Santa Claus isn’t the only one coming to town this winter. The cooler weather brings a host of world-class performers to the Chattanooga area. Here’s a sneak peek.
By Grace J. Humbles
Chattanooga’s burgeoning music scene is hard to ignore. Summer brings Riverbend, Nightfall, and the Riverfront Concert Series to the city, giving locals the chance to hear nationally and internationally renowned artists like The Beach Boys, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, The B-52s, The Avett Brothers, and many more right in their own backyard.
Throughout the year, headlining performers take the stage at two of Chattanooga’s most highly rated venues—the Tivoli Theatre and Memorial Auditorium. With large stages hosting performances varying from plays and comedic acts to the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera (CSO) and CSO Chorus, the two venues have continually provided the city with vibrant music, arts, and entertainment (for listings of upcoming holidays events at these two venues, see “Home for the Holidays” beginning on page 148).
But though we may immediately think of summer festivals and these larger venues when we reflect on the Chattanooga arts scene, there are numerous other opportunities to experience world-class performances both in and around the city. As you gear up for the holidays, we’ve highlighted four uniquely Chattanoogan experiences for you and your family to take advantage of this season.
String Theory at the Hunter Museum
The Hunter Museum of American Art houses collections of both regionally and nationally renowned art from the Colonial period to today. Perched high on the bluff overlooking the Tennessee River, it combines modern lines with traditional architecture while providing a breathtaking view of both the city and riverfront.
For the past five years, the Hunter, in partnership with Lee University, has hosted String Theory, a series of chamber music performances designed to give the Chattanooga community more exposure to chamber music. This winter season, you’ll have the chance to hear from three gifted ensembles (shown at right) at the String Theory series.
“The caliber of talent featured in the series has grown,” says Hannah Legg, director of communications at the Hunter. “The connections between the Hunter and Lee University have strengthened, bringing audience members to the Hunter from all over the surrounding area. Each concert is professionally recorded and recordings from the concerts have been featured several times nationwide on NPR’s ‘Performance Today.’”
December 18 | Pacifica Quartet
The Pacifica Quartet received a Grammy Award in 2009 for Best Chamber Music Performance and was named “Ensemble of the Year” by Musical America in 2009. The evening will feature music composed for string quartet by Mendelssohn and Brahms.
January 22 | Woodwinds & Piano featuring members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, bassoonist Peter Kolkay, oboist James Austin Smith, and pianist Gloria Chien are all winners of the Avery Fisher Grant and members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. They will perform with Dr. Gloria Chien, professor of music at nearby Lee University and the founding director of the String Theory series.
February 12 | Clarinetist Anthony McGill with Gloria Chien
Anthony McGill was recently named the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic after serving as principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for the past 10 years. And here you’ll have another opportunity to hear from pianist Dr. Gloria Chien.
Also Coming to the Hunter Museum
January 23: String Theory Goes To Cleveland!
January 24: String Theory Family Concert Hosted by Rami Vamos
March 19: Percussion Trio with Ayano Kataoka, Ian Rosenbaum and Christopher Froh
May 7: Piano Quartet with Soovin Kim, Hsin-Yun Huang, Paul Watkins, and Gloria Chien
To order tickets for these and other String Theory events, visit stringtheorymusic.org/concerts or call 423.414.2525.
Presidential Concert Series at Lee University’s Dixon Center
Lee University’s music program is consistently recognized as a top program in the region, with the college’s festival choir even singing at the most recent presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. Lee’s Presidential Concert Series, which focuses mainly on bringing in chamber music artists but also jazz artists and small theater groups, began 22 years ago and features performers from around the world.
“The 30 minute drive up from Chattanooga to downtown Cleveland is well worth it for fans of classical music and more,” says Dr. Paul Conn, president of Lee University. “Where else can you hear people like classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco or pianist Vladimir Feltsman or the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in such an intimate setting? It really is a unique series for the Chattanooga area and is always audience-friendly.”
This holiday season, the series will feature a number of top-ranked performers including The Piano Men, Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play, and Chanticleer.
“When Lee built the Dixon Center, with 500 seats in a steeply raked hall with great sightlines, we knew we had the right venue, but we began that first year not knowing how long the public would sustain interest,” says President Conn. “Over two decades later the interest has never waned, and now we look back and see an all-star list of international performers in all genres.”
November 21 | The Piano Men
The lead singer of the Piano Men, Jim Witter, has landed 10 top-10 radio hits in Canada and climbed the Billboard charts in the U.S. His album Forgiveness was recently nominated for Inspirational Album of the Year at the Dove Awards.
January 20 | Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play
For nearly 40 years, the members of Triple Play have brought folk, blues, and jazz to stages around the country. They were recently featured at the Monterey Jazz Festival and continue to enjoy bringing their love of jazz and the American spirit together.
February 3 | Chanticleer
Recognized by the New Yorker as “the world’s reigning male chorus,” Chanticleer is an all-male ensemble that has sold over 1 million albums and earned two Grammy awards. In 2008, they were inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.
Also Coming to Lee University
March 31: Ning & Friends, featuring the Arianna String Quartet, violinist Janet Sung, and Lee’s own Ning An on piano
To learn more about the concert series and upcoming performances, visit leeuniversity.edu/pcs or call Kristi Vannoy at 423.614.8243.
Patten Performance Series at UTC’s Fine Arts Center
Established in 1980, the Patten Performance Series has brought internationally renowned performers to the Chattanooga community for the past three decades.
“We have had some of the most amazing artists here at the series,” says Bob Boyer, Patten Performance Series director. “The number of world-class musicians, dance companies, and theatre companies that have come through here is truly phenomenal.”
The series offers more than just music to Chattanooga. You and your family can experience an internationally recognized mime troupe, literature brought to the stage, or some good, old-fashioned American blues – all during this winter at the Patten Performance Series.
“Since 1980, we’ve created this little jewel with the Patten Performances,” says Boyer. “We don’t have the biggest budget in the world, but the quality of performers we’ve brought to the series year after year has been wonderful – they have been wonderful human beings to work with as well as incredible artists.”
February 17 | MUMMENSCHANZ
MUMMENSCHANZ was formed in 1972 in Paris and has been hugely influential in nonverbal theatre. The legendary mime troupe isn’t your everyday miming group. They utilize experimental costumes and masks to bring stories to life in new ways.
February 24 | Rory Block
Acoustic blues artist Rory Block was raised on country blues music. She learned from the greats, including Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, and Reverend Gary Davis. Her most recent album, Avalon, is a tribute to Mississippi John Hurt, and features the age-old acoustic blues that Rory Block is famous for.
March 10 | The Great Gatsby
The Montana Repertory Theatre will bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s celebrated American novel to life on UTC’s stage this winter. The company was established in 1968 and is well-respected around the country. Only the best actors are accepted to tour with the Montana Repertory Theatre—including Broadway and off-Broadway actors.
Also Coming to the UTC Fine Arts Center
March 7 Patten Unplugged, featuring cello rock powerhouse Cello Fury
To reserve tickets, call the box office at 423.425.4269 or visit www.tickettracks.com and click “Patten Performances.”
Track 29 on Chattanooga’s Southside
Track 29 has quickly become one of Chattanooga’s most-loved music venues, offering Chattanoogans the chance to hear their favorite bands from every decade and genre without leaving the city.
“We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the Chattanooga community and our fantastic staff,” says Monica Maples Kinsey, co-owner and general manager of Track 29. “We’ve always felt there was a want and a need for more music in Chattanooga, and the city has proven us correct by supporting it.”
This winter season, you’ll have the chance to hear bands both old and new play country, rock ‘n’ roll, and independent music right here in Chattanooga.
“While we hope that Chattanoogans would come out year-round for music, the colder season is a great time to come indoors and celebrate music in our city with your friends, family, and loved ones,” says Kinsey.
November 28 | The 1975
An independent rock band from the UK, The 1975 has made a splash both here and overseas. In 2013, their self-titled album reached number one in the UK. Most recently, fans found them playing at the internationally renowned Coachella festival.
December 18 | North Mississippi Allstars
Formed in 1996, the North Mississippi Allstars are brothers Cody and Luther Dickinson cranking out a mix of deep blues and driving southern rock. After breaking up the band in 2008, they reunited in 2010 and are now touring the country following their most recent CD release, World Boogie Is Coming (their 16th album).
January 9 | Kansas
Iconic American rock band Kansas first entered the scene in the 1970s and has since produced three sextuple platinum albums. Their song “Carry On Wayward Son” made its way to No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1997. The band has continued to maintain their popularity throughout the years and will enjoy playing to diehard fans in Chattanooga.
For more information and to reserve tickets visit track29.co or call 423.521.2929.