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The UT Symphony Orchestra Commemorates Rachmaninoff's Final Performance


Melony Dodson talks with Conductor, Jim Fellenbaum

80 years ago today (today being February 17th), Sergei Rachmaninoff gave what would be his final performance as a pianist. That performance was given right here in Knoxville in the Alumni Gym, which is now known as Cox Auditorium. A plaque, located inside the stairwell just outside the auditorium, commemorates the historic event, as does a magnificent bronze statue of Rachmaninoff, sculpted by Russian artist, Victor Bokarev...a hidden gem located in World's Fair Park.

The UT Symphony Orchestra will also remember this legendary composer and pianist, in a concert featuring three of his most-loved works: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (featuring UT Piano Professor, Dr. Chih-Long Hu as the soloist), the Symphonic Dances, and a new arrangement of the Vocalise for choir and orchestra, arranged by Dr. Khyle Wooten, Assistant Professor of Choral Music. Maestro Jim Fellenbaum will lead the orchestra in their performance of the Vocalise and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Guest Conductor, Victor Yampolsky, will lead the orchestra in the Symphonic Dances. Yampolsky is professor emeritus at Northwestern University, having completed a 38-year tenure as director of orchestras. He studied violin with David Oistrakh at the Moscow Conservatory, and conducting with Maestro Nicolai Rabinovich at the Leningrad Conservatory. He was a member of the Moscow Philharmonic as both assistant concertmaster and assistant conductor, under the direction of Maestro Kyrill Kondrashin. Yampolsky was also Maestro Fellenbaum's conducting teacher and mentor while he pursued his studies at Northwestern.

The concert is free and open to the public and will take place at 7:30pm in Cox Auditorium in the Alumni Memorial Building. Concert attendees should be aware that a major event is taking place in Thompson Boling Area that may affect parking. Additional parking options can be viewed at: https://parking.utk.edu/2023/02/14/sold-out-concerts-impact-parking-fri-feb-17-and-sat-feb-18/?fbclid=IwAR1y9bxGnOcdXi1dhYzo1hVUw_bCRzTpTvQDyyzhoWLy5EnBPWhcicR5SlY

Melony calls the beautiful mountains of Boone, N.C., home, although she was born near Greensboro, N.C. There’s just something about those Blue Ridge Mountains that got in her blood and never left after she moved there to attend Appalachian State University (ASU). While at ASU, she majored in piano performance and music therapy and began to cultivate a love for accompanying and for collaborating with other musicians. This soon led her to earn a master’s degree in collaborative piano at the University of Tennessee, which she attended from 2006-2008.