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Clarence Brown Theatre and Knoxville Symphony Orchestra team up for production of Bernstein’s Candide

October 2, 2017

The Clarence Brown Theatre and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will collaborate on a production of Leonard Bernstein’s acclaimed operetta, Candide, next August and September.

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

Aram Demirjian and Calvin MacLean (Photo by Nick Myers)

Directed by the Clarence Brown Theatre’s producing artistic director, Calvin MacLean, and conducted by the Knoxville Symphony’s music director, Aram Demirjian, the performances will take place Aug. 29-Sept. 16, 2018, on the mainstage of the Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Tickets will be available with subscription renewals in February 2018 to Clarence Brown Theatre (CBT) and Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO) subscribers and to the general public in the summer of 2018. 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 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 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 DC’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and The Acting Company of New York.

“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,” said Calvin MacLean, producing artistic director of the Clarence Brown Theatre.

KSO Music Director Aram 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, Candide’s hard-won survival ends in a joyous reconciliation.

While a number of derivative works came from Voltaire’s satirical novella released in France in 1759, Leonard Bernstein revamped the musical Candide several times after its London premiere in 1956.  When Bernstein’s “final approved” version of this comedic, poignant story reappeared on Broadway in 1989 with a full score, a revival was born. This version continues to be revived and performed in opera and professional theaters and is the score and libretto the KSO/CBT will perform in 2018, known as “the Scottish Opera version.”

“Leonard Bernstein at 100” Centennial Year Celebration

2018 is the Centennial year for Leonard Bernstein, who was born in 1918, honoring his 100th birthday with more than 1,000 events taking place on six continents.  Orchestras, museums, ballets, and arts organizations around the world are celebrating and performing his works during the calendar year in celebration of his contribution as a composer, conductor, educator, activist, cultural ambassador, and humanitarian. Bernstein’s mark on the world of the arts in the past century will last for generations to come.

About the Clarence Brown Theatre

With a dual mission to train the next generation of theatre artists and to provide top quality professional theatre, the Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee Knoxville is one of only 13 academic LORT (League of Resident Theatre) institutions in the nation.  Under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Calvin MacLean and Interim Managing Director Thomas Cervone, the CBT Season runs from September through May and features eight productions ranging from musicals to drama.  Productions in the 2017/2018 Season include: Peter and the Starcatcher, Chekov’s Three Sisters, Blue Window, A Christmas Carol, Alabama Story, the strangers, The Dream of the Burning Boy, and Urinetown, the Musical.

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 us online at Stay Connected to the Clarence Brown Theatre on Facebook (Clarence Brown Theatre), follow us on Twitter (@ClarenceBrown) (#CBT1718Season) and view Clarence Brown videos on YouTube (Clarence Bro).  

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 250 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.  For more information regarding the KSO, please visit or call 865-291-3310.