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Sound of Charlotte Blog

Passing Down the Love of Music

There was a certain large piece of furniture in my childhood bedroom that could only be described as uncharacteristic to such a space. Sandwiched between my Barbie house and the bookcase filled with Babysitter's Club titles sat a cabinet record player. I'm assuming it was there for lack of a better place in my parents' home. Nevertheless, there it sat and as a result, music has always been a prominent element in my life. I placed the needle gently down on a record of my choosing before doing just about anything else in that room every single day. I sang. I danced. My Barbies danced.

One album I remember from my youth was a recording of circus-themed classical music, probably including some of the very same works that are on this weekend's Lollipops program. For a little girl with a very active imagination, this classical composition was the soundtrack of many afternoons inside that pink bedroom as I pretended to be a clown, acrobat, or tight-rope walker.

I've been encouraging the love of music to my daughter since her birth three years ago and I'm so excited to take her to the Charlotte Symphony's Lollipops performance of Carnivals and Clowns on Saturday, November 10th. This is the first Lollipops concert of the season and it's a not-to-be missed event on my calendar.  I can't wait to watch my daughter's face light up as she hears the colorful music.

Along with the performance of Dvorak's Carnival Overture and  Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag, the concert also features Drew Allison and his Grey Seal Puppets  and these puppets are always so fun to watch! Drew Allison will help tell the Russian tale of Petrushka, the straw puppet that comes to life, set to Igor Stravinsky's music score.  I'm looking forward to hearing this and all the other beautiful pieces in this weekend's program.

My daughter loves coming to the pre-concert festival.  Here she plays several instruments of the orchestra, makes musical arts and crafts and sees demonstrations by local musicians.  After the concert, we plan to head next door to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art's Family Day event to make even more art for our Home Collection.

After such an exciting Saturday morning, it's quite possible that there will be a little tight-rope walker or lion-tamer performing in our living room later on in the day. In fact, I'm quite hoping for it.  And I'll help hold the hula-hoop as all the animals jump through.
Essay by Mandy Smith, Charlotte Symphony Marketing Manager and mom of Molly Grace.

Want to go?
When: Saturday, November 10 @ 11:00 am (Pre-Concert Festival @ 10:00 am)
Where: Knight Theater
Who: Charlotte Symphony; Jacomo Rafael Bairos, conducting; Drew Allison and the Grey Seal Puppets
How much: $15.50 $24.50
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Posted in Lollipops. Tagged as CSO Lollipops, Grey Seal Puppets, Jacomo Rafael Bairos, Lollipops Family Concerts, Petrushka, Stravinsky.

Onstage Seating at Firebird!

This Friday and Saturday, you can experience the Charlotte Symphony in a whole new way. We will offer a limited number of seats situated on risers behind the orchestra on the Belk Theater stage. Tickets for Firebird! are only $29 (or $14 for students and young people 25 and under.)
Last season, we offered onstage seating for Beethoven's Fifth and Jenni Lough Watson posted this on our Facebook page...

"This past Friday night, I, along with my Medical Alert Service Dog, Duse had the opportunity of a lifetime to attend ON STAGE the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra's Performance of Beethoven. I was astounded to see the turnout for Beethoven. In today's economy, we cannot afford to lose sight of the arts. The arts are what keep us grounded, and guided, and "guilty" of communicating all things non verbal. These are the bridges that will take us where we need to be in the future.

As a musician, one typically relates a performance to the quality of acoustics which support the accuracy presented in a piece. In my nearly 25 years of performing, the acoustics in the Blumenthal Theatre were some of the best I have experienced. Being on stage was like a personal reinvention of my musical career as a young trumpet player I felt as if I were actually a part of the piece, only with a much more in-depth perspective. There were times throughout the performance that I wondered, given the intertwining of sounds and visual stimuli; "Had the audience blended with the orchestra to the point of inseparable measure?" I believe that the opportunity I had to sit on stage with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra has given me a piece of my career I may never have experienced before.

As a Canine Behavior Consultant, I enjoy learning about the origin of value. How are life experiences valued? How can we improve upon the value of today to ensure our success for tomorrow? Through the years I have learned that the origin of value in canine behavior has its share of parallels to the origin of value in music. Non verbal communications have a history of adding value to life; truth is these value-factors originate from mere interpretations most of which are interpreted at face value. Body language is essential for face value interpretations, and the opportunity to watch Christopher Warren-Green's facial expressions made my interpretation of the music even more valuable to experience. You could literally see his teamwork approach to conducting the group leadership at its best!

From the on-stage perspective, you could tell where the "guts" of the orchestra were originating throughout the music and the audience's reaction to these musical elevations.  I must add an additional experience that I simply was not expecting. Back stage, there were vibrations of communication, and they were not what you would expect from a Symphonic Orchestra. The genuine care and compassion of the musicians awaiting their entrance on stage shined through as they greeted us just off the stairs. Vibrations of mingled discussions regarding dogs being on stage filled the air off stage.

It was obvious to me if you take the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra at face value they genuinely care about the community they serve. Personally, the whole experience both on and off stage gave us cold chills from our heads to our 'tails.'"

Call 704.972.2000 to purchase onstage tickets to Firebird! featuring Borodin Prince Igor Overture, Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5, and Stravinsky Firebird Suite. Christopher Warren-Green conducts. Calin Lupanu solos on violin.
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Posted in Classics. Tagged as calin lupanu, Christopher Warren-Green, firebird, onstage seating, Stravinsky.

Education Concert Inspires Mom to Blog

Originally Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011
Posted by Pamela Grundy at http://seenfromtherock.blogspot.com/
The music spills out from the Ovens Auditorium stage and washes over the seated students in classic, staccato waves. Dum Dum Dum Dummmmmmmm. Dum Dum Dum Dummmmmmmm. Beethoven's Fifth. 

A full-fledged symphony orchestra feasts eyes as well as ears. Stringed instruments, reflecting the stage lights, glow deep reddish-brown. Bows move back and forth in perfect time, while harmonies dance from place to place within the space the sound creates first here, then over there, then back again.
The students, clapping with the beat, become a joyful blur of sound and movement.

 True to the concert's theme "
Rhythm Around the World" conductor Jacomo Rafael Bairos is guiding his audience through a landscape of waltzes, marches and classical tunes, illustrating beat and rhythm with pieces by Stravinsky, Grieg and Sousa, as well as Beethoven. The students moved cautiously at first, leaning forward to catch the unfamiliar rhythmic patterns. But confidence built quickly, and they now stomp and clap with gusto.

Bairos drops his hands and brings the music to a stop. Then he lifts his baton again, and the sounds pour out once more still Beethoven's composition, but patterned to a hip-hop beat. The students quickly catch this more familiar rhythm, and began to move with even greater zeal, throwing hips, shoulders, heads and arms into their response.
 When at last the music stops, the audience heads for the exits all but the Shamrock students. All our students play in Shamrock's orchestra, and organizers have arranged some special treats.

Before the concert, the students got to meet Joy Payton-Stevens, a cellist who visited Shamrock back in the fall. Now, as the students from other schools reach the doors, Bairos appears in front of us, smiling and high-fiving and ready to answer questions. The kids beam, and shoot their hands into the air. When did he start playing music? Is it scary to be up in front of all those people? They learn he started out when he was just their age, and there is nothing he loves better.

Gerald Turner, a longtime member of orchestra sponsor St. Luke Methodist Church, happily photographs the scene. He's been to plenty of musical events over the years, he says, but he's never seen a symphony orchestra before. He can't get over how wonderful it was, how perfectly all the musicians played together. Amazing.

Back outside, the students chat and pose for pictures as they wait for the bus. It's been one of those school days that you don't forget your friends, the sun's warmth, the way you clapped and swayed in the embrace of extraordinary music. What a great day to be young. What a sense of possibility. What an achievement to aspire to.

But as the glowing kids line up to board the bus, I think about the testing season that will soon be upon them, how pinched and sad those lists of carefully vetted questions will seem next to the marvel of Beethoven's Fifth. What slice of this experience could be mechanical enough to reduce to a multiple-choice answer?

How many beats per measure are in a waltz?

a. 4
b. 3
c. 7
d. 10

In what year was Ludwig van Beethoven born?

a. 1740
b. 1760
c. 1865
d. 1770

Is this achievement?

If some children mark more of these answers right than others, what does that tell you about them? And in this era of pay-for-performance, what does it say about their teacher?

Later, I try to imagine the kind of question a good teacher would ask her students.

Which word best describes the way you felt while listening to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony?

a. Exuberant
b. Tempestuous
c. Funky
d. Wakazoo! (this last courtesy of Parker)

In the standardized test world, of course, a question like this would never make the grade. Sadly, none of these marvelous words is the one right answer. It depends on the person, on the performance, on a hundred other variables. It calls on students to discuss, explain, weigh different points of view. Just like in literature. Just like in life.

But these days, when achievement has become an educational obsession, standardized test scores seem to be the only thing that matters. They determine which students pass, which schools are closed, which teachers are rewarded. When someone talks about achievement, they are almost always referring strictly to test scores. We seem to have forgotten how remarkably limited they are, what a small slice of education they represent.

Of course, these tests have one, powerful advantage that fits them to the Darwinian conditions of today's educational surroundings an advantage has allowed them not merely to survive, but to thrive and multiply.

Unlike a great symphony, or a marvelous piece of writing, the bubble patterns test-takers create can be turned into numbers.

Once you have a set of numbers, they take on a life of their own. You can line them up in impressive columns, top to bottom. You can extend them out to multiple decimal places, creating the illusion of ultimate precision. You can set numeric goals for schools to reach or face the consequences. You can create salary scales that slice your teaching staff into neat quartiles of "effectiveness."

And after a while you can forget that at the heart of this quantitative extravaganza lies a child sitting in a classroom, penciling circles in answer to the limited range of questions that can be pressed to serve the multiple-choice format. You learn something from the scores those patterned circles generate, but not as much as everyone around you imagines that they signify. Lost in the chase for just the right array of calculations, the magic matrix of accurate assessment, you have ceased to notice just how little this mathematical emperor is wearing.
Pamela Grundy is a parent at Shamrock Gardens Elementary School. Her blog is Seen from the Rock.
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Tagged as Beethoven, Education, grieg, hip-hop, Jacomo Rafael Bairos, sousa, Stravinsky.