KSO Showcases Flutist Devan Jaquez in Resilient Chamber Classics Series

by Madonna

Despite the unexpected challenges presented by the recent harsh winter conditions in Knoxville, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO) persisted in delivering a memorable performance for its Chamber Classics Series. The concert, held last Sunday afternoon, featured Principal Flute Devan Jaquez in the spotlight, displaying remarkable artistry amidst the tumultuous weather.

The inclement weather had created a daunting scenario, with deep snow transforming into treacherous ice, hindering both performers and audience members. However, the KSO, under the baton of conductor James Fellenbaum, demonstrated the power of focus, talent, and determination in presenting a compelling musical experience.


Maintaining the tradition of highlighting the KSO’s own principals in solo roles, Devan Jaquez took center stage in Malcolm Arnold’s Flute Concerto No. 1. Composed in 1954, this showcase piece for the flute allowed Jaquez to shine, delivering a performance characterized by vocal-like agility, meandering tonality, captivating melodies, and engaging rhythmic motifs.


The concert commenced with Maestro Fellenbaum’s wistful interpretation of three selections from Florence Price’s Five Folksongs in Counterpoint—“Clementine,” “Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes,” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Originally written as a string quartet later in Price’s career, these pieces revealed a charming and elegant sophistication in folk song arrangements. Fellenbaum and the orchestra masterfully captured the contrapuntal nuances flowing seamlessly from Price’s creative imagination.


The focal point of the evening, titled “Schubert: Death and the Maiden,” centered around Gustav Mahler’s arrangement of Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D minor (“Death and the Maiden”). The choice of this work, inspired by Schubert’s song, “Death and the Maiden,” added a layer of dramatic intensity to the performance. Fellenbaum and the chamber orchestra strings immersed themselves fully in the arrangement, offering a larger sound, augmented depth, and more rounded edges compared to the original string quartet.

Despite the weather-induced challenges, the Chamber Classics Series proved to be a testament to the resilience and artistic commitment of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, leaving the audience with a musical experience that transcended the wintry obstacles.


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