Sound of Charlotte Blog

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 ..... read more

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.

Rondo from Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp

March 27, 2014

Principal Flutist, Elizabeth Landon and Principal Harpist, Andrea Mumm perform the Rondo from Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp during the performances of "A Little Knight Music" on March 28.  The piece is one of only two true double concertos that the composer wrote. The full concerto contains three movements: Allegro, Andantino and Rondo Allegro.
Charlotte Symphony has only played the full concerto once, back in March of 1965. Since this a somewhat rare piece for the orchestra to perform, we asked Elizabeth and Andrea their thoughts.
Andrea "I'm excited to play this Mozart concerto since it is the only piece of music he ever composed for harp!  This piece was a commission by a Parisian duke for himself (a flutist) and his eldest daughter who was a harpist.  At the time, the combination of flute and harp was not common, and even considered an odd pairing since the harp wasn't an orchestral instrument and wasn't highly regarded by Mozart.  Thanks to this concerto and many other pieces since, the combination of flute and harp is now standard in literature (good for me and Liz!)."
Elizabeth "The sound and color combination of the flute and harp is very special. What a treat to perform this work in the intimate Knight Theater which has been fashioned to resemble a palatial living room. Our patrons will feel like royalty!"

Apparently, after hearing the Mozart 'Concerto for Flute and Harp,' Viennese composer Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf remarked, "I have never yet met a composer who had such an amazing wealth of ideas: I could almost wish he were not so lavish in using them. He leaves his hearer out of breath; for hardly has he grasped one beautiful thought when one of greater fascination dispels the first, and this goes on throughout." [1]  We look forward to grasping many beautiful thoughts with Andrea, Elizabeth and Charlotte Symphony when they perform this piece Friday evening.  
Learn more about Andrea Mumm
Learn more about Elizabeth Landon

A Little Knight Music, with Lunch

March 20, 2014

Photo by Logan Cyrus
It's not music or lunch, it's music and lunch (or music and cocktails if you attend the evening concert)! With the Brown Bag Matinees and KnightSounds, Charlotte Symphony Music Director Christopher Warren-Green says "it's all about making classical music accessible to as many people as possible."

Maestro Warren-Green and the Charlotte Symphony will perform A Little Knight Music at noon and again at 7:30 pm on Friday, March 28 in Knight Theater at the Levine Center for the Performing Arts.
Starry pieces Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music) and two movements from Serenata Notturna, as well as the rondo from Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp featuring Principal Flute Elizabeth Landon and Principal Harp Andrea Mumm, comprise the mostly-Mozart program. The concerts will aptly close with Joseph Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony, complete with the ceremonial disappearance of the musicians, true to Haydn's original intent (that's a whole other story!).

If you've never been to the symphony, you might be concerned about what to wear or when to clap. If you're a regular concertgoer, you might dread the thought of stifling a cough, especially if you forget to--gasp--unwrap your throat lozenges before the music starts!

Forget all that.

Now try to imagine a maestro welcoming your peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich in the concert hall...
Starting at noon and lasting just under an hour, the Brown Bag Matinee is a perfect mid-day break. And yes, you can actually eat in the theater while the Symphony plays.

The Charlotte Symphony is dedicated to enriching the community through live orchestral music. To that end, Warren-Green wanted to relieve barriers of budget, time and comfort with the matinees.
For only $12, the short, noon-time concerts compete less with lunch, work and weekend schedules and do not require a late-night outing. Such a package is a win for many music lovers, including uptown professionals, savvy spenders, senior citizens, symphony newcomers, families with pre-school aged children and student groups.
The Symphony had a successful soft launch of the Brown Bag Matinees this past October; the March 28
matinee is the second, and the next corresponds with the May 9, 2014 Carnivale KnightSounds.
Like all KnightSounds programs, $29 general admission to the 7:30 pm performance includes a free drink
and pre-and-post-concert happenings. Discovery Place, Charlotte's science and technology museum, is
cohosting the evening event and will provide activities and demonstrations related to luminescence.

Tagged as Christopher Warren-Green, KnightSounds.

Volunteer Spotlight – Charles Craig

March 13, 2014

Volunteer Spotlight - Charles Craig

Hometown Born in Chicago, raised in Rock Hill

Describe your Role with the CSO Education Intern.

(CSO Staff Note: Charles has been involved with numerous projects thus far in his internship but the largest has been designing and building the Teachers Guide for our Education concerts on April 2, 2014. This is the first time the Guide has been entirely online (thanks to our newly designed website!) and we couldn't be more pleased with the results of Charles' hard work. The response from the Teachers has been overwhelmingly positive!)

Where are you studying? I'm a senior at Winthrop University, majoring in Music Composition with a Business minor. I will graduate in May 2014.

What are your plans after graduation? Apply to NYU Steinhardt's Masters program in Film music at the end of 2014. In the meantime, work on projects already lined up around the Charlotte area and at Winthrop University.

What would you eventually like to do? Work with interactive media, perhaps as a Music Producer or in the Film Industry as a Film Composer.

What instruments do/have you played? Several Bass, Piano and Trumpet. I played trumpet in marching band in High School.

What's your favorite part of volunteering with the CSO? Engaging with musicians and regularly attending the concerts. It was really enjoyable to meet composer Dan Locklair and join the Recital Seminar students at Northwest School of the Arts in meeting him as well. read more

Posted in Education & Community. Tagged as volunteers.

The practice of practising

March 11, 2014

Stephen Hough will perform Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor with Charlotte Symphony on March 14 & 15, 2014. We're delighted for this artist's seventh appearance with us. (& we're certain he's been practicing!)  View More information.  


The following article appears on Stephen Hough's blog for The Telegraph
and in the November/December issue of International Piano magazine.

Concert pianists spend much more of their lifetimes practising than they do playing concerts. It's not just that pieces need to be kept in the memory (muscle and mind), but the very act of playing the piano is physical and athletic. It involves reflex and endurance. It may be true that you never forget how to ride a bicycle, but if you and it are rusty there's not much hope of winning or even completing the Tour de France.

So we need to practise. But the key is how we make our time offstage best serve our briefer time onstage. A pianist who plays many concerts has little time to spare so it's important that those spare hours, even minutes, are used well.

My teacher, Gordon Green, used to say, "in practise a perfectionist, in performance a realist". In other words, prepare assiduously, tirelessly at home, but when onstage accept the situation at hand without wishing the piano were more in tune, the audience were more appreciative (or larger), you hadn't made a mess of that octave passage and so on.

But being a "realist" sounds rather prosaic when faced with bringing to poetic, passionate life the masterworks of master composers. I might put it differently from Gordon: in practice an engineer, in performance a pilot. Nuts and bolts in a plane are incomparably important, but when you sit at the cockpit of a Steinway concert grand your eyes need to look ahead not underneath.

The purpose of practising is so that we (offstage as engineers) make sure that we (onstage as pilots) are completely free to fly to the destination of our choice. That destination is one involving imagination and creativity and spirituality and danger and ecstasy of course, not merely the A to B of playing the notes, but without the nuts and bolts in place we will never be airborne. The greatest interpretative vision of the final pages of the final sonata of Beethoven will nosedive to oblivion if we can't play an even trill.


So, moving inside the hangar, spanner at the ready, how do we practise? There are as many answers to that question as pieces in our repertoire, but maybe some signposts can help:

Relish the task, whether beginning to learn a piece or whether revising one long familiar. Examine the score like a rabbi poring over a rare parchment. Decode the message behind the notation. Map out the journey. Look for the obstacles. Know the (good) tradition of historical evidence; distrust the (bad) tradition of 'its always done like this'. You may be Brahms's secretary in the practice room, but on stage you are his mouthpiece. And a composer's message is always more than words: it's a drama in which you and Brahms are as one character.

When starting to learn a piece I always write in fingerings. It aids memory, it emphasises the act of study, it discourages a sloppy "sight-read till ready" attitude, it forestalls nerves in a performance, it personalises the score. In the early years of a career we can be asked to step in at the last moment for a colleague who has cancelled. I remember an occasion when I was in my early 20s getting a call to play Bartok's 3rd concerto with the Chicago Symphony and Esa-Pekka Salonen. There was about a day's notice and I hadn't played the piece for a couple of years. I could accept the date because the nasty, twisting passage towards the end of the third movement was fingered and thus still in my motor memory. It saved me a couple of hours work when I only had 24 hours to pack my bags and fly across the Atlantic.

We need to know what might go wrong in a performance and why. There is no such thing as a difficult piece. There are merely moments in pieces which are problematic. The notorious coda of the 2nd movement of Schumann's Fantasie op. 17 is a good example:
A is easy for the left-hand, moderately tricky for the right; B is hard for both hands; C is a little easier for both because the 5th fingers land on black notes; D is easy for both. To face this passage like a rabbit looking into the headlights of an approaching car is totally counter-productive. We do not face a steamroller. There are four wheels (or two which are parallel) and if the rabbit is not in the line of these it can scamper off into the forest unscathed.

Slow practice can be a complete waste of time if the mind is not working quickly. Simply to trawl through passages like a contented tortoise is a waste of the felt on your piano's hammers. Good slow practice is more like a hare pausing to survey the scene sharp in analysis, watching through the blades of grass, calculating the next sprint. My favourite kind of slow practice is the half and half variety. For example in a semiquaver passage I will play four notes at performance tempo then four notes exactly half the speed then reverse the groups. It can sometimes be useful to do this with eight-note groups. It stops any tortoisian ambling and it focuses the mind quickly from one reflex to another. It is a hare with alert eyes.

There are two dangers to avoid in practising, firstly not to play as if you're onstage, filling the hours crashing through pieces without improvement. This is a common occurrence in conservatories Rachmaninov concertos pounded with adolescent passion and coarse, crude effects. But the second, more subtle danger is not to get stuck in a practising mode. This is related to mindless slow practice. All the focus when in the practice studio should be how we will play when in the concert hall. If something comes apart, don't stop immediately. Guide the skidding wheels around the crashing corner for another meter or two, despite the sparks and screeches. A common student scenario: music flying along; train wreck; a second of silence; start at point of accident; continue. The point where things broke down is the fragile spot, the dodgy seam. It needs sufficient overlap of material to be strong. Go back before the mistake and practise beyond the mistake then the mistake itself will be more safely repaired. Otherwise the very stopping and starting becomes a reflex an ingrained repetition of breakdown.

As important as it is to have strong fingers muscles, tendons, joints loose and lithe we need a strong mind too. Strong in concentration, on and off stage; ever striving for improvement, but relaxed when none seems to take place; aiming the dart tirelessly at every bullseye, but gentle and kind when it clatters to the floor. Muscles are effective when they are able to tense and relax at will, not just when they bulge in a ripple of aggression. This is true for the physical side of playing as well as for the mental challenges. The mind's clear vision is not a stare: it needs to be able to focus near and far with flexibility and wisdom.


There is a well-worn saying: practice makes perfect. I don't believe this, at least in reference to playing the piano: abstract "perfection" is rarely what we seek; but good practising makes it more likely that we will give a good performance. Its attention, its concentration, its tightening of the screws enable the concert experience to take wing in freedom.

Posted in Classics. Tagged as guest artists.

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