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Sound of Charlotte Blog

Strauss vs Strauss

In our current season, we are celebrating the 150th birthday of Richard Strauss by performing his works throughout the Classics series. In this weekend's KnightSounds concert, A Waltz to Remember, we fill the program with works from Johann Strauss II, "The Waltz King." Learn more about these composers which shared the same occupation, the same last name, and absolutely no relation!

Full name Johann Strauss II Richard Georg Strauss 
Life 1825-1899 1864 -1949
Nationality  Austrian German
Born Vienna Munich
Father Johann, composer of more than 250 works Franz , principal horn player of the Bavarian Court Opera
Known for  Waltzes Symphonic poems and operas 
Age of first composition 6 6
Famous piece  On the Beautiful Blue Danube Don Quixote
Works in CSO 2014-2015 season Overture to Die Fledermaus, Annen Polka, The Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus, Emperor Waltz, The Audition Song from Die Fledermaus, On the Beautiful Blue Danube Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life), Don Quixote, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme

Posted in Classics. Tagged as KnightSounds.

A Little Knight Music, with Lunch

Photo by Logan Cyrus
It's not music or lunch, it's music and lunch (or music and cocktails if you attend the evening concert)! With the Brown Bag Matinees and KnightSounds, Charlotte Symphony Music Director Christopher Warren-Green says "it's all about making classical music accessible to as many people as possible."

Maestro Warren-Green and the Charlotte Symphony will perform A Little Knight Music at noon and again at 7:30 pm on Friday, March 28 in Knight Theater at the Levine Center for the Performing Arts.
Starry pieces Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music) and two movements from Serenata Notturna, as well as the rondo from Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp featuring Principal Flute Elizabeth Landon and Principal Harp Andrea Mumm, comprise the mostly-Mozart program. The concerts will aptly close with Joseph Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony, complete with the ceremonial disappearance of the musicians, true to Haydn's original intent (that's a whole other story!).

If you've never been to the symphony, you might be concerned about what to wear or when to clap. If you're a regular concertgoer, you might dread the thought of stifling a cough, especially if you forget to--gasp--unwrap your throat lozenges before the music starts!

Forget all that.

Now try to imagine a maestro welcoming your peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich in the concert hall...
Starting at noon and lasting just under an hour, the Brown Bag Matinee is a perfect mid-day break. And yes, you can actually eat in the theater while the Symphony plays.

The Charlotte Symphony is dedicated to enriching the community through live orchestral music. To that end, Warren-Green wanted to relieve barriers of budget, time and comfort with the matinees.
For only $12, the short, noon-time concerts compete less with lunch, work and weekend schedules and do not require a late-night outing. Such a package is a win for many music lovers, including uptown professionals, savvy spenders, senior citizens, symphony newcomers, families with pre-school aged children and student groups.
The Symphony had a successful soft launch of the Brown Bag Matinees this past October; the March 28
matinee is the second, and the next corresponds with the May 9, 2014 Carnivale KnightSounds.
Like all KnightSounds programs, $29 general admission to the 7:30 pm performance includes a free drink
and pre-and-post-concert happenings. Discovery Place, Charlotte's science and technology museum, is
cohosting the evening event and will provide activities and demonstrations related to luminescence.

Tagged as Christopher Warren-Green, KnightSounds.


"Tweet Seats" available for KnightSounds 'American Music Masters and Pioneers'
 April 19th at 7:30pm
To tie into the Ulysses Festival 2013 theme, "Art and Technology," we will offer patrons the opportunity TO use their phones during the April 19th concert by live-tweeting.  These seats will be in a special section in the back of the orchestra level, as not to disturb other concert-goers.  We will ask those sitting in this area to turn off all sounds as well as reduce screen brightness. Those who sit in this section must promise to tweet during the 75 minute concert about the experience using tags such as #ulyssesfest, #KnightSounds, or @cltsymphony.

Limited quantities of tickets in this section are available and are 20% off regular prices! The price includes pre-concert reception, drink ticket, concert, and post-concert DJ dance party and are available at http://bit.ly/QoGI0Z(www.carolinatix.org) using promo code TWEET SEAT OR by calling 704.972.2000. Be sure to mention you'd like Tweet Seats if ordering over the phone!
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Tagged as Innovation, Jacomo Rafael Bairos, KnightSounds.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations Kari!
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Tagged as Charlotte Symphony, CSO Musicians, Innovation, KnightSounds.

Colors of Music

Originally Posted: January 2012

After last weekend's concerts, in which the Charlotte Symphony featured Disney tunes including Colors of the Wind, this weekend's performances will touch on colors of music!

The CSO recently explored the experience of synesthesia in its October KnightSounds concert, which paired paintings by Romare Bearden with pieces from the artist's lifetime. (Read more on synesthesia and the concert here)

Pianist Joyce Yang has also explored synesthesia through her playing and recent album, Collages.

Ms. Yang will perform with the Charlotte Symphony on January 13 and 14, performing, among other pieces, Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Under the conducting prowess of of North Carolina Symphony Conductor Grant Llewellyn, Ms. Yang will perform works by composers Rachmaninoff and Liszt.

Liszt himself experienced synesthesia, and is recorded as asking for specific colors from an orchestra.
"When Liszt first began as Kappellmeister in Weimar (1842), it astonished the orchestra that he said: 'O please, gentlemen, a little bluer, if you please! This tone type requires it!' Or: 'That is a deep violet, please, depend on it! Not so rose!' First the orchestra believed Liszt just joked; later they got accustomed to the fact that the great musician seemed to see colors where there were only tones."

 -Anonymous, as quoted in Friedrich Mahling

People experience sensations of all kinds while listening to and playing music. The musical correlation to color is only one aspect of the web-like ties music has to many other sensory experiences.
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Tagged as Grant Llewelyn, History, Joyce Yang, KnightSounds, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, synesthesia.


Originally Posted :September 2011

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Capriccio Espagnol
SARASATE Carmen Fantasy
DE FALLA Three Cornered Hat
RAVEL Bolero

This weekend's program features sassy, sumptuous selections, all with a Spanish theme.
Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol, featuring CSO concertmaster Calin Lupanu, is a sprightly, vivacious piece based on Spanish folk melodies. The piece was featured in the opening credits of the 1935 movie The Devil is a Woman.

The Devil is a Woman
Also showcasing concertmaster Lupanu, Sarasate's Gypsy Airs and Carmen Fantasy are considered two of the most challenging pieces for the violin. Sarasate himself was a violinist, of whom colleague George Bernard Shaw said "he left criticism gasping miles behind him." Sarasate's fiery, fearless style influenced the violin school greatly and continues today.

Itzhak Perlman plays Sarasate\'s Zigeunerweisen \"Gypsy Airs\"

 "For 37 years I've practiced 14 hours a day and now they call me a genius." -Pablo Sarasate

In case you've missed it, check out the CSO Facebook and Twitter Bolero video countown, in honor of the finale.

Ravel's most famous work, Bolero is a Spanish style of dance that originated in the 18th century. Danced either solo or with a couple, a Bolero is in 3/4 time and of a moderate tempo. With a much more contained nature than the Sarasate pieces, the fire of this danza quietly simmers before it boils.

These impassioned, spirited works are distinctly Spanish, with all the verve and warmth therein. Join us this weekend for ¡Bolero!
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Tagged as Bolero, calin lupanu, CSO Musicians, Dance, de falla, History, KnightSounds, Ravel, Rimsky-Korsakov, saraste.

Dreams for a New Age of Arts in Charlotte

Originally Posted: Spetember 2010

"We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams"

So begins Arthur O'Shaughnessy's ode to the creative class. Like many others my age, I first head this refrain uttered by Gene Wilder in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." (The source of a number of many of my early cultural references...) It wasn't until years later that I took the time to read the whole poem. (It's good.) What reminded me of this poem recently was an article about an American symphony orchestra (not ours) that was in the process of laying the groundwork for some hoped-for long term financial stability (like ours...and so many others). In the article were quotes from civic leaders, corporate recruiters, politicians, and music professionals all hailing the importance of a successful symphony orchestra to their city.

Most comments focused on a successful orchestra being a source of civic pride, an important corporate recruiting tool, or a local cultural benefit. These benefits notwithstanding, many orchestras in America are struggling. Blame the economic downturn, changing demographics, or the proliferation of entertainment options, but orchestras are fighting an ongoing battle to justify their existence. A few have folded. It got me to thinking.

What if a symphony orchestra could actually be an educational, economic, and cultural catalyst to a city and its surroundings? What if that happened here?

Radical thinking, I know. But just for the fun of it, let's continue down this less traveled road. Charlotte perpetually strives to become a world class city. I know that because I read it in the paper every other day. Just what that means, of course, depends on your perspective. To some, it means the crime is low, the schools are good, and the train runs on time. To others, it means a vibrant cultural and sporting life. To others, something completely different. People inside and outside of Charlotte often poke fun at our civic status-seeking. And sure, as a city and as a region we aren't yet comfortable in our own skin. We try too hard to impress. But isn't this drive to become a better version of ourselves exactly the stuff that made Charlotte what it is today? We do not accept that this is all we can be. We desire. We hope. We aspire.
Great strides have been made in Charlotte to lay the financial groundwork for a viable symphony orchestra for years to come. There is much work to be done, of course, but thanks to the generosity and support of so many, the orchestra is in better shape than it has been for some time. What if we took things further, though? What if we adopted a vision to make Charlotte a recognized home for the arts and a leading cultural and musical center in the U.S.? Sure, there are many reasons why it wouldn't, couldn't, or shouldn't happen. But what if it did? What if we put together a plan to integrate the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra into the very fabric of life in Charlotte?

For years, music education has been considered a luxury, and is often one of the first programs to get cut when the budget tightens. But music education shouldn't be a luxury in our school systems; it should be an integral and irreplaceable part of the curriculum. A few years ago, Jonathan Fanton, then president of the MacArthur Foundation, put it this way: "The arts deepen our understanding of the human spirit, extend our capacity to comprehend the lives of others, allow us to imagine a more just and humane world. Through their diversity of feeling, their variety of form, their multiplicity of inspiration, the arts make our culture richer and more reflective."

Beyond that, there is strong evidence that music education that includes instrumental music performance from kindergarten through high school delivers measurable improvements in the math and science performance of students (another blog for another day...) The Charlotte region is moving to diversify its economic base and attempting to become a hub for energy and technology and other areas of economic development. It will increasingly need an employment base equipped with not only specific trade skills, but also with people who have broad ranging abilities in science and math. Music education can help. As a bonus, we develop a population of residents who are interested in and understand the value of the arts.
About three years ago, the nonprofit organization, Americans for the Arts, conducted an economic impact study and concluded that nationally, America's nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year. Closer to home, some folks launched an arts festival back in 1977 in Charleston as a companion to a similar festival in Italy. Today, Spoleto Festival USA is recognized as one of the world's leading festivals. Organizers estimate that the annual economic impact is over $55 million ($44 million from visitors) for the 17-day event. The festival also supports the equivalent of just under 1,000 jobs and over $20 million in local household income. I'm not suggesting that Charlotte attempt its own "Spoleto" necessarily. And yes, a 2-week music festival with out-of-town guest artists is a different animal from a resident orchestra. But rather than looking at the orchestra (and the arts in general) as a debit in the civic checkbook, we should recognize, develop, and promote the arts as an economic asset. I love sports, but they are not the only pursuits that deliver economic impact to a region.
"World class" or not, Charlotte is fast becoming an international city. We can fear that or embrace it. In making the transition from a "small town with a lot of people" to a true city-region, one of the benefits of attracting a broader scope of individuals is the cultural heritage they bring. Charlotte has always done a good job of embracing people with different backgrounds. Not diversity for the sake of being diverse, but embracing diversity as a means of enriching the cultural and economic fabric of the city. Already, we are seeing the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra begin a new venture with its KnightSounds concert series at the Knight Theater. Designed to engage audiences and let them experience the orchestra in a whole new way, KnightSounds is not about dumbing down the musical experience, but rather about opening it up to an expanded audience. It's a good start, and I hope we will continue to do more to reach out to the community that is not part of the traditional concert-going audience.

O'Shaughnessy's poem later reads:

...For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

We all know that times are difficult. That shouldn't stop us from dreaming or doing. Spoleto USA was launched in 1977. If you have forgotten or weren't around, the 1970s was the worst decade economically since the Great Depression. High inflation (over 13 percent by 1979), double-digit interest rates (the prime rate had hit 21.5 by the end of 1980), and not one, but two oil crises all contributed to  a sluggish cynicism throughout the country and long lines at the gas station. If the Spoleto organizers had tried to "time the market" and waited until times got better to launch their festival, it may not have happened.

The Charlotte Symphony is working hard to get its financial house in order and develop a sound business plan for the future. It has a new Music Director who is talented, experienced, and passionate about his mission here. It is reaching out to new audiences. Now is the time to bring to birth a new age of music and the arts to Charlotte. Let's do it.
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Tagged as americans for arts, Innovation, KnightSounds, O'Shaunessy, spoleto festival usa, World Class City.