Alexander plans Smokies’ 75th Anniversary performance

Sen. Lamar Alexander has confirmed that he will be on hand to play the piano with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra during the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s 75th Anniversary concert in Cades Cove.

Alexander has confirmed his plans to appear as a guest pianist in the June 13 KSO performance. The Orchestra is scheduled to be performed outdoors in a scenic meadow adjacent to the Cable Mill in Cades Cove, one of the most popular visitor destinations in America’s most visited National Park.

“Sen. Alexander has long been a staunch supporter of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, both as Governor of Tennessee and while serving in the United States Senate,” Great Smoky Mountains National Park superintendent Dale Ditmanson said. “Many area residents have fond memories of seeing him perform with the Symphony in the Cove during the Park’s 50th Anniversary in 1984 while he was governor, so we are pleased and honored that he will be able to join us again this summer.”

Due to limitations in the amount of parking available at the concert site, the event will be limited to those who purchase a vehicle pass in advance. The KSO will handle those sales and 1,500 vehicle passes will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis through the KSO’s ticketing channels.

The KSO’s Box Office will begin selling vehicle passes at 9 a.m. on March 28 and continue between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. March 30 through April 3 until all passes are sold. The passes can only be purchased by calling the KSO Box Office at 865-291-3310. Only two passes will be issued per person. The cost of the event is $25 for vehicles with up to a 15-passenger capacity and $50 for vehicles with a capacity greater than 15 passengers.

The vehicle pass issued, along with a ticket receipt, will be required for admission. Since the concert is outdoors with no weather shelter for the orchestra or the public, the concert will be cancelled in the event of inclement weather. There will be no rain date scheduled and no refunds will be issued. A portion of the ticket sales will be donated to the Friends of the Smokies, which is sponsoring the event.

“The location of the concert was selected to maximize the number of vehicles that can be parked in the Cove without impacting the resources while still accommodating the orchestra’s logistical needs,” said Ditmanson. “The plan to issue vehicle passes, instead of individual tickets, will increase the number of people who can attend since vehicles rather than people are the limiting factor. We are strongly encouraging pass holders to fill each seat in their vehicle so that we can maximize attendance with fewer vehicles at this special event,” he said.

Ditmanson said the concert is a “green event” and participants will need to pack out everything they pack in, leaving absolutely no litter or trace of their presence. “After all, stewardship is a prominent 75th Anniversary theme,” he said. “We are asking that everyone who visits the Park be good stewards and practice responsible outdoor ethics at all times.”

In order to accommodate concert traffic, Cades Cove will have a varied opening and closing schedule which will affect normal use on June 13. Cades Cove Loop Road will open to all motor vehicles at sunrise around 6:30 a.m. and close to the general public at 12 p.m. The normal Saturday morning road closure for bicycle/hiker use on that Saturday will not be in effect.

More specific information on how the concert will be managed, what people should bring and what items will be restricted can be found on the Park’s 75th Anniversary website,

In addition, important tips on how to plan and prepare for spending the day outdoors, parking, traffic, and general information about the Cove and June weather conditions are also posted. For those not attending the concert, there is also information available that will advise visitors on the partial day closure and reduced visitor activities and services.

“The Knoxville Symphony and I are delighted to be a part of the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said KSO music director Lucas Richman. “Hearing the glorious sounds of music wafting through the natural setting of one of the area’s best-known and well-loved locations made quite an impact 25 years ago, when we participated in the Park’s 50th anniversary. We are honored to be, once again, involved in bringing music and nature together for this celebratory occasion.”

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