Francis Graffeo was appointed Executive Director in 2005, bringing to the organization a distinguished list of accomplishments in the non-profit arena. Since his arrival, the School has dramatically increased its community presence, financial profile, institutional partnerships, and overall impact. All areas of support have been boosted, while increasing in-house and outreach services for children in need.
He first came to Knoxville as general director of Knoxville Opera from 2000 to 2005. He was soon lauded for his innovative productions and recognized for his leading role in the cultural life of the region. Mr. Graffeo is the creator of Knoxville’s popular Rossini Festival, winning him the Opera America Bravo! Success Award. The festival is still going strong. He continues to apply his talents to enrich the arts and education in the region.
Mr. Graffeo has served as grants panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, and for the Tennessee Arts Commission in Nashville. He created and presented in-school arts education programs for thousands of students in Tennessee, Colorado and Oregon. He has continued his conducting work in performances with such companies as 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, 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.
Mr. Graffeo holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Texas Tech University (Magna cum laude), a Master of Music from The New England Conservatory of Music (conferred with Honors in Performance), and Centro Linguistico Sperimentale, Florence, Italy. He is a graduate of Leadership Knoxville, and earned a certificate from the Consortium for Social Enterprise Effectiveness at the University of Tennessee. Mr. Graffeo’s community service activities have included service on the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Music Director Search Committee, as well as the Tennessee Theatre Grand Re-opening Committee; he was also 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. The couple lives in Knoxville with their son Enzo.