News has been bubbling for a few weeks—Metro Pulse teased info here in Eye on the Scene back in November and in last week’s cover story—but it’s now official: The Big Ears Festival will bring legendary American minimalist composer and pianist Philip Glass to Knoxville in February, along with an all-star list of international avant-garde and experimental musicians.
“I have a compelling interest in music that demands your complete attention, that quietly insists that you slow down and listen—and that transports you into another world,” says AC Entertainment’s Ashley Capps in a press release. “It seems that there are others who long for that experience as well. And this is a quality common to the music of many of the artists performing at Big Ears in February.”
The initial lineup for the festival, which will take place Feb. 6-8, includes Glass, whose early works Music in Twelve Parts and Einstein on the Beach are cornerstones of American composition after World War II; former Swans frontman and current Angels of Light leader Michael Gira; electronic composer and theorist Pauline Oliveros; the New York cabaret-pop group Antony and the Johnsons; the Australian jazz trio the Necks, performing for only the second time in the United States; Baltimore sonic collage duo Matmos; German electronic musician Christian Fennesz, performing solo and with Sparklehorse members Mark Linkous and Scott Minor; American composer and trumpeter Jon Hassell and his band Maarifa Street; 1980s “cultural jammers” Negativland; and cellist Wendy Sutter, whose most recent work, “Songs and Poems for Solo Cello,” was written for her by Glass. More artists are expected to be announced in the next few weeks.
Capps describes Big Ears as “a boutique festival, appealing to a very focused audience of music fans with adventurous tastes. We’re hoping to sell a thousand tickets to our inaugural event, but we intend for everyone who attends to have an extraordinary experience.”
The festival has been curated by Capps and AC Entertainment employees Steve Greene, Laura Sohn, Clint Darrah, and Justin Helton, with local producer Seva, Pilot Light owner Jason Boardman, and Chris Molinski of the Art Gallery of Knoxville and Knoxville Museum of Art. The schedule for Big Ears has not been finalized, but the principle venues are expected to be the Bijou Theatre, Pilot Light, and the newly opened Square Room, with art installations, performance art, and lectures and seminars taking place at KMA.
Weekend passes for the event are $195 and are available at bigearsfestival.com.