Exploring “New Worlds”

Part of our jobs as musicians is to get others excited about what we do, whether it’s a pops concert, opera, ballet, masterworks, or a new electronic piece that no one’s ever heard. I’m really excited about the January Masterworks concert this week for several reasons. 

The first piece that we are playing is by the living Kentucky-based female composer (yay!) Rachel Grimes called “Book of Leaves.” It’s always interesting to introduce audiences to contemporary music. One of her works will also be performed at the Big Ears festival in March.  

Composer Rachel Grimes

The second piece is the Korngold Violin Concerto, which we’ve played before, but is not yet a part of the standard repertoire. Mahler pronounced Korngold a genius early in his career, but he was forced to move to the United States to escape the rise of the Nazis. Korngold was kind of a John Williams of his time and he wrote the soundtracks for many famous movies of the 1930’s and 40’s, including “Captain Blood” and “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” His movie scores are thrilling, and he was a brilliant orchestrator. The violin concerto is virtuosic, but both the orchestra and the soloist sound great due to his knowledge of how to write well for orchestra. This should be a terrific performance. Soloist is Tessa Lark, a Kentucky native and passionate chamber musician who has traveled the world as a solo violinist.

Tessa Lark, violin

Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances” and ‘New World Symphony’ are standard works that audiences in Knoxville hear on a regular basis. This time, they’ll feature musicians from the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra performing alongside the KSO. It’s fun to get to work with students and to watch them figure out how to play on a professional level. For one thing, a professional orchestra is louder than school groups and the rehearsals tend to be more intense since every minute costs money. It’s great to have the energy and enthusiasm of new people playing with the orchestra, so I’m looking forward to sharing the stage with these talented musicians. Tickets and info here. Concerts are Thursday, Jan. 18 and Friday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tennessee Theatre.

KSO rehearses with KSYO members for Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony No. 9.

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