Panels! Artist Talks! Workshops!

Today we are thrilled to unveil a series of artist talks & panel discussions offering artists and listeners the platform to speak about their experiences. Visit to view these conversations in context of the full weekend of events. And, as a reminder, the Big Ears App and schedule builder are now available here.

Highlights include:


Nashville Ballet Lucy Negro Redux “Talk-back”:
Post-performance conversations with Rhiannon Giddens, Francesco Turrisi, poet Caroline Randall Williams, and choreographer Paul Vasterling. These open conversations about inspiration, process and creation take place immediately following both performances of Lucy Negro Redux at the Tennessee Theatre- Wednesday and Thursday nights. As a reminder, Wednesday night’s performance of Lucy Negro Redux is separately ticketed with chosen seating; Thursday’s performance is a part of the festival’s opening night.


A conversation with Theo Bleckmann, Kristin Anna Valtýsdóttir, Amirtha Kidambi
about the power of voice and unique ways composers and performers have stretched the palette of sounds available to them. Moderated by Molly Sheridan (New Music USA)
Friday 11 AM, Boyd’s Jig & Reel


Kim Kashkashian & Peter Gregson: Answering the Bach Cello Suites:
Scarcely known before Pablo Casals performed and recorded them in the 1930s, Bach’s six suites for unaccompanied cello, written around 1720, have become some of the most revered works of Western music. But their legacy and meaning lies open: for many practical reasons, musicians continue adapting the works to many other instruments and interpreting them widely. The violist Kim Kashkashian and the cellist Peter Gregson have both recently recorded them, in very different ways; connected to their Big Ears performances of the Bach works, they will discuss the challenges, invitations, and questions raised by the Cello Suites. Moderated by Ben Ratliff.
 Friday 12:30 PM, Boyd’s Jig & Reel


Alvin Lucier and Joan La Barbara: Separately and Together:
Since the 1960s, composer Alvin Lucier and vocalist/composer Joan La Barbara have expanded the notion of what music is and how it may be understood. Moving against traditional notions of technique, performance, and musical structure, their compositions and performances encourage listeners into a heightened awareness of their own sonic perception. Lucier and La Barbara, both performing at Big Ears will be joined for this discussion by the musicians Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O’Malley, and Bernhard Rietbrock, all members of the Ever Present Orchestra, founded in 2017 to perform Lucier’s work. Moderated by Ben Ratliff.
Friday, 4:30 PM, Visit Knoxville


Songs of our Ancestors: Making History Present in Music
A conversation with Rhiannon Giddens, Richard Thompson and Rachel Grimes. Musicians have used letters, diaries, book excerpts and other archival material as inspiration since time immemorial. Hymns cull from the Bible; folk ballads were sourced from Shakespeare, other poets and the writers of journalistic broadsides. In recent times, singer-songwriters have been expected to write from their own experience; yet some have found new ways to blend the personal with historical sources. This panel brings together three groundbreaking artists who have crafted major works through direct encounters with archival material, including the diaries and letters of World War 1 soldiers; American slave narratives; and the personal effects of family members. With panelists: Moderated by Ann Powers (NPR Music).
Saturday, 3 PM, Visit Knoxville


Lonnie Holley’s Walking Tour of Knoxville:
Explore Knoxville with Lonnie Holley and see the city through his eyes, collecting materials to create art along the way. We honestly have no idea what will happen here…so prepare for improvisation and surprises. Lonnie’s Walking Tour will meet at the Emporium, depart, and return to the same location about an hour later.  Arrive on time! Sunday, 1 PM, Emporium


Sound & Silence:
In this 50 minute experience, there is arrival, the sound of a bell, silence, music, silence, the sound of a bell, departure. Bring your warm, silent presence. Please only those committed to the entire 50 minutes (no cell phones) are welcome. Facilitated by Abigail Washburn + Rosalind Hackett. We will meet and walk to a basement annex together so please arrive on time!
Saturday, 11 AM, Emporium with Bill Frisell 
Sunday, 11 AM, Emporium with Kayhan Kalhor


ECM @ 50:
Since its earliest stirrings in 1969, the German label ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music) has stood as much for a philosophy of listening as a freedom of artistic expression. Founded and still operated by Manfred Eicher, it has been home to a dazzling range of music, across multiple genres and disciplines. This year, as part of its anniversary celebration, ECM has brought a characteristically broad sample of its roster to the Big Ears Festival, from The Art Ensemble of Chicago to Avishai Cohen, Carla Bley to Kim Kashkashian, Mathias Eick to Meredith Monk.  A choice handful of these artists will join critic and author Nate Chinen in this panel discussion about ECM’s legacy. Their conversation will touch on the evolution of ECM, its impact on the culture of the last half-century, and the implications of an aesthetic once famously hailed in print as “the most beautiful sound next to silence.”
Saturday, 11AM, Visit Knoxville


Moving Forward In Both Directions: 50 Years of the Art Ensemble of Chicago:
From the beginning, half a century ago, the members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago looked to the future and the past simultaneously. Jazz was just one part of the equation: what came before jazz, and what it might become after, were ongoing concerns. We look at 50 years of music made, trails blazed, and genres bent, with Roscoe Mitchell, members of the AEC, and host John Schaefer of WNYC’s New Sounds.
Sunday, 3PM, Visit Knoxville


Symposium of Sound:
Join Big Ears artists and fellow devotees to reflect more deeply on your listening experiences in the second incarnation of the Symposium of Sound. This year’s one-hour sessions will focus on Sound and Spatiality and Sound and the Environment.
Facilitated by Rosalind Hackett
Friday, 1:30 PM, Visit Knoxville (with Carla Kihlstedt + Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir).
Sunday 12:30 PM (with Nate Wooley).



Making Waves: Women In Music, presented by NAXOS 
Fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion are front and center in conversations related to curation, funding, and education in 2019. However, goals in these areas won’t be met overnight. What barriers to entry remain hidden or unaddressed? How are artists and curators leading in this space? And are the right people in the room for these conversations? Join the panelists as they share personal stories and professional observations of evolution and challenge in this area of the music field.  Panelists: Rachel Grimes, Jlin and Natalie Lewis. Moderated by Molly Sheridan (New Music USA)
Friday, 3PM, Visit Knoxville

Knoxville, TN · USA



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