Archive for August, 2019

Ijams’ Symphony in the Park on Sept. 8 features debut of ‘wing’ installation by Pretentious Glass Company owner Matthew Cummings and musician Christina Horn

Friday, August 16th, 2019

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Ijams Nature Center’s 34th annual Symphony in the Park, presented by Clayton Homes, honors nature in art and music on Sunday, Sept. 8.

The annual event, which is the nonprofit nature center’s largest annual fundraiser, is from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and features a silent auction during a cocktail hour followed by a seated dinner and concert on the Ijams Visitor Center lawn by the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra led by Music Director Aram Demirjian. Each year, Ijams highlights the work of guest visual and musical artists. 

This year’s fundraiser includes the debut of a “wing” installation created by Matthew Cummings, owner of Pretentious Glass Company, and will spotlight the work of the organization’s other glass artists. Reminiscent of wings, Cummings’ long, colorful glass pieces are about 3 feet in length and are weighted to move independently within their environment. They can be hung in a variety of ways.

Cummings designed the torch sculpture in the University of Tennessee’s new student union. The 30-foot, 320-piece glass-and-steel creation weighs about 4,000 pounds and spans several floors of the new building.

As the guest musical artist, local musician Christina Horn continues the theme of nature and how it juxtaposes with technology. Since 2009, Horn has performed with Nate Barrett as Hudson K, a duo that bills itself as “electro-rock with Moog bass lines, danceable beats and swirling electronica.” Horn is the keyboardist/singer/songwriter, with Barrett on drums and vocals.

Christina Horn

Horn is classically trained in piano and holds a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in pedagogy and literature from the University of Tennessee. When she’s not writing, performing and composing, she is an adjunct faculty member for Pellissippi State Community College’s Audio Production Engineering Program, and teaches private piano and keyboard lessons.

Horn first performed with Demirjian and the KSO in 2017, playing the keytar as an “alien” in “Mothership,” composed by Mason Bates. The concert also will feature favorites from Mozart, Beethoven and Debussy, as well as a few pop surprises.

The 34th annual Ijams Symphony in the Park, presented by Clayton  Homes, is also supported by Ergon Terminaling, Inc., Home Federal Bank, Jupiter Entertainment, Regal, Thermal Label Warehouse, Est8te, Sharon and Steve Gigliotti, Gulf and Ohio Railways, Sherri Lee, Pilot Flying J, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Ann Sartwell and Robby Moore, Smile-A-Day, LLC, and Sunspot.

Tickets are $175 per person or $1,750 for a table of 10. Reservations are due by Friday, Aug. 30, and can be made by calling Elizabeth Newman at 865-577-4717, ext. 123. For more information about Ijams Nature Center’s Symphony in the Park, visit

Ijams Presents Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival Aug. 24

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

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If you love learning about hummingbirds, butterflies and gardening, you won’t want to miss Ijams Nature Center’s ninth annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival on Saturday, Aug. 24, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you’re lucky, you might even get to hold a ruby-throated hummingbird.

Photo by Oak Roots Creative

As part of the event, Mark Armstrong, a certified master bander, demonstrates how ruby-throated hummingbirds are harmlessly captured, weighed, measured and banded. Because ruby-throated hummingbirds are most active in the early morning, banding demonstrations take place from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or until the last bird is captured, so attendees should come early for the best chance to see a bird.

Small groups visit Armstrong’s banding station to learn about these tiny creatures, which normally weigh about one-tenth of an ounce, while he applies a numbered band to the bird’s leg. The band helps scientists track the bird’s migration. When banding is complete, one member of the group releases the hummingbird, which now can continue a journey that includes a 500-mile, nonstop flight across the Gulf of Mexico to wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America.

This overseas flight takes about 20 hours in favorable conditions. During that time, the bird’s heart rate is about 1,200 beats per minute and its wings beat 53 times per second. To prepare, these fierce omnivores double their body mass by feeding on nectar and insects in the weeks prior to departure and can be seen chasing other birds and bees from their favorite food sources.

Native species such as trumpet honeysuckle, bee balm, cardinal flower, trumpet vine, salvia and columbine are excellent food sources for ruby-throated hummingbirds. Feeders are a great way to supplement natural nectar, but must be cleaned regularly to provide safe feeding.

To make nectar, mix one cup of refined white sugar with four cups of water and stir until sugar dissolves. Store any extra nectar in the refrigerator. Avoid using products containing red dye or other additives that are harmful to hummingbirds. If your tap water is high in chemicals or has a strong taste or odor, use bottle or purified water.

The event also features nature talks led by expert gardeners, naturalists and birders, as well as visits with Ijams’ animal ambassadors, kids’ activities and crafts, and a marketplace featuring locally made arts and crafts, bird feeders and supplies, plants and garden décor, as well as food trucks and a beer garden. At the end of each session, attendees will have the chance to win a Perky Pet Hummingbird feeder.

Admission to the festival is $8 for ages 12+, $4 for children ages  5-11, and $20 per family (includes parents or guardians and up to four children). Children 4 and under are free.

The ninth annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival is sponsored by WBIR-TV Channel 10, Ergon Terminaling, Inc., HomeTrust Bank, Agri Feed Pet Supply, City of Knoxville, Redfin, Renewal by Anderson, Tennessee Wildlife Federation, Visit Knoxville and Wild Birds Unlimited, with support from Perky Pet and The Round-Up Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor.

Learn More About Ijams Nature Center’s Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival