From its first iteration in 2009, the Festival has been a locus of expedition, defined more by a go-anywhere ethos than by any style or genre allegiance.NPR Music
Recent BIG EARS Press
Surprises from Spiritualized, vulnerability from Jlin, a look inside the mind of composer Nils Frahm & more.
“There’s no other festival quite like Big Ears … the Knoxville-based event has a propensity for presenting the unexpected while reaching well beyond any preconceived parameters.”
“Instead of sales metrics or star power, Big Ears contemplates the perceptual properties of music: shades of dissonance and consonance, the particular qualities of a drone, the ever-changing applications of subtlety and brute force.”
“ECM is observing its 50th anniversary this year and its largest celebration took place at Big Ears, where artists from its roster played some 20 concerts.”
“The annual Big Ears Festival again featured artists eager to experiment, including a slate of talented electronic artists who pushed the genre in new directions.”
“With every installment, Big Ears feels more like several festivals under a single banner … But that segregated outlook misses the genius of the festival, which is about cross-pollination. Few festivals in the U.S., let alone the world, program such a broad array of cutting-edge artists across all genres.”
“This year’s Big Ears felt right in tune with an emergent, exhilarating frontier. I see this not only as a hopeful turn in the festival’s model of inclusion but also as an indicator of present-day permissions around jazz’s state of the art.”
“Nigerian party jams, a turntable orchestra, a cardboard box played with a bow and more from Knoxville’s annual experimental gathering.”
Rob Rushin explains the fascinating history of Big Ears founder Ashley Capps’ creative ventures. It’s a gem of a story and an important reminder of the power of art.
Jon Ross likens jazz pioneer Carla Bley’s compositions to “chapter books with new themes and ideas emerging on each subsequent page.”
Steve Dollar of ARTNEWS affirmed that Big Ears “reconsiders the terms by which experimental music can be presented to an eager, sophisticated audience compelled by seemingly errant tangents of art- and music-making.”
Jim Fusilli described Big Ears as a “silo-destroying festival” with “music liberated from the confines of category and overt commercialism.”