It is unfortunate that May brings the end to the classical music season in Knoxville, but that's just the way it is--for now. On the bright side, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra ends its season next Thursday and Friday with what could be one of the more compelling and important concerts of the year for reasons that are both historical and musical.
One hundred years ago this month, May 29th to be exact, the ballet Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) was premiered by Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, with choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky, stage designs and costumes by Nicholas Roerich, and music by the Russian composer, Igor Stravinsky. The usual money-ed ballet-going audience came expecting traditional classical ballet and a 19th Century ballet score, while those more artistically inclined who were beginning to revel in the avant garde side of the arts came to tweak the noses of the "box-dwellers." As the work began, the nature of the music and choreography caused loud disruptions that drowned out the music, fights broke out inside the theatre and out, as did continuing quarrels and disagreements among the two factions of the audience. The ballet's popularity has remained strong and Stravinsky's music for it can be heard regularly in concert halls. As we take in the KSO's performance of The Rite of Spring, it will be left to us to look back with interest at all that has changed in music and the arts in 100 years.
Also on the KSO's program is the quasi-premiere of Lucas Richman's own work, Three Pieces for Cello & Orchestra. (I say "quasi-premiere" since two of the three pieces were previously performed in 1999.) The cello soloist will be Inbal Segev, who said of the work: "The concerto as a whole shows the cello at it's best with lush melodies, virtuoso passages and a lot of heart."
Inbal Segev is a founding member of the Amerigo Trio with New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow and violist Karen Dreyfus. The three first performed together at the Bowdoin International Chamber Music Festival in 2007, and came together formally in 2009 as the Amerigo Trio.In addition to her work with the Amerigo Trio, Segev regularly performs chamber music with artists including Emanuel Ax, Agustin Dumay, Pamela Frank, Gilbert Kalish, Michael Tree, and the Vogler Quartet at venues and festivals including Carnegie Hall's Weill Hall, Bargemusic, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. She has played with the Jupiter Chamber Players since 2005 and previously toured the U.S. with the American Chamber Players.
Maestro Lucas Richman will open the concert with the Overture to Tannhåuser by Richard Wagner.
The performances are next Thursday and Friday evenings, May 16 and 17, at 7:30 pm in the Tennessee Theatre. Click on the KSO link above for ticket information.