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Sound of Charlotte Blog

Spotlight On: Violinist and Conductor Aisslinn Nosky

Hailed as "a fearsomely powerful musician" by The Toronto Star, Canadian-born violinist Aisslinn Nosky is one of the most versatile and dynamic violinists today. She is in demand internationally as a soloist and director and was appointed Concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society in 2011. She has performed in solo and chamber music recitals across North America, Europe and Asia. Recent appearances as soloist include La Jolla SummerFest, the Staunton Music Festival, the Thunder Bay Symphony, Holland Baroque, the Calgary Philharmonic, and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. In 2016 Aisslinn was named Principal Guest Conductor of the Niagara Symphony.


As a founding member of the Eybler quartet, Nosky explores repertoire from early quartet literature on period instruments. The Eybler Quartet's recording of Haydn's Opus 33 string quartets was released in 2012 on the Analekta label. The Globe and Mail mused "Many a great string quartet annihilates Haydn with incorrect tempos, intense legato, and a general misunderstanding of classical syntax. Here we have them as the composer might have heard them himself. In fact, maybe even better."
 
As Co-Artistic Director of I FURIOSI Baroque Ensemble, Aisslinn has helped bring an enthusiastic new audience to baroque music. Since 2001, I FURIOSI has presented its own flamboyant and inventive concert series in Toronto, and they have toured North America and Europe.


Aisslinn began playing violin at age three and received her early training at the Nanaimo Conservatory with Heilwig von Konigslow. At age eight, Aisslinn made her solo debut with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra. When she was 15, Nosky began studying in Toronto with Lorand Fenyves, at the Royal Conservatory of Music's Glenn Gould School. Further studies included both solo and chamber music for several summers at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and chamber music at the Steans Music Institute of the Ravinia Festival as a member of the Metro String Quartet. Read more

Posted in Classics.

Spotlight On: Violinist Benjamin Beilman


Born in 1989, American violinist Benjamin Beilman is winning plaudits across the globe for his compelling and impassioned performances, his deep rich tone and searing lyricism and is quickly establishing himself as one of the most significant artists of his generation. The New York Times has praised his "handsome technique, burnished sound, and quiet confidence [which] showed why he has come so far so fast". Reviewing his latest recording, The Strad said "Beilman imbues every idea with a scorching expressive imperativeness... soaring aloft with ear-ringingly pure intonation... then lacerating our sensitivities with hectoring explosions of sound."

In Europe Beilman has performed with many of the major orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony and Zurich Tonhalle and in 16/17 made his debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony orchestras and the Orchestre National de Capitole de Toulouse. In the US recent highlights have included a return San Francisco Symphony, and debuts with Dallas Symphony, Atlanta Symphony and Nashville Symphony orchestras.

Beilman performs regularly in recital and chamber music, appearing at halls such as Wigmore Hall, Stockholm Concert Hall, Louvre (Paris), Rudolfinum (Prague), Philharmonie (Berlin) and at festivals including Verbier, Aix-en-Provence Easter, Colmar, Moritzburg, Heidelberg and in 2017 he made his debut at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw in the Robeco Summer Concerts in trio with Louis Schwizgebel and Narek Hakhnazaryan. In the US Beilman performs regularly at Carnegie Hall and is a frequent guest artist at festivals such as Music@Menlo, Marlboro, Seattle Chamber Music; further afield he made a ten-city recital tour of Australia in 2016 with Andrew Tyson and looks forward to recitals in SE Asia in the coming seasons.

Beilman has received several prestigious awards including a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a London Music Masters Award. In 2010 he won the First Prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and as First Prize Winner of the 2010 Montréal International Musical Competition and winner of the People's Choice Award, Beilman recorded Prokofiev's complete sonatas for violin on the Analekta label in 2011. In 2016 he released his first disc for Warner Classics titled Spectrum, featuring works by Stravinsky, Janacek and Schubert.

Beilman studied with Almita and Roland Vamos at the Music Institute of Chicago, Ida Kavafian and Pamela Frank at the Curtis Institute of Music, and Christian Tetzlaff at the Kronberg Academy. He plays the "Engleman" Stradivarius from 1709 generously on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation. Read more

Posted in Classics.

7 fun facts about Pablo Sáinz Villegas

Before you step into Knight Theater to hear the romantic and fiery sounds of Rodrigo Guitar Concerto, check out these facts about our guest classical guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas, otherwise kown as "the soul of the Spanish guitar."

 
1. Pablo was born June 16, 1977 in La Rioja, Spain.

2. Sáinz Villegas has performed numerous world premieres, including the first guitar piece to have been written by five-time Academy Award-winning composer John Williams.

3. Pablo was given the honor of performing in the presence of the Dalai Lama as well as the Royal Family of Spain. He was also chosen to serve as Cultural Ambassador to the Vivanco Foundation and its museum, considered by UNESCO as the best museum of wine culture in the world.

4. Sáinz Villegas has an extensive history of winning prestigious awards. Perhaps his most honorable was when he became the first guitarist to ever win Spain's top classical music honor, El Ojo Crítico. Pablo also won the famed Parkening International Guitar Competition, and prior to that he was already the recipient of more than 30 international awards, including the Francisco Tárrega Award and the Andrés Segovia Award at age 15.

5. Pablo has helped serve over 15,000 children, as he is the founder of "The Music Without Borders Legacy," a program that seeks to bridge communities across cultural, social, and political borders for the benefit of youth.

6. Sáinz Villegas is well known for his emotional artistry with the guitar, whether it's been in an intimate setting or before more than 85,000 people, as he did while accompanying the admired tenor Plácido Domingo, at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid.

7. In the 2015-16 season, Pablo accompanied Plácido Domingo on a floating stage in the Amazon River which was broadcast live to millions of people around the world. 

Read more

Posted in Classics.

Spotlight On: Composer Gabriela Lena Frank | Using Music to Break the Glass Ceiling


Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, Brahms--all  well-known composers, all male. It is so rare we hear about the achievements of female composers in the classical music era, especially nowadays. That's not to say they do not exist, there are just far fewer female composers than there are male in the realm of contemporary classical music. That, however, is changing.

Meet Gabriela Lena Frank, one of the five composers that will be featured in the Rodrigo Guitar Concerto played by your Charlotte Symphony Orchestra on October 6 and 7.

Background
Gabriela Lena Frank is an American composer from Berkeley, California. Although born in the US, her roots also align with the nationalities of her parents: her father, a Jewish Lithuanian, and her mother, who is of Peruvian and Chinese decent. The two met during Frank's father's visit to Peru with the Peace Corps in the 1960s.

Frank received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Rice University and a doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Michigan. She has studied composition with William Albright, Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, Michael Daugherty, and Samuel Jones.


Style and Inspiration
Frank's compositions often draw from her multicultural background--particularly her mother's Peruvian heritage. Frank is admired for using sounds of Latin American instruments (such as Peruvian pan flute or charango guitar) throughout her compositions, though her works are typically scored for Western classical instruments and ensembles such as the symphony orchestra or string quartet. "I think the music can be seen as a by-product of my always trying to figure out how Latina I am and how gringa I am," she has said. This striking mixture of sounds can be found in her work Three Latin American Dances, which will be performed at the Rodrigo Guitar Concerto on October 6 and 7.


Accomplishments
Not only is Frank known for her interesting work, but she is also  one of the most awarded female contemporary composers of our time. In 2009, Frank received her first Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a Latin Grammy Award for best Contemporary Classical Music Composition for Inca Dances. She has also won a Joyce Foundation award, United States Artists Fellow award, and a Medal of Excellence from Sphinx Organization.

In addition to these accolades, Frank's music has been commissioned and performed by the Kronos Quartet, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Chanticleer Ensemble, the Chiara String Quartet, the Brentano Quartet, Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project, the Marilyn Horne Foundation, guitarist Manuel Barrueco with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the King's Singers, directors of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Wu Han and David Finckel, soprano Dawn Upshaw and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, among others. She has also received multiple commissions from Carnegie Hall.

Frank is a Grammy Award-nominated pianist and a member of the prestigious roster of G. Schirmer, exclusively published and managed.

Image source: http://www.screecher.com/schedule/2017/3/19/creative-academy-for-music Read more

Posted in Classics.

9 things you should know about Beethoven's Symphony No. 9

Before you step into the concert hall to experience the most performed orchestral work of all time, check out these fun facts about Beethoven's Symphony No. 9!
1. It was the last of Beethoven's symphonies, completed three years before his death in 1824.

2. It premiered in Vienna on May 7, 1824.

3. By the time of its premier Beethoven was completely deaf. At the end of the piece, the crowd burst into applause but Beethoven, who had been a few measures behind the symphony, continued to conduct. The contralto, Caroline Unger, walked over to Beethoven and turned him around so he could accept the rousing applause.

4. It is the first symphony to incorporate vocal soloists and chorus into what, until then, had been a purely instrumental genre. Words are sung in the final movement by four vocal soloists and a chorus.

5. The words in the final movement were taken from the "Ode to Joy" poem written by Friedrich von Schiller in 1785. The poem has a strong message to all mankind: it is about living in peace and harmony together. 

6. It's the most epic of Beethoven's symphonies, both in length and performers utilized. The piece is scored for soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists, mixed chorus, piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, and strings. 

7. It was adopted as the European National Anthem in 1972. In 1985, it became the official anthem of the European Union.

8. When Philips started work on their new audio format known as a compact disc, many groups argued over what size it should be. They planned on having a 11.5 cm diameter CD while Sony planned on 10 cm. One bright chap insisted that one CD ought to have the capacity to contain a complete performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The duration ranges from about 65 to 74 minutes which requires a 12 cm diameter, the size of a CD.

9. Beethoven was a compositional rebel, rejecting standard classical practices in order to write with emotion. While many of his contemporaries were disgusted, if not intimidated by this, his influence on composers to come after him, like Brahms, Dvorak, and Mahler, shows how important a figure he was. 
Read more

Posted in Classics.

Mahler Symphony No. 2: 5 Questions With...Kenney Potter

Charlotte Master Chorale (formerly Charlotte Symphony Chorus) Director Kenney Potter prepared 140 singers for performances of Mahler Symphony No. 2 on May 12 & 13, 2017. We sat down with Dr. Potter to ask a few questions about the process of preparing for such a massive work.

What moment should audiences listen for in the Charlotte Symphony's performance of Mahler Symphony No. 2?
Wow - there are so many! I think the chorus opening would be my favorite. It is hair-raisingly quiet.

What are the challenges in preparing a 140 person chorus for the Resurrection Symphony?
Speaking of....getting them to sing so quietly at the entrance. Also, it is such a massive work, balancing the chorus and orchestra is always an exciting challenge.

What percentage of the Chorus would you say has participated in it before?
Very few 13 people out of the 140-member chorus, and I've only performed it twice.

How do you connect the singers with the emotions of Mahler's work?
It isn't that difficult to do. You play a recording one time and they are hooked - then they sing it with piano and it gets really exciting. Only when they perform it with the full ensemble do you understand why this piece is so beloved.

What kind of response are you getting from the members of the Chorus about this piece? What makes Mahler 2 different for them?
They seem to be enjoying it, other than the fact that some of them are terrified to sing from memory! The challenge is that it is so physically and musically exhausting, particularly to be such a brief portion of the overall work (roughly 15 minutes).

Read more

Posted in Classics. Tagged as chorus, Classical.

8 Questions with...Oboist Gordon Hunt

Oboist Gordon Hunt joined us Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25, 2017 for the riveting Strauss Oboe Concerto. We asked Mr. Hunt a few questions about his friendship with Music Director Christopher Warren-Green, his relationship to the Strauss piece, and his instrument.

Gordon HuntCould you share a bit about your friendship with Christopher Warren-Green, both on and off stage?
Chris and I have been friends for a very long time, going back to when he joined the Philharmonia Orchestra as concertmaster. We hit it off straight away, both musically, within the orchestra, and also out of work time, when we spent a great deal of time together.

What is it like to perform with someone you know so well? Does it change the performance at all?
It feels good to work with a close friend - and especially as I am a conductor too, I really appreciate having someone I trust beside me. However, I don't think it fundamentally changes the performance, as in a way the music itself is even greater than the friendship. We are both there to serve the composer and his intentions.

What can listeners expect from the Strauss Oboe Concerto?
The typical mastery of orchestration and understanding of instrumental balance one expects from Richard Strauss, but in this very late work, also a more classical approach than one would expect in his great tone poems.

What should they listen for specifically, if anything?
The effortless way in which Strauss uses and develops the first simple four note motif, played by the cellos. In effect, he bases the whole concerto on this. Also listen for the very extended lines he weaves for the solo oboe, and the interplay between the soloist and the wind players.

Do you recall the first time you performed this work? How did you feel?
Yes, even though I have performed this piece well over 80 times now, I do remember the first time. I was 21 years old, in Oxford, England. I was excited to be facing this challenge (perhaps the greatest for my instrument), hoped there would be many more chances, and I felt immensely privileged to be playing such wonderful music.

What do you do just before you go on stage? Do you think any thoughts or have any rituals?
I try to have a few minutes to myself, just being quiet, but I have no rituals!

How would you describe this work?
It is in a way nostalgic, looking to the past, and musically simpler than so much of what Strauss had written before (I have already mentioned the quite "classical" approach). In some way, Strauss is nodding towards his lifelong hero Mozart, but with the unmistakable fingerprint he himself leaves on all his works.

Can you share a few fun facts about your instrument?
As oboists, our lives can seem to revolve around reeds, and sometimes it seems impossible to have one that you really like. Ultimately, it is down to the player to make the instrument sing and to communicate, so I always say that 50% of success in playing the oboe is learning to make good reeds, and the other 50% is leaning to play on bad ones! Read more

Posted in Classics.

5 Questions With … Steve Hackman, conductor and creator of Brahms v. Radiohead

Composer, conductor, and producer Steve Hackman joins us Friday, January 27 for an exciting, one-night-only performance of his popular mash-up, Brahms v. Radiohead. Here, we chat with Mr. Hackman about how he created this interesting concept, why he chose Brahms, and what we can expect from this performance. 

Conductor and Brahms v. Radiohead creator Steve Hackman

How and why did you think of this cool mash-up concept?
I have always been passionate about both classical and popular music, equally. It doesn't matter to me if it is a Mahler symphony or a Kendrick Lamar song; if it's great, it's great. Mashing up Brahms and Radiohead is a way of illustrating this point, and even more, to show that this music is not as dissimilar as many people may think. Categorizing things and judging them based on those categories or labels is dangerous and destructive and a performance like this works against that.

Tell us about these soloists. How did you select them?
The soloists really make every performance of this show a total joy, and I know the audience is going to love them. Bill Prokopow is an old friend of mine, and one of the most talented and versatile musicians I know. He and I sung in the same a cappella group at the University of Illinois, where I went to undergrad, called The Other Guys. We have been collaborating ever since. Andrew Lipke was coming into prominence as a singer/songwriter in Philadelphia when I was in grad school there at the Curtis Institute of Music. I wanted to be like him, such an incredible songwriter and performer! We got to know each other and I learned he was a true student and lover of classical music, and again, a musician of extreme versatility. And Kérén heard about the show because of an ad I posted on Stagebill and boy did we luck out with her! She is a brilliant artist and writer.

Why Brahms specifically? Why not, say, Mozart or Beethoven?
Brahms took 20 years to write this First Symphony. You can feel all that tension and earnestness and toil and struggle in the piece (and he creates unbelievable release in the fourth movement). That balance towards tension is something this music shares with Radiohead. They also share a density and weight--each music is extremely substantial--and they can stand alongside each other. But there are specific musical reasons, too: The harmonic language is much more similar than you would think; the time signature of the first movement (6/8) allows for a mash-up with a very important song from OK Computer ("Subterranean Homesick Alien") and the overall key of C Minor was perfect for the seminal Radiohead song "Paranoid Android."

What can concertgoers expect? Walk us through the evening.
The most important thing regarding expectation is that the music of Radiohead will be presented through the lens of Brahms. I use only Brahms's orchestration. There are no electric guitars or ondes Martenot or any of the Radiohead synthesizers and keyboards. I have treated Radiohead's music with the same kind of scoring, voice leading and counterpoint that Brahms uses in his music. In that way, it is sometimes hard to distinguish if a theme came from Radiohead or Brahms! There are times when the singers are floating Radiohead melodies over the pure music of Brahms; there are many times when Brahms's melodies are superimposed over the songs of Radiohead.

This is a really cool way to engage new symphony audiences. Do you find the attendance to skew younger/more diverse?
Absolutely. Radiohead fans are the best. They are passionate about music, and they tend to be very creative, open-minded and adventurous folks. Beyond that, I think this concert is perfect for people that love music but have yet to really be introduced to classical music for whatever reason. It is such a pleasure and honor to share symphonic repertoire and the experience of seeing a symphony orchestra. Read more

Posted in Classics, Pops.

What goes into a WDAV live broadcast?



We partner with WDAV, classical public radio, located in Davidson, N.C., for a live broadcast of this weekend's Classics finale performance, Carmina Burana.

So, what goes into setting up a live broadcast from the Belk Theater? Turns out, it's a lot. In fact, it takes the Charlotte Symphony's recorded media producer and engineer Bob Rydel (also a member of the horn section!), plus a crew of 4 to 5 people around 7 hours to set up the stage and control room. This includes 18 microphones and about 6,000 feet of cable. 

It takes another 3 to 4 microphones, over 1,000 feet of cable, and 12 hours to set up the announcer booth backstage and ready the equipment that transfers audio back to the station.

In all, there are 8 on-site members of WDAV staff directly involved in the broadcasts, including 2 broadcast engineers, 1 technical director, 1 or 2 hosts, 1 broadcast producer, 1 broadcast director, and 1 additional studio producer at the station.

What's also cool is that on days of live broadcast, the concert audio is sent back to the station as a digital, stereo signal via the Internet, using multiple IP addresses for back up in the event of disruptions.
 
WDAV's broadcast signal covers a 22-county area, extending from the North Carolina/Virginia line in the north to Lancaster and Chesterfield counties in South Carolina. The station can be heard across the country and around the world via Internet stream and the WDAV Classical Public Radio app for smartphones and tablets.
Read more

Posted in Classics.

2016-2017 Classics Series Announcement

Music Director Christopher Warren-Green talked with WDAV's Frank Dominguez about our upcoming 2016-2017 Classics series at a reception following our Classics performance on Friday, February 5.

 
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Posted in Classics.

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