Musers & Performers

Performances are an integral part of the Tennessee Arts Academy experience. From the opening celebration to the final Finale Luncheon, a diverse group of artists and performing groups are featured at every Arts Academy event. Regional theatre, dance and music soloists and ensembles are showcased during a daily thirty-minute presentation in the Massey Performing Arts Center. On Sunday and Wednesday evenings a world-class artist is chosen to perform for TAA participants. The Belmont Mansion tour, the TAA art exhibit and special event functions each include local artists as part of their program.

Please check back regularly for updates and information about the 2017 Tennessee Arts Academy.

The 5 Browns
Piano Concert

Sunday July 9 - 4:00 PM
Massey Performing Arts Center


The 5 Browns are delivering on their dream to wake up classical music by introducing it to the widest, largest, and most excited audiences they can find. Whether performing individually or together in various combinations—from duos to complex, five-piano arrangements—the 5 Browns reveal a deep connection to the intent of their material, while bringing a fresh energy and dynamic character to the color and tonal spectrum of their sound.


The 5 Browns—made up of Ryan, Melody, Gregory, Deondra, and Desirae—all attended New York City’s Juilliard School. In fact, they became the first family of five siblings ever accepted simultaneously. The quintet enjoyed their first wave of critical attention in February of 2002 when People magazine dubbed them the “Fab Five.” At about the same time, they were featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and 60 Minutes. The 5 Browns have released three recordings that went to #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Classical Album Chart. The New York Post has proclaimed: “One family, five pianos and 50 fingers add up to the biggest classical music sensation in years…When these kids do Rachmaninoff, they’ll make you forget about Marshall amps.”


The quintet has garnered extensive coverage from multiple media outlets, ranging from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, Today, and The View and Entertainment Weekly, who called them “…five young Mormons who all play scorching piano. Thundering down on five Steinways together, they’re button-down cute and somewhat otherworldly.”


The 5 Browns tour extensively and have performed in numerous venues. International appearances include their performances at the Grand National Theater in China and the Suntory Hall in Japan. In the United States, they have performed at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the Symphony Hall in Chicago, and New York City’s Alice Tully Hall.


The group’s 2013 and 2014 season included their Carnegie Hall debut, the release of their sixth album, The Rite of Spring: Live from Arthur Zankel Music Center, and new music videos that premiered across the Internet. Recently, the 5 Browns have been featured on the season two of the popular series Oprah: Where are They Now? on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Home & Family on the Hallmark Channel, Power Lunch on CNBC, Fox and Friends on National Fox News, and Piers Morgan Live on CNN. The 5 Browns are exclusive Steinway Artists.


The performance of the 5 Browns is sponsored and made possible by generous gifts from

Chuck Blackburn; Brandon Herrenbruck; Kem Hinton; Jim Holcomb; Sara Savell, in memory of Las Savell; Steinway Piano Gallery; and Hope and Howard Stringer.

The 5 Browns - 2017 Opening Night Celebration Headliners

PBS Special Trailer

New Ballet Ensemble
Anansi and the Sky God

Monday July 10th - 11:30 AM
Massey Performing Arts Center


Based on an African folk tale, Anansi and the Sky God depicts a traditional odyssey through dance, narration, and African drumming. The performance is a collaboration that incorporates multiple art forms, as well as different genres of dance—including African dance, hip-hop, ballet, modern dance, and flamenco.


Founded in 2001, New Ballet Ensemble and School is a thriving after-school dance program located in the heart of midtown Memphis. Dancers from all over the Mid-South fill the studios six days a week to train and explore cultural forms of dance alongside a strong classical ballet curriculum. The company collaborates with education partners through school residencies and also invests in other active community partnerships to reach audiences of all ages.


New Ballet Ensemble was awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award in 2014. This award recognizes the country’s best creative youth development programs for successfully using the arts and humanities to improve students’ self-direction abilities, academic achievement, and graduation and college enrollment rates. 

Tennessee Shakespeare Company
Speak What We Feel: Shakespeare’s Radical Response to a Radical Time

Wednesday, July 12 • 11:30 AM
Massey Performing Arts Center


The late Elizabethan period was a difficult time of radical absolutism across England. Both the population and the leadership were struggling with religious disputes, racism, sexism, and treason from within, as well as resistance to those from outside the kingdom. William Shakespeare’s response to the world around him was radical: artistic freedom. Do Shakespeare’s characters and words on stage still have relevance now—to twenty-first century Americans? Listeners will answer this question for themselves in this fast-paced exploration of The Merchant of Venice, Coriolanus, Richard III, The Tempest, Sir Thomas More, Othello, and King Lear. Four of Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s principal actors—founder Dan McCleary, Phil Darius Wallace, Jillian Barron, and Blake Currie—will perform. 

Based in Memphis, the Tennessee Shakespeare Company was founded in 2008 as the Mid-South's professional, classical theatre and education organization. During its annual performance season, the company offers the work of Shakespeare, classical writers, and Southern writers to the community. The group also offers innovative, year-round educational and training programming.

Photo Credits:
Antonio (Matt Crewse) and Ariel (Caley Milliken) in Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s 2012 production of The Tempest outdoors at Shelby Farms Park’s Wooden O Amphitheatre, Memphis. Directed by Dan McCleary. Photo: Joey Miller.

Dan McCleary in the title role of TSC's 2014 production of Richard III. Photo: Joey Miller.

Bryce Pinkham
Between the Moon and Me

Wednesday, July 12 • 8:15 PM
Curb Event Center Arena


Bryce Pinkham is a Grammy and Tony nominated American stage and screen actor. He is perhaps best known for originating the role of Monty Navarro in the Broadway production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The performance earned him a Grammy Award nomination as well as a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. Pinkham played this role on Broadway for more than 700 performances, and the show was named Best Musical of 2014. Pinkham went on to star in the Broadway revival of The Heidi Chronicles as Peter Patrone, for which he was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award, as well as the Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance in 2015. In the fall of 2016, he returned to Broadway leading the cast of Roundabout Theater and Universal Pictures’ Holiday Inn, performing in the role originally played by Bing Crosby in the classic 1942 movie. Pinkham also originated roles in Ghost the Musical and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson on Broadway.


His upcoming film and television appearances include a regular series role in the second season of Mercy Street as well as performances in the Robert DeNiro comedy The Comedian and Baz Lurman’s Netflix drama, The Get Down. Previously, Pinkham has appeared on The Good Wife, Person of Interest, and the PBS miniseries God in America. In 2012,Pinkham was awarded the prestigious Leonore Annenberg Fellowship, which is given to “a limited number of exceptionally talented young dancers, musicians, actors and visual artists as they complete their training and begin their professional life.”


In 2012, Pinkham and fellow actor Lucas Caleb Rooney co-founded Zara Aina, a non-profit organization devoted to helping at-risk children expand their capacity for achievement through theatrical performance and storytelling. Rooney and Pinkham regularly travel to Madagascar to help empower at-risk students through theatrical story-telling techniques and performance and to provide them with much-needed medical and educational assistance. Pinkham also performs regularly with the theatre company Outside the Wire, which takes performances of Greek tragedy to American-military audiences around the world to foster discussion about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and soldier suicide.

Pinkham is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Boston College.

The appearance of Bryce Pinkham throughout the Academy week is made possible by a generous gift from Pat and Thane Smith.

Inversion Vocal Ensemble
Vocal Ensemble Concert

Thursday July 13 - 11:20 AM
McAfee Concert Hall


The Inversion Vocal Ensemble presents an eclectic mix of musical genres in an exciting new format. Composed of classically trained students and alumni from Morehouse College, Tennessee State University, Union University, Vanderbilt University, and Westminster Choir College, Inversion performs classical, contemporary gospel, jazz standards, and inspirational music. In recent years, Inversion has had the honor of performing at many esteemed events throughout Tennessee. In 2016, Inversion was featured in full concert in the Sacred Space for the Arts Concert Series, Nashville’s prominent independent concert series. In April of that same year, Inversion was invited by the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel to sing at their inaugural memorial service for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. At the service, Inversion performed King’s favorite hymn, “Precious Lord.” The event was attended by mayors of Memphis and Shelby County, thousands of spectators, and King’s confidante, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. In 2015, Inversion was the only vocal group selected to perform on the main stage of Schermerhorn Symphony Center’s Laura Turner Concert Hall for the Nashville Symphony Free Day of Music, where they were joined by Nashville’s first independent black orchestra, Diaspora. That same year, Grammy award-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon chose Inversion to perform in the premier production of his concert theatrical work, Frederick Douglass: The Making of a Prophet. In 2014, Cheekwood Museum and the National Museum of African-American Music also presented Inversion as the closing act of the Drawing Room Concert Series to commemorate the work of artist William Edmondson. Additional past engagements include performances at the Roland Hayes Museum, the National Association of Negro Musicians, and the Nashville Opera Club. 

Inversion Vocal Ensemble - 2017 Thursday Performers

Clips from a Performance in the Harris Arts Center at the Roland Hayes Museum