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Sound of Charlotte Blog

A Spooky Halloween with Your Charlotte Symphony

This fall, the Charlotte Symphony presents two events guaranteed to get you in the Halloween spirit: Jordan Peele's ground-breaking social thriller GET OUT in Concert, with Michael Abels' award-winning score performed live to the complete film, and Symphony Spooktacular, a frightfully fun family concert featuring eerie tunes about trolls, magic, witches, and dancing. 

GET OUT in Concert

November 4 | Belk Theater



The Charlotte Symphony, led by conductor Thiago Tiberio, presents social thriller GET OUT -- the revolutionary film by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele. This heart-pounding movie takes you on the journey of a young African-American man who visits his white girlfriend's family estate and uncovers a sinister reason for the invitation. 

Composer Michael Abels incorporates the African-American voice in the film and created a new genre called "gospel horror." Below you can hear the eerie Swahili vocals and gospel undercurrents of the main theme, Sikilza Kwa Wahenga. According to the composer, these sounds are intended to act as ghostly echoes of dead slaves and those who were lynched, sending a warning to the main character to "listen to the ancestors." 

 

Symphony Spooktacular

October 22 | Knight Theater



Dress up in your favorite Halloween costume and join your Charlotte Symphony for a macabre morning of frightful fun for the whole family! Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees will lead the Symphony in some seriously spooktacular music like Coleridge Taylor's Conjurer's Dance, Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King, and magical music from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. PLUS: wear your best costume for a chance to win tickets to a future Family series concert! 

Prepare yourself for this paranormal program with a clip from Disney's Fantasia featuring Mussorgsky's spine-chilling Night on Bald Mountain.

Read more

Tagged as Family Series, Movie Series.

Memorial Service for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II



On September 29 at 4 pm, Maestro Christopher Warren-Green will lead musicians of the Charlotte Symphony at the memorial service of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II at Myers Park United Methodist Church. 

This service is open to the general public for anyone who wishes to pay their respects following the Queen's passing on September 8.

If you're unable to attend the service, you can watch the livestream and recording below. 

Read more

Posted in Community.

Meet the Conductors of our Youth Orchestra Program

Christopher James Lees, Katie Ebert, and Eric Thompson, III 

Students returning to the Charlotte Symphony's Youth Orchestra (CSYO) program this fall will recognize two familiar faces returning to the podium: CSYO Principal Conductor Christopher James Lees and Youth Ensemble Conductor Eric Thompson. They'll also have the opportunity to meet Katie Ebert, who joins Eric Thompson this year as Co-Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Philharmonic. We caught up with our three conductors to find out what they are most looking forward to in the upcoming year. 



As Principal Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras, Christopher James Lees oversees the entire program and works directly with the musicians of the Youth Orchestra, our most advanced ensemble. These extraordinary young musicians perform professional-level symphonic repertoire and have the opportunity to perform side-by-side with members of the Charlotte Symphony.  

"I am ecstatic that this will be the first time in three years that the families in the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras will have a normal start to the season. Adding two sensational leaders to our Youth Philharmonic leadership team -- Eric Thompson III & Katie Ebert -- also ensures that all youth orchestras will take significant steps towards our vision for a dynamic, musically enriching program that is widely accessible for all." ~ Christopher James Lees 



New to the program this year, Katie Ebert joins Eric Thompson as Co-Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Philharmonic, our intermediate ensemble which performs advanced high school level repertoire and serves young musicians between the ages of 8-16. Katie is in her 19th year teaching in public schools and is the Director of Bands at Cuthbertson Middle School in Waxhaw, NC. She is a three-time award recipient of the National Band Association's Citation of Excellence and was recognized as Cuthbertson Middle School's Teacher of the Year in 2016/17 

"I am incredibly excited to have students from different schools come and make music together!  Music is what feelings sound like, and the experience of sharing these feelings together, through music, is such a valuable experience for our young people today." ~ Katie Ebert 



Eric Thompson III is returning for his second year as conductor for the Charlotte Symphony's Youth Ensemble, a new training ensemble designed to introduce our youngest musicians to cooperative playing with hands-on instruction. Eric will also work alongside Katie Ebert as Co-Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Philharmonic.  

"I am absolutely thrilled this season to share all the wonderful, exciting, and magical repertoire Katie Elbert and I have planned for CSYP! I am equally elated for CSYE, and our young musicians who will experience playing in a full orchestra -- many for the first time, with coaching from Charlotte Symphony musicians! I would also like to resonate Christopher James Lees' enthusiasm. It will be an exciting year for our youth orchestras, and I think everyone will enjoy our musical journey!" ~ Eric Thompson, III  Read more

Posted in Education & Community, Youth Orchestras. Tagged as CSYO, Education.

“Charlotte Symphony in Performance” is Back on WDAV

Spend your Saturday evenings with the Charlotte Symphony this summer with nine new episodes of "Charlotte Symphony in Performance" on WDAV Classical 89.9. Each episode features incredible performances recorded live during the Symphony's celebratory 90th anniversary season.  

Tune in at 6 pm on Saturdays, August 6 through September 17, at wdav.org and enjoy the sounds of your Charlotte Symphony.

 

Schedule:




Beethoven Symphony No. 4 

Air date: August 6, 2022, at 6 pm

Christopher Warren-Green, conductor 
Taylor Marino, clarinet 

PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 1, "Classical"
MOZART Clarinet Concerto in A Major 
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4

This concert was recorded at the Knight Theater on November 19 & 20, 2021. 



Brahms Serenade No. 2 

Air date: August 13, 2022, at 6 pm

Roderick Cox, conductor 
Benjamin Beilman, violin 

WAGNER Siegfried Idyll 
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major 
BRAHMS Serenade No. 2 in A Major 

This concert was recorded in the Knight Theater on October 29 & 30, 2021.



Vivaldi Four Seasons 

Air date: August 20, 2022, at 6 pm

Christopher Warren-Green, conductor 
Paul Huang, violin 

RESPIGHI Trittico Botticelliano 
MASCAGNI Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana 
BIBER Battalia 
VIVALDI The Four Seasons 

This concert was recorded in the Knight Theater on October 15 & 16, 2021.



Tchaikovsky's Pathétique 

Air date: August 27, 2022, at 6 pm

Kensho Watanabe, conductor 
Sara Davis Buechner, piano 

ANNA CLYNE Within Her Arms 
CLARA SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor 
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique"

This concert was recorded in the Belk Theater on February 11 & 12, 2022.



Mahler Symphony No. 9 

Air date: September 3, 2022, at 6 pm

Christopher Warren-Green, conductor (Mahler) 
Christopher James Lees, conductor (Leonard Mark Lewis) 
Alan Black, cello (Leonard Mark Lewis) 

MAHLER Symphony No. 9 
LEONARD MARK LEWIS I Will Wade Out 

Mahler's Symphony No. 9 was recorded in the Belk Theater on January 14 & 15, 2022. Leonard Mark Lewis's I Will Wade Out was recorded at Queens University on April 3, 2022.



Kabalevsky Cello Concerto 

Air date: September 10, 2022, at 6 pm

Paolo Bortolameolli, conductor 
Christine Lamprea, cello 

GABRIELA ORTIZ Téenek-Invenciones de Territorio 
DMITRI KABALEVSKY Cello Concerto in G Minor, Opus 49 
JOHN CORIGLIANO Symphony No. 1

This concert was recorded in the Belk Theater on February 25 & 26, 2022.



90th Anniversary Concert: Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem 

Air date: September 17, 2022, at 6 pm

Christopher Warren-Green, conductor 
Christina Pier, soprano 
Daniel Okulitch, bass 

THOMAS BURGE Charlotte Symphony Fanfare 
HOLST Walt Whitman Overture 
MALCOLM ARNOLD Four Scottish Dances 
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis 
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Dona Nobis Pacem 

This concert was recorded in the Belk Theater on March 11 & 12, 2022.



Ravel Piano Concerto 

Air date: September 24, 2022, at 6 pm

Jessica Cottis, conductor 
Stewart Goodyear, piano 
Lindsay Kesselman, soprano
William Edwards, tenor
Zachary Taylor, tenor
Robert Wells, baritone
Reginald Powell, bass-baritone 

JESSE MONTGOMERY Strum 
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major 
STRAVINSKY Circus Polka 
KURT WEILL The Seven Deadly Sins 

This concert was recorded in the Knight Theater on January 28 & 29, 2022.



Beethoven Symphony No. 9 

Air date: October 1, 2022 at 6 pm

Christopher Warren-Green, conductor 
Alicia Russell Tagert, soprano
Sara Larsen, mezzo-soprano
Sean Panikkar, tenor
Jordan Bisch, bass
Charlotte Master Chorale 

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9  

This concert was recorded in the Belk Theater on May 20-22, 2022. Read more

Posted in Community. Tagged as community.

4 Can’t-Miss Holiday Concerts in 2022



Christmas is only 170 days away, so we're bringing you some holiday cheer during one of the hottest months of the year! Use this guide to pick your favorite holiday concerts now and be ready for our big Christmas in July sale starting July 13. Secure your seats quickly before tickets disappear like snowflakes in the Carolina sun!

The Polar Express™ in Concert

Hop on board The Polar Express and be immersed in the musical magic of Christmas Eve with a wild ride up and down mountains, across ice fields, and over mile-high bridges. We'll journey to the North Pole while watching this iconic film about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas -- all while the beautiful musical score is performed live by the Charlotte Symphony. BELIEVE!

Handel's Messiah

Handel's beloved masterpiece is a must-see every holiday season, but this year it's sure to be extra special when we welcome Conductor Laureate Christopher Warren-Green back to the Charlotte stage to conduct his world-renowned interpretation. Hallelujah!  

Holiday Pops

Create new memories with the whole family at our all-new immersive holiday concert experience. Falling snow, classic holiday favorites, sing-alongs, and special guests -- including the North Pole's most celebrated resident -- will brighten your holiday season and leave you with a warm glow. 

Cirque de Noël

Circus + Symphony = high-flying fun! This fresh, new show combines jaw-dropping aerial acts flying high above the orchestra with the sounds of your favorite holiday music performed live by the Charlotte Symphony. Bring the whole family and prepare to be awestruck! 
  Read more

Posted in Pops. Tagged as holidays.

From Bohème to Broadway: The Stories Behind the Music



Before you head to Symphony Park for our final Summer Pops concert of the season, be sure to brush up on all the drama behind your favorite Opera and Broadway tunes with this handy guide, courtesy of Opera Carolina's Artistic Director, James Meena. 

Introduction to Act III from Wagner's Lohengrin
Lohengrin is a romantic opera in three acts, first performed in 1850. The story is taken from medieval German romances and is part of the Knight of the Swan legend. King Ludwig II of Bavaria named his castle Neuschwanstein Castle after the Swan Knight. It was King Ludwig's patronage that later gave Wagner the means and opportunity to complete, build a theatre for, and stage his epic Ring Cycle. The most popular and recognizable part of Lohengrin is the Bridal Chorus, now famous as "Here Comes the Bride," usually played as a processional at weddings. The orchestral preludes to Acts I and III are frequently performed separately as concert pieces.

Musetta's Waltz from Puccini's La Bohème 
Marcello and his friends are in Paris' famous Latin Quarter on Christmas Eve having supper when Musetta, the famous beauty and Marcello's Ex, enters with her latest sugar-daddy, the doddering Alcindoro. When she sees Marcello, who she still loves, she mercilessly teases him by singing this famous waltz: "Wherever I'm seen, everyone stops and takes me in from head to toe."

Amor ti vieta from Giordano's Fedora
Count Loris Ipanov has killed his wife's lover, who was engaged to Princess Fedora. Fedora does not know the circumstances behind her fiancé's murder, but suspects it was Ipanov, who has been exiled from Russia as a murder suspect. As fate would have it, Fedora and Ipanov meet and he declares his love for her in this passionate aria: "Love forbids you to not love. Your soft hand which rejects me seeks my hand. Your eyes express "I love you", even if your lip says "I won't love you."

Habanera from Bizet's Carmen
The gypsy Carmen has a unique view on men and love: "Love is a rebellious bird that nobody can tame, and you call him in vain if it suits him not to come. Nothing helps, neither threat nor prayer. One man speaks well, the other's quiet; it's the other one that I prefer. He's silent but I like his looks. Love! Love! Love! Love!"

La donna è mobile from Verdi's Rigoletto
The Duke of Mantua has a similar view about women as Carmen, but far more dangerous and abusive. "Woman is fickle. Like a feather in the wind, she changes her voice -- and her mind. Always sweet, a pretty face, in tears or in laughter -- she is always lying. The man who trusts her is always miserable. The man who confides in her -- his heart will break! But one never feels fully happy who does not drink love!"

Sull' aria from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro
The aging Count Almaviva has grown tired of his wife, and he intends to seduce her maid, Susanna. The women set a plan in motion to exchange coats and meet the Count in the garden late at night. The Count will think it is Susanna, when it is his own wife, and everyone will know how unfaithful he can be. To set their trap, the Countess dictates a letter that Susanna will deliver to the Count.

Che gelida manina from Puccini's La Bohème
Rodolfo is a poet. When he meets his neighbor, the seamstress Mimi, it is love at first sight. In this famous aria, he explains who he is, what he does and how he lives. "Who am I? I'm a poet. What do I do? I write. How do I live? I live. In my poverty I am a rich man. Verses of love and of dreams are my riches."

Chi il bel Sogno from Puccini's La Rondine
Magda is an aging beauty. Borne a peasant, she came to Paris at an early age to find her place in the world. Lacking money or skills, she becomes the mistress of the wealthy Rambaldo. At an evening party she is hosting for her patron, the poet Prunier entertains them with the story of Doretta, an aging beauty who never found true love, but he can't quite come up with the ending. Magda supplies it for him: "One day a student kisses her on the lips -- it was a revelation: It was crazy love! Crazy intoxication! Who could the subtle caress of such flaming a kiss ever describe? Ah, my dream -- my life! Who cares about riches if it never flourishes happiness! Golden dream to be able to love like this."

No puede ser from Zorozábal's La Tabernera del Puerto
La Taberna del Puerto is a Zarzuela by Pablo Sorozábal. Premiered in 1936, it tells the story of sailors in a small fishing town in northern Spain. Juan is using the beautiful Marola to manipulate Leandro into a crime. When Leandro learns this, he exclaims: "It can't be. This woman is good, she can't be wicked! In her eyes, like a strange light, I've seen she is unhappy. Those eyes that cry don't know how to lie. Gleaming in her eyes I saw two tears, and my hope is that they will gleam for me. Vivid light of my hopes, be merciful with my love. Because I can't pretend, I can't be silent, I can't live!"

O mio babbino caro from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi
Rinuccio Donati, heir to the wealthiest family fortune in Florence, loves Lauretta Schicchi, the daughter of the clever 'new man' Gianni Schicchi. The young couple want to be married but the Donati family and Gianni Schicchi want nothing to do with it. "What will I do for these people?" Schicchi yells: "Nothing!" How does a sixteen-year-old girl in love reply? "My dear Daddy. If you don't let me marry Rinuccio I will throw myself in the river." Dad's -- What would you do?

La calunnia from Rossini's The Barber of Seville
In this prequal to The Marriage of Figaro, the young Count Almaviva has come to Seville to woo the beautiful Rosina (later the Countess), who is the ward of Dr. Bartolo. Bartolo will do anything to prevent this. His servant, Basilio claims to be a master conniver. He will start a rumor against the Count which will drive him back to Madrid. He explains: "A rumor begins like a gentle breeze. Little by little it grows, hissing, flowing, buzzing from ear to ear until it explodes like a cannon. And the object of the rumor is sent home packing!"

All I Ask of You from Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera
In 1984, Lloyd Webber contacted producer Cameron Mackintosh to propose a new musical. He was aiming for a romantic piece, and suggested Gaston Leroux's book The Phantom of the Opera as a basis. They screened the 1925 Lon Chaney classic and the 1943 Claude Rains motion picture versions, but neither saw any effective way to make the leap from film to stage. Lloyd Webber then found a second-hand copy of the original, long-out-of-print Leroux novel, which supplied the necessary inspiration to develop a musical: "I was actually writing something else at the time, and I realized that the reason I was hung up was because I was trying to write a major romantic story, and I had been trying to do that ever since I started my career. Then with the Phantom, it was there!"

Song to the Moon from Dvořák's Rusalka
The mermaid Rusalka has fallen in love with a human -- the Prince. Now she wants to become human herself and live on land to be with him. Rusalka's father, the Water Sprite, is horrified and tells her that humans are evil and full of sin. When Rusalka insists, claiming they are full of love, he says she will have to get help from the witch Ježibaba. Rusalka calls on the moon to tell the Prince of her love. "Oh, moon, up in the deep sky, Your light sees distant places, You travel 'round the wide world, You look into people's houses. O, moon, stay for a moment, Tell me where is my love! Tell him, silver moon, that I embrace him, that he should for a while remember his dreams of me. Tell him who waits here for him."

Au fond du temple saint from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers
Childhood friends, Nadir and Zurga, are reunited after many years. They recall their friendship that was almost ruined when they both fell in love with a Hindu priestess. They swore never to set aside their friendship for her. "From the holy shrine, like a phantom she rose, a girl that haunts my soul. A hush descended around her. Look -- Behold the goddess. She lifts her veil -- Blessed site. The people fall to the ground at her radiant beauty." When the priestess returns to their village, their friendship is once again tested.

Maria from Bernstein's West Side Story
West Side Story was conceived by Jerome Robbins, with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and script by Arthur Laurents. Inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the story explores the rivalry between the Puerto Rican Sharks and the white gang, the Jets. Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the gang's leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in musical theatre.

Nessun dorma! from Puccini's Turandot
Puccini's final opera is set in mythical China. The Princess Turandot has declared that only the nobleman who can answer her three riddles is worthy of her hand. Calaf, the prince of Mongolia has come to Beijing, escaping the coup d'é-tat that has made him an exile. A stranger to everyone in Beijing, he answers Turandot's riddles, but he wants her to marry him out of love. He sets his own riddle: "No one knows my name -- Tell me my name by morning, and you can kill me." The Princess orders that No One May Sleep (Nessun dorma) until his name is revealed.
  Read more

Posted in Summer. Tagged as summer pops.

“A Historic Event” the CSO Debuts at Little Rock AME Zion Church



This month, the Charlotte Symphony will make its debut at Little Rock AME Zion Church with a free concert filled with uplifting works that unite us all during challenging times. The Symphony, led by Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees, will perform works by Barber, Mozart, and John Williams and will join forces with the Little Rock AME Zion Church Choir to perform favorites like, "Oh, Happy Day" and "Amazing Grace."

"It's an honor to join the beautiful singing heard every week at Little Rock AME Zion with the artists within the Charlotte Symphony string section," said Christopher James Lees. In a time when we as a society are faced with images of inhumanity on a weekly basis, music & this program will be a vehicle for healing, inspiration, and peace. From the sorrowful sounds of Barber's Adagio for Strings to the full assembly of forces singing 'Oh Happy Day' at the top of their lungs, emotions will run deep in this cathartic & uplifting program. The choir at Little Rock AME Zion Church, led beautifully by Sidney Oliver, has vocal power which matches the potency of their message, and we are privileged to come together with them for this evening of beauty & light."

It will be a celebration of the unity found in our diversity!
~ Rev. Dr. Dwayne A. Walker

Little Rock AME Zion Church was founded in 1884 and has been located in Uptown Charlotte for over one hundred years. It is a church that has sought to open its doors to the community in an effort to uplift and empower those it is called to serve.

"We are delighted and excited to partner with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra!" said Rev. Dr. Dwayne A. Walker. "This will be a historic event. Our Minister of Music, Mr. Sidney Oliver and members of The Little Rock Choirs join me in looking forward to this collaboration. It will be a celebration of the unity found in our diversity! The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra is to be commended for their willingness to reach out to the community. We are honored to be a part of that effort."

The concert will take place at Little Rock AME Zion Church (401 N. McDowell Street) on June 8, 2022, at 7:30 pm. >> Learn more Read more

Posted in Community. Tagged as community.

Celebrating Sounds of Joy! with Blood Sweat and Tears

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Tables are set and the stage is ready at The Fillmore Charlotte for the Symphony's second Sounds of Joy! gala event, supporting the CSO's education and community engagement initiatives.
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Behind the scenes, five talented high-school musicians from CMS prepare for their debut with Grammy-award-winning band Blood Sweat & Tears. (L-R: Floyd Carroll III, Alexys Shivers, and Zoe Tarrant from Northwest School of the Arts. Ricky Edwards and Manuella Gbossou from Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology High School)
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John Williams joins principal clarinetist Taylor Marino, CSO President & CEO David Fisk and David's wife, Anne O'Byrne, for a cocktail before dinner.
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Jeannette & Francisco Alvarado (right) and guests arrive for the celebratory cocktail reception.
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Kieth Cockrell, Alex & Ulrike Miles pose with Blood Sweat & Tears front man Keith Paluso.
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Sounds of Joy! attendees show off their "groovy cocktail attire."
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L.J. & Natasha Stambuk, and Macie Mata & Glenn Mincey toast to the Symphony before finding their table.
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Symphony supporters Deanna Kelly and James Howell pose for a quick photo before dinner.
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As dinner begins, CSO Board Chair Kimberly Parker welcomes guests and thanks the Symphony's generous sponsors for their leadership and vision.
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Guests of Ernst & Young, sponsors of Sounds of Joy!, enjoy a festive dinner.
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Ulrike Miles, Chair of the Symphony's Development Committee, enthusiastically speaks about the Charlotte Symphony's impactful education and community engagement programs.
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The party moves outside as The Fillmore re-sets the room for the Blood Sweat & Tears concert. Guests enjoy a dessert and coffee bar al fresco.
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The crowd rocks out to the band's #1 hit, "Spinning Wheel," with CMS student musicians holding down the bass line and the brass section.
 
 

The Fillmore Charlotte was filled with the Sounds of Joy! last night when supporters of the Charlotte Symphony gathered for a spectacular Gala evening featuring the incomparable Blood Sweat & Tears. Guests of the event enjoyed a pre-concert reception and al fresco dessert bar before rocking out to the Grammy-Award-winning band's greatest hits, performed alongside five talented CMS high school musicians. All proceeds from Sounds of Joy! go to supporting the Symphony's education and community engagement initiatives.  

The Charlotte Symphony gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors: Ernst & Young, Marand Builders, SteelFab, Ally, Domtar, KPMG, Honeywell, Spiracle Media, Albemarle Foundation, Atrium Health, Duke Energy, Kingfisher Capital, PDM US, The Dunhill Hotel, World's Greatest Golf Carts SC.  Read more

Posted in Support.

Amy Orsinger Whitehead Lends a Healing Hand



For over 20 years the Charlotte Symphony's Healing Hands program has sent musicians to perform in area hospitals, libraries, senior care centers, and shelters for people experiencing homelessness. Since the program's inception, CSO Flutist Amy Orsinger Whitehead, violinist Elizabeth Pistolesi, and cellist Deborah Kauffman Mishoe -- named The Laurel Trio -- have been using their music to enrich the lives of patients, residents, and community members throughout Charlotte. We recently caught up with Amy to discuss what makes this program so unique and special.  

Why is the Healing Hands program so important to you? 
Our trio has done lots and lots of Healing Hands performances throughout the years taking our music on the road to wherever the need exists. I think it's very important to meet people where they are because some get to a certain point where they're not able to come to the concert hall to hear us play. If we are able to take ourselves to where people live and give them the gift of beautiful music something they've enjoyed all their lives it's a privilege for us. I think, honestly, that we get as much out of it as the people we perform for. It's really a lot of fun and it's quite meaningful for us because we enjoy being able to make a little bit of a difference in someone's day with our music.  



How does the audience respond to your performances? 
This has been quite powerful for us. In a situation where we're playing in a dementia setting, you might see a resident that doesn't seem to be responding to anything around them, but you'll see them react and respond to the music and even start singing along! We have a Motown medley that has inspired a lot of spontaneous dance parties, too! The music reaches deep inside people and has an impact that might not be easily achieved outside of music, and that is just so incredible. It's actually pretty hard to play the flute when you feel like you're getting choked up or teary-eyed, and so it can be a bit hard for me, I have to tell myself not to get swept away by the emotion of it. Seeing the immediate impact that we're having to think that we're making even the tiniest difference for people is really wonderful, and we feel so fortunate to get to have that experience.  

Your trio performs a lot at senior care facilities and senior centers, but you've also performed at Moore Place, a supportive housing residence for chronically unhoused adults. 
Yes, we have! It's a whole different age range than we usually play for, and we love to hear them tell us about their stories and musical connections the songs they remember and the instruments they played in school. Music can help ground us to where we are currently, moment by moment, but it has such a great way to take us back to a previous time in our lives. It's pretty incredible when we get to see this happening and experience the music the way the people listening are experiencing it. It's nice to relive people's memories with them. 



How was the program able to adapt during the pandemic? 
We were able to pre-record two programs, one holiday program and another non-holiday program for people of all ages. We provided online performances where the video was played and each one of us would announce the next piece live. It was a really great mix of technology and heartfelt love between all of us! We loved being able to interact with the people who were zooming in and we always had a really fun chat thread during the performance. People were really needing something like this in their lives at that moment. And to be able to have a holiday concert in December, when we were so closed off from each other for so long was extra meaningful.  



Do you have a favorite memory from a Healing Hands performance?  
I think my favorite moment ever was when we were playing at a senior living facility called Renaissance West. That's the place where they have been known to break into spontaneous dance parties and they love to sing along! One time, during a holiday concert, I could see a lady moving from person to person and I could tell she was on a mission to get everyone in the room to do something. We didn't think much of it, but at the end of the concert they brought up to us a Christmas card that they had all signed. It was just so sweet, and I carry that with me in my folder because it's such a special memory. That was such a great day, I can't think of it without smiling.  

Learn more about the Charlotte Symphony's Healing Hands Program. Read more

Posted in Community. Tagged as community, CSO Musicians, interview.

Alan Black on Stepping Back with Grace



A fixture of the Charlotte Symphony since 1986, Principal Cellist Alan Black is stepping back from his role of leading the cellists to continue playing in the section. Black will be ending his tenure on a high note at the end of our 2021-22 season, having played the solo in John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1 and capping off with his feature in the Music & Healing concert at Queens University on April 3. We talked with Alan about his decision to step back now, his favorite memory with the CSO, and his hopes for the section as he ends his tenure as Principal Cellist and begins the 2022-23 season as Principal Cello Emeritis.

Why have you decided to step back into the section at this time?
Well you know, I've been thinking about this for a couple years. I'm going to be 65 in a month and I'm thinking to myself, well, what else do I need to accomplish as a principal player? I've done all the solos....my colleagues are great cellists and I feel the talent level has risen. They're great players and so it's time for somebody else to do it. And the stress of sitting principal is actually fairly strong.... I want to enjoy playing without the stress of the job. And since I've done basically everything I've wanted to do and checked off all those boxes, I feel like it's kind of time for me to let somebody else take over the mantle; let somebody younger come on in and provide a fresh vision. 



How have the other players reacted to your decision?
I think a lot of them were surprised, which makes me feel good because they were like, "Wait a minute, what? Why are you doing that?" A lot of them didn't realize I was going to be 65 and that makes me feel good....I think my cello colleagues were surprised and they've been very gracious about it.

After so many years as Principal, you must have some great memories.
Oh, yes! The highlight of my career was in 2000 when Yo-Yo Ma was in town performing with us and I got to play the Vivaldi Concerto for Two Cellos with him. Aside from being the most visible and famous musician on the planet, he is also an amazing human being -- warm, engaging, and filled with humility. We had a great time together and hung out at the after-party on the 60th floor of the Bank of America center. I had a great time and will never forget this moment. Ultimately, it was because of this concert that five years later I was able to purchase the cello I bought from him. In many ways, he has been the most influential person in my musical life, and I am filled with gratitude for this. 



Do you have any words of wisdom for your successor?
I felt like as a principal the most important thing I could do is manage the section in a way that creates a great working atmosphere; a collegiality within the section. That's been my most important goal for the last twenty years, that I want us to all get along and be happy together....To me, the most important thing is that you've got to treat your colleagues with respect and you've got to treat them right.

What are your hopes for the cello section, and the CSO as a whole, for the coming years?
I hope we can continue to have great dialogue with our management and the board; that we continue to work as a team the way we did during COVID. These have been the best two years of my entire career in terms of our working relationship....it's been great and that's what we should have. We should have a great working relationship: between the players, the management, and the board. We need to do that....and I'm really hopeful for that going forward.



What can you tell us about your part in Music and Healing?
Two years ago I commissioned Leonard Mark Lewis to write [I Will Wade Out] for cello and piano, and we played it at Davidson [College] when I was on faculty there. And I really loved that piece. So I was thinking about what I wanted to do -- because I want to go out strong, like "Yeah, I'm making this decision. I don't have to, but I am because I just want to go out on a high note." And I thought, "You know, the perfect thing to do was play Mark's piece," because Mark and I are very close friends. I really like it, and it will give him a chance as a local composer to be showcased and to have another orchestral piece out there. So I'm really excited about us being able to do that. We've done a lot of tinkering with it since we played it two years ago. So it's been really neat to sort of reconnect with it and find more things that are amazing about it. So yeah, it's going to be fun. I'm really excited about it and it's a new venue that we've never played in, so I think it will be a really nice addition to the program.

Is there anything you'd like to say to the audiences who have been with you for so many years?
I want to say thank you to everyone, it's been such an honor to be Principal Cellist of the Charlotte Symphony. It's been an absolute joy!


Join us at Queens University for Alan's final solo performance as Principal Cellist of the Charlotte Symphony.
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