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Aug 2

West Side Story, Candide, and the Leonard Bernstein experience

By Bob Adamcik, KSO percussionistA classical musician who was known around the world and recognized in popular culture? The 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein gives us a chance to look at his life and career as an unprecedented force in music and society as a performer, conductor, and teacher. He was also a civil rights activist who was an antiwar protester.    I grew up watching him conduct the New York Philharmonic in Saturday afternoon Young People’s Concerts. This was in the days before cable and hundreds of channels, so I’m sure he reached a bunch of other kids as well. Bernstein was energetic and smart and found ways to talk to kids on their level.  He even managed to play songs by The Beatles.  The shows are worth watching and are easily available on YouTube. If you get a chance, you should check out his lectures at Harvard about music. They are designed for both musicians and non-musicians, but Bernstein manages to explain some pretty heavy concepts in music.In addition to the TV shows that I saw, the movie version of “West Side Story” won the Oscar for Best Picture so that many people were aware of Bernstein’s music. It was a musical where people hate, fight and get stabbed on stage and it was exciting. I grew up listening to the soundtrack as a kid, and can still perform “The Jet Song” scene verbatim. It was the first time most people had heard Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics, although he is now known as the greatest Broadway composer/lyricist of our time. Much of my musical vocabulary has been shaped (for better or worse) by Bernstein’s use of the musical interval of a tritone. It’s the first two notes of the Jets’ whistle and the first two notes of the song, “Cool.” How was I supposed to get that out of my head and avoid it in college when I was trying to pass classical theory? I always thought the interval sounded, well,… cool.Classical composers are not well known by the general public anymore. Bernstein and Aaron Copland were probably the last two who were widely known. But in the 70’s, ABC’s late night talk show (“The Dick Cavett Show”) used the main theme from “Candide” as its own theme. People eagerly anticipated the two composers' next pieces and discussed them. When Bernstein’s “Mass” premiered in 1971 at the opening of the Kennedy Center, it was talked about on national TV. Some people were shocked, some people loved it, but the public knew about it. And in it, Bernstein had addressed faith, serious doubt, and included elements of rock and roll. By this time, he had spoken out about civil rights, the war in Vietnam, and the crisis in religious faith. He was relevant, even though he was composing music for orchestras, and his relevancy continues now. I can’t think of another composer who shows up in two comedy routines almost 60 years apart (Stan Freberg’s “United States of America” and John Mulaney’s new Netflix comedy special, “Kid Gorgeous.” )Part of Bernstein’s mission was to integrate different types of music and life to describe the 20th century. His music dealt with integrating different cultures, doubts about the existence of God, whether there was a need for the war in Vietnam, and the anxiety that many people felt in their everyday lives. This meant that even though some people had a hard time with Bernstein’s music, he managed to stay in the limelight. He was a teacher, conductor, composer, and even an activist. There’s a great article in The Guardian about all of his different roles.He provided inspiration to many composers and performers. If you’re a fan of “Hamilton”, as I am, then you realize that there are a lot of similarities between Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bernstein. In “Hamilton”, Miranda calls Alexander, “a polymath”, someone who is good at a lot of things, and the description fits Bernstein himself. "I always treasure the chance to play his music because I feel that it reaches something special in all of us. It touches the hopes, fears and loves that we all deal with. " Toward the end of his life, Bernstein was renowned for his conducting, especially his recordings of Mahler’s symphonies. I’d always hoped to be able to perform with Bernstein, and I had friends who were able to play in festivals with him. I wasn’t far enough along in my career to have that opportunity when he died in 1990. Getting to play “West Side Story” twice here in Knoxville is a highlight of my career, although it’s a workout for every musician, singer, and dancer. I had the pleasure of watching my daughter dance to part of his musical “On The Town” in New York City last summer, and it’s an amazing memory I will keep with me. I always treasure the chance to play his music because I feel that it reaches something special in all of us. It touches the hopes, fears and loves that we all deal with.  It’s a pleasure to be part of a staged production of Bernstein’s “Candide” and especially, getting to work with the Clarence Brown artists.  It’s on a different stage, in a different setup, and we’ll get to create a completely unique world for this show. Come join us for some great music, in a new and exciting staging.About Bob:Bob Adamcik currently plays timpani on the Knoxville Symphony’s Moxley Carmichael Masterworks Series and is the Principal Percussionist for all other services. He has been a featured soloist with the symphony on marimba and xylophone, and has played with the Dallas and Ft. Worth symphonies. He has recorded with the Dallas Wind Symphony. After growing up in San Antonio, Bob graduated from the University of North Texas, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s Degree in Percussion Performance. He has taught at the University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State and has presented master classes at UT, Middle Tennessee, East Tennessee State and North Carolina School for the Arts. He has also performed in music festivals from Montana to Maine.

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Jul 25

Drumroll, please...

KSO percussionist Bob Adamcik shows us just one way he cares for his instruments. Watch it here."When I love listening to a piece of music, I sometimes have to remind myself that a person has taken what is basically a machine and created something beautiful with it. As you watch and listen to the Knoxville Symphony, you’re hearing the sound of wood and metal machines with levers, pedals, keys, and pegs that create sounds that reach the audience. That’s part of the magic of music, taking an object that can’t produce something on its own, and giving it life.  Because the percussion instruments are fun to watch during a performance, I’ve recorded a time-lapse movie of me changing the head on one of our timpani. The heads are made of mylar, and they cost about $100 per drum. It took me about 40 minutes to remove the old head, replace the lubricant between the drum and the head and put the new head on."About BobBob Adamcik currently plays timpani on the Knoxville Symphony’s Moxley Carmichael Masterworks Series and is the Principal Percussionist for all other services. He has been a featured soloist with the symphony on marimba and xylophone, played with the Dallas and Ft. Worth symphonies. He has recorded with the Dallas Wind Symphony. After growing up in San Antonio, Bob graduated from the University of North Texas, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s Degree in Percussion Performance. He has taught at the University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State, and has presented master classes at UT, Middle Tennessee, East Tennessee State and North Carolina School for the Arts. He has also performed in music festivals from Montana to Maine. This post authored by Bob Adamcik.

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Jul 11

Bernstein's 'Candide' coming this fall

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and the Clarence Brown Theatre celebrate the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's birth with a production of his Broadway smash Candide. CandideAug. 31 - Sept. 16, 2018Clarence Brown Theatre Mainstageat the University of Tennessee, Knoxville  Featuring hit songs "Glitter and Be Gay" and "Make Our Garden Grow," Candide is a modern theatrical setting of Voltaire's timeless satire. Tickets are available now EXCLUSIVELY to KSO and CBT subscribers at a special discounted rate. Call the KSO box office at 865-291-3310 for more information. This production will be directed by Calvin MacLean, Producing Artistic Director of the Clarence Brown Theatre and conducted by Aram Demirjian, Music Director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.About CandideIn Bernstein’s musical derived from Voltaire, a young man wanders “the best of all possible worlds” only to find war, destruction and loss.  Separated from his beloved, Candide’s hard-won survival ends in a joyous reconciliation.  While a number of derivative works came from Voltaire’s satirical novella released in France in 1759, Leonard Bernstein revamped the musical Candide several times after its London premiere in 1956.  When Bernstein’s “final approved” version of this comedic, poignant story reappeared on Broadway in 1989 with a full score, a revival was born. This version continues to be revived and performed in opera and professional theaters and is the score and libretto the KSO/CBT will perform in 2018, known as “the Scottish Opera version.”  “Leonard Bernstein at 100” Centennial Year Celebration2018 is the Centennial year for Leonard Bernstein, who was born in 1918, honoring his 100th birthday with more than 1,000 events taking place on six continents.  Orchestras, museums, ballets, and arts organizations around the world are celebrating and performing his works during the calendar year in celebration of his contribution as a composer, conductor, educator, activist, cultural ambassador, and humanitarian. Bernstein’s mark on the world of the arts in the past century will last for generations to come.            The mission of The Roy Cockrum Foundation is to award grants to support world-class performing arts projects in not-for-profit professional theaters throughout the United States. The foundation’s intent is to support the vision of particular artists and to expand the capacity of theaters to realize the scope of that vision. Other grant recipients of The Roy Cockrum Foundation include such prestigious theaters as Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Goodman Theatre, Washington DC's Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and The Acting Company of New York.

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May 22

KSO Pops 2018-19 Season will 'Fly you to the Moon!'

Just Announced...The Knoxville Symphony Orchestras' News Sentinel Pops Series lineup for 2018-2019. The KSO 2018-19 Pops Season includes Music of Frank Sinatra, Music of Pink Floyd, Disney's Mary Poppins, and Leslie Odom, Jr. from Broadway's Hamilton, a role for which he won the Tony Award for Best Male Actor.You have the chance to see Hamilton's Leslie Odom, Jr. perform in concert with the KSO...do not throw away your shot!All concerts take place at 8:00 p.m. at the Civic Auditorium unless otherwise noted. View the KSO 2018-19 Concert Calendar here.This post authored by the KSO communications dept.

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May 16

Gershwin, Price, Copland- This concert takes the cake

This week's Masterworks performances are sure to take the cake. The KSO 2017-18 season comes to a close this Thursday and Friday with "Rhapsody in Blue." Performances are at 7:30 p.m. at the Tennessee Theatre with a pre-concert chat at 6:30. Tickets here. Pianist Michelle Cann joins the Orchestra for not one but two piano concerti - both Gershwin's infamous "Rhapsody in Blue,"  and 'Piano Concerto in One Movement' by Florence Price, a lesser known composer whose work is beginning to make a come back. The program opens with an upbeat treat, which will also serve as a teaser for the full production later this year. Leonard Bernstein's Overture to Candide is a 5-minute concert opener that featuring melodies from the work, has enjoyed an independent life as one of the most popular concert pieces of the second half of the 20th century. Since the premiere of Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin became recognized not only as an important composer of Broadway and popular melodies but a force to be reckoned with in classical music.  Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue remains one of the most beloved and performed concert works by an American composer. Our guest artist this week, Michelle Cann, holds degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and an Artist Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she later joined the staff as a Collaborative Staff Pianist.  Florence Price was the first African American woman to have her music played by a major American orchestra when the Chicago Symphony performed her Symphony in E minor in 1933. She lived from 1887-1953 and wrote symphonies, arrangements of spirituals and folk songs. More of her music, including violin and piano concertos, was not discovered until after her death. You don't want to miss the second half of this program, Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3, which includes Fanfare for the Common Man in the fourth movement, which many will recognize. This was the first symphony Copland composed, written just after World War II and is referred to as the "Great American Symphony."Copland describes the first movement as “broad and expansive in character”.  The second movement serves the function of the Symphony’s lively scherzo.  Copland describes the slow-tempo third movement as “the freest of all in formal structure. Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man serves as the introduction to the main portion of the Symphony’s finale, which journeys to a majestic close.This post authored by the KSO Communications Dept.x

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#FLOW with the KSO to a yoga class to live classical music. @Themillandmine Oct. 4, 6:30 p.m. Tix $30, bring your o… https://t.co/nJIxWYhni8Wed, September 19, 2018

When is the last time you practiced yoga during a live concert? Live classical music and instructor-led yoga: COMBI… https://t.co/12OAsnMRVNWed, September 19, 2018

RT @musicappblog: WED Sep 19, 7:30 pm @knoxsymphony: Brahms & Rachmaninoff | @TNTheatre - 604 S Gay St | Tickets: $13 and up.Wed, September 19, 2018

RT @aramdemirjian: Back in the @WUOTFM studio to talk with @apeville abt the start of the @knoxsymphony @moxcar Masterworks Series! @JoyceY…Wed, September 19, 2018

Patty is one of 3 yogis leading #KSOUnStaged #Flow Oct 4, an event combining live music and yoga. Patty teaches at… https://t.co/RBZdZJZwvLWed, September 19, 2018