The 2015 Big Ears Festival hits downtown Knoxville venues on Friday, March 27, through Sunday, March 29. If you have already acquired a weekend or day pass for the festival, you undoubtedly already know the importance of Big Ears, not just for your own personal experience, but for what it means to Knoxville’s music scene and for Knoxville’s image as an eclectic music destination. If you have not purchased a ticket or remain unsure that you want to attend, let me give you some big reasons why you should.
One. The future health of the traditional classical music audience depends on understanding the direction and work of today’s post-classical practitioners. Max Richter, who will be appearing with ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble) and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra in two slots at Big Ears, is one of the composers stretching the genre of tonal music without totally abandoning the environs of classical music.
Two. The Kronos Quartet, the festival’s artists-in-residence, has now been in existence for over 40 years. As a string quartet, they’ve recorded over 50 albums and have commissioned and collaborated with over 800 composers and arrangers. They have tackled every conceivable genre and their connections to other artists have been integral to music history since the 70s. And, there are a dozen or so other acts on the schedule that could be eye-openers–like The Bad Plus, Bill Frisell and Bill Morrison, Terry Riley, Jamie xx, Rhiannon Giddens, Nels Cline and Norton Wisdom, SQÜRL, to mention a few.
Three. AC Entertainment’s Ashley Capps has attempted to underline the connections between many of the included artists, offering proof of the blurred boundaries between music styles and genres. With the opportunity to explore unfamiliar performers, I can think of no better way to expand one’s musical horizons.
Four. Knoxville itself stands to profit tremendously, both literally and figuratively, from the national media exposure that Big Ears will bring to downtown.
Five. The eclectic mix of music, film, and art, coupled with the eclectic audience, should be flat out fun. Say “Hello” when you see me.
Convinced? Tickets and information can be had at http://bigearsfestival.com