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