Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

100 South Gay Street Suite 302
Knoxville, TN 37902



The mission of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is to develop and sustain a symphony orchestra of the highest artistic standards and to reach East Tennessee audiences of all ages by providing excellence in musical performance and education programs.

When Bertha Walburn Clark first performed with her string quartet in 1910, she laid the foundation for what would become the Southeast's oldest continuing orchestra and a pillar of East Tennessee's cultural life-the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Formally established in 1935, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra began a period of significant growth in 1947 when David Van Vactor assumed dual roles as Chairman of the University of Tennessee's Department of Fine Arts and the KSO's Music Director. For the next 26 years, Van Vactor attracted many outstanding musicians to the community and nurtured the Orchestra's burgeoning reputation for excellence.

In 1973, under the direction of Arpad Joo, the Orchestra began compensating all musicians for their services and required each player to audition. Zoltan Rozsnyai took the KSO to a new level of professionalism in 1978 when he hired 16 full-time string players who eventually formed the nucleus of the Knoxville Symphony's Chamber Orchestra.

Today, under Lucas Richman's direction, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is recognized as one of the finest regional orchestras in the United States. The budget is more than $3 million and supports a core of full-time professional musicians who perform more than 200 programs throughout East Tennessee each season. Performing in the traditional venues of the Tennessee and Bijou Theatres, Civic Auditorium, and in non-traditional places like school classrooms, nursing homes, city parks and churches, the KSO reaches more than 160,000 children and adults each year.

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