Classical Cafe:

The Best Outdoor Concert-That Wasn't Outdoors

"Symphony on the Square" by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra--for the last couple of years at least--has been the kick-off event for the exceedingly popular, warm-weather, Thursday evening music events on Market Square. This year, though, the chilly temps last night forced the KSO indoors to the Bijou to safeguard everyone's comfort, including that of the orchestral instruments.

With the breezy cold anticipated, the KSO announced the move a couple of days in advance, so those who knew, headed right over to the Bijou. Others who didn't know, got the message when they arrived at the Square. So, eventually a fair sized crowd arrived and had found seats in the theatre. And that crowd really liked what they heard from the program of classical and pop music.

However, there is one big factor that makes a huge difference in hearing the KSO--acoustics. KSO outdoor music events--on the Square, in the parks, 4th of July, etc.-- are almost always miked and reinforced with a sound system. On the other hand, the orchestra plays without electronic reinforcement inside most venues. (The Civic Auditorium is the exception, but don't get me started on that one.) The superb acoustics of the Bijou (or in the orchestral shell at the Tennessee) present the orchestra as it should be heard--acoustic instruments being heard in a natural, supportive acoustic environment that transmits all the subtleties. While free outdoor concerts attract many who are not regular concert-goers, it just isn't an ideal way to hear an orchestra. Sure, it's possible to mike and amplify an orchestra outdoors competently, but cost and resources generally prevent that happening in Knoxville.

So, my recommendation--hear the orchestra in one of downtown's gorgeous theatres. The KSO has two concerts left this season: the Chamber Classics concert this Sunday at the Bijou (featuring Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 and some incredible virtuoso violin work by concertmaster Gabriel Lefkowitz) and the final Masterworks concert at the Tennessee on May 15-16. Tickets can be obtained for as little as $15. Be sure to save me a seat, though.

You can read about this Sunday's concert and last week's KSO Masterworks concert here.


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About This Blog

Alan Sherrod serves up a big plate of nourishing commentary on the Knoxville classical music and fine arts scene.