The Big Ears Music Festival returns March 24-27, 2022 to downtown Knoxville, TN with its most adventurous and multi-dimensional line up to date. The four-day weekend will feature over 100 concerts—gathering groundbreaking composers, virtuoso instrumentalists, singular bands, improvisers and DJs, icons, and upstarts—creating an exhilarating and kaleidoscopic musical experience like none other.
This year—returning for the first time since 2019—Big Ears is upping the ante. Boundary-pushing rockers from Sparks and Kim Gordon to Animal Collective and Efterklang; a mind-expanding journey into the rich musical world of New Orleans and the deep Haitian and Cuban forces that fuel it, including Preservation Hall Jazz Band, RAM, Pedrito Martinez, Leyla McCalla, and Dafnis Prieto; and visionary genre-defying young voices, from Moses Sumney, Arooj Aftab, and Lido Pimienta to Yves Tumor, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Alabaster DePlume, and Dawn Richard offer just a hint of the breathtaking artistic diversity at this year’s Big Ears.
All-too-rare in North America outside of New York City, the prolific, iconoclastic composer/instrumentalist John Zorn will present eight concerts spanning some of his most recent work—among them the dazzling virtuoso guitar trio of Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, and Gyan Riley; songs written with lyricist Jesse Harris for Petra Haden; the “heavy metal” Hammond B-3 organ trio fronted by John Medeski; and the New Masada Quartet. Additionally, Terry Allen, Bill Callahan, Joe Henry, Cassandra Jenkins, Hadestown-creator Anais Mitchell (Bonny Light Horseman), and Andy Shauf will share their contributions to a new alternative American Songbook.
There’s a jazz festival within the festival, presenting titans like Andrew Cyrille, Jason Moran, and Ron Miles, powerful younger players like Ambrose Akinmusire, Kris Davis, and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, and the movers and shakers of the fresh, vital new jazz scenes in Chicago and London—Jaimie Branch, Damon Locks, Angel Bat Dawid, Sons of Kemet, and Nubya Garcia.
The iconic composer/vocal pioneer Meredith Monk returns, collaborating with Bang on a Can All-Stars for the live world-premiere performance of Memory Games, as well as an intimate duo performance with percussionist John Hollenbeck. The renowned Kronos Quartet will return to present their collaboration with filmmaker, Sam Green, A Thousand Thoughts, along with a second special program, and genre-defying legend Annette Peacock will offer a rare solo performance.
A new generation of visionary composers/performers will also showcase new work. Among them: 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw will perform her collaboration with Sō Percussion; 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Reid will present the live premiere of her Soundwalk Ensemble; composer/singer/flutist Nathalie Joachim will perform Femn d’Ayiti celebrating her Haitian heritage with Spektral Quartet; composer Tristan Perich will unveil a new piece for organ, performed by James McVinnie, one-bit electronics and 100 loudspeakers; and San Fermin’s Ellis Ludwig-Leone will premiere a new in-progress chamber opera.
There is, of course, much more. The full line up of confirmed artists is at bigearsfestival.org with more performers and special programs, films, readings, talks, exhibitions, happenings, parties, and surprises still to be announced.
Weekend festival passes for Big Ears will be available beginning Thursday, September 16, at 12:00 noon ET. For information and ticketing, go to bigearsfestival.org.