Another enchanting ‘Evening Under the Stars’

Saxaphonist Alex Thompson is one of the 17 members of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra.

If it’s October, it must be time for one of the most enjoyable fundraisers of the season. “Evening Under the Stars” is a night of great music, great food and great camaraderie. And, as a big bonus, here’s what it DOES NOT have: a silent auction, a live auction, speeches or heart-tugging videos. Isn’t that refreshing?

The super fun and low-key event is held at the beautiful lakeside home of Sherri Lee and features the music of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, which is the beneficiary of the soiree. Nancy Kendrick of Creative Catering does the delicious food, and the wine is generously provided by Randy Burleson and Bistro by the Tracks.

The big news for the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra right now is the recording of a new CD to celebrate the group’s 20th anniversary. The collection includes some of the orchestra’s favorite arrangements from throughout the years and some of its favorite guest artists. A release party is set for next week. Continue reading

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Two Knoxville friends among top state artistic talent

Two of the Governor’s Arts Awards winners were singer Brenda Lee and editorial cartoonist Charlie Daniel. Daniel was the first editorial cartoonist to win the award. (Photo by Duane Grieve.)

We went to the Governor’s Arts Awards in Nashville last week because we wanted to see our friends Charlie Daniel and Ashley Capps receive the high honor.

And what we got during those two hours in Conservation Hall at the Tennessee Residence was even more than that. It was a joyous celebration of a vast range of arts all across the state of Tennessee. I think it’s safe to say that everyone in the small invitation-only audience was smiling ear-to-ear with delight the entire time.

“Like the Volunteer State’s diverse landscapes that stretch from east to west, the creativity and talents of these outstanding Tennesseans contribute to the breadth, depth and superiority of the arts and culture we enjoy,” said Gov. Bill Lee, who, with First Lady Maria Lee, hosted the event.

Oh, and we also got to meet singers Brenda Lee and Richard Penniman, better known as Little Richard. Continue reading

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People who live in glass houses

The glass house is 40-by-40 feet square and is situated on 1.2 acres.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the famous “glass house” built on a cliff in South Knoxville’s Lakemoor Hills neighborhood by longtime University of Tennessee architecture professor William Starke Shell. He donated it to the Knoxville Museum of Art when he passed away in 2017.

“I would describe it as the most beautiful and the most impractical house in Knoxville,” the museum’s executive director, David Butler, told the News Sentinel last year when the museum put the home up for sale.

It was purchased by Jon and Toni Lawler for $545,000. Jon currently uses the 1,600-square foot one-bedroom, one-bath home as an office. The Lawlers generously offered to let the Knoxville Symphony League hold one of its “Elegant Dining” events there recently and the dinner quickly sold out. Continue reading

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‘What do I wear?’

Maria Cornelius in her go-to jacket for University of Tennessee events.

This is another guest post by Maria Cornelius of Moxley Carmichael. Maria expertly handles EventCheckKnox, which has a blog with excellent original content that is worth sharing with Blue Streak readers. EventCheck Knox is designed for planners, but it can be accessed and enjoyed by anyone. Look before you book. And in this case, look before you get dressed! -Cynthia

RSVP? Check. Time of event? Check. Location? Check. Attire? Help.

An event invitation that includes attire is always beneficial for attendees, but what is the difference between cocktail and dressy? Business casual and dressy casual? Even the most seasoned partygoers can get tripped up by dress codes.

With a little help from some style mavens on the Blue Streak, let’s clear up any confusion with descriptions and photos. (And each photo links to the specific event in the caption credit if you want to see more attire examples.)

Black tie means very formal. For men, that means a tuxedo. For women, floor-length gowns are preferable. Cocktail dresses are acceptable, but a long gown elevates the look. Black tie on the invitation is like prom for adults.

Brooks and Karen Clark with Jeff Pappas, right. (Blue Streak photo)

Black tie optional elicits a sigh of relief, especially for men, because it means tuxedos are fine, but so is a dark suit and tie. Women can choose an evening gown or cocktail attire without any worries about not being suitably dressed. Continue reading

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For Diana Salesky, music is a family affair

Alto Diana Salesky and her father, Conductor Howard Skinner, at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus recently. (Photo by Lisa Thompson.)

I don’t know what you do when you get together with your 89-year-old father. But my friend Diana Salesky and her siblings spend their quality time with Dad by organizing a classical music performance — with him as conductor.

A couple of Sunday afternoons ago, I and about 1,000 other folks, filed into the new Catholic cathedral on Northshore Drive to hear one of those special performances. Diana’s group, the Amadeus Chamber Ensemble, performed a one-hour concert of music by Johann Sebastian Bach. Among the audience members: Knoxville’s very own opera diva, Mary Costa. Wow.

The concert was free and open to the public, an effort by the Diocese of Knoxville to welcome community members — of any faith — to the beautiful new house of worship.

“I think we were all surprised, and absolutely delighted, by the size of the crowd,” Diana said later.

And she was not intimidated about performing with Mary Costa in the house. “I’ve had the opportunity to sing in front of Mary several times and, as you can imagine, she is the most gracious and supportive audience member in existence,” Diana said. “Anyone who has met Mary knows she has an amazing ability to make you feel you’re the only one in the room. She gives you that same feeling when you perform. She’s right there with you at every step, always rooting you on.” Continue reading

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Harper in the Hall has a nice ring to it!

Coach Kellie Harper speaking this week at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

It was a beautiful day in Tampa and Kellie Jolly Harper, there for a meeting, was playing phone tag with University of Tennessee Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer. She knew he was calling to tell her the results of the search for the next Lady Vols head basketball coach — and she really wanted the job.

Finally, they connected and she held her breath. “Are you ready to be the next Lady Vols basketball coach?” he asked. She paused. “When you know you are having a moment, you have to appreciate it,” she told an attentive audience this week. A few seconds later, she answered him. “Oh, yeah!”

Harper took time out of her recruiting schedule to speak Tuesday to about 50 members of the Executive Women’s Association at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

“To have the opportunity to coach at your alma mater is a big deal,” she said. Harper, who was part of three consecutive NCAA women’s national championships from 1996 to 1998 for the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, was the starting point guard in 1997 and 1998.

Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville, UT sports | 6 Comments

Melding of music and nature nets perfect Sunday

Knox County Commissioner Larsen Jay and his wife, Adrian, who is on the Symphony Board, made the most of the beautiful evening.

Among the top five best events in Knoxville every year is Symphony in the Park. Held this past Sunday at Ijams Nature Center, it features a performance by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra in the beautiful setting that is Ijams. Funds raised benefit the 315-acre nature park.

Whereas last year, for the first time in the event’s more than 30-year history, the Knoxville Symphony performed under tents in a strong rainstorm, this year the weather was perfect. As was the music, which ranged from Mozart, Beethoven and Bartók to Lady Gaga and the Beatles. Perhaps the most interesting part of the evening featured vocalist Christina Horn performing with some electronic instruments, which are her trademark.

“This is so exciting,” said my friend Judith Foltz, currently the city of Knoxville’s director of special events and former development director for the Knoxville Symphony. “I am so happy to see the Symphony moving in this direction and trying to appeal to new audiences.” Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville, Music | 14 Comments

‘We are going to be dreaming big.’

Chancellor Donde Plowman making remarks at a reception held in her honor recently.

That’s what just-hired UT-Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman announced recently at a community reception held in her honor at the beautiful new Student Union on the University of Tennessee campus.

The reception, sponsored by Pilot Flying J, Cherokee Distributing Company, The Christman Company and The University of Tennessee Medical Center, allowed about 200 members of the business and civic community to get to know the new chancellor and hear her plans. (Moxley Carmichael was proud to be the organizer.)

Interim UT President Randy Boyd introduced Plowman, saying the university intends to be “laser focused on student excellence.”

“We, unfortunately, too often work in silos,” Boyd said. “We need someone who can help us work together. Donde is a team builder, and she will be a terrific chancellor.” Continue reading

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Attention event planners: Christmas is nigh!

Festive decoration for a holiday party. (Blue Streak photo)

This is another guest post by Maria Cornelius of Moxley Carmichael. Maria expertly handles EventCheckKnox, which is designed to help event planners avoid having their events conflict with similar functions. Even though EventCheck Knox is designed for planners, it can be accessed by anyone. Look before you book! -Cynthia

It’s been stifling hot in August, but I need you to think about December. Specifically, I need you to provide the dates – and details if available yet – of your important holiday fundraisers.

As of now, the EventCheck Knox calendar for December 2019 looks like a half-decorated Christmas tree compared to December 2018.

The month of December gets packed as people scurry about getting ready for assorted holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa – and the accordant parties, services and gatherings associated with all of them.

If your nonprofit or organization is holding an important fundraiser in December, such as the University of Tennessee School of Music Holiday Musicale or the East Tennessee Foundation’s Red & Green Evening, I need the date as soon as it is set.

As always, all that is needed to place an event on EventCheck Knox is a confirmed date. The details, including venue and ticket prices, can be added later. Just click HERE to submit your event.

Continue reading

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Culinary community coalesces for Chef Cunningham

Chef Joe Cunningham, center, with fellow chefs Joseph Lenn, left, and Matt Gallaher at a party in 2015 at Public House to celebrate Lenn’s leaving Blackberry Farm to start his own restaurant. Lenn and Gallaher were among the organizers of Sunday’s soiree.

The Knoxville restaurant and hospitality community came together this past Sunday for an over-the-top fundraising dinner to assist the family of Chef Joe Cunningham. The popular 43-year-old executive chef at Northshore Brasserie died in July from complications after a car accident.

His industry friends organized a five-course dinner with wine pairings. They sold 200 tickets at $250 a piece and put together a silent and live auction at The Mill & Mine in downtown Knoxville. The result: they raised more than $88,000 which will go to Cunningham’s wife, Laura Petit, and two children, Noah, 19, and Willa, 10.

It truly was a community effort. “It hasn’t been any work,” said Stephanie Balest, co-owner of Northshore Brasserie, in brief remarks. “Every phone call has given us a yes. Every morsel of food, the chair you are sitting on, the plates, the wine. All have been donated.”

Cunningham’s mother, Nancy McCoy from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, brought tears to the eyes of his friends when she briefly took the microphone. “I always knew he was special,” she said. “I am so glad he was in a place where he was loved and cared for as much as he was in Knoxville.” Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville | 4 Comments