Knoxville’s 11-annual Rossini Festival and International Street Fair drew over 10,000 people to downtown Knoxville on Saturday, April 28.
Over 35 groups were scheduled, and, collectively, a total of 800 entertainers performed on four stages stationed on both Gay Street and in Market Square.
“A street festival is not the typical performance area,” explained Ashley Abbott, president of MC Concert Choir. “But by performing at a venue like Rossini, choir members really get the opportunity to focus and grow as a group.”
“It is not easy to sing in a tent because there is nothing for the sound to resonate off of,” continued Erin Carter, vice president of the choir. “But we sounded strong and blended, as we should.”
MC Concert Choir was not the only musical group to perform at the Rossini Festival.
Along with a multitude of additional choirs and solo artists, entire operas were performed during the festival weekend, including Knoxville Opera’s version of Verdi’s “Otello” at the Tennessee Theatre, and UT Opera Theatre’s production of Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” at the Carousel Theatre.
Highlights from these performances graced the stages at the festival itself.
“It is a real honor to be a part of an event that features some of the best vocal talent in our region,” said Stacey Wilner, conductor of MC Concert Choir and the cappella ensembles Off-Kilter, Lads and Lassies. “The energy is infectious, and the Concert Choir usually has one of its most dynamic performances of the year at this event.”
Along with musical performances, the festival hosted over 30 food and beverage booths, 100 artisan exhibits, local and regional multi-cultural music and dance performances, and interactive activities emphasizing arts engagement for youth.
The Rossini slogan, “Feast your eyes. Indulge your ears. Taste the fun,” truly came to life as the festival offered a showcase for all ages of Knox County’s wealth of culture.
“As soon as you step foot on Gay Street, it feels as though you are at a real Italian street fair, complete with live musicians, culinary artists and artisan exhibits,” Wilner said of the festival.
“The whole atmosphere and merriness rubs off on you,” Carter added. “I really like the sense of community the festival brings, and I wish we could have more events like this.”
The MC Concert Choir performed a varied selection of pieces prepared for their upcoming tour to Scotland, titled “Pipes, Glens, and Thistles.” The host of songs included spirituals and songs from American culture and the college’s Scottish heritage, as well as popularly known selections like “Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “In My Life.”
The choir, along with the smaller group Off Kilter, performed music not only in English, but also in Gaelic within their Scottish pieces, including “Geantri,” “Dulaman” and “Mouth Music.”
MC student Sam Newton also accompanied the choir on the bagpipes.
“I think our program, with its bagpipes and Gaelic, really woke up the audience!” said an excited Jade Watts, the choir’s appointed choral assistant. “I had perfect strangers come up to me and compliment our performance.”
The choir hosted a large and complimentary audience, even though the ensemble had to cope with distracting weather conditions.
“In spite of the heat and the windy day, we really kept focused and produced wonderful music,” said Celeste Delarosa, MC Concert Choir president-elect for the 2012-13 academic year.
“This is exactly the type of performance that gets us ready for the unpredictable venues that we may face, especially in our upcoming trip to Scotland,” Abbott said.
The MC Concert Choir represented the college with a successful performance of varied musical literature at the Rossini Festival, drawing praise despite the thick crowd and the heat of a Saturday afternoon.