Music appreciation

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Liza Zenni, Executive Director of the Arts and Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville


Here in Knoxville, your child could be one of the over 30,000 children a year reached by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO) through its extensive Education & Community Partnerships Program.

Just last month the KSO Young People’s Concert series presented Scientific Symphony at the Civic Auditorium, during which over 10,000 students in the third-fifth grades explored the science of sound.  How is sound produced?  How does it travel?  How do we hear sound?  The symphony experimented with these questions using an oscilloscope that showed a visual representation of sound waves.

Coming up, you and your kids are invited to KSO Story Times: How Many Cats?  Join a KSO Quartet at one of our local library branches as they perform an interactive program created for pre-school children and their families.  How Many Cats?  is a program all about cats joining children’s literature, excerpts of classical music, sound effects, and interactive elements. Children will count along with the quartet as they discover how counting is important in music.  Stories featured will include:  Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, How Many Cats? and When Cats Go Wrong.  These programs are free and open to the public.

Open to all students, the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra (KSYO) includes 270 of the region’s most talented young musicians.  These young players participate in one of five orchestras from beginning through advanced levels.  The orchestras present a combined concert three times throughout the year at the Tennessee Theatre.  In addition the advanced ensemble, the Youth Orchestra, presents a special concert in February that features winners of the annual concerto competition.  Students ages 7 – 18 participate in the KSYO, and their concerts are inspiring for peers considering playing an instrument.

The KSYO performs at the Tennessee Theatre at 7:00 PM on November 12, 2012; 3:00 PM on February 17, 2013; 7:00 PM on February 18, 2013; or 7:00 PM on May 6, 2013. All KSYO Concerts are free and open to the public with general admission seating.


“The American Music Conference reports that music makers were more likely to go on to college and other higher education than non-music makers – 52% more likely!”


And if that weren’t enough, KSO’s Very Young People’s Concerts are created specifically for preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade students. The program High-Low! Fast-Slow! explores opposites in music with the help of Maestro Lucas Richman and the KSO’s animated friend, Picardy Penguin.  Picardy interacts with the audience, Maestro Richman, guest artists and the KSO!  Reservation forms are available on-line at

Dates for the Very Young People’s Concerts are February 26, 2013 at 9:30 AM at the Tennessee Theatre and 9:30 AM on February 27, 2013 at the Clayton Center for the Arts, Maryville.

The KSO also visits elementary schools in our region through the classroom connections and in-school programs and presents KSO Story Times in local pre-kindergarten classrooms.  Classroom Connections sends pairs of KSO musicians into classrooms to give students the opportunity to see instruments up-close and helps to prepare them for music that they will hear at Young People’s Concerts.  The in-school program is performed by a KSO string quartet on a different cross-curricular theme each year.  This year the quartet program, Musical Explorers, joins explorers from history with composers who made significant discoveries in music.

The Side-by-Side program pairs a professional musician with a player in a local high school orchestra.  Students learn by “sharing a stand” with a pro through two rehearsals and a joint performance. Upcoming Side-by-Side Concerts are at 7:30 PM January 15, 2013 at the Clayton Center for the Arts (featuring the KSO and Maryville High School students) and 7:30 PM on April 4, 2013 at the Farragut High School Auditorium (featuring the KSO and Farragut High School students).

For more information about all of these programs visit and click Education & Community or Youth Orchestra.




Liza Zenni's PhotoLiza Zenni has been with the Arts & Culture Alliance since 2002. She holds a BA in Theater and a MFA in Arts Administration from the Yale School of Drama. From 1990 to 1995 she was Executive Director of Theatre Bay Area, the largest regional theater service organization in North America.  She and her two daughters live in Oak Ridge, not far from where she grew up.

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