location to a new venue called The Quarry Venue. It turned out to be a blast!

This year, under the direction of Adrian Jay, who was the mastermind behind the event last year as well, the ball was held at the Mill and Mine in Knoxville’s Old City. Again, it was charming — and different.

The theme, “Symphony of Spies: License to Trill,” led to a great series of tunes from James Bond movies played by the Knoxville Symphony, which had a stage and plenty of room to set up. Guest vocalist Morgan James, who flew in from New York for the performance, was fantastic. The weather cooperated for a comfortable outdoor cocktail hour and the decor by All Occasions Party Rentals made for a stunning visual display inside. And, best of all, there was plenty of room to spread the tables out a little more than usual.

A couple of interesting things to note. The Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra celebrated its 50th season this year and, in a nod to that, a member of that group wowed us with a bassoon performance. As a fundraiser, the event also was a huge success. All the expenses aren’t in yet, so we don’t know the net amount brought in, but KSO Chief Executive Officer Rachel Ford predicted it will be the most the ball has ever raised!

The live auction amassed a record amount ($62,500) and the “Fund A Cause” portion — during which folks who’ve already bought $350 tickets to attend are asked to pony up again — raised an additional $34,950. And that doesn’t count ticket sales, sponsorships, and the silent auction. So, a good haul!

Here’s a look at some of the fun!

UPDATE: Knoxville Symphony officials announced to its board of directors on May 9 that the ball did, in fact, break previous fundraising records. After expenses, the KSO netted $183,000 from the event.

First up: mingling and cocktailing, of course. (My spellcheck is telling me “cocktailing” isn’t really a word. But I think it should be!)

From left, Susan Arbital, Sylvia Peters, Marga McBride, and KSO Music Director Aram Demirjian.

The signature cocktail was called “The 007.” Appropriate.

Knoxville Symphony League President-elect Lisa Bogaty lifts her hem to reveal — a water pistol! Ha!

Tom Boyd, left, and Knox County Commissioner Larsen Jay.

From left, Sharon Moore, Rev. Charles Lomax, and Kristin Grove.

Teresa Scott, left, with KSO Board Member Sheena McCall and Jon Agazi.

Two of the passed appetizers were a take on “bangers and mash,” left, and adorable little meatballs.

Robin Smith, left, and Debbie Emery, a member of the Symphony League’s board.

Ron and Carolyn Lawrence, an executive vice president of the Symphony League.

From left, Rose Moseley, Loretta Crowder, and Theresa Stone.

From left, Michael Combs, Rick Fox, and David Williamson. Fox is chair of the KSO Board.

These mango sticky rice balls were a hit!

Lisha and Frank Venable.

So here’s a lucky guy! From left, Amy Edge, Faith Ferguson, Sandi Swilley, Garry Conklin, Sheryl Lynck, Nazzy Hashemian, and Moody Altamimi, who is a member of the KSO board.

Larsen Jay and Kathy Boyd.

John McDonald and KSO Board Member Mardel Fehrenbach.

Kim Cunningham, left, and Mary Ann Geoffrey. Kim is a vice president of the Symphony League.

Jim and Kim Hays.

Here’s a pretty cool silent auction item!

Cris Stevens, left, and Catherine Duggan.

Richard Belz and Milaray Mann.

Alan Carmichael, left, and Garry Conklin.

Andrew and Sarah Harris. The Symphony Ball tickets were a birthday present for her. Later in the night, he would end up buying her a beautiful bracelet in the live auction! (Thanks to Markman’s Jewelers for donating it.)

Soon, it was time to go inside. I thought those silver chairs made the room look great.

The centerpieces were gorgeous.

Emily Campen arranged them. Here she is with her husband, Mark Campen.

Shawn White, who plays trumpet with the KSO, left, with Carolyn and Dr. Doug Leahy, a member of the KSO Board.

KSO Board Member Ruth Fielden with her husband, Joe.

Rick Stone and Angela Howard, left, with Al and Susan Yanno. Rick is on the Symphony Board.

Knoxville Symphony CEO Rachel Ford poses with David Martin.

Marcus Hall and Angelia Nystrom.

Linnie and Charley Sexton.

Joey Creswell with his wife, KSO Board Member Janet Testerman, center, and mother-in-law, Janet Testerman Crossley.

Shawn White took to the balcony and signaled that it was time for folks to take their seats! That’s one way to get everyone’s attention!

From left, Joe and Becky Benedict, Lisa and David Bogaty. Becky is the current president of the Symphony League; Lisa is president-elect.

Steve and Jenny Kitts. She is an executive vice president of the Symphony League.

I thought the salads were lovely. Especially that big watermelon radish!

From left, John Alzona, James Holden, Trish and Lyle Irish, who is a member of the KSO Board.

A toast to the KSO!


Duck confit with peach braised cabbage and grilled mahi mahi on asparagus herbed couscous, in a white wine Dijon sauce.

KSO Board Member Jenny Hines and Ralph Cianelli.

Jeff and Susan Arbital.

Joe McCamish and Cheryl Masur.

From left, Jay and Marga McBride, Tom Boyd, and Sandi Burdick.

Caramelized pineapple upside down cake with papaya pistachio jam, white chocolate saffron creme anglaise, and candied citrus.

Dr. Ayaz Rahman and Dr. Quyn Rahman. She’s on the KSO Board.

Jerry Lenn with his wife, Emily, left, and their soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Laura Cole.

When Cory Wilhite, director of operations for the KSO, takes this position, you know the show is about to start.


Conductor Aram Demirjian.

Concertmaster William Shaub, center, I-Pei Lin, at right, and Zofia Glashauser, left.

Sarah Senn, left, and Stacy Nickell.

Adam Ayers, left, and Andy Bryenton.

Demirjian introducing the special talent for the evening.

Morgan James, a singer, songwriter and Broadway actress, was fantastic singing songs from James Bond films. There’s a sample of one at the end of this post.

You see that bracelet on her left arm? That’s the one that was auctioned off.

Then it was time for the live auction with auctioneer Dino Cartwright.

It’s dangerous when he gets this close to you with that microphone — and that look in his eye!

After the auction, Allison Rogers, a member of the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra and a senior at Central High School, performed on her bassoon with the KSO musicians.

And then, Morgan James sang few more.

To a very appreciative audience.

Adrian and Larsen Jay near the end of the fun evening. She was the chair of the Symphony Ball. Great job!

Music Director Aram Demirjian and his wife, Caraline.

Although Laura Cole looked like a princess in her dress, underneath it, she was wearing practical shoes. A downtown resident, she was prepared to walk home!

Here’s Morgan James:

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6 Responses to Knox Symphony makes good on its “License to Trill”

  1. John Garrison, on April 30th, 2024 at 2:13 pm said:

    Looks like a good time was had by all! And I love the singer!

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on April 30th, 2024 at 2:16 pm said:

    John: It was a fun, fun night! And she was wonderful!

  3. Jerry Lenn, on April 30th, 2024 at 6:29 pm said:

    It was great fun and loved getting you to our table to get some of these great photos!!Wasn’t the singer outstanding?!?

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on April 30th, 2024 at 6:39 pm said:

    Jerry: I was so lucky that you had a front row table – and an empty seat since Joseph couldn’t come. Thanks for letting me perch and take pictures! Wasn’t it fun?

  5. Sharon Moore, on May 1st, 2024 at 6:48 am said:

    Adrian Jay has done a marvelous job reimagining this event. So well done. Thank you for the Blue Streak, Cynthia!

  6. Cynthia Moxley, on May 1st, 2024 at 11:12 am said:

    Sharon: Absolutely agree about Adrian! Great seeing you there!

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