Knoxville’s eclectic Big Ears Festival: John Zorn, Haitian music, Knoxville Symphony, Caroline Shaw, Ellen Reid, Terry Riley, more

Posted on: April 1, 2022

“Among musicians, ‘big ears’ indicates a player who … hears everything happening on stage and reacts with sensitivity and creativity,” writes Bo Emerson in Thursday’s (3/31) Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Among music festivals, Big Ears means one of the East Coast’s most praised four-day shindigs…. In one Knoxville afternoon during the March 24-27 festival, you could hear … delicate contemporary classical music from Pulitzer-winning composer Ellen Reid; Pakistani American Arooj Aftab playing a combination of Hindustani classical music and Terry Riley minimalism; and … the Black rock trio Harriet Tubman…. It also attracts open-minded customers…. The festival sold out weeks ago, the first time it’s ever done that, according to founder and CEO Ashley Capps…. The festival presents 200 shows in 12 unique venues…. This year’s festival had two motifs. One was the confluence of traditions in the music of Haiti and New Orleans. The other was eight performances dedicated to the music of John Zorn…. Composer and performer Caroline Shaw [used] a keyboard interface to split her strong voice into changing chords, over a bed of percolating rhythm from the So Percussion ensemble.” The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and jazz clarinetist/saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings performed Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, led by Music Director Aram Demirjian.