Seventy-Five Years of the KSO: A Legacy of Symphonic Excellence
For 75 years, live symphonic music has been one of the good things about life in Knoxville. The vision of a symphony orchestra for Knoxville, however, began to take shape in the dawn of the 20th century.
The founder and first conductor of the KSO was Bertha Walburn Clark, a handsome, snowy-haired woman who was a cultural force in Knoxville for nearly 70 years.
Lamar Stringfield, a debonair, enthusiastic, and ambitious musician from Charlotte, North Carolina, became the KSO’s second conductor, beginning a short tenure in April 1946.
When Lamar Stringfield closed the 12th season of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (1946-1947), he had brought the group to the brink of a great leap forward.
Many eyebrows and questions were raised when the Knoxville Symphony Society announced that it had hired a 25-year-old conductor for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
Zoltán Rozsnyai was chosen in 1978 as the conductor and music director who could best prepare the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra for the increased international attention it would garner as host orchestra for the 1982 World’s Fair.
As the orchestra neared the end of its 50th season celebrations in May 1985, the Knoxville Symphony Society announced that Kirk Trevor would be the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s music director and sixth conductor commencing with the coming season.
Lucas Richman raised the standards of the orchestra during his tenure and launched several programs into existence, including the nationally recognized Music & Wellness Program. He transformed the family concert series into Very Young People’s Concerts, starring his animated friend, Picardy Penguin, guiding young children through a symphony performance designed just for them. Lucas Richman will leave a legacy of musical excellence, a surge in community awareness and helped establish a balanced budget for 8 consecutive years.