This Week: The 2016 Big Ears Festival!

Composer John Luther Adams

Composer John Luther Adams

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know full well that the 2016 Big Ears Festival is this week: Thursday, March 31, through Sunday, April 3. To even describe the festival is a chore, but here is one provided by the organizer AC Entertainment:

The Big Ears Festival is a dynamic, interactive experience that explores connections between musicians and artists, crossing all musical genres while interfacing with film, performance and the visual arts.

The complete, mind-bogglingly gargantuan schedule can be perused and tickets and festival passes can be had at the Big Ears Festival website. The Knoxville Mercury will also have full information and previews in this week’s issue to carry along.

The composer-in-residence this year is John Luther Adams, the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music winner, who will be on hand for a performance of Become Ocean at Thursday evening’s performance at the Tennessee Theatre. The program features the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Steven Schick, and will also include Philip Glass’ Cello Concerto No. 2 with cellist Maya Beiser and Bryce Dessner’s Lachrimae.

By design, the festival is overwhelming in its choices spread out over venues throughout downtown Knoxville. Among the many performers are Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass, Andrew Bird, Anthony Braxton Trio, Sun Ra Arketra, Sun O))), Sam Amidon, Nico Muhly, and Nadia Sirota, Eighth Blackbird, Marc Ribot, nief-norf, and on and on and on.

There is also an expanded film section that is really another festival itself. Check out the website.

The festival concludes on Sunday, April 3, with a “celebratory finale” of John Luther Adams Inuksuit at Ijams Nature Center in the area surrounding Mead’s Quarry. Inuksuit is an outdoor symphony for percussion, 9 to 99 of them, co-directed by master percussionist Steven Schick, who also leads the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra in Thursday evening’s performance of Adams’, Become Ocean, and Andrew Bliss, Artistic Director of the contemporary music ensemble nief-norf and UT’s Director of Percussion Studies. The performance will bring together several dozen percussionists from throughout the region in a collaboration with the UT Percussion Ensemble.