Sound of Charlotte Blog
During this time of social distancing, our Education & Community Engagement team and Youth Orchestra Programs team have been hard at work creating and adapting content that teachers, students, orchestra members, and families can access from their homes.
As school instruction has moved to online classrooms, so have our musicians. They're providing virtual instrument coaching to students in local schools. In this Zoom meeting students, teachers, and CSO musicians follow along with the music as a violin student from Northwest School of the Arts performs solo.
Musicians and members of the staff have also participated in coaching and career panels, answering student's questions about what it's like to be a professional musician and what their career options are, both onstage and off. These panels are funded by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.
Our Youth Orchestra's 2020-21 season auditions are complete! Everyone adapted quickly to conduct virtual auditions for over 200 students over the course of four days.
The rehearsals must go on! Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion players from the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra get together virtually to check-in, discuss their music, and see familiar faces again.
Youth Philharmonic conductor Jessica Morel recorded lectures on Brahms and Beethoven, covering everything from the composers' childhood, personalities, and most famous pieces.
In lieu of the special shout-outs they would have received at their final concert, Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees recorded special videos for the seniors, thanking them for their commitment to the program and sharing their plans for next year.
For in-home learning, musical coloring pages and word searches are available at #CSOatHome, in addition to a series of virtual Education Concerts that include digital guides paired with audio playlists. Teachers and parents can choose the elements that best meet their needs to introduce young learners to classical repertoire. The program themes cover everything from fairy tales to math concepts and take participants on journeys into outer space and backwards through time.
The Charlotte Symphony's staff and musicians are eager to find even more ways to stay connected with our community and provide educational resources during this time. Keep checking #CSOatHome for more content. Read more
Under the guidance of Dr. Ernest Pereira, the more than 160 students of the Charlotte Symphony's Junior Youth and Youth Orchestras received 25 hours of top-notch coaching with CSO musicians this spring. Training in a professional setting with the pros not only enhanced their development as young musicians, but also prepared them for a series of performances starting with February's 26thannual Youth Festival and culminating with their Spring Concerts.
Senior Patrick Hoffman plays viola for the CSYO and values the unique experience the Youth Orchestra provides: "[The CSYO is] an opportunity to play mature repertoire where people want to play because it's not something that's required." Hoffman also appreciates the connections he's made saying "Maybe you sit next to someone you've never met from Cornelius. ... [The CSYO] really brings the Charlotte area together." Patrick will attend UNC Greensboro in the fall where he will pursue a degree in Music Education.
For their next performance, the Youth Orchestra will play to a crowd of more than two-thousand on Sunday, June 16, presenting the prelude to the Charlotte Symphony's "A Summer Pops Fantasia" concert at Symphony Park.
Other summer activities include the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra Summer Camp July 31 August 4, and a once-in-a-lifetime trip to DC in June, where the young musicians will train and perform with prestigious youth orchestras from other cities.
Written by Kristen Freeman, CSO Intern
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We look forward to what 2013 will bring. We thank you so much for being part of our Symphony Family!
By Duncan McFadyen | Originally aired 11/16/12 on WFAE
Listen to the full story here.
Excerpt from the interview:
WARREN-GREEN: I've wanted to bring the children onto the stage at the Symphony every year, because I believe 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, and I want our audience to see what their patronage is doing for the community.
Christopher Warren-Green leads the Charlotte Symphony in a rehearsal of Mozart's Mass in c minor. Credit Duncan McFadyen http://www.wfae.org
MCFADYEN: Where do you think this perception that classical music is inaccessible comes from? Do you think that teaching children about the arts early in life helps to dispel that myth?
WARREN-GREEN: ...there is a preconception that the concert hall is maybe not a place for us. It's wrong! Everyone is musical, and if you get a chance with all the churches around here to get your children into some kind of choir, my goodness, the training is extraordinary. And it changes their life, it really does. This is not a corny catch phrase. Music transforms lives. It did it for me: I was nowhere until music picked me up out of the gutter at a very young age...
Were you introduced to music at a young age? Have you been shaped by a Youth Orchestra experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Read or listen to the entire interview here.
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.
Winterfield Elementary Performance at Classics Series, January 2011
This special performance is reflective of Music Director Christopher Warren-Green's vision for the Charlotte Symphony as a primary source for music education in Charlotte. Warren-Green sees the Charlotte Symphony's youth orchestras as vital to the growth of the organization and the enrichment of the Charlotte community.
"I feel very strongly that you can't have one organization--the Charlotte Symphony or our Youth Orchestras--without the other," said Maestro Warren-Green. "We need the professionals to teach the youth and the youth are our future musicians, audience members, and supporters. Our mission is to educate our whole community and our Youth Orchestra [CSYO and JYO] programs, for instance, have been educating young musicians for fifty years."
Mozart Mass in C Minor will take place on Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 8:00 p.m. at the Belk Theater. The concert will feature the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte, the official chorus of the Charlotte Symphony, and soloists Karina Gauvin, soprano, Mary Wilson, soprano, Daniel Stein, tenor, and Sumner Thompson, baritone.
Single tickets start at $19 and are available by calling (704) 972-2000 or visiting the website.
In line with the collaborative and educational goals of the program, this year's concert features contributions from CPCC's graphic design and visual art students and professors. Graphic design students produced titles, logos, and program books that captured the essence of this year's orchestral selections. The winning design portfolio, seen below, will be used for this year's concert and the logo will be used this year and for future On Campus concerts.
Additionally, visual art students produced original works, also inspired by the program's music, to be projected on a screen during Barber's "Second Essay for Orchestra, op. 17." Further collaboration with Ellen Ward, a CPCC art professor and leader of Charlotte's Urban Sketchers, will take place during Prokofiev's "Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet Suite 1 and 2." Ward and other artists will "live sketch" the orchestra and the images will be projected onto the screen during the concert. The use of technology engages the students in a multi-sensory way, helping to enhance the concert-going experience.
The concert will feature works by Samuel Barber, Sergei Prokofiev, and living composer Michael Daugherty. Leonardo Soto, Principal Timpanist for the Charlotte Symphony, will perform as soloist for Daugherty's "Raise the Roof." Nearly 850 music appreciation students have the opportunity to attend the performance for course credit.
In the summer before seventh grade, I entered into a long and devoted alliance to a formidable but wonderfully giving master: the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras. My orchestral career, at that point, was still in its developmental stages, and I could barely read music. Thanks to my Suzuki training, I memorized everything, and learned notes through finger numbers. This would be the method to my madness in the "Sizzling Strings," small youth string orchestras in the Charlotte and Matthews community that would later expand to include the "Blazing Band."
Led by CMS teacher Bruce Becker, these groups truly nurtured my desire to perform in any sort of ensemble and introduced me to fellow musicians that I still frequently gig with today. Through his encouragement, I auditioned for the CMS Middle School Honors Orchestra, and it was there that I first understood what it meant to compete for a chair; more importantly, it was where I heard about the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras. From my stand partner and others, I came to the understanding that each of the principal players of the Honors Orchestras that year was in either the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO) or the Junior Youth Orchestra (JYO). I heard tales of how these kids, orchestral warriors of their time, had won auditions that were legendary in their intensity. My mother spoke to other parents at the final Honors Orchestra concert, and then worried about what would clearly become a near-obsession for me. As I picked up the glossy brochure, one particularly snotty kid, and my biggest competition at that time, muttered "I heard they make you cry in the auditions," as he sauntered by. I was hooked.
Upon taking my JYO audition [in which I did not cry], I felt an excitement that I had not experienced up to that point in my "career." My Suzuki training had served me well. The night before the first rehearsal, my mother spent nearly three hours straightening my long unruly hair, and I polished my violin until I could see my reflection in the varnish. When I arrived the next morning, I was met with a surprise: the JYO was a full symphony with strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion something I had not anticipated.
From the back of the second violin section I barely hung on as the orchestra read down an arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. Panicked, I realized that I would have to work harder than I ever had in order to keep up. More importantly, I was carnivorous in my desire for a better chair. Like most of the kids in Charlotte, placement trumped "musical experience," "cultural enrichment," or any other "reason for the season" the adults had thought up to justify the existence of these ensembles in the community. I had to know what it felt like to be first chair of THIS orchestra. Nothing else would suffice!
As I plotted my practicing moves from the back of the section, equally focused and distracted by flutes?! clarinets?! timpani?! I realized that this was the start of something very big. Though I spent the next six years trying to decide whether or not I would major in literature or fashion marketing, I now realize that thanks to the JYO, and later, the CSYO, my career path has been set since the seventh grade. And I don't regret a minute of it.
Jessica McJunkins was a Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra violinist from 1998-2004. She served as principal second violin for the CSYO Carnegie Hall debut in 2002 and Assistant Concertmaster for the 2003-04 season. For more about the youth orchestras, visit www.csyo.net.
When rising 6th-grader Maria stood proudly in front of an audience of some 25 people last Thursday (July 22) to perform "I'm a Little Teapot" on her bright pink violin, it signaled a triumph a triumph not just for this quiet, thin, intelligent young girl, but for teacher Courtney Hollenbeck and the children of Winterfield Elementary School.
It has been more than three years since Courtney Hollenbeck, a young second grade teacher at Winterfield Elementary, first brought her violin to school to teach her class about sound. Winterfield is a high-poverty school about 90% of the students are economically disadvantaged and most of the 7 and 8-year olds in Ms. Hollenbeck's class had never seen or heard a violin. They were all fascinated, but one little girl showed unusual interest. That little girl was Maria.
After class, Maria, who is shy and undemanding, walked boldly up to her teacher and asked for violin lessons. Courtney Hollenbeck is not a violinist; she played as a teenager, but did not study music seriously. But she recognized in that moment what the violin might do in the lives of her students. So, not only did she agree to teach Maria, but she founded a violin program at Winterfield a program open to all interested students, free of charge. She began to scour Ebay in search of affordable violins, spending her own money to purchase instruments for the growing number of children in her Friday afternoon violin class.
Without even knowing it, Ms. Hollenbeck became part of a movement in the United States an ever-expanding effort to help children become smarter students and better citizens through music. While the concept is not new, it has received a booster shot with the recent appointment of Gustavo Dudamel as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Dudamel is a graduate of arguably the most successful youth music program in the world, Venezuela's "El Sistema." Since he began receiving widespread media attention two years ago, programs all over the country have taken root, serving children from Baltimore to Los Angeles to Juno, Alaska. Learn more at http://elsistemausa.org/.
This past December, Courtney Hollenbeck called the Charlotte Symphony looking for help. Her program now served 25 children, grades 2 through 5, and with so many kids at so many different levels, it had exceeded her ability to teach them. The Symphony's Education Programs Manager, Chris Stonnell, and I met with Ms. Hollenbeck and began to brainstorm ways to support the program.
A three-week summer violin camp was one of the fruits of our efforts. Children in the Winterfield program were invited to attend the camp, where they received general music instruction, instrument demonstrations, and violin lessons with Sa-Idah Harley, a local violinist and violin teacher. The camp culminated in the performance last Thursday, July 22, in which Maria, her 8-year-old sister Julia, and their friend Leslie played for their families, Winterfield staff, and other campers.
The Charlotte Symphony has applied for grants from the N.C. Arts Council and the Foundation for the Carolinas to help strengthen and improve the program at Winterfield this academic year. Everywhere you look, funding for arts education is tight if not downright obliterated. Arts organizations all over Charlotte, all over North Carolina, all over the United States, are struggling to find ways to bring music or drama or dance or painting into the lives of children. School systems, counties, states have cut arts education budgets. Brave and passionate individuals, like Courtney Hollenbeck, and organizations like the Charlotte Symphony are bridging the gap. But we need help.
The CSO is happy to announce that the NC Arts Council has granted the Symphony money in support of the Winterfield Strings Program for 2010-2011.
Meg Freeman Whalen is CSO Director of Public Relations and Community Engagement
By Mary Catherine Rendleman Edwards
I will never forget the first time I heard a Charlotte Symphony concert. My parents had Charlotte Symphony season tickets, and on this particular evening my mother was ill.
I was a fifth grade violin student in the Eastover Elementary string class taught by Dominco Scappucci. There was a guest violinist slated to play, so my Daddy took me to the concert. I felt very special all dressed up and was introduced to grownups as we took our seats.
I remember that I was feeling sleepy towards the end of the first selection, but then Sidney Harth walked out on stage with his violin. He played the Beethoven Violin Concerto. His long bow strokes producing silky sounds were mesmerizing. I was engaged not just for the moment, but for the rest of my life.
No longer was being the first chair in the Eastover Elementary String Orchestra enough. It was just the beginning. There was music to learn and places to go. I went on to be a Charlotte Symphony Young Artist Winner in 1968 and joined the youth orchestra as a violinist while in ninth grade, going on to play in the Charlotte Symphony my senior year. Being a violinist was a ticket for me to see the world. I have played under conductors Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, James Levine, Leonard Slatkin, George Solti, Daniel Barenboim, and many more.
That night many years ago I was lucky enough to have parents who loved music, a violin given to me to play, and opportunities provided to me by the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Charlotte Symphony. I sure hope they keep up the good work! I am now back in the Charlotte area teaching orchestra at Eastway and McClintock Middle Schools, hoping like the musicians of the Charlotte Symphony to pass on the wonderful lifelong gift of music.
Mary Catherine Rendleman Edwards has enjoyed a carreer as a professional violinist for over forty years. She holds a Bachelor of Music from Boston University and a Master of Music from University of Michigan/Ann Arbor. A Salisbury resident, she drives to Charlotte daily to teach orchestra at Eastway and McClintock Middle Schools.
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