Sound of Charlotte Blog

Music al Fresco

Photo taken on June 15, 2014 at Symphony Park. Photo © Genesis Group Photography
 
 L to R - Independence Park, Freedom Park, and former tent at Symphony Park
 
The Charlotte Symphony played a free outdoor concert during its very first season. In July of 1932, the orchestra performed in Independence Park, the city's oldest public park. The program included Beethoven's might Fifth Symphony and the Overture from Tannhäuser by Richard Wagner. Some 3000 people attended.
 
Over the years, the orchestra occasionally performed open-air concerts, inaugurating, for example, Festival in the Park at Freedom Park with two concerts in 1962.  But the CSO Summer Pops series as we know it today began in 1983, when the CSO took over the independently-run Summer Pops, organized in 1975 with musicians from Charlotte and other nearby towns.
 
The symphony's Summer Pops series had a variety of homes: Freedom Park, Independence Park and the lawn at SouthPark Mall. On sultry Sunday evenings, crowds of Charlotteans spread picnic blankets and lawn chairs, but the settings were not always ideal for musicians.
 
"The season used to go from the third week in June into early August," remembers CSO Principal cellist Alan Black.  "It was so brutal. The bandshell at Freedom Park it was so hot when we used to play there because it was enclosed, and the air couldn't flow. And we used to do it for TV (broadcast on WTVI), so there were lights everywhere."
 
In June 2002, the orchestra and thousands of listeners found a new permanent home in the elegant Symphony Park at SouthPark. Its sloped lawns and canopied stage are the setting each June for four weeks of Pops concerts, currently lead by Albert-George Schram.
 
"I enjoy and relish being a part of these symphony concerts in the park in June," Schram says. "It allows the orchestra to dig deeper into the community, to crawl inside. That has been the greatest joy."
 
 
This article originally appeared in "The Sound of Charlotte: The First 75 Years of the Charlotte Symphony," a commemorative history written by Meg Freeman Whalen.

Posted in Summer. Tagged as History.

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.

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.

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.

Singing worlds into being. A view from an Oratorio Singer

Originally Posted: July 2010

My mother is a church organist, accompanist and piano teacher; my father a retired choir director and vocal soloist.  So I grew up in a home filled with music. Dad, raised in a home where singing was not smiled upon, except perhaps in church but certainly not during a meal, encouraged his children to sing early and often. And so we did. Especially at the dinner table. We would often sing the blessing. We would frequently launch into a tune if someone uttered a phrase that reminded us of a song or inadvertently spoke a few actual words from a song. And we would sometimes create impromptu operas based on the conversation or what happened to be sitting on the dinner table. ("The Seasonings," based on a salad dressing bottle, had a particularly successful run.) It was often silly, and perhaps we didn't sing particularly well, but we sang.

I joined the Oratorio Singers last year, and I am glad beyond words to be singing the great works of music with such a wonderful group of like-minded people who are dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. And to making great music. This November, for example, I am pretty sure that we won't be singing about salad dressing. Alongside the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, however, we will be singing Franz Joseph Haydn's oratorio, Die Schöpfung (The Creation), considered by many to be Haydn's (known as the "Father of the Symphony") masterpiece.

Someone asked me the other day, "Why do you sing?" My response, of course, was that I sing because I cannot play an instrument. But the question got me thinking. Why do we sing? The human race has created music and sung songs for over 3,000 years. We know from archeological discoveries that music was a vital part of virtually all known ancient cultures, from Greece to Persia to Egypt to India to China to Africa and beyond. Australia's indigenous Aborigines believe that the world was sung into creation, and they can still navigate vast distances across the land via ancient paths known as songlines. It's a beautifully poetic notion that C.S. Lewis employed in his fictional work, The Magician's Nephew, as Aslan the lion's powerful singing calls the world of Narnia into existence.

I have come up with three reasons why we sing (well, four, if you count the inability to play an instrument). Alas, none of them include the possibility of appearing on American Idol.

We sing because making music is an intrinsic and essential part of the human spirit. It's part of what we do, and of who and what we are. We sing not because we can, but because we must. Sure, let's not get too carried away. After all, the ability to sing doesn't separate us from the animals. (That's what opposable thumbs, and instruments, are for.) But music is part of the human DNA. We aren't human because we sing; we sing because we are human.

We also sing because there are songs that need to be sung. The Oratorio Singers have performed a remarkable repertoire of the great music of our time. If you cannot be moved by the musical genius and the soaring optimism of the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, or by the depth of emotion and rich tapestry of folk and liturgical harmonies in Rachmaninoff's All Night Vigil, then you cannot be moved.

Finally, we sing because someone is listening. Sure, you can sing along with the radio in the car without an audience (and may even be glad for the lack of one!). Singing for an audience, though, is a rich and rewarding experience for both the singer and the listener. It's a form of communication. I used to enjoy the applause at the end of a performance because I thought of it primarily as a reward for a collective job well done. Standing on the stage of the Blumenthal PAC at the conclusion of Beethoven's Ninth this past April, I realized that I had got it somewhat wrong. The enthusiastic applause at the end of a performance is indeed thrilling to hear. But not so much for what it says about the performers or the performance. It's thrilling to hear for what it says about you, the listener. And what it says is that the impact of the live performance of a great musical work has moved you to respond. In a way that no other art form (and no CD or radio or MP3 file) can, a live performance has elevated your spirit, and maybe even raised your body out of its seat. You have participated in a shared, uniquely human experience and absorbed the beauty and emotional power of live music into your very being. You have fed your soul.
Music affords us the opportunity to celebrate the most essential form of human expression and the highest reach of the human spirit.

That's a good reason to sing.

Born and raised in Aurora, Illinois, Tim Parolini grew up listening to a wide range of music, but mostly classical, jazz and blues. A graduate of Aurora University, he studied voice with Mr. Sten Halfvarson and performed with the Fine Arts Chorale under the direction of Dr. Elwood Smith. His fond memories of attending concerts as a youth include many Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances under the direction of the late, great Sir Georg Solti. Tim runs a brand marketing and design business that specializes in helping niche-oriented businesses and nonprofit organizations identify and effectively communicate their brand value. He is excited to be participating with the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte and currently serves on its board.
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Tagged as Beethoven, Beethoven's Ninth, Haydn, History, Live Performance, Oratorio, Rachmaninoff, Sing, The Creation.

Violins of Hope Bring Powerful Message to Charlotte Schoolkids

Originally Posted: April 2012

This month Charlotte has the great honor of hosting the North American premiere of an exhibit of the Violins of Hope. Twenty years ago, Israeli master violinmaker Amnon Weinstein began collecting and repairing violins that once belonged to Jewish musicians killed in the Holocaust. His aim was to restore these violins and hear them played again,  restoring the memory of the nameless millions, including the musicians and artists who were lost. Thus was born Violins of Hope.

Eighteen of these instruments are in Charlotte through April 24 on display at the UNC Charlotte Center City Campus. There are numerous events connected to the exhibit taking place throughout Charlotte, including several performances this week featuring CSO players. The project will culminate with the performance, Triumph of Hope: Violins of Hope with the Charlotte Symphony, conducted by CSO music director Christopher Warren-Green and featuring master violinists Shlomo Mintz, Cihat Askin and David Russell.

A special component of the project is a series of in-school performances given by Charlotte Symphony musicians. Two ensembles comprised of professional CSO musicians will perform 14 concerts at local middle and high schools. These programs are made possible in part by a generous donation from Eva and Robert Stark.



Students will learn about Jewish culture and the horrors of the Holocaust through the music of the era. The repertoire features a mix of traditional Jewish and Klezmer music; forbidden music considered "degenerate" by the Nazis; music composed in the concentration camps; and music that evokes survival and healing after the Holocaust. Each concert also includes narration and projected images that explore pre-World War II Jewish culture; the Third Reich's attempt to control art and culture; the role of music and musicians in the concentration camps; and how the European Jewish community refused to be silenced and perservered after the war.



 It is important that students study the Holocaust in school as a way to learn about these unbelievably horrific events from our history and to preserve the memory of those who perished as a result. Seeing a live musical performance such as this is one way to help deepen this understanding. Using this knowledge they can help prevent the repetition of similar events in the future.



With a project such as the Violins of Hope, music helps us learn, and music helps us heal.
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Tagged as Amnon Weinstein, Christopher Warren-Green, Cihat Askin, CMS, Culture, David Russell, Education, History, Holocaust, Preservation, Shlomo Mintz, Violins of Hope, World Class City.

One of these things is not like the other… or is it?

Originally Posted: February 2012

Does this:


Go with this?

 
 

Current tradition, and/or stigma would dictate a resounding no. But the 2012 Super Bowl commercials say otherwise.

Composers Beethoven, Rossini and Bach were featured- likely without the knowledge of the 114 million viewers. The pieces included as the background music for the famous ads are recognizable: Beethoven's 5th, Rossin's Overture to the The Barber of Seville, even film composer John Williams' Imperial March from Star Wars.



The similarities between the athleticism of football and classical music don't end with the ads.
The typical themes of grueling practice, delayed gratification, stressful performances and incredible highs further link the not-so-different worlds.

Many of the CSO Musicians are avid sports players- including soccer, tennis, golf, and many marathon runners and yogis.

What's your link between sports and music? Does classical music or sport perpetuate throughout your life? Do you see any overlap?
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Tagged as Classical, commercials, CSO Musicians, Elgar, History, Sports, super bowl.

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