Sound of Charlotte Blog

UNCC student shares why she's voting FOR the quarter-cent sales tax referendum

Taylor Maness is currently a senior at UNCC, and in the last year and a half she has interned at five Charlotte arts organizations, including your Charlotte Symphony. We were blown away by her ambition and dedication, so we asked her why she is voting FOR the quarter-cent sales tax referendum on Nov. 5. Find out below.

The Priceless Cost of Arts & Culture

By, Taylor Maness

If you've stepped outside, turned on your TV, or listened to your radio these past few weeks, you've heard about the possible quarter cent sales tax referendum that would support the arts, parks, and education in Mecklenburg County.

With tensions rising and Election Day quickly approaching, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to remember why we proposed this sales tax in the first place. Our arts organizations have been benefitting our community and the individuals within it, and now it's time that we give back to these organizations.

I understand that increasing a tax is no small ask, but, ultimately, I feel it's well worth it for reasons more profound that we're neglecting to see. These organizations strengthen our economy, educate us, and increase our overall quality of life.

Arts and cultural organizations have contributed significantly to economic growth in Mecklenburg County. Due to our vast array of cultural institutions, many tourists flock to Charlotte, generating $359 million in annual economic activity and employing over 11,180 people in our community. 

These organizations also bridge gaps between cultural and political divide. We live in a world polarized by personal belief, and Charlotte is no different. One of my favorite things about art is that it is an outlet for individuals to express themselves in a way that is both comprehensive and peaceful.

On top of everything else, the arts improve our quality of life. It's easy to become consumed by work, school, and our other seemly endless string of responsibilities. We need to be excited, challenged, and fascinated. Some of my fondest memories of being in Charlotte revolve around me strolling through an art exhibit, going to a Broadway musical, or experiencing a live symphony performance. These are the occasions that have made my time here special. It saddens me to think that the opportunity to experience these magical moments may be taken away.

Art affects our lives in more ways than we know. We are fortunate to have these organizations that fill out lives with culture and innovation, and we should all want them to continue to thrive. This is why I encourage everyone to vote in favor of this tax referendum. We are voting on so much more than just simple sales tax; we are voting on the creative future of our community.
We hope that you'll join us in voting FOR the quarter-cent sales tax referendum this Tuesday, Nov. 5. Learn more about what your vote means to your CSO. 

This blog was written by Taylor Maness. All opinions are her own.

5 Exciting holiday experiences with your CSO this season

The Holidays are just around the corner, which means the return of time-honored traditions and the making of new ones. From acrobatics above the orchestra to snow in the theater, check out these five exciting experiences that you can have, only with your CSO. 

1. Snow in the Knight Theater

You may already be familiar with the CSO's annual Magic of Christmas, but did you know that it snows in the theater following the concert? Featuring a visit from Santa, audience sing-alongs and your favorite holiday music, this longstanding Charlotte tradition combines this year with Carolina Voices' The Singing Christmas Tree December 13-21.



2. Acrobatics above the orchestra

When the circus comes to town, they don't mess around. Cirque de Noel on December 28 at Belk Theater will include stunning aerial feats that will wow the whole family.

3. Dancing on stage for New Year's Eve

The party has moved to the Belk Theater this year to accommodate more room for the post-concert festivities. Swing into the New Year with style with Gershwin's famous Rhapsody in Blue, followed by champagne, desserts, a live jazz band, and a countdown to midnight. 



4. Halleluja!

Handel's Messiah returns this year by popular demand. The CSO will perform this beautiful, dramatic work featuring the Hallelujah Chorus with the Charlotte Master Chorale and four soloists on December 6 & 7 at Knight Theater. 

5. Watch Kevin get left Home Alone

Part of the CSO's Movie Series, the orchestra will perform the soundtrack to this delightful holiday classic live in sync with the film projected on a large screen above orchestra. Don't miss it on November 29 at Belk Theater.

Tagged as holidays, Magic of Christmas, Movie Series, Pops, Special Event.

Father and daughter share the stage at Stars, Stripes and Sousa

Violinist Jenny Topilow has a special connection to our upcoming Stars, Stripes and Sousa concert on Nov. 15 & 16: her father is the guest conductor! Find out in our interview below what it's like for Jenny to see her dad on the podium, and how Carl Topilow creates his patriotic clarinet for this concert. 


Jenny, what's it like to have your father on the podium as your conductor? Have you worked together like this before?
JT: My Dad was my primary conductor when I was 18-22 years old. During that time, I wouldn't say we "worked" together as much as I was a student learning from him as a teacher, which he's great at. He did give me a B in conducting class [at the Cleveland Institute of Music], though (he was probably being generous!). 

Since becoming a member of the Charlotte Symphony, I have worked with my Dad many times. Often it's just us playing duets (with him on the clarinet), but also in [an orchestral setting] a few times, too. 

I'm very proud of my dad and his amazing career, and it is special when he is on the podium, but he's very cognizant about not treating me any differently when we are in a professional setting. Maybe he'll point out that I'm his kid and he's excited to have me in the band, but then it's down to business. As he says "I've worked with hundreds of violinists, and you're definitely one of them."

Carl and Jenny, what inspired you to choose a career in music?
CT: My love of music and my desire to pass this passion on to other people as teacher and performer was my inspiration to make this a full-time profession.

JT: I started violin at age three after seeing Itzhak Perlman on Sesame Street (a surprisingly common story!). It's been simply amazing to share the stage with him recently.

My dad being a conductor and my mom being a ballet dancer, they basically had the 16th sized violin waiting for me in the closet. I was pretty talented and practiced pretty diligently, but as a professional musician and a teacher at a conservatory, my dad knows just how hard it is to have a successful career in music, and never pushed me to go into it. He didn't exactly stand in my way, but he made sure I knew how competitive it is. 

When I won my job with the CSO, he was the first person I called and he was the one person who cried happy tears with me, because he really understands how rare it is to win a job and how hard musicians work to prepare for auditions.

Is anyone else in your family musical?
CT: My brother, Arthur, is an excellent jazz pianist. He's also a much-respected hematologist/oncologist.  My younger daughter Emily enjoyed performing as violinist with her college orchestra for 4 years and is now playing with a community orchestra in Cleveland. I recently appeared as guest conductor with that orchestra, and it was very rewarding to perform together!

JT: Like my dad said, my Uncle is a fantastic jazz pianist and my little sister plays the violin. My mom was a ballet dancer with Joffrey and the Metropolitan Opera in NYC before I was born and is a great lover of classical music (especially opera), and my stepmom, Shirley, is a professional tap dancer and also started the Cleveland Pops.

Carl, this kind of patriotic concert is one of your specialties. How did that come to be?
CT: These concerts do so much to instill a sense of pride and privilege to be living in the United States. There are many portions of the concert that are very moving, but I strive to create a balance of solemn and upbeat selections. It's always great to observe the reaction of the audience when they are touched by particular piece.

We hear you have a very patriotic clarinet... What's the story behind that?
CT: I have red, white, blue, and green clarinets, and can assemble parts of each to come up with multicolored clarinets. I always play the piccolo obbligato to the Stars and Stripes along with the orchestra piccolo players on a red, white, and blue clarinet.
See Jenny and Carl on stage together at Stars, Stripes and Sousa, November 15 & 16 at Knight Theater.

Posted in Pops. Tagged as Pops.

Sneak peek: 'Off the Rails' with Kari Giles and Kirsten Swanson

We're trying something a little different this season. On October 15, a quartet of CSO musicians are going "Off the Rails" with a performance of contemporary music at Snug Harbor in Plaza Midwood. We caught up with two members of the quartet, Assistant Concertmaster Kari Giles and Acting Assistant Principal violist Kirsten Swanson, to get a sneak peek of the program.


Assistant Concertmaster Kari Giles
Have you ever played a concert like CSO Off the Rails before? 
KG: I've never been fortunate to play a concert quite like Off the Rails! I have always been passionate about new music and putting together creative programs. It is so fun to search and discover new composers, bring their works to life, and then share them with an audience for the first time. [So] having the freedom to create a program and literally being told to "get wild" and "out there" was thrilling. I knew immediately that I wanted to partner with Jenny Topilow and Kirsten Swanson. On top of being amazing musicians, they are dear friends, and we have a long history of playing chamber music together. Jeremy Lamb has also been involved in many local new music collaborations and is a composer himself, so I knew he would be perfect addition

KS: I have been very fortunate to have spent a lot of my career playing contemporary music, and I absolutely love the creativity of 20th and 21st Century string quartet writing. I did a similarly programmed concert last year, but what I especially love about these pieces is that the composers play around with the Western musical tradition of a steady, toe-tappable, rhythm and sends the listener's inward pulse "off the rails."

What kind of music is on the program? How was it selected?
KG: The concert will open with John Adams' "John's Book of Alleged Dances." When it was suggested by my husband Mark Lewis, who is also a composer, I instantly loved it and knew we had to program it. Next on the program is "Carrot Revolution" by young and upcoming composer Gabriella Smith. The words "Rock Out" are literally marked into all of our parts in the opening, and the piece is filled with fiddle, blues, and rock riffs. Listen closely to hear her homage to The Who! A friend recommended I check out our third featured composer, Pamela Z. As an artist and composer, Pamela Z creates eclectic works using voice, live electronic processing and sampled sound. I don't want to give too much away, so I will just say that this work is dreamy and super cool. We have a few more surprises as well, so I hope everyone will come out ready to hear some new music they've never heard before!
Acting Assistant Principal violist Kirsten Swanson


KS: The works on the program toy with our sense of pulse and rhythm, one of the most essential elements of music. In the Adams work, he has the quartet playing with a pre-recorded track played on a player piano. The track is sort of our metronome, except it's not quite steady (or is it?), which is a trip for us as players and for the audience! Adams is making such fun of the idea of what makes a dance a dance and how we each frame our sense of pulse. I'll be so curious to hear what the audience feels throughout these.

Which do you think is the coolest or most fun piece on the program?
KG: The part of the program that is most personal to me is a movement of the Adams work called "Judah to Ocean." Adams is from San Francisco, and this movement is a musical picture of the N Judah train. It also happens to be one of the trains I took quite frequently when I was a student at the San Francisco Conservatory! Lots of good memories there.

KS: Carrot Revolution is totally the most fun! Anything that says "Rock Out" is going to be my favorite piece! 

What kind of music do you listen to for fun?
KG: Currently my go-to musical companions are Prince, Rhianna, Tori Amos, and The Cure. I am also really going through a traditional Irish phase, and Dervish is just magical. My all-time favorite band, though, is Jump Little Children, who I went to school with when I was at NCSA.

KS: Oh man. My playlist is embarrassing. Last week I listened to Lizzo (butchered the lyrics); Raffi because he has a beautiful voice and the lyrics still get me as an adult (I mean! Robin in the rain/what a saucy fellow); Anderson .Paak because he's just amazing; and the oldies...because my parents did, and it's the music I listened to growing up.

What do you think people need to know about the concert before they show up?
KG: Just put on your coolest (or uncoolest) outfit, grab a drink at the bar, and have fun!
CSO Off the Rails will rock Snug Harbor on October 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online in advance or at the door.
 

Tagged as community.

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