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Sound of Charlotte Blog

Albert-George Schram's Two Lives

Albert-George Schram is known at the Charlotte Symphony as the joyful white-haired conductor that makes seeing the orchestra play Pops concerts, ranging from Christmas music and Broadway to Motown, exciting. Elsewhere around the country, he's known for conducting Classical music. In a recent article in Charlotte Observer, Larry Toppman covers this in "Charlotte Symphony's Albert-George Schram leads two lives."

Within the article, we learn 5 interesting facts about George:

1. He got bad early reviews from his piano teacher: "As a boy, my first instrument was tuba. I played cornet, euphonium, other wind instruments. And I'd ride my bike up to an old lady's house and sit among these big dark curtains to study piano. She told my father, 'You are really wasting your time.' "

2. He was a 20-year-old 12th-grader in Canada: "I was living in Alberta, and they wouldn't accept my Dutch high school degree. So I finished school while working on a farm with 12,000 chickens, collecting eggs and hammering fence posts into the ground."

3. After getting a bachelor's in music from the University of Calgary, he became music director of Stratusfaction, a 25-piece Canadian jazz ensemble that peaked with gigs in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. He played trombone and trumpet, sang, arranged and wrote musical charts.

4. Languages come quickly to him. He improved his English after settling in Canada by watching TV. His favorite program: "Stampede Wrestling," where Archie "The Stomper" Gouldie battled Abdullah the Butcher. Much later, he spent a month at a Spanish-language institute, so he could conduct in Bolivia and Argentina.

5. He watches the Grammy Awards. "I do it because I want to know what's happening now," he said. "If I don't think any of the music played today is good music, and millions of people take to it, then I have to start opening my ears wider."

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Posted in Pops. Tagged as conductors, summer pops.


"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.

Who’s excited for Summer Pops!

Well this is it!  The first week of Summer Pops is upon us!  As an intern here with the CSO, I have never experienced the excitement of the summer season.  But around here, Summer Pops is a really big deal.
For the past few weeks, everyone here in the Charlotte Symphony office has been busy getting their piece of the events ready to go.  People are calling daily to purchase tickets.  The flyers and postcards have been coming in and right back out.  Development is busy planning the annual Picnic in the Park.  Even I am in on the action, preparing a few mix CDs to give our audience a preview of the upcoming 2012-2013 season and counting wristbands for the ticket tents.  Sunday evening we will all head down to SouthPark to work at the event.

Summer Pops are really a time for community.  As a small group, the Charlotte Symphony, we all work closely together to make everything go smoothly.  All the staff turns out to work the ticket tents or the concert operations.  But it is bigger than that.  Not only do we build the community within the CSO, we reach farther out to the community as a whole.  Summer Pops are that beautiful blend of casual atmosphere, low cost (only $10 a ticket), and classical music that will lend to a wonderful evening of fun and relaxation.

I, for one, am super excited for the start of Summer Pops.  This will be my first concert with the CSO since the start of my internship.  I have several friends who are planning to attend and I cannot wait to introduce them to the world of the symphony.  Not to mention the chance to see you (hint, hint) enjoying the concert along with so many other members of the Charlotte community. 
So, I hope to see you at Symphony Park this Sunday.  It is sure to be a great experience for anyone who attends!
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Tagged as community, summer pops, symphony park.

Into the Park

Well, it certainly has been a great week and a half here at the CSO.  As the Symphony's newest intern, I have been busy learning as much as I can about how things work around here.

By far, the most exciting conclusion to my first week with the CSO was the Into the Park Spring Gala held this past Saturday at Symphony Park. After a bit of a crazy evening (my ride bailed and then I took a wrong turn on the way to SouthPark, oops!)  I finally arrived at my first event with the CSO.

As a college student from outside of Charlotte, I have never had the pleasure of attending an event in Symphony Park.  So I was thrilled to find the stage decorated beautifully with bright tables and gorgeous spring colors everywhere.  What better way to usher in the fall season!  And then the guests started to arrive.  The park burst into a frenzy of activity as people began to greet friends and settle in for an exciting evening.

As the evening went on it was a clear to see that this was a successful event.  The food was delicious.  The music was exciting.  Couples swirled across the dance floor in a brief interlude between the salad and the main course, swing dancing their way though what was turning out to be a phenomenal night.  From early in the evening, people were already excited about the auction items.  I was lucky enough to be able to be a spotter for the auction, watching for bids.  Later in the night, everyone got out on the dance floor to have a great time.

Events like this are so important to the CSO.  Not only is it an instrumental part of how we raise money to continue bringing music to the Charlotte community but it gives us the chance to interact with our patrons.
After my first CSO event, I am so excited for the upcoming Summer Pops concerts.  I can't wait to see the lawn at Symphony Park blanketed with people, all there to have a fabulous evening listening to our musicians play.  I can't imagine a better way to spend a summer night, surrounded by family and friends, listening to sounds of the Symphony fill the air.
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Tagged as Dance, Fundraiser, Into the Park, SouthPark, summer pops, symphony park.