Sound of Charlotte Blog

Concertmaster Calin Lupanu chats about his 1857 Pierre Silvestre violin

Concertmaster Calin Lupanu plays on an 1857 Pierre Silvestre violin. He traveled to many cities - at least 10 - and says he considered about 70 different instruments before coming across the one he would eventually own.

"I knew the moment that I saw it that it was a special violin," says Lupanu. "It was in mint condition and was part of a lady's estate -- she had been a professional violinist and it hadn't been played in over 30 years." He bought the violin from John Montgomery Violins in Raleigh.

Prior to his purchase of the Silvestre, Calin says he performed on a loaner instrument. And, he says, he still has his violin from Romania, where he's originally from, which he plays at outdoor venues.

But he saves the Silvestre for the mainstage. Hear Calin play on his beloved instrument when we feature him, May 17-19 as a soloist on Ravel's Tzigane at Ravel Bolero. 

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Posted in Classics. Tagged as A Musician's Perspective, Classical.

2013 Sally Ann Hall Spirit of the Symphony Award Recipient Frank Gentry

In recognition of unwavering dedication to the music and mission of the Charlotte Symphony, Frank Gentry is the recipient of the 2013 Sally Ann Hall Spirit of the Symphony Award. 
 
The award will be presented on Saturday, January 11 at Belk Theater in conjunction with the Orchestra's performance of Brahms Symphony No. 2. 
 
"This award honors the unsung heroes of the Symphony who work diligently behind the scenes. Frank 
Gentry has seen the Symphony through thick and thin in his quiet and unassuming way for many years. We are thrilled to honor him." said Emily Smith, Chair of the Charlotte Symphony Board of Directors. 
 
Like many dedicated members of the Charlotte Symphony family, Frank got his start with the Symphony as a listener, a music lover. Frank and his wife, Sarah Gentry, have been Classics patrons for many years, loyally supporting the Symphony from the seats of the audience, in addition to being generous donors. 
 
Frank served as a member of the Charlotte Symphony Board of Directors, devoting countless hours to 
the thankless work of committees, task forces and advisory groups. Behind the scenes, he helped the 
Symphony through trying financial times. 
 
But it is not only his passion for the music or the generous commitment of his time and money that 
makes Frank this year's winner of the Spirit of the Symphony Award. Frank stands out as an advocate, a champion, for the Symphony, who has rallied significant support for the Orchestra from others in the 
community when it was most needed. 
 
"Frank's genius was his uncanny ability to bring people together to plan and develop out-of-the-box 
strategies that moved the causes he cared about forward, and he mentored others through the 
process," said Elizabeth McLaughlin, longtime Charlotte Symphony patron, former board chair and 
current board member who has worked with Frank over the years. 
 
The Sally Ann Hall Spirit of the Symphony Award was created in 2007 to honor the memory of one of its 
most committed patrons, Sally Ann Hall. Devoted to classical music, Sally Ann Hall (1939-2005) was a 
member of the Charlotte Symphony Board of Directors and served as President of the Oratorio Singers 
of Charlotte Board. In 2004, she and her husband Joseph Kirkland Hall, III established the Sally Ann Hall Chair for the directorship of the Oratorio Singers, now held by Scott Allen Jarrett.  

Like Sally and Frank, recipients of the annual award demonstrate a commitment to the Symphony as an organization, show a profound respect for its music and musicians and motivate and encourage others to become actively involved with the Symphony family. Winners are chosen from an open slate of nominations by a committee that represents the CSO Board, Staff, and Musicians and the Oratorio 
Singers of Charlotte. 
 
Past recipients are David Mills (2007), Dr. George Stegner (2008), Richard J. Osborne (2009), Patricia A. Rodgers (2010), Mark R. Bernstein (2011) and Deena Outwater Surphlis (2012). 
 
A South Carolina native, Frank was born in Abbeville, SC in 1942, and grew up in Clemson, SC, graduating from Clemson University in 1964. He then went on to earn a prestigious Mellon Fellowship and a masters of science in industrial administration from Carnegie Mellon University. He landed in Charlotte with Bank of America, and retired as an executive vice president for Bank of America Corp. 

As a volunteer and philanthropist, Frank has served on boards of the Charlotte Symphony, Clemson 
University, International House and the John Crosland School among other engagements. 
 
In his retirement he has become a Bridge Life Master and continues to attend Charlotte Symphony 
concerts. With his wife Sarah he has two sons, John and David, and two grandchildren. 

Posted in Classics. Tagged as awards, Classical, philanthropy.

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

BEETHOVEN NINE LIVE BROADCAST WITH WDAV

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WDAV, 89.9 FM is live broadcasting our performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on Friday, May 10, 2013. As you can imagine it takes a bit of work to do this. Here's just an idea of what the checklist and plan for the WDAV staff looks like

1. Order high tech phone lines, called ISDN lines. The letters stand for Integrated Service Digital Network and it's the precursor to high speed Internet. They use these lines to get the stereo signal of the concert performance back to the WDAV studios for broadcast to radios and Internet and smart phone streams.

Live bcast behind the scenes 1


2. Secure Extra engineering Help Audio engineers set up microphones and sound boards, mix the music and monitor the sound. Broadcast engineers establish a connection and monitor the signal back to the studios.

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3. A staff person directs the activities of the hosts and serves as liaison to the broadcast studios.

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4. An executive producer plans the outline of the broadcast, acquires and produces interviews and writes a script for the hosts to follow.

Just a few other things WDAV Staff  does -

1. Spread the word about the broadcast and archive it, before and during, via social media and other digital platforms.
 
2. Help with logistics, such as having dinner delivered.

3. Coordinate activities with the Symphony and Performing Arts Center staff so that details such as when the concert actually starts and whether there will be any intermissions or encores, are all anticipated and planned for.

Thanks to WDAV's Frank Dominguez for these notes. In his words "it's a huge team effort, but one we feel is well worth it because of the ability it gives us to share a live concert performance with listeners who may not have the opportunity to attend."

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"Tune in at 8pm tonight for a live broadcast of the CSO performing Beethoven's 9th. WDAV thanks OrthoCarolina for sponsoring the broadcast."
 
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Posted in Classics. Tagged as Beethoven, Christopher Warren-Green, Classical.

NOTES OF BEETHOVEN’S NINTH SYMPHONY

Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor
The first performance of the Ninth Symphony took place at the Kärnthnerthor Theater in Vienna on May 7, 1824, with Ignaz Umlauf conducting.

The first performance of this work by the Charlotte Symphony took place on October 4, 1955 with James Christian Pfohl conducting at Ovens Auditorium. The twelfth and most recent performance set took place April 22-24, 2010 with Stefan Sanderling conducting in the Belk Theater of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

Beethoven's final Symphony, the Ninth ("Choral"), represents--on a number of levels--a fitting culmination and apotheosis of the immortal composer's artistic life.  The Ninth is by far the most epic of Beethoven's Symphonies, both in terms of length and performing forces.  The revolutionary introduction of vocal soloists and chorus in the finale was a bold masterstroke that forever expanded the potential of symphonic expression.

The text of the Symphony's finale, based upon the 1785 Ode "To Joy" by the great German writer, Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), held a lifelong attraction for the composer.  Beethoven first became acquainted with Schiller's Ode "To Joy" ("An die Freude") when the composer was a student in his native Bonn

The beloved melodic setting of Schiller's text in the Finale of Beethoven's Ninth was also the product of an
extended genesis.  A version of the melody first appears in a song Beethoven composed in the mid-1790s, entitled "Gegenliebe" ("Mutual Love"), based upon a text by Gottfried August Bürger.  An even more striking premonition of the Ninth Symphony may be found in Beethoven's 1808Fantasia in C minor for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra, Opus 80.  In that work, the melody--in this case, a setting of a text by Christian Kuffner--receives a treatment quite similar in many ways to that found in the "Choral" Symphony.

The premiere of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony took place at the Vienna Kärnthnerthor Theater on May 7, 1824.  By this stage of Beethoven's life, the composer's hearing had deteriorated to such an extent that conducting the performance was out of the question.  Instead, Ignaz Umlauf led the premiere.  All the while, however, Beethoven was at Umlauf's side, attempting to direct the tempos for the various movements.

At the conclusion of the performance, the audience erupted with a spirited ovation.  Karoline Unger was the alto soloist at the premiere of the Beethoven Ninth.  More than four decades later, she met with the British music writer, Sir George Grove.  During that meeting, Unger described what happened at the May 7, 1824 concert:
The master, though placed in the midst of this confluence of music, heard nothing of it at all and was not even sensible of the applause of the audience at the end of his great work, but continued standing with his back to the audience, and beating the time, till Fräulein Unger, who had sung the contralto part, turned him, or induced him to turn round and face the people, who were still clapping their hands, and giving way to the greatest demonstrations of pleasure.  His turning round, and the sudden conviction thereby forced upon everybody that he had not done so before, because he could not hear what was going on, acted like an electric shock on all present, and a volcanic explosion of sympathy and admiration followed, which was repeated again and again, and seemed as if it would never end.
 
Program notes by Ken Meltzer.
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Posted in Classics. Tagged as Beethoven, Christopher Warren-Green, Classical, History.

NOTES OF BRAHMS AND SHOSTAKOVICH

Two pieces are on the program for this weekend. Read more to learn about these selections!

JOHANNES BRAHMS Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra

The first performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto took place at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany, on January 1, 1879, with Joseph Joachim as soloist and the composer conducting.
The first performance of this work by the Charlotte Symphony took place on April 10, 1947 with J. Albert Fracht conducting at Armory Auditorium. The thirteenth and most recent performance took place on February 2 & 3, 2007 with Christof Perick conducting at the Belk Theater of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

Brahms created the Violin Concerto for his dear friend, the Austro-Hungarian virtuoso violinist, composer and conductor, Joseph Joachim.  On December 12, just a few weeks before the anticipated New Year's Day premiere, Brahms wrote to Joachim: "I send you the part herewith and agree to your alterations. The orchestral parts will be ready for Jan. 1st in case you play it in Leipzig. If so, I will meet you in Berlin a few days before..." Despite the minimal amount of remaining preparation time, Joachim agreed to give the premiere as scheduled. He also composed the first-movement cadenza that, to this day, remains the preferred version among soloists.

The world premiere, conducted by Brahms, was far from an unqualified triumph. Perhaps the audience was confused by the unusual prominence of the orchestra, which traditionally played a decidedly subservient role in violin concertos. Brahms's unconventional approach prompted conductor Joseph Hellmesberger to dub the work a concerto "not for, but against the violin." Violinist Bronislaw Huberman took a somewhat different view, stating that the Brahms Concerto was "for violin against orchestra--and the violin wins!"

In time, Brahms' D-Major has secured its place as one of the greatest violin concertos, a veritable Mt.Everest of technical and interpretive challenges. As with many of Brahms's finest works, it is also a brilliant and immensely satisfying synthesis of Classical form and Romantic passion.

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5
The first performance of the Fifth Symphony took place in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) on November 21, 1937, with Evgeny Mravinsky conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic.
The first performances of this work by the Charlotte Symphony took place on October 16 & 17, 1968 with Jacques Brourman conducting at Ovens Auditorium and in Gastonia, NC. The sixth and most recent performance set took place on February 8 & 9, 2008 with Stefan Sanderling conducting at the Belk Theater of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

On January 22, 1934, the first performance of Dmitri Shostakovich's opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk took place in Leningrad. Lady Macbeth, a work Shostakovich described as a "tragedy-satire," lampoons the decadence of capitalism as personified by the kulaks--comparatively wealthy peasants who resisted Soviet collectivization. Joseph Stalin, the tyrannical Secretary General of the Communist party, walked out of the theater before the conclusion of a performance of Lady Macbeth. Shortly thereafter, an article appeared in the official Communist newspaper, Pravda, entitled "Muddle Instead of Music." Although the author of the article was not identified, it appears certain it was either written by Stalin, or penned under his direction and approval. The author dismissed Lady Macbeth as a "stream of deliberately discordant sounds...Lady Macbeth enjoys great success with the bourgeois audience abroad."

Shostakovich withdrew his Fourth Symphony, a work he feared might inspire the same negative government reaction as Lady Macbeth. In the spring of 1937, Shostakovich turned his attentions to the Fifth Symphony. A seemingly penitent Shostakovich offered the following subtitle for the work: "A Soviet Artist's Practical Creative Reply to Just Criticism."

The 1937 premiere, conducted by the composer's longtime friend and advocate Evgeny Mravinsky, was a resounding success. The Fifth Symphony pleased the Soviet critics, and soon, the world at large. It appeared that Shostakovich had succeeded in creating a work that managed both to glorify the Soviet regime and appeal to international audiences.

In 1979, four years after the composer's death, Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, stunned the music world. The Shostakovich who emerged from this book was far different from the one who had seemed to follow the Communist party line. For the Shostakovich of Testimony, the Fifth Symphony was hardly a paean to Communism:
I think it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth. The rejoicing is forced, created under threat, as in (Modest Mussorgsky's opera) Boris Godunov. It's as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, "Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing," and you rise, shaky and go marching off, muttering, "Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing."
 
What kind of apotheosis is that? You have to be a complete oaf not to hear that. People who came to the premiere of the Fifth in the best of moods wept. 

Shostakovich's friend and student, Solomon Volkov, compiled Testimony from what he claimed were the composer's own words. Many, including, not surprisingly, the Soviet government, questioned the authenticity of Testimony. The controversy continues to this day, although as time has progressed, many of Shostakovich's friends and family members have acknowledged that Testimonyexpresses the composer's real feelings.

Program notes by Ken Meltzer.
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Posted in Classics. Tagged as Christof Perick, Christopher Warren-Green, Classical, History.

82ND CLASSICS SEASON TRIVIA

Leading up to the 2013-2014 Classics Season Announcement, we gave clues on Facebook and Twitter about details of the new season.  Did you follow us? Check out the questions we asked below and test your Classical Music (and Charlotte Symphony) knowledge!

Questions
January 28, 2013 What composer would be 100 this year? We'll perform works by this composer several times in our next Classics season.

January 29, 2013 What piano concerto will make its Charlotte Symphony Premiere at our first Classics concert next season? (Hint this work is more than double our 'age')

January 30, 2013 What 'out of this world' movement will we perform next Classics season that will have our Oratorio Singers of Charlotte Women's chorus singing offstage?

January 31, 2013 In our second Classics program of next season we'll perform this violin concerto that the composer dedicated to a fellow composer who played the solo part at the premiere.

Feb 1, 2013 Next fall we'll welcome this Irish Musician who's on a three-year plan to perform all of the Mozart piano concertos.  Who is this gentleman?

February 4, 2013 What oratorio is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of classical sacred music? This is part of next season's Classics Series!

February 5, 2013 When we feature our Principal harpist next classics season, you might just leave the concert 'dancing'... What piece will be on the program?

February 6, 2013 Name a composer from Charlotte. Name a conductor who lives (full-time!) in North Charlotte. They're both part of next year's Classics season!

February 7, 2013 What pianist who shares the same homeland with our music director Christopher Warren-Green, will return to the Belk Theatre stage next season?

Answers

January 28, 2013 Benjamin Britten. Featured in Classics 1 Listen, Classics 6Listen, and Classics 8 (arrangement) Listen

January 29, 2013 Lizst Piano Concerto No. 2 Listen

January 30, 2013 Holst's The Planets Listen

January 31, 2013 Saint-Saëns's Violin Concerto No. 3 which he dedicated to Pablo de Sarasate Listen

Feb 1, 2013  Finghin Collins

February 4, 2013 Bach's St. Matthew Passion Listen

February 5, 2013 Debussy's Dances sacree et Profane Listen

February 6, 2013 (Composer) Dan Locklair is from Charlotte and is Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Music at WakeForestUniversity in Winston-Salem. (Conductor) Robert Moody is Music Director for the Winston-Salem Symphony (NC) and has lived in LakeNorman.

February 7, 2013  Stephen Hough last performed with us in May 2011.

See our entire Series Here and Subscribe Here
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Posted in Classics. Tagged as Christopher Warren-Green, Classical, CSO Musicians, Haydn, History, Oratorio, Ravel, Rimsky-Korsakov, Sarasate.

NOTES OF VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, WALTON AND TCHAIKOVSKY

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

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

The first performance of the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis took place at the Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucester, England, on September 6, 1910, with the composer conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. 
The first performance of this work by the Charlotte Symphony took place on November 17, 1971 with Jacques Brourman conducting at Ovens Auditorium. The third and most recent performance set took place November 9 & 10, 2001 with William Eddins conducting at the Belk Theater of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

In 1904, while working as an editor Vaughan Williams discovered a series of melodies by the 16th-century English composer, Thomas Tallis. One Tallis melody in particular greatly appealed to Vaughan Williams.  It originally appeared in the 1567 English Psalter to serve as the music for the text "Why fumeth in sight: the Gentiles spite, In fury raging stout?"  This served as the basis for one of the most radiant English orchestral works of the 20th century, the "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis."
In a review of the premiere, Fuller Maitland, writing for The Times, described the unique qualities of Vaughan Williams's masterpiece: "The work is wonderful because it seems to lift one into some unknown region of musical thought and feeling.  Throughout its course one is never quite sure whether one is listening to something very old or very new..."

Walton VIOLA CONCERTO
The first performance of the Viola Concerto took place at Queen's Hall in London, England, on October 3, 1929, with Paul Hindemith as soloist and the composer conducting the Henry Wood Symphony Orchestra.  
The first (and only) performance of this work by the Charlotte Symphony took place on January 19 & 20, 1996 with Christopher Wilkins conducting at the Belk Theater of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

The great conductor Sir Thomas Beecham suggested to Walton that he compose a Concerto for the prominent British violist, Lionel Tertis.  Walton completed the Concerto in early 1929 and sent it to Tertis for his approval.  Tertis, however, rejected the work, finding it too modern for his tastes.
Despite limited rehearsal time, the premiere of the Walton Viola Concerto was a great success.  Tertis was in the audience, and sent a letter to Walton, apologizing for his initial assessment of the score.  In short order, Lionel Tertis also performed the Walton Concerto and remained a staunch advocate for the piece.

"One work of which I did not give the first performance was Walton's masterly concerto. With shame and contrition I admit that when the composer offered me the first performance I declined it. I was unwell at the time; but what is also true is that I had not learnt to appreciate Walton's style. The innovations in his musical language, which now seem so logical and so truly in the mainstream of music, then struck me as far-fetched." --Lionel Tertis

TCHAIKOVSKY  Symphony No. 5 in E minor
The first performance of the Symphony No. 5 took place in St. Petersburg on November 17, 1888, with the composer conducting. 

The first performance of this work by the Charlotte Symphony took place on February 21, 1936 with Guillermo S. de Roxlo conducting at Alexander Graham Middle School.  The thirteenth and most recent performance set took place on January 11 & 12, 2008 with William Eddins conducting at the Belk Theater of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

In the spring of 1888, a decade after completion of his Fourth Symphony, Tchaikovsky was determined to focus his attentions on composing.  He wrote to his brother, "first this summer I shall without fail compose a symphony."

Tchaikovsky insisted that his Fifth Symphony did not contain an extra-musical program. However, the Symphony's introduction, frequent reappearance, and dramatic metamorphosis of a central leitmotif certainly  seem to hint at some extra-musical significance. That notion is supported by the following words, located among Tchaikovsky's sketches for the Fifth Symphony:

Intr(oduction). Total submission before Fate--or, what is the same thing,  the inscrutable design of Providence.
Allegro. I. Murmurs, doubts, laments, reproaches against...XXX.
2. Shall I cast myself into the embrace of faith?
A wonderful programme, if only it can be fulfilled.

The question of whether the Fifth Symphony depicts a struggle with Fate will probably never be conclusively resolved.  In the final analysis, such considerations are secondary to the glorious music of this gripping and unforgettable symphonic journey.

Program notes by Ken Meltzer.
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Posted in Classics. Tagged as Classical, CSO Musicians, History.

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.
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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.
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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. 
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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
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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. 
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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.
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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. 
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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. 
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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. 
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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.
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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. 
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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. 
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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. 
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We look forward to what 2013 will bring. We thank you so much for being part of our Symphony Family!
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Tagged as Charlotte Symphony, Christopher Warren-Green, Classical, CSO Musicians, CSYO, Education, History, summer pops, symphony park.

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