Well, that was an interesting week. The weather took center-stage as institutions, businesses and events scrambled to avoid the falling snowflakes. As usual, some predictions of snow didn’t pan out, some did and sometimes the snow just fell when it was ready, leaving meteorologists scrambling in its wake.
Music doesn’t get spared any more than other events. Artists are sometimes driving to make it into the city. Ticket holders have to decide whether they eat the tickets and stay at home or brave sometimes rough conditions to travel to shows. Blue Plate Specials often turn into small, intimate groups of downtown neighbors.
Even with the snow this week, a wide range of music was served up to anyone who could make it out to find it. The Blue Plate Special has managed to make it through the week serving up good doses of great music. I stopped in on Wednesday and enjoyed a wide range of music in one program, from an excellent young singer-songwriter to dixieland jazz. Thursday night I was fortunate enough to attend the concert at the Tennessee Theatre with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
Peachy Pyron is an impressive young talent from Atlanta. Her chauffeur for the trip? Her mother. She’s sixteen and has been writing songs for several years. Her first EP, “Worth the Burn” came out when she was fourteen and included five self-penned compositions. She continues to write, perform and stretch herself artistically. According to her mother she declined a shot on “The Voice,” feeling she needed more time to refine her skills.
And skills she has in spades. Not only are her current songs showing strong promise and her guitar (and keyboard) skills strong, her voice is really something special. The girl dared tackle “Son of a Preacher Man,” which apparently she worked up when she was twelve-years-old and her father suggested it only be played at home and her own arrangement of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” It takes a lot of nerve to tackle either and she did so very well. I’ve posted a video below for you to experience the strength of her performance for yourself. The girl will be heard from in the future.
The Old City Buskers are familiar to most of us who live in or frequent downtown. How many Market Square Farmers’ Markets have been made to feel more like a party by any other variable than their performances? Dixieland music makes people smile and want to dance and they deliver it very well. The rotating cast of characters started centered around swing dancing and much of their music is very danceable as the deliver songs fresh from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Fun music always well done is hard to beat.
And then there is the amazing gift we have of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Currently searching for a conductor, the symphony is celebrating its 80th season, which is no small feat. It’s really something of which Knoxville needs to be proud and which needs to be appreciated for its high caliber. Each performance in this season will feature a different conductor as the search continues.
Aram Demirjian, currently associate conductor for the Kansas City Symphony, served as guest conductor this week and Urban Woman compared him to James Trimble of the Dirty Guv’nahs for his very physical style. I have no idea how it would be viewed in proper circles, but to us it was very entertaining. His interaction with featured performer Phillipe Quint, whose performance simply stunned us, arrested our attention.
One of the most essential components of a symphony performance for us is what the conductor helps us learn as we go. While I have easily a couple hundred classical pieces on my ipod, I’m never going to be well educated on the music and composers, so tips regarding what I’m about to hear are key to my enjoyment and Mr. Demirjian did an excellent job of prepping us for selections from Adams (“Lollapolooza”), Legiti (“Concert Romaniesc”) and Bruch (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26). The second portion of the program was devoted to Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92.”
With tickets topping out at $83, it’s not a cheap decision, perhaps for young people to purchase a ticket. There are less expensive tickets, however. A front row seat in the balcony runs about $60, for example and you can get in for less. It’s important that younger people start making a connection to this vital cultural institution. Maybe pick one show each season? You may love it you find yourself wanting more. Music at that level paired with our beautiful Tennessee Theatre is a hard combination to beat. A special thanks to the symphony for allowing me to take photographs so I could bring them to you.
As is generally the case, I’ll likely share more photographs of each of these shows on the Inside of Knoxville Facebook page sometime this weekend.