The mission of the Big Ears Festival is to create, nurture, and support artistic expression and cultural education that transcends traditional boundaries, strengthens and builds relationships, and connects across communities through genre-defying music, film, arts programming, and interactive experiences presented in Knoxville, TN.
Founded in 2009, Big Ears is a singular festival experience that explores connections between musicians and artists, effortlessly crossing the boundaries of musical genres as well as artistic disciplines. Big Ears is a weekend of world-class musical performances that celebrates Knoxville’s historic theaters, nightclubs, churches, museums, and outdoor spaces with concerts, discussions, interactive workshops, installations, film screenings, surprise collaborations and unexpected artistic collisions. It celebrates the never-ending adventure of artistic creation and exploration.
Annually, the festival supports 100+ performances of music, film, and art over four days. Community engagement typically includes 50+ panels, workshops, and performances that are free and open to the public.
In 2016, Big Ears was hailed by The New York Times as “the widest-angle music festival in the country, bridging the spaces between the classical tradition, improvised music, electronics and guitars,” and by Alex Ross of The New Yorker as “the most open-minded music gathering in the country.”
At Big Ears 2019, ICE will perform a program featuring the work of four daring women composers: Tennessee native Ellen Page; daring violinist Carla Kihlstedt; Iceland’s Anna Thorvaldsdottír; and Ashley Fure, whose new orchestral work, Filament, was premiered by The New York Philharmonic in September 2018.
Performances and commissioning activities during the 2018-19 concert season are made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Jerome Foundation, A.N. and Pearl G. Barnett Family Foundation, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Amphion Foundation, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Pacific Harmony Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, The Casement Fund, BMI Foundation, as well as public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council for the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Yamaha Artist Services New York is the exclusive piano provider for ICE.