Sound of Charlotte Blog

NOTES OF BRITTEN, LISZT AND HOLST

Three pieces are on the program for opening Classics weekend. Read more to learn about these selections!

BENJAMIN BRITTEN The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra 
The first performance of "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" took place on October 15, 1946, with Sir Malcolm Sargent conducting the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. 

"I have a small film to write for the Board of Education," said Benjamin Britten. The educational film, commissioned by the Crown Film Unit, was designed to introduce children to the various instruments of the orchestra.

The premiere of the educational film, entitled Instruments of the Orchestra, took place on November 29, 1946. "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" proved to be a success from its inception.  "I'm glad that the Min. of Ed. chaps approve," Britten told a friend.  "I never really worried that it was too sophisticated for kids--it is difficult to be that for the little blighters!"

The "Young Person's Guide" remains one of the most popular compositions of its kind.  As with any superior educational experience, Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" simultaneously informs, stimulates and entertains students (of all ages).
 
FRANZ LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2
The first performance of the Piano Concerto No. 2 took place in Weimar, Germany, on January 7, 1857. 

The legacy of Franz Liszt, the legendary virtuoso pianist and showman, sometimes overshadows his considerable achievements as a composer.  One of the great pioneers of the Romantic movement, Liszt advanced the concept of music as a form of programmatic expression and, in fact, invented the term "sinfonische Dichtung" ("symphonic poem").  He also demonstrated bold and revolutionary possibilities for traditional musical conventions and forms, as in the case of his Piano Concerto No. 2.

Concertos of Liszt's time typically featured three movements, each with clear lines of demarcation.  By contrast, the Second Piano Concerto is in a single movement, containing several episodes, all connected by a central theme.  That theme (marked dolce soave) is introduced by the clarinet at the very start of the Concerto's opening portion, which functions as a slow introduction (Adagio sostenuto assai).  The theme, played by various instruments, accompanies the soloist's entrance, dreamlike at first, then more emphatic.   The music once again journeys from a serene to more violent character, capped by the soloist's brilliant octave descent.  A moment of silence precedes a stark, quick-tempo episode (Allegro agitato assai).   A short, introspective solo cadenza leads to the next principal episode (Allegro moderato), an extended lyrical sequence, featuring gorgeous interplay between the pianist and solo cello.  Another cadenza for the pianist yields to a virtuoso quick-tempo episode (Allegro deciso), with rapid-fire exchanges between the soloist and orchestra.  Another brilliant, descending passage for the soloist resolves to a transformation of the Concerto's principal theme into a fff march (Marziale, un poco meno Allegro).  After a lyrical section capped by the soloist's cadenza, the Concerto ends with a brilliant dash to the finish (Allegro animato), dominated by the pianist's virtuoso fireworks.
 
GUSTAV HOLST The Planets
The first performance of The Planets took place at Queen's Hall in London on September 29, 1918.

Gustav Holst once observed: "As a rule I only study things that suggest music to me."  And it was Holst's lifelong interest in astrology that provided the inspiration for his most popular orchestral work, The Planets.

Holst characterized his orchestral work as "a series of mood pictures" in which the movements--each representing a planet of the solar system--"acted as foils to one another."  The various movements were not arranged in accordance with the order of the planets in the solar system, but rather, in such a manner as to achieve optimal musical contrast and effect.

I. Mars, the Bringer of War. Allegro--While many believed that Holst created the opening movement as a memorial to the horrors of World War I, the composer insisted that "I had the whole of Mars fixed in my mind before" the August 4, 1914 Declaration.  The movement begins softly, but ominously, with an incessant rhythm introduced by the timpani and col legno ("with the wood"; i.e., the string instruments play with the wood, rather than the horsehair portion of the bows) strings, and interjections by woodwind and brass.  The music proceeds to a furious climax.  Several brief episodes follow, all maintaining a relentless momentum to the shattering final bars.

II. Venus, the Bringer of Peace. Adagio--Venus offers blissful contrast to the violent opening movement.  The solo horn's ascending phrase is answered by a descending woodwind figure.  A solo violin introduces the central Andanteepisode.  A varied reprise of the opening Adagio concludes Venus.

III. Mercury, the Winged Messenger. Vivace--The third movement is a scherzo that exhibits a charm and grace reminiscent of Felix Mendelssohn's Octet for Strings and Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream.  A 6/8 figure is deftly transferred from instrument to instrument.  A middle section features lovely solo appearances by the violin, oboe, flute and celeste.  The return of the opening section (with a nod to its predecessor) concludes Mercury.

IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity. Allegro giocoso--Jupiter is the movement that most clearly reflects Holst's love of British folk music.  It opens with a flurry of activity in the violins and a bold orchestral statement.  Several melodies follow, the most notable being an eloquent theme, marked Andante maestoso(Moderately slow, majestic), introduced by the strings and horns.  This melody was later used as the basis for a patriotic hymn, "I Vow to Thee, My Country."  The bustle of the opening reappears for the jubilant finish.

V. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age. Adagio--The hypnotic opening features the flutes, bass flute and harps.  Over the repeated tread of pizzicato cellos and basses, the trombones introduce a somber march.  The music builds to a powerful climax, featuring the repeated tolling of the bells.  A reprise of the opening finally yields to a serene conclusion.

VI. Uranus, the Magician. Allegro--The trumpets and trombones, followed by the tubas and timpani, intone a four-note motif that returns throughout the movement.  The bassoons then offer a puckish staccato figure, soon taken by the remainder of the orchestra.  A solo bassoon and pizzicato cellos introduce a new theme, followed by a broader melody in the horns and strings.  A prominent recapitulation of the four-note motif leads to a martial passage.  A ffff climax is followed by an eerie postlude.
VII. Neptune, the Mystic. Andante--The composer directs that in the finale: "(t)he Orchestra is to play sempre pp throughout." Various repeating figures, couched in orchestration of the utmost delicacy, masterfully evoke a sense of timelessness. A six-part wordless female chorus enters in the latter part ofNeptune.  The Planets concludes with the chorus's final measure, repeated "until the sound is lost in the distance."

Program notes by Ken Meltzer.
Read more

Posted in Classics. Tagged as Charlotte Symphony, Christopher Warren-Green, Classical, History, Program Notes.

FROM THE FEET UP

If you've attended a Charlotte Symphony concert, you know we're quite loyal to the classic black concert attire. However, as we move into the third season of our innovative KnightSounds Series, a series of concerts intended to put a fresh, intelligent, and audience-engaging spin on classical repertoire, we are beginning to experiment with our attire from the ground or shall we say 'feet' up. On January 25, 2013, the symphony will partner with the Metropolitan Ballroom but the dancers aren't the only ones who will be sporting impressive footwear at the "Ballroom!" performance. The audience, conductor and orchestra musicians are all invited to wear their dressiest, wackiest, or fanciest shoes of all styles and colors for both the performance and the post-concert dance party.
If you've attended a Charlotte Symphony concert, you might have noticed that Assistant Concertmaster Kari Giles already wears pretty fancy shoes at her seat during concerts. We asked her a few questions on the topic 'at feet' -

When did you begin wearing fabulous shoes onstage? Why?
I always said I would buy myself a pair of fancy black shoes once I won my first job. So after I won the Charlotte audition, I found an amazing pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes on sale. From the first time I put them on I felt alluring and confident and I was hooked! What I love about shoe shopping is that even on a bad day, you can put on a great pair of shoes and get a lift.

Where do you shop for shoes? 
I absolutely love Zappos. I don't know how many hours I have spent trolling that site! Anthropologie, Nordstrom and Off Broadway are also fabulous.

If we looked in your closet right now, how many pairs of shoes would there be? 
Hmm, hard to say...60ish?

What type of shoes do you wear most often? 
In the winter I live in boots. Cowboy, Motorcycle, Mod, Vintage, Furry...I love them all!

What is the highest price you've ever paid for a pair of shoes?
It might have been around $250 for a pair of cowboy boots that fit me like a glove. I try to only 'invest' when it's a classic pair that I know will last me a long time. One of my favorite pairs of orchestra shoes were black velvet Mary Janes with a bow that I got at Target for $20. I got more compliments on those shoes! I think the key to great shoes is to find the ones that you love that speak to you and show off your style.

Kari is this month's Featured Family Member. Read the entire article here.
She is also a recent newlywed and wore some pretty fabulous shoes with her dress.

Congratulations Kari!
Read more

Tagged as Charlotte Symphony, CSO Musicians, Innovation, KnightSounds.

DECEMBER FEATURED FAMILY MEMBER

 


Name: Andrea Mumm

Hometown: Ridgewood, NJ

Instrument: Harp

When did your musical experience begin? From birth!  My mother was pregnant with me while recording the 1987 Metropolitan Opera Wagner's Ring Cycle.  I started playing violin at age 3, piano at age 5, and harp at age 11.

What brought you to the CSO family? I saw a posting for a Principal Harp opening (a rarity overall) and decided to take the audition.  I had heard wonderful things about the city of Charlotte and the CSO and was thrilled when I won the audition!

What are your artistic dreams and aspirations?  I am so lucky to already have, what I consider, my dream job!  I have always wanted to be principal harp of a professional orchestra and am so honored to work with the CSO for my career.  I also love playing chamber music and teaching.  Hopefully in the future I will also teach at a college or university.

Name a performer you respect; why?  The first people that pop into my mind are my mother (a violinist) and father (a violist).  I was fortunate to grow up in a house where the first thing I remembering hearing was a full and beautiful string sound.  I try to emulate that same sound in my harp playing.  Along those same lines, I don't know what I would do without the recordings of Jacqueline du Pré.  Her recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto never fails to give me chills.

What's your vision for the future of the arts in Charlotte?  As the city of Charlotte grows, I would love to see the CSO and other arts organizations too grow and change with the diverse culture and people that call Charlotte home.  The arts are an integral part of every city and we are fortunate enough to have world-class musicians and artists that reside in Charlotte.
Read more

Posted in Education & Community. Tagged as Charlotte Symphony, Classical, CSO Musicians, family.

2012 – A YEAR IN REVIEW

"The Symphony is a family, and that family embraces the audience--the people who work for the symphony, the volunteers, everyone who comes to concerts, everyone who listens on radio--it's a community; it's a family." - Christopher Warren-Green

2012 was a good year for the Charlotte Symphony family. We said good-bye to some individuals but welcomed many more new additions to our family. Here's twelve stories that highlight the organization's happenings in 2012. 

12.  First Annual Ulysses Festival
The CSO along with  N.C. Dance Theatre, Opera Carolina and other regional cultural partners participated in a month-long celebration of the arts community. The theme for the inaugural festival was The Music of Tchaikovsky.
Read More Read More

11.  Entire Artistic 'Family' Takes the Stage
For the first time in Charlotte Symphony history, members of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO) and Junior Youth Orchestra (JYO), the Winterfield Elementary Youth Orchestra, the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte, and Charlotte Symphony musicians performed together on the Belk Theater stage. 
Read More Read More

10. Violins of Hope
Charlotte had the great honor of hosting the North American premiere of this exhibit which restores the memory of the nameless millions, including the musicians and artists who were lost in the Holocaust. Numerous events took place throughout the city and culminated with the performance,  Triumph of Hope: Violins of Hope with the Charlotte Symphony
Read More Read More

9. 11th Summer Pops at Symphony Park
The CSO continued its tradition of delighting audiences with special outdoor performances at the beautiful Symphony Park including an Independence Day concert and fireworks show. 
Read More Read More

8. Instruments for Kids Program Launch
Donated instruments are used in the symphony's extensive education and community programs, creating a lending library of musical instruments for students who don't own their own.
Read More

7. Live Image Magnification 
An All-Tchaikovsky program gave audiences the chance to view the orchestra in a brand new way via video cameras and a large screen.  Patrons also voted by text message for the encore piece. 
Read More

6. Martin Heads to Dallas and Donor Steps In
After four great years, Jonathan Martin left Charlotte to become president and chief executive of the Dallas Symphony.  Shortly after this announcement an anonymous donor came forth to offer financial assistance in the search for a new executive director. 
Read More | Read More

5. Stickler named Interim Director 
Former Bank of America executive Robert Stickler is our interim executive director as the orchestra seeks a new leader. Stickler has served on the orchestra's board of directors since 2008 and is a former president of the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte. 
Read More

4.  Wells Fargo Challenge Grant
The bank offered assistance to the organization by matching up to $100,000 of contributions to the orchestra's general operations and $100,000 of gifts to CSO programs on power2give.org.
Read More

3. World Premiere of Weinstein Digital Animation
A partnership between the CSO, the Knight Foundation and Mint Museum of Charlotte brought Matthew Weinstein's work to the city. Audiences experienced brilliant animation in sync with the hypnotic music of Ravel's Bolero. 
Read More Read More

2. Celebrating Eighty-One Years of Music
The 81st season opened in September with "The Music of Billy Joel" in the Pops series and and an All-Beethoven program in the Classics series. 
Read More | Read More

1. Christopher Warren-Green Renews Contract
Our Music Director Christopher Warren-Green renewed his contract through the 2015-2016 season. His vision for the future of the organization includes artistic excellence, increased partnerships with other organizations, innovation through new programs and service to the community. 
Read More

We look forward to what 2013 will bring. We thank you so much for being part of our Symphony Family!
Read more

Tagged as Charlotte Symphony, Christopher Warren-Green, Classical, CSO Musicians, CSYO, Education, History, summer pops, symphony park.

IT’S BEGINNING TO SOUND A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS

You've heard it: Christmas music on the radio stations, at the mall, in the office being hummed quietly by your next cube neighbor. Holiday music has become one of the most wonderful harbingers of the season. Baking cookies and wrapping presents would be a lot less fun without the jolly Christmas music playing in the background. But sometimes Christmas music can become a stressor inducing panic in the last minute shopper or bringing out the Scrooge in the nicest of people.

While the music on the radio stations tell us to slow down and enjoy this "most wonderful time of the year," we still take part in hectic visits with family and friends, travel planning headaches, and shop 'til you drop marathons leading up to the holidays. This year, wouldn't it be nice to pause and take some time to enjoy the music of the season in its purest form?



Starting tonight at the Belk Theater, the Charlotte Symphony will present Magic of Christmas, its annual holiday concert of beautiful music performed live by Charlotte's only professional orchestra. Take some time to focus on just one sense. Just listen. Let the music fill you up with happiness and peace. Slow down your mind (and your pulse) and enjoy the fleeting moments of the season. You'll be glad you did.
Magic of Christmas performances will take place over four days with evening performances on Thursday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, November 30 and Saturday December 1 at 8:00 p.m., with two matinee performances on Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets start at $26.50 for adults and $13.25 for children and can be purchased online here or over the phone at (704) 972-2000.
Read more

Tagged as Charlotte Symphony, christmas, Christmas Music, holidays, Magic of Christmas.

“I LOVE VIOLIN BECAUSE IT MAKES ME FEEL FREE,” AND OTHER STORIES

Winterfield Students participating in Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17th's special performance of Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus featuring the entire CSO artistic family took some time to express their excitement for the event in the following notes.

Martha says, "The good thing about the concert is having the opportunity to play in it & to have teacher help us. The thing I like most going to the concert & playing with the Charlotte Symphony."

"My experience in orchestra has been wonderful and I can't wait to play with the Symphony. I am very excited about when we see our mom and dad in the crowd and they video the whole thing. The next thing I am excited about is when the crowd claps."


"I'm happy about that I am going to play with my teachers. My parents are coming to see me play on stage. I'm going to look my best. I just cannot wait! I am so excited about it."

Nytalia says, "I love violin because it makes me feel free. And I have a lot of friends. I'm excited about this year's concert because we get to go play with the Charlotte Symphony. I wish I have a great time and Mr. Carlos is great, too. (I think.)"

"I am excited about when I get to play in front of all those people and when they clap for me with all my hard work, and I am thankful for that. I cannot wait for the concert. I want my parents to be proud of me yea! :-) I want to say thank you for spending the time to teach me how to play the violin. I wish I could be here next year to play the violin, but I have to go to a middle school 6th grade. I wish I could play another year again! :-) "
One thing's for sure, these hardworking kids are expecting the crowd to go wild with applause, so let's not disappoint.
CONTRIBUTE TO THE APPLAUSE: Single tickets start at $19 and are available by calling (704) 972-2000 or by visiting our website.
Read more

Posted in Classics, Education & Community. Tagged as Charlotte Symphony, Education, Mozart, Mozart Mass in C Minor, winterfield elementary, youth musicians.