Sound of Charlotte Blog
On Wednesday, September 20, the Charlotte Symphony held its Annual Gala, kicking off the 2023-24 season with a celebratory evening. The Symphony welcomed superstar soprano Renée Fleming to the stage, alongside Conductor Laureate Christopher Warren-Green, to perform beloved works like Strauss's Four Last Songs, "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," and a touching rendition of "Hallelujah."
The concert was the centerpiece of the Gala evening which honored Christopher Warren-Green for his remarkable contributions to the Charlotte Symphony during his twelve years as Music Director. Guests of the Gala enjoyed a pre-concert cocktail reception and an elegant post-concert dinner at Urban Garden.
The following day, Renée Fleming hosted "Music and Mind," a conversation on the intersection of music, neuroscience, and healthcare presented in partnership with Atrium Health and Queens University of Charlotte. Check out the photos in the slideshow above. Read more
September 20 | Belk Theater
Anticipation is building as we get closer to the start of our 2023-24 season! With such an incredible lineup of concerts, choosing where to begin might seem overwhelming. But don't worry, we're here to help! Here are five concerts that deserve a special spot on your calendar:
Lovingly referred to as "the people's diva," Renée Fleming is one of the most beloved and celebrated singers of our time -- and she's returning to Charlotte for the first time in nearly 20 years! In this one-night-only event, led by Conductor Laureate Christopher Warren-Green, Ms. Fleming performs favorites from La Bohème and The Sound of Music alongside Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs, which she hails as "the greatest piece written for soprano and orchestra."
This group puts the "hot" in hot jazz! Think Harlem Renaissance cabarets and New Orleans speakeasies with a touch of cigar smoke and Parisian "je ne sais quoi." The Hot Sardines offer a mix of standards and modern-day hits, brought to life with brassy horn arrangements, rollicking piano, and incredible vocals by Miz Elizabeth.
The raw power of Verdi's Requiem -- with more than 70 musicians and a choir of over 100 -- will blow you right back in your seat when Kwamé Ryan joins the Charlotte Symphony and Charlotte Master Chorale to conduct this musical tour de force. Verdi's Requiem is full of contrasts, from the sublime lyricism of the opening movement to the sheer terror of its infamous "Dies irae."
Relive the enchantment of Belle and the Beast's timeless journey and share the magic of this Disney classic with your little ones! Alan Menken's Academy Award-winning score, including "Tale as Old as Time" and "Be Our Guest," will come to life when performed by the Charlotte Symphony in sync with the full-length film. Get there a few minutes early to grab some popcorn and enjoy the show!
This all-American program takes us from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to the open ranges of the Old American West with Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain Suite and Aaron Copland's Billy the Kid Suite. Violinist Jennifer Koh, known for her intense and commanding performances, brings her dazzling virtuosity to Missy Mazzoli's Violin Concerto, Procession, which will lead you on a music journey through five healing spells based on the healing rituals of the Middle Ages.
Summer is just around the corner, and that means it's time for one of Charlotte's most anticipated events of the year: the Charlotte Symphony's Summer Pops series! Whether you're buying single tickets or reserving a pod for all four concerts, we've got some pro tips to make you feel like a Summer Pops expert and prepare you for the ultimate experience.
Buy your tickets today, and plan to arrive earlyPsst...did you know early bird pricing is available for Summer Pops? Prices increase when you purchase at the gate, so make sure you buy your tickets before June rolls around! The Summer Pops series is a popular event every year, so you won't risk missing out on a great concert that sells out or having to wait in the purchase line.
With your tickets bought, plan to arrive early to enjoy the evening at the park. Summer Pops brings a large crowd of enthusiastic concert-goers each week, so the best spots on the lawn get snatched up when the gates open at 5 pm. Make sure to arrive early and claim your spot. Then, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy dinner and the preshow at 7!
Reserve your lawn space for the VIP experienceWant to avoid the rush altogether? Reserve your lawn space and arrive whenever you want! New this year, subscribe to all four Summer Pops concerts and your own pod-style space will be waiting for you each week. A subscriber check-in station will allow you to skip the general admission lines. Available in 2-person, 4-person, 6-person, and 8-person pods, you'll enjoy a premium location front and center on the lawn. Get your family or friends together, because the larger the pod, the less you'll pay per person! You'll want to claim your space early -- pods are selling quickly, and only available until June 2 or until premium spaces sell out. Learn more about pods here.
Dine like a proThe seasoned Summer Pops fan knows food is an essential part of the Summer Pops experience. At Symphony Park, you've got great options for dinner! Reid's Fine Foods inside SouthPark Mall offers a variety of sandwiches, salads, and gourmet entrees until 8 pm on Sundays, and you'll find street food staples like hot dogs and ice cream at food trucks in the parking lot just outside Symphony Park! Whatever you choose to grab or bring to eat, a blanket or low-backed lawn chairs and a cooler are key to dining comfortably in the park. Beer and wine are allowed, too, so you're welcome to sip your favorite drink as you enjoy music under the stars.
Don't forget water, sunscreen, and bug sprayIf you've experienced summer in Charlotte, you know having fun in the sun means planning to bring the trio of essentials: water, sunscreen, and bug spray. The Symphony Park lawn is uncovered and open to the elements, so don't forget to pack your bag and cooler accordingly!
Carpool or use rideshareSeveral lots at SouthPark Mall and around Symphony Park offer free parking, but spaces fill up fast. When practical, carpooling and ridesharing are encouraged for easy access to and from the park. So catch a ride with friends or grab a Lyft or Uber right to the check-in tent.
Ready to enjoy Summer Pops? Buy your tickets or pod now (you Summer Pops pro, you!), and for any other lingering questions, check out the Summer Pops FAQs. We can't wait to see you at Symphony Park!
Last week, the young students from Charlotte Bilingual Preschool held their final music concert -- a performance three years in the making! The partnership between the Charlotte Symphony and Charlotte Bilingual Preschool began just five weeks before the pandemic forced students to go remote. The CSO quickly pivoted, integrating music education into the school's literacy objectives via online instruction. Despite the challenges, the program was a success! Teachers observed the students improve their connection between language and music education and expand their musical skills, including instrument position, rhythm, and intonation.
At their final -- and first in-person -- performance of the year, these young musicians played variations of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on box violins while Charlotte Symphony musicians assisted. We're so proud of all of their hard work and look forward to helping more future musicians learn and grow.
Photos by Mical Hutson Read more
Jessica Cottis returns to the Charlotte Symphony on March 24 & 25 to lead the Orchestra and Charlotte Master Chorale in Mendelssohn's Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise), A Symphony-Cantata. The work premiered in 1840 as the culmination of a festival in Leipzig celebrating the 400th anniversary of Gutenberg's printing press. Robert Schumann attended the premiere and reported on the similarities between Lobgesang and Beethoven's Ninth, "save for the distinguishing difference that the three orchestral movements proceed without any pause between them -- an innovation in the symphonic form. No better form could have been selected for this special purpose."
Here, Charlotte Master Chorale Artistic Director Kenney Potter shares some insight on this incredible work and how the Chorale is preparing.
|For those who are unfamiliar with this work, what should they expect?
Triumphant music that expresses the text of Psalm 150 beautifully. The listener will hear first the trombones state the main theme of the work, which is sung with the text of Psalm 150 ("Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.") What I find interesting is that the trombone is the horn of choice for many German speakers vs. trumpets. A good example is in the Mozart Requiem, where the Tuba Mirum "final days" theme is played by the trombone (this is due to Luther's translation that the trombone signaled the last days). I think it was a purposeful decision to utilize the trombones.
What do you make of the comparisons between Mendelssohn's Lobgesang to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9?
There are obvious similarities, since the listener will hear three orchestra movements (labeled in traditional format) followed by a choral movement. The difference is that Mendelssohn himself labeled this work as a "symphony-cantata on words of the Holy Bible for soloists, choir, and orchestra."
What does it take to prepare the Charlotte Master Chorale for a work of this scope?
Compared to Beethoven 9, there is more material to prepare. Also, Mendelssohn was more understanding of the voices and their ranges and capabilities. Beethoven is extremely challenging for vocalists due to the extreme ranges, particularly for the sopranos.
What are your favorite moments in the work?
The opening chorus, the utilization and treatment of the "Now Thank We All Our God" tune in the eighth movement, and the final fugue.
What are you looking forward to most about this performance?
It is always a joy to collaborate with the Charlotte Symphony, especially on works that our Charlotte audience needs to hear!
The Charlotte Symphony and Charlotte Master Chorale perform Mendelssohn Hymn of Praise on March 24 & 25 at Belk Theater -- Get tickets today!
In February 1950, The Charlotte Observer reported that a new Charlotte Symphony Women's Association would soon be incorporated with the aim of building and developing cultural activities in the Charlotte area through music. Mrs. Joseph A. Elliott Jr., who was temporary chairman of the association, called for "housewives, civic workers, businesswomen, and representatives from all facets of the city's population to join and help build a love of music."
Seventy-three years later, the renamed Symphony Guild of Charlotte is continuing that mission. With over 100 active members, The Guild has provided substantial financial and volunteer support over the years with an emphasis on supporting the CSO's Youth Orchestra and Education programs.
At a recent get-together over coffee, some of The Guild's longest-serving members -- many of them past Presidents -- shared fond memories of how they came to be involved with The Guild, and the many members they met who soon became friends. Much of the conversation, and laughter, centered on The Guild's most successful -- and laborious -- fundraising venture: The Designer Show House.
Started in 1972 to raise funds for the Symphony's school concerts and Youth Orchestra, the first Designer Show House took place in a stately home on Park Road, now part of Forest Hill Church. Members of the Guild partnered with the Carolinas Chapter of the American Institute of Interior Designers to refurbish the home and make it available to the public for 3 weeks. Music was provided by Charlotte Symphony musicians and a shuttle bus took visitors to the house from SouthPark. The Charlotte Observer reported that it was the first fundraiser of its kind in Charlotte, but it took a toll on the members, who had to fill 650 volunteer slots, working as hostesses and staffing the basement tearoom. However, the venture was a success, raising $16,000 for the Symphony -- enough to keep the fundraiser going for 38 years before undergoing a facelift and becoming today's Heart of the Home Tour, which features tours of multiple homes in the Charlotte area.
Heart of the Home Tour 2019
It's obvious how proud the members are of their contributions as they reminisce over "their houses" -- the ones that were designed under their leadership. Recalling details of the rooms, designers' names, and how large the crowds were. It's even more obvious the fondness that the members have for each other.
Past President Linda Weisbruch remembers feeling a bit at sea after moving to Charlotte from Los Angeles in 1987. She decided to volunteer at the Designer House down the block from her home. She recalled that by the end of that first evening, she was in the back room counting the money. "They just said 'come on in, join us!' It was such a great organization and welcoming. So many of my friends come from being in The Guild, and I've had so many opportunities to do things I've never done before, being chair of a Designer House, being President of The Guild, and President of the Volunteer Council at the League of American Orchestras. None of that would have happened without me being bold enough to go down the street and ask to volunteer. I've gained a lot of very deeply loved friends."
Now, after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Heart of the Home Tour is returning March 31-April 1. The two-day tour will include six beautiful homes featuring their kitchens and outdoor entertaining spaces which showcase trends for kitchen makeovers, bold design, and sustainable materials, along with fresh inspiration for entertaining indoors or out. Tour-goers will enjoy tastings from local chefs, sample signature beverages, and explore flower and jewelry options from local artisans while visiting six spectacular homes.
Proceeds allow The Symphony Guild to support the Charlotte Symphony, its youth orchestras, and The Guild's award-winning youth music education initiatives.
"I think it's vitally important that a community our size has a volunteer organization to support our Symphony," Woolf McCrory points out. "Because our symphony is so vital to the arts in our community, and a lot of people don't quite understand the impact they have. The symphony is an incredible gem to the arts in Charlotte."
Heart of the Home Details:
Taste of the Tour Party & Silent Auction
Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at 5:30-8:30 pm
Ferguson's South End Showroom (129 West Summit Avenue)
Tickets are available for purchase online for $50 per person with a special rate of $40 for guests under 40.
Heart of the Home Tour
Friday, March 31, 5-8:30 pm and Saturday, April 1, 10 am-4 pm
Tickets are available for purchase online for $35 per person
Learn more about The Symphony Guild of Charlotte, including how to become a member, at symphonyguildcharlotte.org.
William Grant Still (1895-1978), often called The Dean of African American Composers, was an American composer, arranger, conductor, and pioneer of early 20th-century classical music. He was born in Mississippi and grew up in Little Rock Arkansas where he learned to play the violin and piano. Despite facing significant racial barriers and prejudice, Still went on to become one of the most influential figures in classical music, paving the way for future generations of African American musicians and inspiring countless composers with his unique style.
Still was the first African American conductor to lead a major American orchestra, and the first to have an opera produced by the New York City Opera. Throughout his career, Still composed more than 150 works, including five operas, eight ballets, six symphonies, and numerous other works for solo instruments, choral ensembles, and small and large orchestral groups.
Still's music was born of the Harlem Renaissance and his sound is characterized by its fusion of classical, blues, and spiritual elements, reflecting his experiences as a black man in early 20th-century America. He drew inspiration from a wide range of musical styles, including European classical music, African American spirituals, and jazz, creating a unique musical voice that was ahead of its time. His compositions feature intricate rhythms, lyrical melodies, and rich harmonies, and he often used his music to address political and social issues of the day.
Today, William Grant Still continues to inspire musicians and audiences alike. His music has been performed by major symphony orchestras, opera companies, and ballet companies around the world, and his legacy continues to influence contemporary classical music.
Explore five of the best pieces of music by William Grant Still on Classic fm.
Daniel Bernard Roumain is a Haitian-American composer, violinist, educator, and activist. He is a board member for the League of American Orchestras, a voting member for the Recording Academy GRAMMY awards, and a tenured Associate and Institute Professor at Arizona State University.
Known for his signature violin techniques that fuse electronic and African American music influences, Roumain's work has a distinct genre-bending sound. Described "as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets" by The New York Times, Roumain has collaborated with the likes of J'Nai Bridges, Lady Gaga, Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones, Marin Alsop, and Anna Deavere Smith.
A prolific composer of solo, chamber, orchestral, operatic, film, theater, and dance scores, Roumain's works have premiered at Carnegie Hall, New World Symphony, Opera Philadelphia, New Jersey Symphony, and more. In the film industry, he has composed for both feature and short films, including the acclaimed Sundance film Ailey; Requiem for the Living, In Color; and Color of Reality. Roumain also clinched an Emmy for Outstanding Musical Composition for his collaborations with ESPN.
In September 2010, the New World Symphony premiered Dancers, Dreamers, and Presidents -- an orchestral tone poem inspired by Ellen DeGeneres and then-senator Barack Obama dancing on The Ellen Show in 2007.
Activism is an important aspect of Roumain's work as a performer and composer. "As an artist-entrepreneur, I am committed to creating projects that speak to social injustice," Roumain says. This theme has been evident in collaborations with symphony orchestras across the country.
On October 24, 2019, Roumain collaborated with The Flynn and Vermont Symphony Orchestra to perform for 24 hours in front of City Hall in Burlington in protest of discriminatory immigration laws in the U.S., and in November 2020, the New Jersey Symphony presented the world premiere of Roumain's i am a white person who _____ Black people. He composed this work in a fraught political climate, following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests and calls for change across the country.
On November 18, 2021, The Gizella Abramson Holocaust Education Act was passed into law, making North Carolina one of just nineteen states in the United States to mandate Holocaust education in public middle and high schools. With the act taking effect in the 2023-24 school year, the Charlotte Symphony's Music and the Holocaust program is poised to address the growing need for supplemental education about the Holocaust in our schools.
Music and the Holocaust features an ensemble of Charlotte Symphony musicians performing music of significance during this tumultuous period in history. Through this music, students learn about Jewish culture and the horrors of the Holocaust. The music features a mix of traditional Jewish music -- which was forbidden and considered "degenerate" by the Nazis -- music composed in the concentration camps, and music that evokes survival and healing. Each concert includes narration and projected images that explore pre-WWII Jewish culture, the Third Reich's attempts 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.
Mitch Rifkin is Chairman of the North Carolina Holocaust Foundation, a non-profit that helps fund the many programs offered by the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust such as teacher workshops, traveling plays and exhibits, and speaking engagements.
Why was The Holocaust Education Act so important to advance the work that you're already doing?
[The Act] passed after a lot of hard work, as you can imagine. We are excited about the fact that it came about because of all the right reasons. Not just talking about the horrors of the holocaust, but about how the holocaust came to be and that it could happen again -- meaning the hatred prevails -- and how one man was able to exterminate 12 million people.
How is the Foundation and the N.C. Council on the Holocaust preparing educators for this upcoming school year?
To teach this topic properly, educators need to understand the facts behind the holocaust. We hold nine seminars a year where we bring teachers in to learn these facts and how to address holocaust denial and distortion. We also sponsor a bus trip that takes educators to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. It truly is enlightening for them, and they come back and tell other teachers about their experiences. The curriculum being written by the Council is designed to teach the holocaust correctly, how it came to be, so we can avoid this happening again.
How can a program like the Charlotte Symphony's Music and the Holocaust help to educate students?
Music is important, there's no question. When I attended Music and the Holocaust, I noticed that the students were engaged, they weren't wiggling in their seats, they were paying attention to the music, so that's 90% of the battle -- getting them engaged. I think your music and this topic are current. The rise of hatred in America, and globally, today is horrific. There is so much hatred in the world, and certainly the rise of antisemitism is a daily occurrence. When you see people like Kanye West and Kyrie Irving, with a huge following on social media, put that junk out there and no one contradicts them, it's horrible. But we contradict it. And we try to bring forth the understanding of how we, as a people, should be more tolerant of each other.
Learn more about the Charlotte Symphony's Music and the Holocaust program.
Acclaimed conductor Joshua Weilerstein makes his debut with the Charlotte Symphony on February 10 & 11, leading the orchestra in Brahms's Symphony No. 4. This remarkable work showcases the composer's mastery of form, counterpoint, and emotional expression; and is a must-hear for classical music lovers and newcomers alike. The program will also include Ethel Smyth's On the Cliffs of Cornwall and Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor.
Here, Joshua Weilerstein shares some insight into this incredible program.
What stands out to you most about this concert?
Brahms's Fourth Symphony is one of the most intensely passionate pieces that Brahms ever wrote. It represented 'the end' for him in many ways. It is his last symphony, last major orchestral work, and it seems to almost express an apocalyptic sense as well, as Brahms saw the deepening fissures and cracks that would result in the breakdown of European society in the years after he wrote the symphony. At the same time, it is a piece full of all the love and warmth that makes Brahms's music so irresistible to us.
To put it briefly, it is a symphony that encompasses the entire gamut of human emotion, and its intensity makes it unforgettable to hear live! It's also a great pleasure to be doing the music of Ethel Smyth and Edvard Grieg as well. The three composers once shared a meal together, which makes us feel like we've gone back in time to hear this music.
What are you looking forward to about working with the Charlotte Symphony?
I've never been to Charlotte before, so I'm very excited to be meeting the orchestra for the first time and to get to know the city. It's always a thrill to make music with a brand new group of people.
Learn more about this program from Joshua Weilerstein at the pre-concert talk, held before each concert on the Mezzanine Level of the lobby at 6:30 pm. Get tickets today!
|Older Posts »|
- Photos: Charlotte Symphony Annual Gala and Concert
- Five Must-See Concerts of the 2023-24 Season
- 5 Pro Tips for the Best Summer Pops Experience
- A Preschool Performance Three Years in the Making
- Kenney Potter on Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang
- A Tradition Returns to Charlotte: The Symphony Guild of Charlotte’s Heart of the Home Tour
- William Grant Still: The Dean of African American Composers
- Composer Spotlight: Daniel Bernard Roumain
- Music and the Holocaust Makes an Impact
- Joshua Weilerstein on Brahms’s Fourth Symphony