Sound of Charlotte Blog

Meet Summer Intern Patrick Hoffman

July 10, 2014

I cannot remember a time when music was not part of my life, when it was not something that provided refuge from daily life. In one aspect or another it was always present, growing and developing until it became my passion and lifelong ambition. For many people music is not important to them, not because they dislike like it or because it fails to affect them, but because music was something that was inaccessible to them when they needed it.

I am very fortunate that I have been involved in music outreach programs since I started playing viola in middle school and for this, I thank Charlotte Symphony. Their outreach programs provided me with the opportunity to cultivate my musical interests and lit a flame of curiosity and desire to explore the complexities that music so effortlessly veils. These programs followed me from middle school at Piedmont Middle School to Northwest School of the Arts, and into Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra. From work with coaches to private lessons and performances, I am incredibly lucky to have had such a close relationship with the Charlotte Symphony. In fact, I credit most of my success to working side by side with professionals throughout my adolescence; developing relationships, networks, and friends. It is such a privilege to work with kind and hardworking professionals who have made an impact such as Susan Blumberg, Cindy Frank, Deb Mishoe, Tom Burge, Sakira Harley, Carlos Tarazona, Leonardo Soto, Felicia Sink, Amy Whitehead, and Lori Tiberio.

Presently I am a sophomore at UNCG for Music Education and interning at the very place that gave me my start, Charlotte Symphony. Recently I was pleased to teach a class of about thirty elementary school students with the Freedom Schools program. My lesson was on the relationships and intersections between music and language. We explored deep into vocabulary, learned that expression can take many forms, and music can be translated many ways.  I also bridged these two concepts at the Winterfield Elementary summer program. By working side by side with symphony professionals and learning how they approach lessons, these musicians have grown to be like family. I am thrilled that I helped to meaningfully impact these students' life with music in the same way it has for me. 

Sometimes it feels a little odd that the program that I am now teaching I was only a student in not too long ago. I believe this goes to show that music can be a hobby or a creative outlet, but it certainly also is a career. Whether music selected me or visa-versa I will never really know, but I do know that my heart beats for all things music.
This post was written by Patrick Hoffman, Summer 2014 Education Intern  

Posted in Education & Community. Tagged as Internship, winterfield elementary.

Music al Fresco

June 19, 2014

Photo taken on June 15, 2014 at Symphony Park. Photo © Genesis Group Photography
 L to R - Independence Park, Freedom Park, and former tent at Symphony Park
The Charlotte Symphony played a free outdoor concert during its very first season. In July of 1932, the orchestra performed in Independence Park, the city's oldest public park. The program included Beethoven's might Fifth Symphony and the Overture from Tannhäuser by Richard Wagner. Some 3000 people attended.
Over the years, the orchestra occasionally performed open-air concerts, inaugurating, for example, Festival in the Park at Freedom Park with two concerts in 1962.  But the CSO Summer Pops series as we know it today began in 1983, when the CSO took over the independently-run Summer Pops, organized in 1975 with musicians from Charlotte and other nearby towns.
The symphony's Summer Pops series had a variety of homes: Freedom Park, Independence Park and the lawn at SouthPark Mall. On sultry Sunday evenings, crowds of Charlotteans spread picnic blankets and lawn chairs, but the settings were not always ideal for musicians.
"The season used to go from the third week in June into early August," remembers CSO Principal cellist Alan Black.  "It was so brutal. The bandshell at Freedom Park it was so hot when we used to play there because it was enclosed, and the air couldn't flow. And we used to do it for TV (broadcast on WTVI), so there were lights everywhere."
In June 2002, the orchestra and thousands of listeners found a new permanent home in the elegant Symphony Park at SouthPark. Its sloped lawns and canopied stage are the setting each June for four weeks of Pops concerts, currently lead by Albert-George Schram.
"I enjoy and relish being a part of these symphony concerts in the park in June," Schram says. "It allows the orchestra to dig deeper into the community, to crawl inside. That has been the greatest joy."
This article originally appeared in "The Sound of Charlotte: The First 75 Years of the Charlotte Symphony," a commemorative history written by Meg Freeman Whalen.

Posted in Summer. Tagged as History.

Albert-George Schram's Two Lives

June 16, 2014

Albert-George Schram is known at the Charlotte Symphony as the joyful white-haired conductor that makes seeing the orchestra play Pops concerts, ranging from Christmas music and Broadway to Motown, exciting. Elsewhere around the country, he's known for conducting Classical music. In a recent article in Charlotte Observer, Larry Toppman covers this in " Charlotte Symphony's Albert-George Schram leads two lives."

Within the article, we learn 5 interesting facts about George:

1. He got bad early reviews from his piano teacher: "As a boy, my first instrument was tuba. I played cornet, euphonium, other wind instruments. And I'd ride my bike up to an old lady's house and sit among these big dark curtains to study piano. She told my father, 'You are really wasting your time.' "

2. He was a 20-year-old 12th-grader in Canada: "I was living in Alberta, and they wouldn't accept my Dutch high school degree. So I finished school while working on a farm with 12,000 chickens, collecting eggs and hammering fence posts into the ground."

3. After getting a bachelor's in music from the University of Calgary, he became music director of Stratusfaction, a 25-piece Canadian jazz ensemble that peaked with gigs in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. He played trombone and trumpet, sang, arranged and wrote musical charts.

4. Languages come quickly to him. He improved his English after settling in Canada by watching TV. His favorite program: "Stampede Wrestling," where Archie "The Stomper" Gouldie battled Abdullah the Butcher. Much later, he spent a month at a Spanish-language institute, so he could ..... read more

Posted in Pops. Tagged as conductors, summer pops.

Three Days Left in the Spring Challenge

May 7, 2014

Winterfield students perform for the communityOnly three days remain to have your donation to the Symphony doubled in the Spring Challenge. If you give by Friday, May 9, Wells Fargo will match your contribution dollar-for-dollar. That helps your gift go further in supporting the Symphony programs you love.

Click here or call 714-714-5108 to make your donation today.

As of this morning we are at 83% of our goal.  Your gift will help us receive 100% of the match from Wells Fargo!

We sat down with Symphony Executive Director Robert Stickler to discuss the challenge and why your support now is more meaningful than ever. 

Five Questions for Robert Stickler

The 2013-14 season closes in this week. What were your highlights?
I thought the orchestra did an extraordinary job with [Holst's] The Planets in our opening concert. The brass was particularly strong. The Verdi Requiem last week was a strong collaboration between the Oratorio Singers, CSO, and soloists all brought together masterfully by Maestro Christopher Warren-Green. We at the CSO are particularly proud that the number of subscribers this season was higher than last year, indicating that we are bringing the community the music they want to hear.
Looking ahead to next season, the CSO is celebrating the anniversaries of Strauss and Sibelius, alongside works by Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin. What are you most looking forward to hearing performed?
I love Sibelius in particular so that is what I am most excited about. The most interesting thing we are doing is bringing in Wu Man to play the pipa, a traditional Chinese instrument, in Jiping's Concerto for Pipa and Orchestra. That will be a concert with Mozart and Schubert, an example of where we try to mix the familiar with the less well known works to interest a wide audience.

What do you think the Symphony contributes to Charlotte?
The CSO is the major purveyor of classic music, but we are also an important element in the cultural fabric of the community. We partner with other arts organizations to present innovative programs. Our musicians spend hundreds of hours in the schools working with students.

We provide two youth orchestras for those young people particularly interested in developing their musical skills. Our musicians provide private lessons, play in ensembles at events all over the region, and regularly play at hospitals and other facilities where people cannot come to concerts. I cannot imagine Charlotte without the CSO.

How would you describe our audience to an outsider?
We have a diverse audience through all of our programs. We cater to the classical music enthusiast through the Wells Fargo Private Bank Classics series. We entertain with the Pops. We introduce new audiences to classical music through our innovative KnightSounds series. And we introduce youngsters to the orchestra through our Lollipops series for families. So we have senior citizens all the way to young families. KnightSounds, by the way, makes a great date night with all of the activities around the concert.

Wells Fargo and the CSO issued this Spring Challenge because we want audiences to know that "a donation of any size can make a huge difference". What makes a $10 contribution as impactful as a $1,000 contribution?
We want to have as many members of the CSO family as possible. It makes a difference when we talk to organizations that are considering financial support. Even a $10 contributions is an expression of support, so we do appreciate that. And $10 contributions sometimes grow larger over the years if the donor continues to enjoy what we do.

Don't forget!  We only have until midnight Friday, May 9 to meet the Spring Challenge from Wells Fargo. 

Click here, or call us at 704-714-5108 to give today!

Posted in Support. Tagged as Spring Challenge.

Meet CSYO Member Daniel Carpenter

April 23, 2014

The 27th Annual Youth Festival takes place on April 23. The festival will feature separate performances by the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (grades 8-12) and Junior Youth Orchestra (grades 4-9), as well as the winner of the Symphony Guild of Charlotte's Young Artist Competition.

Meet Daniel Carpenter, a 17-year-old percussionist.  He was recently interviewed for Matthews Monthly and here's what he had to say about his musical experiences.

Music has always been important to me; I grew up surrounded by it in my family and church. At age 8, I began playing piano, which helped me develop a strong sense of rhythm. Ever since, I have loved to improvise rhythmic accompaniment to musical recordings. When I was 12, I had my first percussion lesson, and I've been committed to percussion since then.
Five years ago, I decided to audition for the Charlotte Symphony's Junior Youth Orchestra (JYO) at the recommendation of two close friends who were members. I made it in and loved it from the first rehearsal! I continued in JYO for a second year before entering the Youth Orchestra. Being a part of the Youth Orchestra has improved my skills as a percussionist and helped me grow tremendously as a musician and person. In fact, the Youth Orchestra was a major factor in preparing me to be a percussionist in the World Youth Symphony Orchestra in Interlochen Arts Camp last summer.
Youth Fest is going to be particularly exiting for me this year. Not only do I get to be on stage with the Charlotte Symphony, but we are going to perform three movements from "The Planets" by Gustav Holst with a part for two sets of timpani played side by side. This is one of my favorite orchestral pieces of all time!
Music is so significant to me because it can express deep and powerful things about God's beauty in this world. It reaches people's hearts and minds in a universal way not hindered by any language barrier and can speak personally to people. I am very thankful to have music as such a major part of my life.
This article originally appeared in Matthews Monthly, April 2014 edition. Read full story here.

Posted in Youth Orchestras.

Kicking off the Wells Fargo Spring Challenge

April 18, 2014

This spring, Wells Fargo has issued a challenge, "If your audience contributes $25,000 in new gifts by Friday, May 9, we will match them, dollar-for-dollar. We sat down with Jay Everette, Community Affairs Manager at Wells Fargo, to discuss the challenge and why it is an impactful way for Wells Fargo to show its support of the Symphony.

Learn how you can contribute to the challenge. Click here to donate today, or call us at 704-714-5108 and mention the Wells Fargo Challenge.  Your gift is doubled when you give by May 9!

Five Questions for Wells Fargo's Jay Everette

CSO: Why do you feel offering a challenge gift is an effective method to raise audience engagement?
Jay Everette: When our Wells Fargo Foundation issues a challenge grant we know from past experience that donors appreciate the fact that their contributions are matched and in effect doubled!
CSO: Wells Fargo is a leading supporter of the arts and culture in Charlotte. Why is this a priority for the company?
JE: Our Foundation focuses on providing exceptional arts and culture experiences for our community. We know that the arts are an important part of our educational outreach as well.

CSO: What would you say to a Symphony audience member who feels their gift would not make a difference?
JE: A donation of any size can make a huge difference in the operation and outreach of a nonprofit. For example, even a small contribution can purchase sheet music for a symphony musician. Nonprofit groups need contributions both large and small. Small gifts are a great opportunity to introduce children to the concept of philanthropy as well, so these types of challenge grants present a great way for families to support the Symphony.

CSO: What was your most memorable Symphony experience this season?
Having the honor of being on stage to announce Wells Fargo's corporate underwriting support for the Itzak Perlman performance!

Don't forget to join the Wells Fargo Spring Challenge!
Click here and join your fellow audience and help us reach our goal.

Posted in Support. Tagged as Spring Challenge, Support the Symphony, Wells Fargo.

Meet CSYO Member Brandon Castillo

April 16, 2014

 The 27th Annual Youth Festival takes place on April 23. The festival will feature separate performances by the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (grades 8-12) and Junior Youth Orchestra (grades 4-9), as well as the winner of the Symphony Guild of Charlotte's Young Artist Competition.
Meet Brandon Castillo, a senior at W.A. Hough High School. He started playing the viola in fifth grade.  Brandon was recently interviewed for Corneilus Life and here's what he had to say about his musical experiences.

With help from Frank Albert, owner of Davidson Violins, and my orchestra teacher, Dr. Bill Myers, I auditioned for and made the Junior Youth Orchestra in eighth grade. I am now in my fourth year with the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra. Being a member is an honor, and every concert we perform I am filled with pride. It has also made me a much better violist.
I have made CMS Honors Orchestra, Western Regional Honor's Orchestra, All-State Honor's Orchestra and All Nation Symphony Orchestra (the only musician from North Carolina). Thanks to the high level the Youth Orchestra trains us, I could count on seeing my Youth Orchestra friends when I made the Western Regional and All State orchestras. Truly, if it ware not for the CSYO, I would not be the violist I am today.
I have loved every second of being in the Youth Orchestra: the friends I've made, the concerts I've performed in and the memories I have. My favorite things have been our trip to D.C., the annual summer camp and the annual Youth Festival.
Youth Festival is always exiting. Nowhere else can I play with actual professional musicians of a major symphony orchestra! My skills always progress the most around "youth fest" because I a, anxious beforehand and always learn a few thing during the concert. One example is page turning. Last year I noticed a page-turning technique that a Charlotte Symphony musician used, turning pages with a bow so that the page turn was quick and quiet. I have used that technique ever since, and other musicians comment on how well I do it!
This article originally appeared in Corneilus Life, April 2014 edition. Read full story here.

Posted in Youth Orchestras.

Meet CSYO Member Meredith Nelson

April 12, 2014

The 27th Annual Youth Festival takes place on April 23. The festival will feature separate performances by the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (grades 8-12) and Junior Youth Orchestra (grades 4-9), as well as the winner of the Symphony Guild of Charlotte's Young Artist Competition.
Meet Meredith Nelson. She's a senior at Myers Park High School and began her musical career at age two! She joined the Junior Youth Orchestra in seventh grade, and Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO) as a freshman in high school, She was recently interviewed for Inside Myers Park and here's what she had to say about her musical experiences.

As a member of the Charlotte Youth Orchestras, I have collaborated with talented and dedicated musicians from around the region, while forming rewarding friendships and increasing my musical abilities and appreciation.
Each week, eighty CSYO musicians from 37 different schools gather together for, unified in our mutual love for music. We weave together our personal techniques and interpretations, and with the help of conductor Dr. Pereira, fit our parts into a complex, yet wonderful musical puzzle. We work together as friends, teachers and students, as we all learn from and teach each other. As my skills have developed, my enjoyment of music has increased.
From our regular season concerts to Festival in the Park, the Summer Pops Concert and our performance in DC, we have played some of the best musical repertoire in wonderful venues.
My most memorable musical moments are playing ensembles with three generations of my family during birthdays and holidays. My sister, Audrey (who plays in the JYO), mother, aunt, grandmother, cousins and I perform for the rest of the family; we sound nowhere near professional, but all truly love to play together. Musical performance is a lifelong pursuit that creates the most wonderful connections and experiences. It's a skill I hope to never lose, but to gain from throughout life.

This article originally appeared in Inside Myers Park, April 2014 edition. Read full story here.

Posted in Youth Orchestras.

Meet CSYO Member Brooke Kinsey

April 10, 2014

Meet Brooke Kinsey, a senior at Ardrey Kell High School.  She was recently interviewed for Ballantyne Life and here's what she had to say about her musical experiences with Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra.

For as long as I can remember, music has been important in my family. My dad sings in our church choir, and my mom plays both piano and trumpet. My mom is the reason I became the musician I am today. I remember coming home when I was younger and hearing her practicing the trumpet and thinking how I wanted to be like her.
I began trumpet when I was 9, and from then on, my mom and my school band directors always encouraged me to go after selective groups. I auditioned for the Charlotte Symphony's Junior Youth Orchestra at the end of seventh grade and was ecstatic when I was chosen to be in the group! In high school, I auditioned for the symphony's Youth Orchestra and was chosen in my freshman year.
The Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra is full of talented musicians and a dedicated conductor, Dr. Pereira, who is also a professional violinist in the symphony, whom I live working with. The music is a welcome challenge and having the opportunity to play in an orchestra has been a great experience. Being a musician involves cooperating in a group, working hard and lots of practicing, but it's also about being part of something greater than yourself. Every individual is responsible for learning his or her part of the music, but in the end, we all have to listen to each other to truly give the music feeling.
My love of music is something that will always be with me, no matter where my coming journey to college and beyond takes me. I'll always cherish my time with the Youth Orchestra.
This article originally appeared in Ballantyne Life, April 2014 edition. Read full story here.

Meet CSYO Member Liddy Farley

April 4, 2014

The 27th Annual Youth Festival takes place on April 23. The festival will feature separate performances by the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (grades 8-12) and Junior Youth Orchestra (grades 4-9), as well as the winner of the Symphony Guild of Charlotte's Young Artist Competition.
Meet Liddy Farley. She's 15 years old, in 10th grade, home-schooled and lives in Harrisburg. She was recently interviewed for Harrisburg Life and here's what she had to say about her musical experiences.

When I was almost 10, I took my first violin lesson. A few months before, I had seen the famous violinist Mairead Nesbitt on PBS. I was transfixed by the way she could play and begged my parents for lessons. Almost four years later, I auditioned for and was accepted in the symphony's Youth Orchestra!

Music has been such a wonderful addition to my life. I have always been very shy, and I find in uncomfortable to speak in front of other people. However, music has given me the confidence to express myself in ways I never would have before. I can hide behind the music stand and let the music speak for me. Having the power to decide how to interpret music is such a fun part of performing. I can make someone smile, laugh or cry by just playing little black notes on paper. I love that!

Since becoming a member of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra, my playing has greatly improved. I love practicing with a group of people and getting to know other kids with the same interests as me. Before I joined the Youth Orchestra, I was thinking about quitting the violin, but now I could never imagine my life without it! The Youth Orchestra motivates me to practice harder and enjoy my instrument and music more.

The Youth Festival is my favorite concert of the year. I am so exited that I will be able to share the stage with the Charlotte Symphony musicians! It will be such an honor. Performing pieces that we have worked tediously hard on, playing side by side with professionals, it's such a rewarding feeling. I always felt so proud to be a part of the Youth Orchestra!
This article originally appeared in Harrisburg Life, April 2014 edition. Read full story here.

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