Teaching Roster

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

Contact Name: Jennifer Harrell


P.O. Box 360
Knoxville, Tennessee 37901-0360
United States
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Phone: (865) 521-2305

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The mission of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is to develop and sustain a symphony orchestra of the highest artistic standards and to reach East Tennessee audiences of all ages by providing excellence in musical performance and education programs. When Bertha Walburn Clark first performed with her string quartet in 1910, she laid the foundation for what would become the Southeast’s oldest continuing orchestra and a pillar of East Tennessee’s cultural life – the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Formally established in 1935, the KSO began a period of significant growth in 1947 when David Van Vactor assumed dual roles as Chairman of the University of Tennessee’s Department of Fine Arts and KSO’s Music Director. For the next 26 years, Van Vactor attracted many outstanding musicians to the community and nurtured the Orchestra’s burgeoning reputation for excellence.

In 1973, under the direction of Arpad Joo, the Orchestra began compensating all musicians for their services and required each player to audition. Zoltan Rozsnyai took the KSO to a new level of professionalism in 1978 when he hired 16 full-time string players who eventually formed the nucleus of the Knoxville Symphony’s Chamber Orchestra. In 1985 Kirk Trevor joined the orchestra as Music Director and Conductor. During his 18-year tenure the KSO was recognized as one of the finest regional orchestras in the United States. He broadened the musical spectrum of the KSO by adding Pops and Chamber series to the orchestra’s regular season, as well as the highly-acclaimed Clayton Holiday Concerts.

An international search brought Lucas Richman to the podium as music Director in 2003-04. He brought an exciting background in conducting and composing to the KSO and focused additionally on education and community programs, creating a Music & Wellness initiative that has been recognized nationally and reintroducing Family Concerts with his original animated character: Picardy Penguin.

Today the budget of the KSO spans more than $3 million and supports a core of full-time professional musicians who perform more than 300 programs throughout East Tennessee each season. Performing in traditional venues like the Tennessee and Bijou Theatres, Knoxville’s Civic Auditorium, and in non-traditional places like classrooms, hospitals, city parks and churches – the KSO reaches more than 200,000 children and adults each year.

Aram Demirjian was named the KSO’s eighth Music Director on May 31, 2016, launching the Knoxville Symphony into a new era. A dynamic emerging leader on the American musical landscape, conductor Aram Demirjian recently served as Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, where he led over 200 performances, programmed and conducted original education concerts for more than 40,000 grade-school students annually and grew the audience through the innovative new series, Classics Uncorked. He previously was a member of the conducting faculty at New England Preparatory School and a conducting apprentice with Handel & Haydn Society.

The KSO is creating new programs and services in under-served neighborhoods, communities and schools eager to be a part of an East Tennessee arts renaissance. The KSO is expanding music education programs at all grade levels in an effort to introduce music to future audiences and to train musicians of the 21st century. The KSO is focused on recruiting and retaining top quality musicians for the orchestra who will become active members of the Knoxville community. In the next decade, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra aims to touch the lives of more than a million people through accessible musical performances and education programs.

Artist Work Samples

Sample Programs Offered

Program Title: Young People's Concert: Nature at Night: A Smokies Symphony, Available Virtually

Program Type: Arts Appreciation

Program Description:

The 2020 KSO Young People’s Concert (YPC) will be presented virtually in partnership with Great Smoky Mountains National Park. YPC’s are created for students in third through fifth grade and open to all schools in East Tennessee. Park Superintendent Cassius Cash will lead a night hike through the Smokies as students will encounter insects (Flight of the Bumblebee and a new piece based on the flash patterns of fireflies), cross a stream (The Great Smoky Mountain Salamander Ball), learn about Cherokee culture (How Birds Came Into the World), and view the night sky (Clair de Lune). Meet the Musicians on Zoom before or after viewing the concert. Curriculum materials about the music and moon observation included along with audio links.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

Program Title: Very Young People's Concert: Orchestranimals, Available Virtually

Program Type: Arts Appreciation

Program Description:

The 2021 KSO Very Young People’s concert (VYPC) will be presented virtually in partnership with Zoo Knoxville. VYPC’s are created for students in pre-K through second grade and open to all schools in East Tennessee. Take a virtual trip to the zoo and view all of the “Orchestranimals” through Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals (Lion, Tortoises, Elephant, Aquarium, Aviary, Pianists, Fossils). Visit Zoo Knoxville’s new reptile exhibit (Sensamaya) and learn why it is very important to Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo (by Bill Elliott). Special guests will include animals and animal curators from Zoo Knoxville. Meet the Musicians on Zoom before or after viewing the concert. Curriculum, including audio links, listening maps, about the music and animal habitats and adaptations provided.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

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