Francis Graffeo was appointed Executive Director in 2005, bringing to the organization a distinguished list of accomplishments in the nonprofit arena. His work has increased the School’s educational reach, financial stability, donor and foundation support, volunteer participation, endowment value, public visibility, staff size, and student enrollment.
He first came to Knoxville as general director and conductor of Knoxville Opera from 2000 to 2005, during which time he was consistently recognized for his innovative, artistically significant productions. He took a leading role in the cultural life of the region when he created Knoxville’s popular Rossini Festival, which is still going strong. He continues to seek means by which he can apply his talents to enrich the arts and education in the region.
Francis Graffeo has served as grants panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, and for the Tennessee Arts Commission in Nashville.
He has held staff positions at the Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and at Eugene Opera where he was artistic director for seven years. He was conductor at Colorado’s Central City Opera for ten seasons.
His original in-school education programs have taken music to thousands of students in Tennessee, Colorado and Oregon.
Mr. Graffeo is an adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council judging auditions for The Met from coast to coast. He also maintains an accomplished career as a conductor of opera, symphony and ballet, enjoying engagements with Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta Pops Orchestra, Lyric Opera Cleveland, Oregon Mozart Players, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmonica de Lima – Peru, Nashville Opera, Opera Theater of Lucca – Italy, The Symphony of the Mountains, AIMS Orchestra, Graz – Austria, Opera Delaware, Arizona Opera, San Antonio Opera, Orquesta Clasica de Guatemala, the Oberlin Conservatory Opera, James Madison University Opera, and many others.
Graffeo was educated at Texas Tech University, The New England Conservatory of Music and Centro Linguistico Sperimentale in Italy. He is also a graduate of Leadership Knoxville, and the Consortium for Social Enterprise Effectiveness at the University of Tennessee. His community enrichment activity includes service on the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Music Director Search Committee, as well as the Tennessee Theatre Grand Re-opening Committee. Graffeo also served as a member of H.A.B.I.T., the Human Animal Bond in Tennessee, visiting schools, care facilities and hospitals with his wife Christy and their therapy dogs. He is a volunteer piano teacher at the Joy of Music School. Frank and Christy reside in Knoxville with their son Enzo.