Enter a ‘Winter Wonderland’ at Pellissippi State’s annual holiday concert

Group of students singing with Santa Claus in middle
Pellissippi State students, faculty and staff perform with Santa Claus during the 2018 Holiday Spectacular.

Pellissippi State Community College will wrap up its fall 2019 Arts at Pellissippi State series with its annual concert featuring all of the college’s instrumental ensembles and choirs.

The hugely popular Holiday Spectacular is a perfect time to catch performances of the musicians you may have missed earlier in the season.

There will be two performances of the Holiday Spectacular, which is themed “Winter Wonderland” this year: 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5.

Both performances will be held in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

Tickets are free and available at the door on a first come, first served basis.

The Holiday Spectacular will feature religious and secular selections performed by

  • Variations, Pellissippi State’s audition choir;
  • Concert Chorale, the college’s non-audition choir;
  • Faculty/Staff Choir;
  • Jazz Band and Bluegrass Ensemble, both audition groups;
  • Brass, Guitar and Percussion Ensembles; and
  • Studio Orchestra.

Among the selections this year will be familiar Christmas carols such as “What Child Is This?” and “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” as well as pop culture classics like “Christmas Time is Here” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “The Grinch.” And not only will audiences hear “Snow” from “White Christmas,” but the concert will end with falling snow, a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

Plan to arrive early to the performance of your choice to get a complimentary ticket, as seating is limited to the first 495 guests per show. While the performance is free, donations are accepted at the door for the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the Music Scholarship fund.

The Holiday Spectacular is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State series. For more information on upcoming visual arts, theatre and music events, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts.

To request accommodations for a disability for this event or any Pellissippi State event, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State Jazz Band takes the stage this Thursday

Jazz band on stage, playing instruments
The Pellissippi State Jazz Band performs last November. You can catch them again this Thursday, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center.

Works by jazz greats Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and others will be performed at Pellissippi State Community College’s Fall Jazz Concert this Thursday.

The concert, part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 21 in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The Pellissippi State Jazz Band, under the direction of Tom Johnson, also will feature music by Broadway composer Richard Rodgers and a well-known bolero by Mexican composer Consuelo Velazquez.

Many different musicians in the 15-piece ensemble will have solos, Johnson noted.

The Arts at Pellissippi State is an annual arts series that includes music, theatre performances and fine arts exhibits. For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865.694.6400.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State play explores racial injustice, inspired by true story

Rehearsal for "Blood at the Root"
The cast of “Blood at the Root” rehearses the upcoming play at Pellissippi State.

Racial justice – or lack of it – in the United States is at the center of “Blood at the Root,” a play at Pellissippi State Community College this fall.

Written by Tony Award-nominated playwright Dominique Morisseau, “Blood at the Root” was inspired by a 2006 incident in Jena, Louisiana, in which six black students were charged with attempted murder for a school fight after nooses were found hanging from a tree on campus – while the white students involved in the fight received three-day suspensions.

“Here we are, almost 20 years into the 21st century, and we are still having these conversations about valuing people – or devaluing people – based on skin color,” said Associate Professor Grechen Lynne Wingerter, who is directing the play for the Arts at Pellissippi State. “Of course it makes us uncomfortable, but it comes down to those of us who have privilege need to be listening to those who don’t. And theatre is the one way I know how to talk about difficult subjects.”

Audiences will have six chances to see “Blood at the Root” at Pellissippi State: 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 8-9 and Nov. 15-16, and 2 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 10 and Nov. 17. There will be nightly talk-back sessions after each performance.

All performances are general seating in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Seating is limited, and advanced reservations for tickets are strongly encouraged.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for Pellissippi State students, faculty and staff. They can be purchased at www.pstcc.edu/tickets.

While “Blood at the Root” is inspired by the true story of the Jena Six, the plot is multi-layered, Wingerter noted. One fictional student involved in the fight gets outed as homosexual, for example, while eyewitnesses all have different perspectives of what happened.

“The heart of it is still the inequity of the justice system in America and how our systems were set up from the beginning for this kind of inequity,” she said.

The play centers on three black students and three white students, as well as the principal of the school and the district attorney. Wingerter has cast 14 Pellissippi State students – non-named characters are members of the ensemble – while five Pellissippi State students and one Austin-East Magnet High School student join Pellissippi State faculty, staff and alumni as members of the artistic production team.

“I’ve always wanted my students to understand the power of theatre and art in general and to recognize the need for everyone to truly have a voice and be seen,” Wingerter said. “Theatre has the ability to do that.”

Wingerter hopes audiences will take away from “Blood at the Root” the courage to talk about the things that make us uncomfortable.

“The last couple of years in this country have pointed out all the things that divide us,” Wingerter said. “The only way to move forward is to be willing to be uncomfortable for a bit, to admit, ‘I haven’t lived these experiences, but I can see that that is difficult.’ It is easy to pretend that if something is not happening to us, it’s not happening. But until we talk about it, nothing is going to happen.”

The Arts at Pellissippi State is an annual arts series that includes music, theatre performances and fine arts exhibits. For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Variety abounds at Pellissippi State’s Fall Instrumental Concert

A student playing a trombone
Pellissippi State music students perform in concert in November 2018.

Where can one hear both marimba music from Mexico and a medley of cop and detective television themes from the 1970s and ‘80s?

Pellissippi State Community College’s Fall Instrumental Concert on Monday, Oct. 28, will include these and much, much more from the college’s brass, guitar and percussion ensembles and the studio orchestra.

The free concert, part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, will be held at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The evening’s diversity will include:

  • The brass ensemble, directed by Tom Lundberg, playing selections from ballet to opera by Italian Giovanni Gabrieli, French composer Leo Delibes, American composer Collier Jones and Spaniard Manuel Penella;
  • The guitar ensemble, directed by Chad Volkers, performing a series of character pieces telling a story using musical imagery, taking the audience from a tumultuous boat ride and the sounds of the earth to a circus and finding a mouse in the house;
  • The percussion ensemble, directed by Paul Hayes, exploring the unique and eccentric, including marimba music from Mexico, a flamenco-inspired mallet duet and a trio using some of the more neglected instruments in the percussion family; and
  • The studio orchestra, directed by David Slack, playing a medley of cop and detective television themes composed by Mike Post, Jack Elliot, Allyn Ferguson, John Parker and Henry Mancini.

The Arts at Pellissippi State is an annual arts series that includes music and theatre performances and fine arts exhibits. For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State presents Fall Bluegrass Concert on Thursday

Hardin Valley Thunder performing
The Pellissippi State Bluegrass Ensemble, also known as the Hardin Valley Thunder, performs at the college’s Fall Bluegrass Concert last year.

Bluegrass fans have an opportunity to hear a local ensemble before they perform internationally in 2020.

Pellissippi State Community College’s Bluegrass Ensemble, under the direction of Associate Professor Larry Vincent, will perform a free concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The ensemble, which was established in 2009, has performed in prestigious venues in the Knoxville area – the Tennessee Theatre, the Bijou Theatre and the Museum of Appalachia, to name a few – and has appeared on WDVX’s Blue Plate Special on multiple occasions.

The group, which is also known as Hardin Valley Thunder, is scheduled to perform in Slovakia and Hungary in 2020.

This year’s concert will feature 14 songs by artists such as Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley and Hank Williams. The ensemble is comprised of Andie Bradley on fiddle; J.T. Coleman on bass; Jonathan Maness on mandolin and Dobro; Marshall Murphey on banjo, mandolin and vocals; AnnaBelle Rabinowitz on vocals; David Sharp on guitar; Isaac Scott on fiddle and vocals; Hannah Sloas on vocals; and Vincent on guitar.

The Fall Bluegrass Concert is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, an annual arts series that includes music and theatre performances and fine arts exhibits. For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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More than 50 Pellissippi State students sing at college’s Fall Choral Concert this Thursday

Meagan Humphreys directs student singers on risers
Pellissippi State Choral Director Meagan L. Humphreys, far left, directs student singers during the Fall Choral Concert in October 2018.

Mark your calendars for Pellissippi State Community College’s Fall Choral Concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17. More than 50 student singers will perform.

This annual concert, part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, will feature both college choirs, Concert Chorale and Variations, and will feature a variety of repertoire, both sacred and secular in nature.

Concert Chorale will present a set of three songs that focus on the topic of peace, all differing widely in style. One of the songs in that set, “Hands are Knockin’” by Kyle Pederson, was published in 2018 and will feature student percussionist Dakota Loo on djembe.

Variations will present music from the Romantic era by Anton Bruckner, a set of three songs by three different contemporary composers all based on childhood poetry, and finish off the program with a rousing spiritual, “Hold On!”, arranged by Moses Hogan.

Several student soloists will be featured throughout the program. Both choirs are led by Pellissippi State Choral Director Meagan L. Humphreys and are accompanied by Associate Professor Peggy Hinkle on piano.

The Arts at Pellissippi State is an annual arts series that includes music and theatre performances and fine arts exhibits. For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State exhibit features sculpture, photography from K-12 art teachers

Black-and-white photo by Jane Reeves
“Mom,” a photo by Jane Reeves, is part of a body of work exploring family and questioning home as a refuge.

Photography by Jane Reeves and sculpture by Jessica Courtney, artists who serve as K-12 art teachers in Southern Indiana, are featured in the newest exhibit at Pellissippi State Community College.

Their works will be on display until Oct. 4 in the Bagwell Center for Media and Art Gallery 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Gallery is located on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The exhibit, part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, is free and open to the public, as is a reception with the artists 3-5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, in the Gallery.

“Our visual arts teachers in K-12 education are on the front lines introducing our children to a better understanding of our immense visual culture,” said Pellissippi State Associate Professor Herb Rieth, who knows both artists and invited them to show their work at the college. “K-12 arts and design teachers work long hours, with ever-diminishing resources, to bring their knowledge and talent to very diverse populations. They are often underrepresented in showing their work because they frequently do not have time to work on their own artistic output.  Pellissippi State’s Visual Art faculty value the work these individuals do in the community and want others to see their powerful work.”

Reeves has chosen to exhibit a body of work exploring family and questioning home as a refuge. The collection has been in juried exhibitions in San Diego; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Louisville, Kentucky.

“Growing up poor, queer and sexually abused, I learned about isolation,” Reeves explains in her artist statement. “I learned to push away the people I loved the most. I put distance between my family and me. Physical distance became an obsession. Moving from place to place, the geographic solution.  Leave town, disappear, reinvent myself. I adopted new friends’ families as my own, as if I didn’t come from anywhere.”

That changed for Reeves when she was 25, during treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. Reeves reflects that she understood suddenly that everything that had happened to her also had happened to her family, and she began visiting her family often, bringing her camera as a protective device.

“The camera helped explain to me something I had never let myself see up-close before – the whole process of running away, of closing up inside myself, of hiding,” Reeves says. “Through this journey of self-discovery, I have found the beautiful in the disturbing and the disturbing in the beautiful.”

Sculpture by Jessica Courtney
These pieces are among the sculpture Jessica Courtney has on display at Pellissippi State, artifacts of successes and failures in her studio practice.

Courtney has been working in precious metals since 2007 and began exploring the capabilities of 3D rapid prototyping in 2009. As the conversation surrounding her work began to focus on the duality of craft and the role of the computer in producing 3D printed sculpture, however, Courtney’s need to construct complex and precise work gave way to her desire to create intuitively. She began to create art using materials that could be found in an average craft closet or a child’s art bin.

“The playfulness that exuded from this work has inspired change in every level of my life and practice,” Courtney says.

The collection of work on display at Pellissippi State is sprinkled with artifacts of successes and failures from Courtney’s studio practice “while living a life constrained by gender roles and convoluted sexual identity,” she explains in her artist statement.

“I walked through life as a queer woman in heteronormative clothing for years before realizing that the solution to my anxiety, emotional unrest and isolation was always within my grasp,” Courtney writes. “The liberation I found while creating this work has transformed my life; I no longer feel a need to deny any part of myself.”

The Arts at Pellissippi State is an annual arts series that includes music and theatre performances and fine arts exhibits. For more information about The Arts at Pellissippi State this season, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Preview Knoxville Opera 2019-20 season at free Pellissippi State performance

Adia Evans of Knoxville Opera
Soprano Adia Evans will be featured in the Knoxville Opera Preview Thursday, Sept. 26, at Pellissippi State.

Music enthusiasts can get a sneak peek at the Knoxville Opera 42nd season in a free preview Thursday at Pellissippi State Community College.

The Knoxville Opera Preview, part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The event is free and open to the public.

“Pellissippi State is proud to host the Knoxville Opera Preview concert as a means for concert-goers to learn more about opera and hear a sampling of the Knoxville Opera 2019-2020 season, while also experiencing top-notch opera singers,” said Pellissippi State Music Program Coordinator Meagan L. Humphreys. “We hope it encourages all who attend the preview to make plans to attend a full opera performance.”

Cornelia Lotito of Knoxville Opera
Mezzo-soprano Cornelia Lotito will be featured in the Knoxville Opera Preview Thursday, Sept. 26, at Pellissippi State.

Maestro Brian Salesky will host the evening, which will feature soprano Adia Evans and mezzo-soprano Cornelia Lotito.

“The repertoire will be an eclectic mix of selections from most of our programs throughout the upcoming season – from Broadway to operetta, from spirituals to Christmas carols, and highlights from our three productions: Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Gounod’s Romeo & Juliet, and Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom,” said Salesky, who is in his 15th and final season as Knoxville Opera’s executive and artistic director.

The Arts at Pellissippi State is an annual arts series that includes music and theatre performances and fine arts exhibits. For more information about The Arts at Pellissippi State this season, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State welcomes Italian guitar virtuoso Beppe Gambetta in free concert Wednesday

Beppe Gambetta playing guitar and singing
Italian guitarist Beppe Gambetta will perform a free concert at Pellissippi State on Wednesday. Photo credit: Michael Schlüter

Italian guitarist Beppe Gambetta will make a stop next week at Pellissippi State Community College while on his U.S. tour.

Gambetta will play a free concert at 11:50 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The public is invited.

“We were fortunate enough to arrange for a stop at our beautiful campus,” said Associate Professor of Music Larry Vincent, noting the musician will be giving a concert the following evening at the Laurel Theater in Knoxville. “Mr. Gambetta is an accomplished guitarist whose career spans more than 30 years in the industry and includes collaborations with top bluegrass artists in the U.S. and Europe such as Dave Grisman, Doc Watson, Norman Blake and many others.”

While Gambetta still lives in his native Genova, Italy, he travels to North America at least three times each year, according to his official website at www.beppegambetta.com. Gambetta’s reputation in the U.S. and Canada is reinforced by his participation in distinguished festivals as well as events like the well-known radio shows “All Things Considered” and “eTown.” Gambetta has performed in prestigious concert halls such as the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State brings popular TV theme songs to stage with Prime Time Octet

Tom Lundberg and the Prime Time Octet performing
The Prime Time Octet includes, from left, Ben Dockery on piano, Harold Nagge on guitar, David Slack on bass, Keith Brown on drums, Tom Lundberg on trombone, William Boyd on tenor saxophone, Bethany Hankins on violin and Doug Rinaldo on alto saxophone. The group makes its Knoxville debut at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Pellissippi State.

Theme songs from television classics from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to “Frasier” are the unique repertoire of Tom Lundberg and the Prime Time Octet.

The group makes its Knoxville debut at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Pellissippi State Community College’s Clayton Performing Arts Center, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The concert, which is free and open to the public, is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, an annual arts series that includes music and theatre performances and fine arts exhibits.

“We created the Prime Time Octet to focus on music created for television from as early as the 1960s up to the 2000s,” explained Lundberg, the Brass Ensemble director for Pellissippi State. “We have found that these tunes will be quite familiar for folks whether they lived through this era or have caught reruns. Even students are familiar with these songs, whether they know the shows or not.”

As musicians, the Prime Time Octet were interested in exploring the composers of these theme songs that have become part of popular culture, all of whom are either well known in the music world or are household names like Quincy Jones, who wrote the theme song for “Sanford and Son” and Jose Feliciano, who penned the theme for “Chico and the Man.”

The Prime Time Octet takes the familiar music further, however, with cleverly crafted arrangements by composer Terry Vosbein that allow the musicians opportunities to improvise.

“We are, in that way, an improvisational jazz group,” Lundberg noted. “We bring a sound that is unique.”

Comprised of Lundberg and seven fellow Knoxville-area musicians, the Prime Time Octet first performed at Washington and Lee University in Virginia in fall 2017 and recorded a CD of the event, which was released last year.

The group includes three Pellissippi State Music faculty – Lundberg on trombone, bassist David Slack and guitarist Harold Nagge – as well as drummer Keith Brown, a senior lecturer/adjunct associate professor of percussion at the University of Tennessee; pianist Ben Dockery, an assistant professor of music at Tennessee Wesleyan University; professional violinist and teacher Bethany Hankins; woodwind specialist Doug Rinaldo, who has toured the world, including a four-year residency in Hawaii; and woodwind specialist William Boyd, who plays saxophone for the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra and just released an album, “Freedom, Soul, Jazz.”

“There is a lot of versatility in our group, with multi-instrumentalists,” Lundberg said. “Our palette of sounds has a deeper reach.”

Other theme songs on tap include those written for “Mannix,” “Maude,” “Monk,” “Night Court,” “The Jeffersons,” “The Muppet Show,” “The Rockford Files” and more.

For more information about The Arts at Pellissippi State this season, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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