As the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra's 75th anniversary season winds down, we've had reminders of how the orchestra began its life in 1935 as well as numerous solid examples of the status the orchestra holds today. This week, Knoxville audiences will get a return visit from one of the key figures who helped the orchestra reach that level of achievement—Maestro Kirk Trevor, who was KSO music director and conductor from 1985 to 2003.
Since leaving the orchestra in the hands of current music director Lucas Richman, Trevor has remained music director of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, based in Columbia, Mo., where Trevor resides. Since 2000, he has also been principal guest conductor of Bratislava's Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, with which he has recorded extensively. His current list of available recordings totals 76 albums, making him one of the most-recorded conductors currently working.
During Trevor's tenure, the KSO expanded its Masterworks Concert season to eight concert pairs, as well as solidifying the existence of the Chamber Classics series. It was on that series in May 2002 that Trevor introduced a 14-year-old violinist to the Knoxville audience, performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. That young violinist was, in fact, his daughter, Chloé Trevor.
The now-23-year-old Chloé Trevor returns to Knoxville with her father for this week's Masterworks concerts to perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto. She has balanced her music education at the Cleveland Institute of Music with a performing career that has included solo appearances with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Latvian Chamber Orchestra, Plano Symphony, and the Slovak State Philharmonic.
The two Trevors return for a program that will bookend the Beethoven concerto with two 20th-century works: the first performance by the KSO of Overture to Adventure by English composer Arnold Bax from 1937, and the demanding Symphony No. 5 of Sergei Prokofiev, which premiered in Moscow in 1945.
The Beethoven violin concerto was premiered in 1806 with violinist Franz Clement to reasonable audience acclaim, but some critics of the day were less generous. Clement, though, was known to be a tremendous virtuoso, who, due to Beethoven's last-minute completion of the work, was said to have sight-read it for the performance. The work was mostly ignored by violinists and orchestras until 1844 when the 13-year-old prodigy Joseph Joachim performed it in London. Subsequently, it has become a mainstay in the violin and concerto repertoire. Musicologist Sir Donald Francis Tovey termed the concerto "gigantic, one of the most spacious concertos ever written, but so quiet that when it was a novelty most people complained quite as much of its insignificance as of its length. All its most famous strokes of genius are not only mysteriously quiet, but mysterious in radiantly happy surroundings."
The performance space at the Knoxville Museum of Art has turned out to be an agreeable one for the University of Tennessee School of Music's Faculty Chamber Music Series. The intimate arrangement, in which every audience member is within 25 feet or so of the performers—practically the definition of what chamber music should be—has proven to be extremely satisfying for the audience. The third, and final, concert of the series comes on Sunday with three works: Dedicaçe by the contemporary American composer James De Mars; Konsertant Svit by Christer Danielsson; and the Trio for Piano, Viola, and Violoncello by Johannes Brahms.
The Danielsson work, for solo tuba and four horns, is being reprised from an earlier recital performance by faculty tubist Sande MacMorran joined by the KSO horn section (Calvin Smith, Jennifer Crake, Mark Harrell, and David Overall).
The Brahms Opus 114 Trio, which was originally written for clarinet and is the essence of late Brahms, will feature Hillary Herndon, viola; Wesley Baldwin, cello; and Kevin Class, piano.