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Big Ears Presents

Our Common Nature: An Appalachian Celebration

With Yo-Yo Ma & Friends

Friday, May 26, 2023

World’s Fair Park • Knoxville, Tennessee

Doors 5:00pm  Concert 8:00pm

Guests include

Rhiannon Giddens • Edgar Meyer • Chris Thile • Amythyst Kiah

Justin Robinson • Sheila Kay Adams • Tom Belt • Phil Jamison 

Eric Mingus • Jarrett Wildcatt • Jennifer Kreisberg • Cattywampus Puppet Council


Evie Andrus Music • Drums Up Guns Down & the Kuumba Watoto Dancers • Rica Chicha • Kelle Jolly  Raven Rock Dancers  Knox Honkers & Bangers

Big Ears is proud to partner with world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma to design a unique, multi-faceted concert presentation, Our Common Nature: An Appalachian Celebration, for Friday, May 26, at World’s Fair Park in Knoxville, TN. Conceived and curated by Yo-Yo Ma, the celebration will feature special musical guests, storytellers, poets, puppets, and dancers from throughout the Appalachian region in a concert experience like none other.

The marquee event of the evening, Yo-Yo Ma & Friends in Concert, will begin at 8:00 p.m. on the South Performance Lawn. In this once-in-a-lifetime performance, the acclaimed cellist will collaborate with friends old and new, including 2023 Pulitzer Prize-winning musician and composer Rhiannon Giddens, mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile, genre-defying bassist Edgar Meyer, Americana singer/songwriter Amythyst Kiah, and multifaceted poet and musician Eric Mingus. Regional guests will include musician and African American cultural preservationist Justin Robinson, Tuscarora singer and teacher Jennifer Kreisberg, Cherokee flutist Jarrett Wildcatt, seventh-generation North Carolina balladeer Sheila Kay Adams, Cherokee teacher and scholar Tom Belt, and square dance caller Phil Jamison.

Beginning earlier at 5:00 p.m. on the North Festival Lawn, the free-to-the-public Community Food & Craft Village will celebrate the rich and vibrant complexity of the Smoky Mountains and the many communities who call them home. The Community Stage will feature performances from Evie Andrus Music, Drums Up Guns Down & the Kuumba Watoto Dancers, and Rica Chicha, along with storytelling by Kelle Jolly and participatory Cherokee dance led by the Raven Rock Dancers. The Cattywampus Puppet Council and Knox Honkers & Bangers will lead a community parade through World’s Fair Park at 6:00 p.m.

At 8:00 p.m., attendees at the Community Village will have the opportunity to watch a livestream of Yo-Yo Ma & Friends if they have not already purchased tickets to access the South Festival Lawn.

Additional Community Food & Craft Village partners include Ijams Nature CenterTremont InstituteEBCI – Eastern Band of Cherokee IndiansKnox Asian FestivalKnox PrideChildren’s Diversity & Justice LibraryNative Plant Rescue Squad, and HoLa Hora Latina. On-site food vendors will include Enjoy Latin FoodAlebrijes Mexican CuisineLB & S SnoballsMario’s Pizza Cones, and Southern Flo’s. On the South Performance Lawn, Real Good Kitchen will curate a selection of food vendors, including Mama Bear Sweet Treats, Tap’s Tacos, Mama Lana’s Kitchen, It’s Co, Pastabilities, Irvey’s Ice Cream and Nadas Empanadas.

This evening-long celebration at World’s Fair Park will be the culmination of a week of cultural experiences that lift the myriad voices of Appalachia – Indigenous, European, Latinx, Black, and beyond – and gather local artists, scientists, leaders, and community members in an exploration of our common future, with nature as our guide. This week of events in Appalachia continues Ma’s multi-year, multi-location project, Our Common Nature, which has brought together communities from Maine to Hawai‘i to explore the many ways in which culture connects us to the natural world and to one another. The event aims to bring the community together through music, food, and various family-friendly activities.

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