Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Masterworks: “Lefkowitz Plays Brahms”
Tennessee Theatre, 604 S. Gay Street
Thursday and Friday, March 16 and 17, 7:30 PM (see Friday note below)
Tickets and Information
This week’s Masterworks concerts by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra mark yet another transition for the organization. Just as the KSO’s Aram Demirjian begins the last three programs of his first season as music director and principal conductor, the KSO’s concertmaster Gabriel Lefkowitz ends his six year stint with the orchestra having taken up the comparable post with the Louisville Orchestra. This concert should fall into the category of “finish off with a bang,” for Lefkowitz will be the soloist in the Brahms Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77. Although one Concertmaster Series event remains for next week at the Knoxville Museum of Art (Wednesday and Thursday, March 22 and 23), this will probably be the last opportunity that a Masterworks audience will get to hear Lefkowitz in Knoxville.
At the same time, the orchestra has settled on two finalists to replace Lefkowitz going forward; the first of these candidates, William Shaub, will be sitting in as Concertmaster for the week as an audition of sorts. In addition to the Masterworks pair, each candidate will give a recital on the Monday of the performance week. [The second candidate, Vivek Jayaraman, will do the same for the April concert week, April 17-21.]
Shaub’s recital last evening included Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 8 in G Major, op. 30, J.S. Bach’s Sonata for Violin in G minor, BWV 1001 (movements Adagio and Fugue), Samuel Adler’s In Memory of Milton Babbit, and Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen (“Gypsy Airs”). This group of works was obviously designed to showcase the violinist’s ability to communicate coherent musical ideas across a range of stylistic diversity. This Shaub did brilliantly, offering a sensitive refined tone, nicely sculpted passagework, and skillfully executed string effects, backed up with technical precision.
A Q&A session, hosted by Demirjian, followed the four works, giving the audience in attendance (interested parties and orchestra members) an opportunity to gauge the personality and people skills of the candidate. One question—probably the question everyone secretly wants answered—was asked but avoided somewhat diplomatically: “Why do you want to work in Knoxville?” While the question is relatively simple, there are inherent complexities to an answer. While we often wish it otherwise, Knoxville is not New York, Boston, Chicago, or Los Angeles, but it is a mid-level market with a diverse music scene where opportunities for achievement abound. To paraphrase the question: “Is this just an employment opportunity or are you willing to embrace those mid-level market opportunities?”
The Masterworks concerts themselves also offer stylistic diversity this week. Preceding Lefkowitz and the Brahms concerto, the program blasts broadly across the musical spectrum.
Demirjian will open with Dvorak’s Scherzo capriccioso, a work from 1883 as the composer’s reputation and fame were solidifying. The work is happily melodic and addictively rhythmic in a “capricious” way.
Sibelius’s delightful tone poem Spring Song follows, along with Percy Grainger’s Irish Tune from County Derry (“Danny Boy”) and Maxwell-Davies’ Orkney Wedding with Sunrise.
Special note on the Friday evening performance and downtown access. Due to multiple events downtown that evening, concertgoers are urged to plan ahead and allow extra time for parking and getting to the Tennessee Theatre.
There is a St. Patrick’s Day parade beginning at 6:45 p.m. that will CLOSE down Gay St. until it ends, which will be around 8 p.m. You may need to use alternate routes getting to the theatre.
In addition to the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, the film Beauty and the Beast will be opening at Regal Riveria [sic] to sold-out theatres that Friday night and there will be a free concert on Market Square also drawing large crowds.
Parking will be limited, especially in the State St. Garage. We recommend arriving early to downtown to allow plenty of time for parking. To view different parking garages in the downtown area, click here.