World traveler Kirk Trevor returns to Knoxville for symphony performance

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Music Director Emeritus Kirk Trevor will return to Knoxville March 24-25.

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Music Director Emeritus Kirk Trevor will return to Knoxville March 24-25.

Violinist Chloe Trevor, Kirk Trevor's daughter, will perform with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra on March 24-25.

Violinist Chloe Trevor, Kirk Trevor's daughter, will perform with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra on March 24-25.

During the five years since Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Music Director Emeritus Kirk Trevor was last in Knoxville, his career has taken him around the world.

Last week, he was in New York at the Astoria Symphony International Conducting Workshop.

His daughter, violinist Chloe Trevor, who will join him in this week's KSO concerts on Thursday and Friday, March 24-25, at the Tennessee Theatre, was with him as they worked together on Beethoven's "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, Op. 61."

"Teaching ... conductors how to work with a soloist is something many young conductors don't often get to do in conducting workshops," Trevor said during an early-morning telephone conversation.

"Since Chloe would be playing the Beethoven with me in Knoxville, the Astoria Orchestra thought it would be a great idea to have her come work with me at the workshop."

A well-known conducting teacher, Trevor spends much of his time doing workshops around the world, especially in Brazil and Eastern Europe.

He finds lots of differences between preparation levels of the musicians in the orchestras with which he works.

Since the Astoria Symphony is made up entirely of New York area freelancers, they are the least prepared. "The players are very good musicians, but the Astoria is one of many orchestras they play in," Trevor said. "They don't have a lot of time to spend rehearsing together as an ensemble."

In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, where Trevor has conducted the Radio Bradislava Symphony Orchestra for the past 21 years, the orchestra is well known for its exceptional musical sound.

The result is that the BSO makes lots of recordings for films, video games and television.

"I have never seen a musician take his or her instrument home," Trevor said. "There is simply no privacy in the communist-era housing blocks. All of the buildings are built out of concrete, but the interior walls in the building are paper-thin. There is a great truth to the fact that orchestras are still suffering from the collective mentality."

"So there are lots of rehearsal rooms in the concert hall, and musicians come early to practice. They are very disciplined because for 50 years nobody could practice at home."

In Brazil, where Trevor teachers at the National School of Music in Brasilia, as well as the University of Sao Paulo and the Rio de Janeiro University Music School, the Latin psychology and sense of time is very evident.

"Nothing ever starts on time," Trevor said. "It's just accepted. The funny thing is, in order to start a rehearsal, you are making decisions on how few people constitute a quorum.

"Getting around in Brazil is terrible," Trevor said. "Musicians may have overslept or been home cleaning their toilets, but when they show up late, they just shrug their shoulders and say 'traffic!' "

Asked what he sees as the primary differences among orchestras around the world, Trevor's immediate response was about youth orchestras.

"In many countries, especially in Venezuela where they have El Systema, there are lots of youth orchestras and they are well known," Trevor said.

"In America, the youth orchestra movement like the excellent youth orchestras in Knoxville, are relatively unknown except among the parents."

Asked about playing the Beethoven concerto in Knoxville after spending time working on it at a workshop with Chloe, Trevor said: "It's probably more fun now than when she was 13-16, knew everything and didn't think her dad knew anything.

"The Beethoven (concerto) is considered an older person's piece," Trevor said. "It's daunting because of its huge musical structure. But there are some strengths that Chloe has that are really well suited to Beethoven, especially her clean pristine sound."

Also on the program for this week's concerts is British composer Arnold Bax's "Overture to Adventure," a concert overture written in 1937 for the opening of the Bournemouth Music Festival.

The concerts conclude with Sergey Prokofiev's "Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major," Op. 100, written in 1944, in which Prokofiev tries to come to grips with the realities of war.

Harold Duckett is a freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.

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