Why We are So Excited about the Big Ears Festival…

We received this message (see below) from Ashley Capps, president of AC Entertainment, the group responsible for the upcoming Big Ears Festival, and think he captured exactly why we’re so excited about Big Ears and why you should be, too. We hope to see folks come out for the event. It’s another thing that goes on our list of “great things about Knoxville.”
Dear Friends and Neighbors –

Last year, we launched a new and very unique festival concept in Knoxville called Big Ears. It was a relatively small event, but an auspicious beginning…with considerable acclaim from fans, artists, and the press, including the New York Times.

This year, the Big Ears Festival – scheduled for March 26 – 28 – has evolved into something truly extraordinary. I want to tell you more about it and what it can mean for our community. I hope that you will also share this with your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues who have a passion for creativity and the arts. There’s something here for everyone to experience and enjoy. I’d like to invite everyone in our city to “stick their toe in the water,” take in a show or two, and experience what Big Ears has to offer.

We have some of the most acclaimed and exciting musicians in contemporary rock…Vampire Weekend, the National, Joanna Newsom, the Dirty Projectors…

We also have important young “classical” artists such as Nico Muhly – whose first opera commission from the New York Metropolitan and the English National Opera was just announced…viola virtuoso Nadia Sirota…and the groundbreaking Calder Quartet.

Guitarist/composer Bryce Dessner – who curated much of this year’s Big Ears Festival – embodies the expansive vision that the festival aspires to…in the past month he has just finished recording what is poised to be one of the biggest rock records of 2010 with his band, The National…and he also was a member of the ensemble that recorded classical composer Steve Reich’s 2009 Pulitizer Prize winning Double Sextet. His chamber ensemble, Clogs, just released their most critically acclaimed recording to date, The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton. Their performance of this work at Big Ears will undoubtedly be a festival highlight, when they will be joined by guests Sufjan Stevens, Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), and Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner from The National.

And there’s Terry Riley, our Artist in Residence for the weekend, simply one of the most influential and visionary artists of our time …and we’re celebrating his 75th Birthday Year with a series of concerts during the festival.

This barely scratches the surface, however…you can see the full schedule and read about all of the great artists at bigearsfestival.com and find videos/links on Facebook.

People from all over are coming to Knoxville. Fans are coming from Europe and Australia as well as throughout the USA. Writers from the New York Times, Time Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press…possibly the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Spin, NPR…as well as from such cutting edge music and culture websites/blogs such as Pitchfork and Stereogum…will be in attendance.

Why Knoxville? Why not Knoxville!!! For years, people have asked why Knoxville doesn’t have a major music and arts festival event, like a Spoleto or a SXSW. We believe the time is now. Knoxville has the perfect infrastructure – a beautiful historic downtown, two world-class historic theatres, a major University, a first-class museum, great clubs, outdoor spaces, and wonderful restaurants – all within an easy walk of one another. The vision of Big Ears was to engage these community resources, find synergies, and create an unforgettable experience. Now…it’s happening!

I’m especially thrilled at the opportunity to work with the great folks at the Knoxville Museum of Art, the University of Tennessee, the Square Room, the Pilot Light, the former Blue Cats/Catalyst and, of course, the Tennessee and Bijou Theatres in bringing Big Ears to fruition. And I must thank Regal Entertainment Group and Toyota of Knoxville for believing in Big Ears and making its growth possible.

The vital role of Art and Culture in fostering dynamic communities that support creativity, entrepreneurship, and economic development is being recognized by successful cities throughout the country. The need to attract, support, and retain the “creative class” has been at the heart of forward thinking economic and business strategies for some time now. I believe that concepts like the Big Ears Festival are an important part of making that vision a reality.

At Big Ears, you will not only hear some of the most imaginative and beautiful music being created today, but you will also be part of our great community taking another step in the realization of its tremendous potential for the future.

I hope to see you!