October 20, 2015 – Knoxville, TN – The internationally acclaimed Big Ears Festivaldeclared “the most ambitious avant-garde festival to emerge in America in more than decade” by Rolling Stone – is proud to announce its most expansive, groundbreaking line up to date, bringing together musical leaders and innovators from the worlds of classical, jazz, electronic, folk, hip-hop and beyond for the weekend of March 31 – April 2, 2016 in venues throughout downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.   

Heralded American composer John Luther Adams – winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music as well as the 2014 Grammy Award for “Best Classical Composition” – will serve as Composer-in-Residence at this year’s festival. Hailed as “one of the most original music thinkers of the new century” by The New Yorker, Adams’ work combines rich musical experience with his love for the natural world, especially the wild Arctic landscapes of Alaska, where he lived for nearly 40 years. Several of his key works will be performed during the Big Ears weekend, including his powerful, sweeping orchestral masterpiece, Become Ocean, in a concert by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Steven Schick.

Big Ears will also present at least two very special rare performances during the weekend. New music icons and Big Ears alumni Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass will present the American debut of their unique collaboration, thus far heard only once this past summer in Italy. In addition, the legendary 1972 minimalist/industrial rock creation by violinist/filmmaker Tony Conrad with German “Krautrock” legends Faust, Outside the Dream Syndicate, will be heard live in its only concert performance in 2016.

The remainder of the weekend will see dozens of concerts by a virtual who’s who of the world’s most iconoclastic and visionary music artists. Composer/saxophonist Anthony Braxton will perform with two of his ensembles – a ten piece group and a trio; his former associate, composer/trumpet virtuoso Wadada Leo Smith will perform duos with leading jazz pianist, Vijay Iyer; while the wildly acclaimed young saxophonist Kamasi Washington – collaborator with Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus – will present his soulful, spiritual jazz.

Guitarist Marc Ribot returns for a couple special concerts, and jazz guitar wizard Mary Halvorson will present a solo show as well.

The Irish supergroup, The Gloaming, will perform, along with young British folksinger, Olivia Chaney; leading American folk and alternative rock artists like Andrew Bird, Yo La Tengo, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Angel Olsen, Joe Henry, Lambchop, and Circuit des Yeux will be in attendance as well.

Icelandic producer/composer Valgeir Sigur∂sson will be bringing his Bedroom Community compatriots Nico Muhly, Ben Frost, and Sam Amidon for a show commemorating their 10th Anniversary as a label and musician’s collective; and fellow Iceland native composer Ólafur Arnalds will present his electronica collaboration with Janus Rasmussen, Kiasmos.

Widely acclaimed new music ensemble eighth blackbird will make their Big Ears debut, presenting Bryce Dessner’s new work Murder Ballades during their performance, and Australia’s musical shamans, the Necks, will return to lead Big Ears on another kaleidoscopic musical journey.

There will be groundbreaking electronics from Nicolas Jaar, Ikue Mori, and Andy Stott; maximum minimalism from drone legends Sunn O))); future thinking hip-hop and beyond with Shabazz Palaces and Hieroglyphic Being; Saharan Desert electric guitar jams from Bombino; and even more musical exploration with avant-garde sonic explorers Phantom Orchard and Wolf Eyes.

There’s more to come, including other special performances and details to be revealed in the coming weeks.  One thing is certain: Big Ears fans will be fully immersed in an unforgettable weekend of astonishing music-making of all kinds.

Weekend passes, individual day passes, reserved seat tickets for Tennessee Theatre performances, and the “Sonic Explorer” VIP Pass all go on sale Friday, Oct. 23 at 12 noon eastern.

Full details on the Big Ears lineup – including the daily artist breakdown – as well as all ticketing information can be found at www.bigearsfestival.com. Installations, interactive experiences, panels, discussions, and undoubtedly a few surprises will be revealed leading into the festival. All this and more information can be found at www.BigEarsFestival.com, by “liking” Big Ears Festival on Facebook, by following @BigEarsFestival on Twitter, and by joining the newsletter.


Daily Lineups:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra with guest conductor Steven Schick performing the Music of John Luther

Adams, Bryce Dessner, and Philip Glass with Guest Cellist Maya Beiser 

The Gloaming

Yo La Tengo

Andy Stott

Tony Conrad

Wolf Eyes

Marc Ribot

Xylouris White

Zeena Parkins & Tony Buck

Olivia Chaney



Friday, April 1, 2016

Andrew Bird

Anthony Braxton Tentet

Outside the Dream Syndicate (Tony Conrad with Faust)    

Nicolas Jaar (DJ)

Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith

eighth blackbird with Bonnie "Prince” Billy and Bryce Dessner 

Yo La Tengo & Lambchop

Shabazz Palaces

Steven Schick


Joe Henry & Marc Ribot

Phantom Orchard

Chris Abrahams

Molly Nilsson


Saturday, April 2, 2016

An Evening with Laurie Anderson & Philip Glass

Sunn O)))

Bedroom Community 10th Anniversary: Nico Muhly, Ben Frost, Sam Amidon, & Valgeir Sigurðsson

The Necks

Kiasmos (Ólafur Arnalds & Janus Rasmussen)

Angel Olsen


Anthony Braxton Trio


Kamasi Washington

Mary Halvorson

Hieroglyphic Being

Circuit des Yeux

Ikue Mori



Additional information:

Declared “one of the country’s most audacious musical experiments” by Vice and “the classiest, most diverse festival in the country” by Rolling Stone, the Big Ears Festival is a dynamic, interactive experience that explores connections between musicians and artists, crossing all musical genres while interfacing with film, performance and the visual arts. Since 2009, Big Ears has hosted many of the leading composers and performers of our time, including Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, Laurie Anderson, Terry Riley, and Steve Reich, along with a new generation following in their footsteps such as Nico Muhly, The National’s Bryce Dessner, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood; ensembles such as the Bang on a Can, Ensemble Signal, The Bad Plus, So Percussion, and The Wordless Music Orchestra; leading alternative rock artists like The National, Swans, tUnE-yArDs, The xx, Joanna Newsom, St. Vincent, Vampire Weekend, and The Dirty Projectors; icons like Television, John Cale, and Silver Apples; and countless visionaries such as Pauline Oliveros, Tanya Tagaq, Jon Hassell, Antony & the Johnsons, Fennesz, Tim Hecker, Marc Ribot and My Brightest Diamond who continue to push boundaries and defy convention. The Big Ears Festival is a weekend of world-class musical performances in beautiful historic theaters, clubs, galleries, and museums, combined with talks and discussions, interactive workshops, installations, exhibitions, film screenings, surprise collaborations and unexpected connections. It celebrates the never-ending adventure of artistic creation and exploration. 


Big Ears is created and produced by AC Entertainment, recognized as one of the foremost independent promoters in the United States. Founded in 1991 by Ashley Capps, the company books, markets and presents over 1,000 events per year. In addition to Big Ears, AC Entertainment is the force behind internationally renowned events including Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival® and Forecastle Festival.


For more information on AC Entertainment, visit ACEntertainment.com.




Carla Parisi

Kid Logic