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Pianist Aristo Sham joins KSO Masterworks Series for ‘Mozart and Mahler’

January 13, 2020

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra begins the second half of the season with the Moxley Carmichael Masterworks Series performance of Mahler’s “Titan” and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 featuring 23-year-old pianist Aristo Sham.

KSO Music Director Aram Demirjian leads the performances on Thursday, Jan. 16, and Friday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Tennessee Theatre. Tickets may be purchased by calling 865-291-3310 or visiting the KSO website. Single tickets range from $15-$85. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets at a discounted rate by calling 865-521-2337.

Sham has been hailed by The Washington Post as a young artist with “boundless potential” who can “already hold his own with the best” and has dazzled audiences on five continents in countries ranging from Singapore and Argentina to Slovenia and Morocco.

Aristo Sham

This performance features works by two renowned Viennese composers separated by centuries: Mozart and Mahler.

The program begins with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 performed by Sham, a native of Hong Kong. Demirjian will finish the program with Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan.” Mahler said: “A symphony must be like the entire world. It must contain everything,” and this is particularly true for the last piece of the evening. The monumental “Titan” intertwines folk music, orchestral opulence and depictions of the universe to create an engaging auditory masterpiece.

About Aristo Sham

Hailed by the Washington Post as a young artist with “boundless potential” who can “already hold his own with the best,” pianist Aristo Sham has dazzled audiences on five continents in countries ranging from Singapore and Argentina to Slovenia and Morocco. In 2009, Aristo was featured in the documentary, “The World’s Greatest Musical Prodigies,” broadcast by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. The New York Concert Review remarked that he “showed tremendous command and involvement,” and “in addition to showing passion and pianism, [his performance of Scriabin] reflected logic and clarity.” Aristo also has performed for royalty and dignitaries such as Prince Charles, the Queen of Belgium and ex-President Hu of China, and collaborated with orchestras such as the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Aristo first came under international recognition when he won First Prize and the Barenreiter Urtext Special Prize in the Ettlingen International Piano Competition in Germany in 2006, First Prize in the Gina Bachauer International Junior Piano Competition in 2008, and First Prize and two special prizes in the Minnesota Junior Piano-e-competition in 2011. More recently, he was awarded First Prizes in the Wideman, PianoArts, and New York International Piano Competitions from 2015 to 2016. Since 2017, he has also won prizes in the Vendome Prize at Verbier Festival, Gina Bachauer, Dublin, Clara Haskil, Saint-Priest and Viotti international piano competitions. In 2018, he won First Prize and all three special prizes in the inaugural Charles Wadsworth Piano Competition, and won First Prize in the 2018 Young Concert Artists International Auditions.

Born in Hong Kong, Aristo was first introduced to the piano at the age of 3, and joined the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts when he was 6. His principal teachers include Professors Eleanor Wong, Colin Stone, and Victor Rosenbaum. He was a student at Harrow School in the UK, and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in economics and French and a Master of Music in piano performance as a joint program at Harvard University and New England Conservatory. In addition, he travels to Sweden regularly for studies at the Ingesund School of Music with Julia Mustonen-Dahlkvist. In his free time, Aristo enjoys traveling, languages, gastronomy and oenology.

About Aram Demirijian

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is flourishing under the transformative leadership of Music Director Aram Demirjian. Aram has appeared with the nation’s top orchestras and maintains a close relationship with The Philadelphia Orchestra, with which he appears three times in the 2019-20 season. He also makes subscription debuts with the Tucson Symphony, Portland Symphony and the Orlando Philharmonic. Other recent engagements include the Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Omaha, San Antonio and St. Louis symphonies, the Minnesota and Sarasota orchestras, and the Louisiana Philharmonic. A gifted public speaker, he is a passionate and vocal advocate for the arts, and he regularly addresses community and business organizations advocating for arts non-profits and arts education in our society. Aram is the winner of the 2019 Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation U.S. and the 2011 Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize from the Aspen Music Festival, and he has appeared in masterclasses with renowned conductors Bernard Haitink and Kurt Masur. Aram holds a joint Bachelor of Arts in Music and Government from Harvard University and a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from New England Conservatory.

About the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

Led by Music Director Aram Demirjian, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra consists of 80 professional musicians and performs 300 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 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.