How the Knoxville Symphony was born

Posted on: November 19, 2010

In Wednesday’s (11/17) Metro Pulse (Knoxville, Tennessee) Jack Neely writes an extensive article about the founding of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, which was launched at a concert conducted by Bertha Walburn Clark 75 years ago: “Many of the 300 people who paid 35 cents each to enter the sanctuary of Church Street Methodist Church that Sunday afternoon in 1935 had never seen the cathedral-like interior. … Assembled in the chancel were 27 musicians. Some were recognizable professionals, teachers in schools or in walk-up studios downtown. … The performance, which highlighted young local pianist Evelyn Miller, included a kaleidoscopic array of classical music, mostly short bits, ranging from Mozart’s concerto No. 20, to modern pieces by living composers. … November 1935 would seem an unlikely time to assemble a symphony anywhere. Most Americans had phonographs or radios, and were getting used to staying home to listen to music. Knoxvillians just weren’t coming out for live events like they used to. … What tipped the scales may have been President Roosevelt’s New Deal project, TVA, headquartered in Knoxville in 1933. … The influx of educated professionals provided both a paying audience and a new source of talent.”

Posted November 19, 2010