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You've heard it: Christmas music on the radio stations, at the mall, in the office being hummed quietly by your next cube neighbor. Holiday music has become one of the most wonderful harbingers of the season. Baking cookies and wrapping presents would be a lot less fun without the jolly Christmas music playing in the background. But sometimes Christmas music can become a stressor inducing panic in the last minute shopper or bringing out the Scrooge in the nicest of people.

While the music on the radio stations tell us to slow down and enjoy this "most wonderful time of the year," we still take part in hectic visits with family and friends, travel planning headaches, and shop 'til you drop marathons leading up to the holidays. This year, wouldn't it be nice to pause and take some time to enjoy the music of the season in its purest form?

Starting tonight at the Belk Theater, the Charlotte Symphony will present Magic of Christmas, its annual holiday concert of beautiful music performed live by Charlotte's only professional orchestra. Take some time to focus on just one sense. Just listen. Let the music fill you up with happiness and peace. Slow down your mind (and your pulse) and enjoy the fleeting moments of the season. You'll be glad you did.
Magic of Christmas performances will take place over four days with evening performances on Thursday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, November 30 and Saturday December 1 at 8:00 p.m., with two matinee performances on Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets start at $26.50 for adults and $13.25 for children and can be purchased online here or over the phone at (704) 972-2000.

Tagged as Charlotte Symphony, christmas, Christmas Music, holidays, Magic of Christmas.


After this past Tuesday's rehearsal, Christopher Warren-Green sat down with Duncan McFadyen for an interview about Friday and Saturday's Mozart Mass concert.  The interview aired Friday morning on WFAE 90.7 FM, Charlotte's local NPR affiliate.

By Duncan McFadyen | Originally aired 11/16/12 on WFAE
Listen to the full story here.

Excerpt from the interview:

WARREN-GREEN: I've wanted to bring the children onto the stage at the Symphony every year, because I believe 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, and I want our audience to see what their patronage is doing for the community.

Christopher Warren-Green leads the Charlotte Symphony in a rehearsal of Mozart's Mass in c minor. Credit Duncan McFadyen http://www.wfae.org

MCFADYEN: Where do you think this perception that classical music is inaccessible comes from? Do you think that teaching children about the arts early in life helps to dispel that myth?

WARREN-GREEN: ...there is a preconception that the concert hall is maybe not a place for us. It's wrong! Everyone is musical, and if you get a chance with all the churches around here to get your children into some kind of choir,  my goodness, the training is extraordinary. And it changes their life, it really does. This is not a corny catch phrase. Music transforms lives. It did it for me: I was nowhere until music picked me up out of the gutter at a very young age...

Were you introduced to music at a young age? Have you been shaped by a Youth Orchestra experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Read or listen to the entire interview here.

Posted in Classics, Education & Community, Youth Orchestras. Tagged as Christopher Warren-Green, CSYO, Education, Mozart, Mozart Mass in C Minor.


Winterfield Students participating in Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17th's special performance of Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus featuring the entire CSO artistic family took some time to express their excitement for the event in the following notes.

Martha says, "The good thing about the concert is having the opportunity to play in it & to have teacher help us. The thing I like most going to the concert & playing with the Charlotte Symphony."

"My experience in orchestra has been wonderful and I can't wait to play with the Symphony. I am very excited about when we see our mom and dad in the crowd and they video the whole thing. The next thing I am excited about is when the crowd claps."

"I'm happy about that I am going to play with my teachers. My parents are coming to see me play on stage. I'm going to look my best. I just cannot wait! I am so excited about it."

Nytalia says, "I love violin because it makes me feel free. And I have a lot of friends. I'm excited about this year's concert because we get to go play with the Charlotte Symphony. I wish I have a great time and Mr. Carlos is great, too. (I think.)"

"I am excited about when I get to play in front of all those people and when they clap for me with all my hard work, and I am thankful for that. I cannot wait for the concert. I want my parents to be proud of me yea! :-) I want to say thank you for spending the time to teach me how to play the violin. I wish I could be here next year to play the violin, but I have to go to a middle school 6th grade. I wish I could play another year again! :-) "
One thing's for sure, these hardworking kids are expecting the crowd to go wild with applause, so let's not disappoint.
CONTRIBUTE TO THE APPLAUSE: Single tickets start at $19 and are available by calling (704) 972-2000 or by visiting our website.

Posted in Classics, Education & Community. Tagged as Charlotte Symphony, Education, Mozart, Mozart Mass in C Minor, winterfield elementary, youth musicians.

History in the Making

For the first time in Charlotte Symphony history, the entire CSO artistic "family" will perform together on the Belk Theater stage. At the November 16 and 17 Classics Series concerts, featuring Mozart Mass in C Minor, the program will now open with a special performance of Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus by 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.

Winterfield Elementary Performance at Classics Series, January 2011

This special performance is reflective of Music Director Christopher Warren-Green's vision for the Charlotte Symphony as a primary source for music education in Charlotte. Warren-Green sees the Charlotte Symphony's youth orchestras as vital to the growth of the organization and the enrichment of the Charlotte community.

"I feel very strongly that you can't have one organization--the Charlotte Symphony or our Youth Orchestras--without the other," said Maestro Warren-Green. "We need the professionals to teach the youth and the youth are our future musicians, audience members, and supporters. Our mission is to educate our whole community and our Youth Orchestra [CSYO and JYO] programs, for instance, have been educating young musicians for fifty years."

Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra Performance, 2012 (photo, PRBrowning Photography)
He added, "We know that the discipline the students learn by studying music contributes to success in other subjects in school. I'm very proud to be the Music Director of an orchestra that has educated and continues to educate so many members of our community."
Mozart Mass in C Minor will take place on Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 8:00 p.m. at the Belk Theater. The concert will feature the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte, the official chorus of the Charlotte Symphony, and soloists Karina Gauvin, soprano, Mary Wilson, soprano, Daniel Stein, tenor, and Sumner Thompson, baritone.
Single tickets start at $19 and are available by calling (704) 972-2000 or visiting the website.

Posted in Classics, Education & Community, Youth Orchestras. Tagged as Christopher Warren-Green, CSYO, Education, JYO, Mozart, Mozart Mass in C Minor, Oratorio, winterfield elementary.

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

Posted in Lollipops. Tagged as CSO Lollipops, Grey Seal Puppets, Jacomo Rafael Bairos, Lollipops Family Concerts, Petrushka, Stravinsky.

Observer: Charlotte Symphony enables sun to shine in ‘Spring’ Symphony

By Steven Brown | 11/3/2012 | Charlotte Observer
Reblogged from Charlotte Observer

Everyone else can think about falling back this weekend. The Charlotte Symphony, despite the end of daylight saving time, is busy springing forward through Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 1.
That's also known as the "Spring" Symphony, of course. Thanks to the orchestra, it's living up to its nickname, in both senses of the word.

The orchestra sprang through it Friday night. With Christof Perick, the group's former leader, back on the podium, the orchestra was crisp, clear and agile. It filled the opening movement with bounding energy. It flung out the scherzo's buoyantly rhythmic chords. It breezed through the finale's jauntiness and byplay.
As for spring, the season: Its sunshine arrived with the brasses' gleam in the very first phrases. The woodwinds' warmth in an array of lyrical sections enhanced it. The strings contributed to it through the coziness they gave the slow movement, which wasn't really that slow. The way it flowed along, its peaceful melody could've been blooming before everyone's ears.

With the motion that ran through the whole symphony, Perick and the orchestra could have been looking forward to Schumann's Symphony No. 3, which salutes a great European river the Rhine. Instead, they moved on after intermission to a river farther east: the Moldau, the subject of Bedrich Smetana's beloved tone poem.

The qualities that made the orchestra so appealing in the "Spring" Symphony were just as winning in "The Moldau" and "From Bohemia's Meadows and Forests," another of Smetana's portraits of his homeland.
"The Moldau" started quietly, but that didn't mean it started small: The flutes and clarinets blended silkily in the purling theme that sets the river in motion. The little wedding dance was airy and cheerful. The strings made the moonlight scene glisten and when the trombones and tuba entered with their theme underneath, they added fullness and depth without breaking the mood. That took skill and control.
Speaking of finesse: There were further generous helpings of it in the way the woodwinds sang out their big tune in "From Bohemia's Meadows and Forests." Opening up like a full-through chorus, they were full, smooth and well-blended. Those used to be qualities they hardly ever displayed. But they're commanding them more and more often a welcome development.

After Smetana's booming final chords, Perick and the orchestra added an encore: one of Dvorak's Slavonic Dances. It was just as jubilant as Smetana had been. Perick and the group especially savored its quick changes between gusto and grace.

The orchestra played lustily in the stormy spots of the concert's opener, Carl Maria von Weber's Overture to "Der Freischutz." The group dug into the exuberant finish, too. But the opening, meant to evoke the mystery and supernatural that drive the plot of Weber's opera, didn't quite take hold. The orchestra, with its modest-size string section, didn't command the dark-hued sound that would've created the mood. The group manages to summon such tones once in a while, as in Stravinsky's "Firebird" Suite earlier this month. But for the players to do it dependably is a development that has yet to come. Until there are more players, it probably can't come.
Read more news and reviews >

Posted in Classics. Tagged as Charlotte Observer, Christof Perick, Classical, Musicians, Review, Schumann, Smetana, The Moldau.

Observer: Perick enjoys freelancer’s life — at least for a while

By Steven Brown | 11/1/2012 | Charlotte Observer
Reblogged from Charlotte Observer Critical Mass

It's lucky that Christof Perick had a nonstop flight from Germany to Charlotte. Otherwise, Mother Nature might've gotten in his way for the second time -- which would've been particularly ungrateful of her this week,  since the music he'll conduct with the Charlotte Symphony is a celebration of nature's power and beauty.

A volcanic eruption in April 2010 blasted a dust cloud over Europe that kept Perick from conducting his last concerts as the orchestra's music director. But he circumvented Sandy on Monday. So he's back for a three-week U.S. visit. It will not only return him to the Charlotte podium he occupied for nine seasons, but offer him other reminiscences of his work on this side of the Atlantic -- or, as he put it Tuesday, his "28-year history of conducting in this wonderful country."

He plans visit friends in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles -- all cities where he has conducted prominently -- and close with the San Diego Symphony, which he has guest-conducted repeatedly over 20-plus years. (A Perick travel tip: If you ever travel from L.A. to San Diego, go by train. The ride offers spectacular views of the coast.)

But first: The Charlotte Symphony concerts this weekend may offer some reminiscences of their own. They'll start with Carl Maria von Weber's Overture to "Der Freischutz," an opera that received full-length, concert-style performances from Perick and the orchestra in 2003. Next will come the "Spring" Symphony, Schumann's exuberant hymn to nature's annual rebirth. To cap things off, two of Bedrich Smetana's portraits of his native Bohemia: the beloved "The Moldau" and the less-famous but equally catchy "From Bohemia's Forests and Meadows."

Perick hadn't yet gotten in front of the orchestra Tuesday morning. But he credited his successor, Christopher Warren-Green, for the fact that the orchestra is financially "safer" -- quickly rapping his knuckles on a wooden table in the Charlotte Symphony's office -- than it was during Perick's time.
"I think it's probably because Christopher is living here," Perick said. He thinks Warren-Green's presence in Charlotte, promoting the orchestra around town, is "very important. I think it's very good. I was always saying that -- the orchestra needs someone who is (visible) at the arena, across the street."
"I couldn't do that," Perick, who's based in Germany, added. "I didn't have the time to do that. In that regard, I'm not a good American music director. Because you need that talent and that outgoing personality to do all those things (in the community) convincingly."

But Perick takes pride in cultivating the Charlotte Symphony's  style and precision -- something Warren-Green has complimented  from his own perspective. Perick points to similar work back home in Germany, where he last year finished a stint as music director of the Nuremberg State Theater. Zeroing in on a cycle of Mozart operas with the company's singers -- such as the vibrant Heidi Meier, who also made a couple of visits to Charlotte -- was a highlight, he said.

Continue reading the entire article >>


Posted in Classics. Tagged as Christof Perick, Christopher Warren-Green, Classical, Schumann, Smetana, The Moldau.