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Clarence Brown Theatre and Knoxville Symphony Orchestra present Bernstein’s Candide

August 17, 2018

The Clarence Brown Theatre and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra are collaborating on a production of Leonard Bernstein’s acclaimed operetta, Candide, to open Friday, Aug. 31, with previews beginning Aug. 29.

The production is made possible by a generous grant from The Roy Cockrum Foundation to the Clarence Brown Theatre to fund the project in collaboration with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO).

Directed by the Clarence Brown Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director Calvin MacLean, and conducted by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Aram Demirjian, the performances will take place Aug. 29-Sept. 16 on the mainstage of the Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee.

Tickets are on sale now through the Clarence Brown Theatre (CBT) box office. The production of Candide marks the third collaboration in recent years between the CBT and KSO. Earlier presentations included Amadeus (2010) and Sweeney Todd (2012).

The mission of The Roy Cockrum Foundation is to award grants to support world-class performing arts projects in not-for-profit professional theaters throughout the United States. The foundation’s intent is to support the vision of particular artists and to expand the capacity of theaters to realize the scope of that vision.

“We’ve been helping theaters all over the country make their dreams come true,” said Roy Cockrum, a theater enthusiast who started his foundation with proceeds from winning the Powerball Lottery in 2014 on a ticket he purchased in Knoxville. “I’m very glad to help make this amazing project possible right here in my hometown and look forward to the production of the Clarence Brown Theatre and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.”

Other grant recipients of The Roy Cockrum Foundation include such prestigious theaters as Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Goodman Theatre, Washington D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and The Acting Company of New York.

Directed by the Clarence Brown Theatre’s Calvin MacLean, and conducted by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Aram Demirjian, performances of “Candide” will take place Aug. 29-Sept. 16 on the mainstage of the Clarence Brown Theatre.

“The grant from The Roy Cockrum Foundation makes it possible for the Clarence Brown Theatre to collaborate with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra on a project we have dreamed about for many years,” MacLean said.

Demirjian said, “Leonard Bernstein is the most indispensable figure in the history of American concert music, and it brings us great joy to be able to celebrate his legacy through the performance of Candide, one of his most distinctive and enduring masterworks. The more our local artistic institutions work together, the stronger our community will be, and we could not be more grateful to The Roy Cockrum Foundation for supporting this renewed collaboration between the KSO and CBT.”

About Candide

In Bernstein’s musical derived from Voltaire, a young man wanders “the best of all possible worlds” only to find war, destruction and loss.  Separated from his beloved Cunegonde, Candide’s hard-won survival ends in a joyous reconciliation.

Voltaire’s novella written in France in 1759 and brought to Leonard Bernstein in the 1950’s as the basis for a new musical, was first produced on Broadway in 1956.  Bernstein and his collaborators revamped the musical several times over the next thirty years.  When Bernstein’s “final revised version” of this poignant story reappeared in 1989 with a full score and a new libretto, a revival was born. This version, known in the profession as “the Scottish Opera version,” continues to be produced by opera companies and professional theaters worldwide, and is the version that KSO/CBT will perform.

“Leonard Bernstein at 100” Centennial Year Celebration

2018 is the centennial year of Leonard Bernstein’s birth and more than 1,000 events featuring his music are taking place around the world.  Orchestras, museums, ballets, and theaters on six continents are performing his works in celebration of his contribution as a composer, conductor, educator, activist, cultural ambassador, and humanitarian. Bernstein’s broad range of work will last for generations to come.

About the Clarence Brown Theatre

The Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is one of only twelve LORT (League of Resident Theatre) institutions in the nation with the dual mission to train the next generation of theatre artists and to provide top quality professional theatre on its campus.  Under the leadership of Calvin MacLean and Managing Director Tom Cervone, the CBT season runs from September through May and features eight productions of wide diversity. The 2018/2019 season includes: Candide, Alias Grace, The Santaland Diaries, A Christmas Carol, King Charles III, Detroit ‘67, The Real Inspector Hound and The Madwoman of Chaillot.

For more information, tickets or accessibility accommodation requests including Open Captioning, ASL, and assistive technologies, please call the CBT Box Office at 865-974-5161 or visit online at 

About the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

Established in 1935, and now under the leadership of Music Director Aram Demirjian, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO) has contributed to the cultural life in East Tennessee continuously for more than 80 years, providing excellence in musical and educational programs. The Orchestra consists of 80 professional musicians and performs more than 300 programs throughout the region each season, reaching audiences of more than 200,000 people. The KSO performs mainstage series, small ensemble performances and educational programs in traditional venues such as the Tennessee Theatre, Bijou Theatre and the Civic Auditorium as well as non-traditional places like hospitals, schools, city parks and churches.

The upcoming KSO 2018-19 season features classics such as Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and Gershwin’s An American In Paris. The KSO will collaborate with the Knoxville Museum of Art, the Appalachian Ballet Company and the Knoxville Choral Society as well as host a variety of Pops shows, including headliner and Broadway star Leslie Odom, Jr. in concert. For more information and the KSO concert calendar, please visit or call 865-291-3310.