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Guest Maestra Mei-Ann Chenn leads Knoxville Symphony in eclectic program featuring Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto

February 2, 2017

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will continue its Moxley Carmichael Masterworks Series with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, for which the KSO will welcome guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen and pianist Lise de la Salle. The concert will take place on Thursday, February 16 and Friday, February 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tennessee Theatre and is sponsored by Thermal Label Warehouse. Tickets start at just $15.


Mei-Ann Chen

The Orchestra will be conducted in an eclectic program by Maestra Mei-Ann Chen. This program includes music by Russian composer Mikhail Glinka, African-American composer Florence Price, and Ludwig van Beethoven in his First Piano Concerto. The program concludes with Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s well-known ballet suite, the Firebird Suite.

“This fun and eclectic program showcases the Knoxville Symphony,” said guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen. “Featuring a piano concerto and a KSO premiere, the concert is bookended with two popular works by influential Russian composers. The performance opens with the virtuosic Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla, a work by Mikhail Glinka, considered the father of the Russian school of classical composers, and closes with a work by Igor Stravinsky, a game changer in the development of symphonic music in the 20th century; the music from his ballet, the Firebird, which put the composer on the musical map in 1910.

The evening’s soloist, the young French pianist Lise de la Salle, has already appeared with top orchestras and conductors in the world. She performs Beethoven’s

Lise de la Salle 1

Lise de la Salle

Piano Concerto No. 1, actually the composer’s 3rd attempt in this genre.  The music combines elements nodding to the old master, Mozart, with Beethoven’s own harmonic characteristics.

Receiving its Knoxville premiere is Florence Price’s Dances in the Canebrakes. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Price was the first African-American woman composer whose work was performed by a major professional orchestra in the country (the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 1933). Price wrote Dances in the Canebrakes as three dances for Piano utilizing indigenous African rhythms.  Her childhood friend, William Grant Still, considered the Dean of African-American classical composers, later orchestrated theses dances.”

Patrons can attend pre-concert chats at 6:30 p.m. in the concert hall before each performance. Guest performers will offer their personal perspective and audience members will have a chance for Q&A with the artists. This is a unique get-to-know-you opportunity!

Tickets may be purchased by calling 865-291-3310 or visiting our website at Single tickets range from $15.00 – $85.00. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets at a discounted rate by calling 865-521-2337.

About the Guest Artists

Pianist Lise de la Salle started playing the piano at the age of four and made her concerto debut with Beethoven`s Concerto No 2 at the age of 13. Between 1997 and 2004, Lise de la Salle won numerous competitions (e.g. First Prize in the 2004 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York). From 1998 to 2006 she studied with Pascal Némirovski. She also attended the post graduate cycle at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris – CNSM.  Her first recorded CD, dedicated to Ravel and Rachmaninoff, was the beginning of her cooperation with the record label Naïve Classique in 2002; four more CDs followed, all receiving several awards and great reviews. Since 2001, Lise de la Salle has been following an impressive international career performing in the major concert halls of Europe, the United States and Asia.

Conductor Mei-Ann Chen was named Conductor Laureate this past spring following a successful six season tenure (2010-2016) as Music Director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Chen has served as the Music Director of the 2016 MacArthur Award-winning Chicago Sinfonietta since 2011, and Artistic Director and Conductor for the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Summer Festival since 2016. In addition to the 2012 Helen M. Thompson Award from the League of American Orchestras, Mei-Ann Chen’s skill on the podium, and as a music educator, has been recognized with several honors, awards and posts. Born in Taiwan, Mei-Ann Chen has lived in the United States since 1989. She was the first student in New England Conservatory’s history to receive master’s degrees, simultaneously, in both violin and conducting, later studying with Kenneth Kiesler at the University of Michigan, where she earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting. Ms. Chen also participated in the National Conducting Institute in Washington, D.C. and at the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen.


About the KSO

Established in 1935, and now under the leadership of Music Director Aram Demirjian, the KSO has contributed to the cultural life in East Tennessee continuously for 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 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.