Sound of Charlotte Blog

Giving back to our community

August 18, 2015

By Cabir Kansupada
 
The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has a long history of giving back to the community. During the summer of 2014, I volunteered at the Winterfield Elementary music camp sponsored by the CSO. While assisting professional musicians in teaching the classes, I was inspired by the confidence these students gained as they learned an instrument for the first time. Sensing a need, I organized student mentors to encourage and empower fellow student musicians. We were all brought together by the same desire: to help other students experience the thrill of music.
 
The Instruments for Kids program, sponsored by the CSO, accepts used instruments and repairs damaged ones to donate to music programs such as the one at Winterfield Elementary. The Tri-M Music Honors Society at my high school supports young artists to experience creativity, friendship, and expression though music. At our first pizza fundraiser, we raised over one hundred dollars to contribute to the Instruments for Kids program! We were ecstatic to see our efforts encourage the next wave of eager musicians and, like the CSO, give back to our community.
 

Cabir Kansupada is a senior at Charlotte Country Day School and a Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra violinist.

Posted in Education & Community, Youth Orchestras.

Charlotte Symphony Musicians Stay Busy This Summer!

July 20, 2015

As soon as the Charlotte Symphony's Summer Pops series ends on July 3, many of the CSO's musicians head out of Charlotte for exciting and highly sought-after gigs elsewhere in the U.S. Keep tabs on where these talented musicians are headed! 
 
Benjamin Geller, principal viola
For the first time, Benjamin Geller will be performing at Greensboro's Eastern Music Festival for six weeks, from June 27 through August 1. For more information on the Triad's annual festival, visit easternmusicfestival.org.
 
Aubrey Foard, principal tuba
From mid-July through early August, Aubrey Foard will serve for the second year as an artist faculty member at Brevard Music Center in Brevard, NC. He then heads out west to perform as principal tubist at Britt Festival in Jacksonville, Oregon. 
 
Jon Lewis, cello
Jon Lewis will be performing principal cello for Central City Opera for 6 weeks from July 1 to August 9. Central City Opera is the fifth oldest opera company in the country, located in Central City, Colorado.
 
Calin Lupanu, concertmaster & Monica Boboc, violin
Husband-and-wife Calin Lupanu and Monica Boboc will again join the Colorado Music Festival as violinists in the orchestra in Boulder, Colorado. Lupanu serves as concertmaster and Chamber Music Coordinator. 
 
Tim Hudson, acting second trumpet
Tim Hudson will spend part of his summer as artist/faculty for the Grand Valley International Trumpet Seminar in Michigan. 
 
Cynthia Frank, viola
For the last 25 years, Cynthia Frank has spent her summers at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York, playing with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, which she refers to as her "second family." The nearly 200-year-old institution is a learning center with courses in art, music, dance, theatre, writing, and more.
 
Learn more about Charlotte Symphony musicians and conductors.

CSO Clarinetist Gene Kavadlo Honored at Alma Mater

May 21, 2015


Congratulations to our longtime principal clarinetist, Gene Kavadlo, who has been named this year's John Castellini award winner!

The award is named for John Castellini, founder of the Queens College Choral Society, and it is presented annually to a distinguished alumnus or alumna who, as an undergraduate, performed with the Choral Society.

Kavadlo earned his music degree from Queens College in New York in 1967. During his time at the college, John Castellini was one of his professors. "Castellini had a very long and distinguished career at Queens College," says Kavadlo. "... Several times during my college career, when I had received some sort of recognition, Castellini's response was always, 'They've made a terrible mistake.' "

When Castellini retired to Jacksonville, Florida, Kavadlo was principal clarinetist for that orchestra and the two became close. "I actually got to know him as an adult, rather than the formal student/teacher relationship," Kavadlo says, "and I discovered that he was charming, witty, and had a great sense of humor."

Kavadlo and his wife, Ali, took a road trip to New York to attend the Choral Society performance on Saturday, May 16, where he was recognized. He closed his acceptance remarks that evening by telling the audience that he was sure Castellini was looking down on the event, thinking the school had made a terrible mistake!

When he's not busy performing with the Charlotte Symphony, Kavadlo enjoys spending time with his family, seeing movies, and performing klezmer music with his band, Viva Klezmer! Kavadlo and his klezmer music were recently featured in an issue of Charlotte magazine.

Meet Kiffen Loomis

April 24, 2015

The 28th annual Youth Festival takes place on Wednesday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Belk Theater. This annual concert highlights the talents of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO), the Junior Youth Orchestra (JYO) and the grand-prize winner of the senior division of the  Symphony Guild of Charlotte 's annual Young Artists Competition.

This year's winner this year is Kiffen Loomis, who is 16 and lives in Asheville, NC. He's a pianist who's been playing since age five. Get to know this talented young man!


How were you introduced to the piano?
As a 3 and 4 year-old, I would sit under the piano as my older brother practiced. Hearing each hammer strike the string, and seeing his foot guide the pedal up and down fascinated me. By the age of 5, I was ready to crawl up from under the piano, and play it for myself.

Name a performer you respect.
Glenn Gould is one of the most enthralling pianists of the last century. His attention to detail, in combination with his fearless interpretation of the hallmark works, demands great respect.

What piece would you love to perform?
Bach's Goldberg Variations carry with them a divine character, making them stunningly beautiful, yet daunting. I would love to study the work, but question whether I would ever be able to perform it. 

What other contests/awards have you won? 
I have won the North Carolina Symphony's Junior Kathleen Price and Joseph M. Bryan Youth Concerto Competition, the Winston-Salem Symphony's Peter Perret Youth Talent Search, the Hendersonville Symphony Young Artist Concerto Competition, the junior division of the Charlotte Symphony Guild's Young Artist Competition, and eight first-place awards at the statewide competitions hosted by the NCFMC.

What else we should know about you?
I serve as president of the Western North Carolina region of the Order of the Arrow, part of the Boy Scouts of America. I devote much of my time to promoting leadership development among those in my region, and serving the community as a whole. In addition to my BSA interests, I play on my high school's varsity tennis team.

I also lead an organization called Notes from the Soul. NFS is a group of student musicians from WNC who performed for over 2,000 children in elementary schools and after-school programs this year. The group exposes its listeners to different types of music and promotes musical interchange among the children and young adults who perform.

Do you know what you'd like to study in college? 

I would like to study Nuclear Physics while maintaining my piano studies. This summer I will be working in the TUNL Research Institute for Nuclear Physics at Duke University and hope to determine whether nuclear physics is indeed my calling.

Posted in Youth Orchestras.

Watch 'Backstory: Bernstein'

March 24, 2015

On March 10, 2015 Charlotte Symphony Director of Choruses and Assistant Conductor Scott Allen Jarrett and Temple Israel's Cantor Elias Roochvarg led a discussion on Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. The Oratorio Singers of Charlotte were on hand to sing excerpts from the score. The talk was a preview to the Charlotte Symphony performance on March 27 and 28.

Read more

Posted in Classics.

What Does a Concertmaster Do?

March 19, 2015

Our next Classics concert will feature Concertmaster Calin Lupanu playing Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto, which had us thinking: What exactly goes into the role of concertmaster? Here, we pick Lupanu's brain about the job.   

What exactly is the job?
The Concertmaster is the first violinist seated to the conductor's left. He or she is the leader of the first violin section, the string section, and the entire ensemble. In some instances the concertmaster serves as the conductor's assistant. The concertmaster must be an excellent violinist and musician, but also a very good diplomat, able to help with the conductor's interpretation of the musical score. 
 
What else is different about what you do versus the other violinists?
By setting the standards, through a professional attitude, and very thorough preparation, a concertmaster is also a spokesman of the orchestra. 
 
Are your hands insured, like a basketball player or a surgeon?
No, but judging by the amount of times that I get this question, maybe I should think about it!
 
What's your favorite part of the job?
Just really loving what I am doing. I love being part of an orchestra. 
 
What's the hardest part of the job?
Sometimes I'm so busy that I can't spend enough time with my family or friends.
 
Well, I'm sure a lot of people can relate to that, but you have to learn a lot of music quickly and work with touring Pops groups and guest conductors, etc. How do you adapt?
I am able to adapt to any conductor pretty quickly. I think that one never stops learning, and that is what guides me in my career.
 
What if you disagree with their interpretations of a piece? 
It's not my job to agree or disagree with any interpretation or with any conductor. I am more of an enabler I help the conductor submit his or her vision of a work. Having said that, I do have strong feelings about how a piece of music should be played ... but I save those feelings for when I play a solo or to some extent in chamber music performances.
 
What does a typical non-rehearsal/non-performance day entail for you?
There are very few of those! But I do teach a lot. I am currently on the faculty at both Gardner-Webb University and University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I also love chamber music, and I try to perform a lot of quartets, quintets, piano trios ... I have also been appointed as Chamber Music Director of the Colorado Music Festival, so I have to do programming and choose the personnel for those concerts. When I do have the occasional day off, I tend to stay with my family and maybe watch a soccer game with my 7 year old.
 
You can hear Concertmaster Calin Lupanu play Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto March 27-28 at Belk Theater.

Meet the Musician: Hollis Ulaky

February 25, 2015

Hollis Ulaky has been principal oboist with the Charlotte Symphony since 1974. Originally from Pittsburgh, she grew up in a musical family. Following her graduation from Carnegie Mellon University, she joined the CSO. She is currently a faculty member of Winthrop University and a Yamaha Performing Artist. In her free time, she enjoys Zumba and Pilates, visiting her children, and playing with her trio, RHODORA, along with CSO colleagues Amy Orsinger Whitehead (flute) and Drucilla DeVan (clarinet).


How were you introduced to classical music?
My family introduced me. Growing up, I was the youngest of six siblings, all of whom played instruments. This led me to believe that everyone played an instrument! Today, five of us are professional musicians, and one of my siblings used to play the flute and piano. My father was also a jazz musician.

Why did you chose the oboe?
It was unusual, and I loved the sound.

If you weren't a professional musician, what would you be?
I might have been a nurse. I'm interested in people and their care.

What music do you listen to when you are not practicing or performing?
Some classical, some jazz

Where can we find you when you're not rehearsing or performing?
I spend lots of time making reeds. It's a necessary part of being an oboist and an important part of my preparation for the orchestra. I also enjoy teaching. Besides my students at Winthrop, I have 10 private students, three of whom are in the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra program.

What's one thing you can't live without?
My family. My husband, Jim, is in the CSO's percussion section. We have two sons together, Joe, 27, who's an architect in Philadelphia, and Mike, 25, who is a Broadcast Engineer for Turtle Entertainment in Los Angeles.

What have your favorite pieces been thus far this season and what are you most looking forward to?
I really enjoyed Beethoven's Symphony No. 3. The slow movement solos suit the mournful sound of the oboe. And, of course, the Brahms German Requiem, since it was my mother's favorite piece. I'm looking forward to Barber's Violin Concerto, which includes another beautiful oboe solo. Barber writes such touching melodies.

Which composer or composition most inspires you?
Bach inspires me the most. His music contains so much emotion and intensity. 

What is your earliest musical memory?
Watching my sister play the flute when I was 2 years old and trying to play the piano with her. 

Strauss vs Strauss

February 4, 2015

In our current season, we are celebrating the 150th birthday of Richard Strauss by performing his works throughout the Classics series. In this weekend's KnightSounds concert, A Waltz to Remember, we fill the program with works from Johann Strauss II, "The Waltz King." Learn more about these composers which shared the same occupation, the same last name, and absolutely no relation!

 
Full name Johann Strauss II Richard Georg Strauss 
Life 1825-1899 1864 -1949
Nationality  Austrian German
Born Vienna Munich
Father Johann, composer of more than 250 works Franz , principal horn player of the Bavarian Court Opera
Known for  Waltzes Symphonic poems and operas 
Age of first composition 6 6
Famous piece  On the Beautiful Blue Danube Don Quixote
Works in CSO 2014-2015 season Overture to Die Fledermaus, Annen Polka, The Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus, Emperor Waltz, The Audition Song from Die Fledermaus, On the Beautiful Blue Danube Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life), Don Quixote, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme

Posted in Classics. Tagged as KnightSounds.

Bringing the Gift of Music to Local Schools

December 18, 2014

At 10:15 on a Thursday morning, the orchestra classroom at Albemarle Road Middle School is filled with chatter. Small children, some holding very large instruments, wriggle in their seats as their teacher, Mr. Logan Hughes, interrupts class. They have a special delivery.



For months, the Charlotte Symphony's director of education, Chris Stonnell, has collected instrument donations from across the community, storing them in his office, having them inspected and repaired and ready for this moment. His car is packed with black music cases stacked on top of each other, protecting shiny trombones, cellos, violins, violas, and even a bass guitar and amps.

Car packed with donated instruments

Albemarle Road Middle School Principal Toni Perry says donations like this mean everything to the students. "We have some amazing students that want opportunities like this - to be in band and orchestra - and don't have the opportunity to do so because they can't get instruments," Perry says. "This [donation] is going to really grow our program and help us to be able to give our students the education they deserve."

Music teachers at Albemarle Road Middle School inspect donated instruments

Since April of 2012, the Charlotte Symphony has accepted community donations of unused or slightly damaged instruments, refurbished them to working order, and distributed them to local schools in need. Since Instruments for Kids began, we have donated approximately 65 instruments.  

Looking ahead, Albemarle Road's music instructors hope to start up Jazz and Pop bands and even a guitar program. This donation is helping to make these goals a reality.

Music teachers and Symphony staff join students holding donated instruments

Following the stop at Albemarle Road, Stonnell and School Programs Manager Phoebe Lustig made a second donation to Sugar Creek Charter School, providing the school its first eight instruments.

We are always grateful for instrument donations from the community and are in special need of full-sized stringed instruments. For more information on the Instruments for Kids program, click here.

Post written by Virginia Brown

Posted in Education & Community.

Meet the Musician: Ben Geller

December 10, 2014

In January's performance of Don Quixote, Principal Violist Ben Geller will bow alongside guest cellist Julian Schwarz, representing his loyal, bumbling sidekick in the Strauss work. Here, Geller, who joined the Charlotte Symphony in January 2014, shares stories (along with a sense of humor) about studying Suzuki as a child, his custom-made viola, and love of naps ... and chicken.  

Does your instrument have an interesting story?
My viola was custom made for me in 2007 by Theodore Skreko of Indianapolis Violins, modeled after the Breacian master Gaspar da Salo. My bow is also fantastic and made by the incomparable Matthew Wehling from St. Paul, Minnesota.
 
How did you get introduced to the viola?
I'd flirted with viola a few times in different ensembles in high school, but I fully committed from the violin the summer after my undergraduate sophomore year at Butler University when I studied with Michael Isaac Strauss. I really haven't looked back since.
 
If you weren't a professional musician, what would you be?
I've never had a real plan B. Maybe acting? Or something in ceramics...I loved throwing pottery in high school. I'd probably just farm somewhere in Canada.
 
How do you mentally prepare for a performance?
Naps. Also, long baths. Seriously though, the only way to prepare mentally for a performance is by learning the music inside and out. Once I've made technical decisions about every note from informed knowledge of the score with a few recordings for reference, the performance takes care of itself. Also, deep breaths and I try not to slouch. 
 
What kinds of music do you listen to when you are not practicing or performing?
Jazz, Prog Rock, Classic R&B and Hip Hop, and whatever is on NPR or WDAV.
 
Where can we find you when you're not rehearsing or performing?
Swimming at MAC, biking around on my '89 Schwinn, playing Frisbee somewhere, but I'm probably just practicing at home.
 
What's one thing you can't live without?
Oxygen. Also, food. Specifically chicken.
 
Which composer or composition most inspires you?
Bela Bartok. He combined mathematic formulas found in nature, folk music he researched from all over Hungary and Eastern Europe, and modern art music techniques to bring the listener and the player a wild and interesting experience. He's one of my very favorites. 
 
Are there any other musicians in your family?
I come from a very musical family. Everyone played something at some point, however my cousin Noah Geller (Concertmaster of the Kansas City Symphony) and I are the only professional orchestral musicians. 
 
What is your earliest musical memory?
Suzuki class sometime in the late 80s. I had a cardboard pizza circle that I was supposed to stand on properly in designated foot outlines that was much more fun to throw like a Frisbee.
 
Post written by Virginia Brown

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