Overture to Knoxville

2017 – for Symphony Orchestra (6:00)


2+afl.2+eh.2+bcl.2+cbn / / Timp. / 2 perc. / Hp. / Str.


Overture to Knoxville (PERUSAL)


When Aram Demirjian, an old friend, asked me to write an overture to kick off the Knoxville Symphony’s 2017–18 season, I couldn’t help but smile as I considered how much we have grown (together and as individuals) since the first time he conducted a work of mine, when he stepped in at the last minute on a student opera I wrote as a sophomore in college. (The opera, itself, was created mostly as part of an extremely ill-advised attempt by the composer to woo the lead soprano… but that’s another story.) Reflections on these nostalgic memories soon gave way to more general meditations on “old and new.” For every individual and for society collectively, old and new intermingle in complex, often surprising ways. Their interaction is the essence of every artistic experience. Not infrequently, I’ll come up with a musical idea, only to discover that it wasn’t entirely new at all, but a distorted echo of some partially-remembered past: a folk song my grandfather hummed while strolling on the beach in Florida, or a fleeting moment from something I sang with good friends, or even an extramusical memory that I know no other way to express. This overture grew as an exploration and celebration of oldness and newness — a juxtaposition that in many ways is the essence of Knoxville, whose complex history, dynamic present and burgeoning future are readily apparent simply by walking through Market Square. You will hear the wild abandon of youth, the augurs of Aram’s brilliant tenure as Knoxville’s music director, the galvanizing energy of progress, and at the same time you will hear fragments of old folk songs from my youth, some allusions to the great works of the orchestral canon, and even some East Tennessee flavor. Much like old and new commingle in our experience of the world, the main themes dance in and around one another, cross-pollinating in ever-evolving ways as the musical ideas flower and bloom.


April 21–22, 2022 Tennessee Theatre, Knoxville, TN Knoxville Symphony Orchestra; Aram Demirjian, conductor Tessa Lark, violin

Copyright 2013-22 by Michael Schachter. michael.schachter [at] gmail.com