On February 12, the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra (KSYO) graced the Tennessee Theatre with its concerto concert, conducted by James Fellenbaum. The highly selective orchestra features high school talent from Knox County and surrounding areas in the strings, winds and percussion.

Senior Simon Jolly opened the evening by giving the audience a detailed rundown of what songs the orchestra would perform. Photo by Shane Embury

 During the concert, the orchestra performed four pieces. The musicians opened with Emmanuel Chabrier’s “Espana, Rhapsody for Orchestra.” Then clarinetist Renae Dishman, a senior from Berean Christian School’s Independent Study program, came to the stage and featured in the second song: the first movement of “Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra No. 3, Op. 11” by Bernhard Crusell. Dishman had been one of two winners for the KSYO Concerto Competition, thus earning the right to play this featured part.

 The orchestra then transitioned to the third song of the night, which was the first movement of “Violin Concerto, Op. 47” by Jean Sibelius. This piece featured the concerto competition’s other winner: Hardin Valley Academy’s own Lizzy Joo, playing the violin. Finally, the orchestra closed out the night with the fourth movement of “Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 17” by Piotyr Ilitch Tchaikovsky.


“The fact that Sibelius is very well-known made me think that people will expect a lot from it,” said Joo, “and the piece itself is really difficult, so I had to think of ways to not make it sound beautiful and not make it apparent that I’m only focusing on technical things.” Photo by Shane Embury


 Joo was not the only HVA musician who performed in the concert. Six other members of the orchestra were there was well, including Abe Ahrens, Simon Jolly and Savannah Truan on the violin, and Ashley Conser, Kelsie Edie and Andrew Leatham on the viola. Even more HVA students performed at the previous night’s winter concert as part of the Knoxville Symphony’s other four youth orchestras.

 “It’s very exciting [to have so many students perform],” said HVA orchestra teacher Peggy Jones. “It feeds our school’s orchestra in such a positive way, and I can always learn something new by watching the conductor.” 

 This was the group’s final winter concert in Knoxville. The next stop for the KSYO is Atlanta, where these student musicians will perform increasingly advanced pieces and gain even more orchestral experience.

“Playing with a full symphony, like 90 people, in the Tennessee Theatre was really exciting,” said Joo. “I learned a lot just over these couple of months preparing for the concert.”