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Knoxville Symphony Orchestra announces 2017-2018 classical season

January 30, 2017

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO) has announced its 2017-2018 Moxley Carmichael Masterworks Series and Chamber Classics Series featuring new Music Director Aram Demirjian. Subscriptions to each series are on sale now and individual concert tickets go on sale in August.

“I’m brimming with excitement to bring the spirit of Knoxville into the concert hall,” said Music Director Aram Demirjian. “The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-2018 season features both familiar classics like Rhapsody in Blue and Carmina Burana, as well as hidden gems that have likely never been heard live in Knoxville before. With dynamic collaborations that stretch across artistic boundaries and programmatic themes that will invigorate both the longtime concertgoer and the newcomer, I deeply love every piece we are presenting. Each musical program has its own unique personality and story to tell, with a colorful variety will keep the KSO experience fresh and surprising throughout the season.”

Executive Director Rachel Ford said, “It is a pleasure to announce the next season of classical programming with all new guest artists.  The programs Maestro Demirjian has created are truly exciting and mix old favorites with unique new sounds.  Knoxville audiences can expect to be on the edge of their seats listening to beautiful music curated in new ways.  As we combine passionate new artistic leadership and a fabulous orchestra, now is the time to engage with the Knoxville Symphony!  We look forward to welcoming East Tennesseans attending their first concert, and seasoned subscribers returning to see what lies in store.”


  • Eight pairs of concerts, all held at the Tennessee Theatre on Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m., six of which are conducted by Music Director Aram Demirjian
  • Each concert includes a 30-minute pre-concert chat at 6:30 p.m. with conductor and guest artist, allowing an up-close Q&A session, insights and background to the music, composers and more
  • The Masterworks season includes 11 works never before performed by the KSO, including one KSO commission and world premiere
  • Subscriptions now on sale starting at just $94; single tickets will go on sale in August 2017

September 21 – 22, 2017

7:30 p.m. Tennessee Theatre
Aram Demirjian, conductor
R.B. Morris, Knoxville Poet Laureate
Joelle Harvey, soprano
University of Tennessee Brass Ensemble
Carson-Newman A Capella Choir

The KSO will open its 82nd season with a collection of various performers paying homage to our great city. This program celebrating Knoxville opens with Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” a classical work inspired by the James Agee poem about Knoxville, with spoken word read by Knoxville Poet Laureate R.B. Morris. Joining the Knoxville Symphony will be the University of Tennessee Brass Ensemble for a newly commissioned work by American composer Michael Schachter. The Carson-Newman A Capella Choir will perform Aaron Copland’s Suite from The Tender Land, and the program concludes with Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, all composers and pieces with ties to Knoxville for this program which pays homage to the city.

October 19 – 20, 2017

7:30 p.m. Tennessee Theatre
Aram Demirjian, conductor
Appalachian Ballet Company

This Masterworks performance will be full of movement and flair featuring music from Marquez’ Danzon No. 2, Ades’ tango-inspired Danes from “Powder Her Face,” and Argentinian composer Ginastera’s Four Dances from “Estancia,” featuring members of the Appalachian Ballet Company. By mixing contemporary music of living composers with well-known favorites, this feisty program is full of Latin and South American influence on the first half, with Spanish storytelling on the second half with George Bizet’s Carmen, and Ravel’s Bolero.

November 16 – 17, 2017

7:30 p.m. Tennessee Theatre
Joshua Gersen, guest conductor
Paul Huang, violin

Join the KSO for a powerful concert of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration, and selections from Tchaikovsky’s Overture-Fantasy from Romeo & Juliet. Knoxville audiences will enjoy these highly romantic tone poems which the KSO has not performed in several years.

Joshua Gersen is currently the Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, as well as the Music Director of the New York Youth Symphony. He was previously the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Conducting Fellow of the New World Symphony, where he served as the assistant conductor. Paul Huang is a Taiwanese-American violinist and recipient of the prestigious 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant and holds two degrees from The Juilliard School.

January 18 – 19, 2018

7:30 p.m. Tennessee Theatre
Aram Demirjian, conductor

What does it mean to be “Bohemian?” This energetic concert is inspired by wandering artists new and old. The KSO will welcome the unique PROJECT Trio, a high-energy ensemble consisting of flute, cello and double bass who spend much time leading workshops and connecting with students via social media. Engaging younger audiences, PROJECT Trio has performed and led workshops for over 350,000 students worldwide, and will lead an educational workshop while in Knoxville. They have also collaborated with American composer Adam Schoenberg, whose piece, Scatter, will be performed on this program, in addition to other alluring music by Bedrich Smetana. This program also includes an arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody by the legendary rock band, Queen, and Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8.

February 15 – 16, 2018

7:30 p.m. Tennessee Theatre
Aram Demirjian, conductor
Tanya Gabrielian, piano

The KSO Masterworks romances audiences in Feburary with music from Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” suite. The Orchestra welcomes world-renowned pianist Tanya Gabrielian, who graduated with honors from both The Juilliard School and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Ms. Gabrielian is a former 2014 Evelyn Miller Young Pianist Series featured artist who returns to Knoxville to perform Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini. The program concludes with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, the story of a young maiden who becomes queen in the book, One Thousand and One Nights, also containing stories of Aladdin and Ali Baba. The clever maiden, Scheherazade, tricks the sultan into keeping her alive for 1,001 nights by telling him stories, by which time he falls in love with her and makes her his queen.

March 15 – 16, 2018

7:30 p.m. Tennessee Theatre
Aram Demirjian, conductor
Knoxville Choral Society

Music Director Aram Demirjian continues the mighty Masterworks season with Mahler’s Blumine, Weill’s Suite from The Threepenny Opera, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. This concert illustrates how stories are told through music, with cantatas and symphonic tone poems. This concert explores melodies from the angelic, pure and sacred to the contrasting folksy music one might hear on the street. Performed in Latin by the Knoxville Choral Society, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is based on the medieval collection of poems by the same name.

April 12 – 13, 2018

7:30 p.m. Tennessee Theatre
Edwin Outwater, guest conductor
Fei-Fei Dong, piano

This springtime Masterworks brings music of Mazzioli, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, and Schumann’s Symphony No. 2. The first and third pieces of the program offer an emotional journey surrounding the peaceful repose of the Mozart Piano Concerto. Guest conductor Edwin Outwater is currently the Music Director of Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony as well as Director of Summer Concerts at the San Francisco Symphony. He was recently appointed Artistic Director of the Eastern Sierra Symphony, a summer festival in Mammoth Lakes, California. An ardent champion of new music and cross-cultural collaboration, he is a visionary programmer with a gift for bringing context to the concert hall. Pianist Fei-Fei Dong has been playing piano since the age of five, holds two degrees from The Juilliard School, and is a winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition and a top finalist at the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

May 17 – 18, 2018

7:30 p.m. Tennessee Theatre
Aram Demirjian, conductor
Michelle Cann, piano

The May Masterworks ends the season with an all-American program featuring Aaron Copland (Fanfare for the Common Man), Charles Ives (The Unanswered Question), Florence Price (Piano Concerto), George Gershwin (Rhapsody in Blue) and concludes with Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3. Pianist Michelle Cann will perform not one but TWO piano concerti–by Florence Price and George Gershwin, a spectacular season finale conducted by Maestro Aram Demirjian. Ms. Cann holds degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, after which she joined the Curtis staff as one of the new Collaborative Staff Pianists. Michelle is also on the faculty of the Luzerne Music Center as an instructor of piano and continues to perform with orchestras nationally.



  • Five concerts on Sunday afternoons at 2:30 PM. Four concerts will occur at the Bijou Theatre and one performance will take place in the Powell Recital Hall in the University of Tennessee’s Natalie L. Haslam Music Center.
  • Four concerts conducted by Aram Demirjian, Music Director
  • 3rd Annual Classical Christmas concert, which SOLD OUT its first two years!
  • Subscriptions now on sale starting at $101.50; single tickets go on sale in August 2017

October 1, 2017

2:30 PM at the Bijou Theatre
Aram Demirjian, conductor

This program opens the Chamber Classics series with Austrian composer HK Gruber’s Frankenstein!! A Pan-Demonium for Chansonnier & Ensemble. Debuted in 1978, this humorous piece includes spoken word and sung verse by a narrator or chansonnier to accompany the orchestra who talk-sings of Frankenstein and other demons he encounters. The program concludes with Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 60 known as Il Distratto, or “The Distracted,” which is a playful piece intended to almost make the audience laugh out loud.

November 26, 2017

2:30 PM at the Bijou Theatre
James Fellenbaum, conductor

The Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra will perform “A Classical Christmas” again this year at the Bijou Theatre just in time to get you and yours in the holiday spirit. This performance, conducted by James Fellenbaum, will feature some favorite holiday selections. This popular performance sold out the past two years, so patrons should be sure to secure their subscriptions early!

January 7, 2018

2:30 PM at the Powell Recital Hall, UT School of Music

The January installment of the Chamber Classics series features combinations of Principal Quartet and Woodwind Quintet members in Samuel Barber’s Summer Music, Arthur Foote’s Nocturne and Scherzo for Flute and String Quartet, and Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat Major. This is the first time both ensembles are featured on this series, with instruments paired together in various forms, and is sure to be a real treat!

February 4, 2018

2:30 PM at the Bijou Theatre
Aram Demirjian
Edward Pulgar, violin and the new KSO Concertmaster

This energetic Chamber Classics performance includes the theatrical music of Schnittke, searing music of Golijov, and abnormally assertive Bach’s Concerto for 2 Violins, performed by KSO principal second violin Edward Pulgar and the KSO’s new Concertmaster, to be named in the spring of 2017. This all-string program showcases the full range capabilities of the Chamber Orchestra. While two pieces feature a double-violin solo by Bach, this program also uses a tongue-in-cheek style of string players combating each other with their instruments while playing. The program concludes with Jennifer Higdon’s “String” and Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony, the latter of which is an edgier piece than normally heard on the classical stage.

March 4, 2018

2:30 PM at the Bijou Theatre
Aram Demirjian, conductor

The Chamber Orchestra will perform the third of the six Brandenburg Concerti by Johann Sebastian Bach, followed by a new work by contemporary composer Christopher Theofanidis entitled “Muse,” and Stravinsky’s Concerto in E-flat known as “Dumbarton Oaks,” both of which were inspired by Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti. The program fittingly concludes with Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 known as the “Jupiter” Symphony, the last symphony Mozart ever wrote.

About the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

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 about the KSO’s 2017-2018 season, visit  Subscriptions to both series are on sale to the general public and may be purchased through the KSO box office by calling (865) 291-3310 or in person at the Emporium Building, 100 S. Gay. St.  Single tickets to each concert go on sale in August 2017.