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Sound of Charlotte Blog

Of Rage and Remembrance: John Corigliano’s powerful response to the AIDS epidemic



The Charlotte Symphony performs Corigliano's Symphony No. 1 on February 25 and 26, conducted by Paolo Bortolameolli. >> Learn more

According to the composer himself, John Corigliano was reluctant to try his hand at a modern symphony, but he felt it was the appropriate format for this particular work. "My Symphony No. 1 was about world-scale tragedy and, I felt, needed a comparably epic form," he wrote. The AIDS epidemic had affected him deeply, and inspiration came, in part, from the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.


"I was extremely moved when I first saw 'The Quilt,' an ambitious interweaving of several thousand fabric panels, each memorializing a person who had died of AIDS, and, most importantly, each designed and constructed by his or her loved ones. This made me want to memorialize in music those I had lost, and reflect on those I was losing."


The first movement of the work, Apologue: Of Rage and Remembrance, includes an offstage piano playing Isaac Albeniz' Tango, a favorite work of Corigliano's pianist friend, who is memorialized in this movement. 

The second movement, Tarantella, was written in memory of a music executive and amateur pianist. With shocking percussion and brass interrupting an Italian folk dance, followed by a wistful clarinet, Corigliano has written that this movement represents his friend's descent into AIDS-related dementia. 

Chaconne: Giulio's Song was written to remember Corigliano's college friend and amateur cellist, Giulio. A solo cello represents his friend while a second cello joins in, a remembrance of Giulio's cello teacher. 

The final movement, Epilogue, is played against a repeated pattern consisting of waves of brass chords. Against this, each of Corigliano's friends and their music are recalled. The work ends as a solo cello holds the same perpetual A, finally fading away.

In the composer's own words:


The Charlotte Symphony performs Corigliano's Symphony No. 1 on February 25 and 26, conducted by Paolo Bortolameolli. >> Learn more Read more

Posted in Classics. Tagged as composer.

Cultural Ambassador: Dr. Frederick C. Tillis



A trailblazer in the American classical music tradition, Dr. Frederick C. Tillis bridged jazz and European classical music as a renowned composer, jazz saxophonist, and educator. Born in Galveston, TX in 1930, Dr. Tillis began composing when he was 20 years old. From 1950, he composed over 125 works, including symphonies, quartets, solo songs, and choral pieces, that reflected his ethnic and cultural background as well as many cultures and traditions experienced in his travels around the world.

Establishing his passion early in life, the young musician picked up the trumpet to perform in his elementary school's drum and bugle corps. At the age of 12, "Baby Tillis" was performing with jazz bands, traveling extensively with the Tillis-Holmes Jazz Duo and the Tradewinds Jazz Ensemble to Mexico, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. He earned a college scholarship to Wiley College, whereupon graduation, the new alumnus accepted the role of the college's band director. While pursuing a Ph.D in music studies, he volunteered for the Air Force and became director of the 356th Air Force Band, but returned to earn his doctorate degree from the University of Iowa. Dr. Tillis taught at several universities, eventually at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he became Director of the University Fine Arts Center and was the chief innovator
of the Jazz and Afro-American Music Studies Program.



Dr. Tillis is known for experimenting with the beauty of classical and the beat of jazz. Influenced by Schoenberg, Bach, Prokofiev, Mussorgsky, African-American composers, and world music, Dr. Tillis blended African-American music with European classical music and incorporated both Asian and Western traditions. Known for his intricate melodies and rich harmonic textures, some of his works include A Symphony of Songs, a choral/orchestral work based on poems by Wallace Stevens and commissioned by The Hartford Chorale, Inc.; A Festival Journey and Ring Shout Concerto for percussion, written for Max Roach; and Concerto for Piano and symphony orchestra written for Billy Taylor.

His work continued as an educator and cultural ambassador throughout his life, traveling to advise the establishment of a jazz studies program at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa, spending a three-week residency to help establish a jazz major at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand on behalf of the United States Information Agency, and sharing his talent as a Master Artist in Residence at the Akiyoshidai International Art Village in Yamaguchi, Japan. Having spent a long life making musical connections around the world, Dr. Tillis passed away at the age of 90 in May 2020.



At a UMass Amherst conference in 2010, Dr. Tillis reflected, "...Every place I've gone I've heard African - but not African only - American classical music....[We] had a thing for calling it America's classical music, and I think that's very valuable. Because if you look at music all over the world - and there's a European tradition, a very fine tradition; I write in it and so forth -- but then there's another tradition that has a rhythm; it has a melody; it has something altogether different that's all over the world, everywhere you go; you would hear African American music: China, India, it doesn't matter. So I think we're very much on target in calling it American classical music, European classical music....I think that those are the kinds of important things that should make us proud and also enlighten us; one of the things about African American music, jazz, is that it is a very spiritual kind of music."  Read more

Posted in Classics. Tagged as composer.

In Person with Jessica Cottis



This month, Australian-born conductor Jessica Cottis makes her debut with the Charlotte Symphony to conduct a fascinating program including the Charlotte Symphony premiere of Kurt Weill's witty and theatrical The Seven Deadly Sins. We sat down with Ms. Cottis to discuss her path to the podium and what the audience can expect from her debut performance. 

What led you to pursue conducting as your career?
For me, growing up in a very musical family, music was very much a means of expression and communication, even more so than speaking. I did my undergraduate as an organist and musicologist and had a really excellent career, but I got carpal tunnel syndrome in my twenties and I never knew when my hands would be reliable. I needed to rethink how I was as a musician and it was incredibly hard, particularly so because I had started music at such a young age. Conducting was very intoxicating - to think there was this opportunity to get so much depth and nuance from a symphony orchestra. I was like a match struck in the dark - it was sheer exhilaration that we as humans can express thoughts, emotions, and stories through this incredible art form and this incredible instrument, which is the orchestra itself. 

What is it like stepping in front of a new orchestra for the first time?
I love meeting new orchestras because they all have such a personality, and I never know what it's going to be until we start making music, really! I took a look at many of the recent programs that the Charlotte Symphony has put on and they seem forward-thinking, friendly, and really passionate about music. For me, one of the greatest things about being a human is being able to create and participate in art, and I really feel that passion from everything I've seen. So I'm very much looking forward to being in Charlotte and meeting the orchestra.



You've created such an interesting program, from Stravinsky to Kurt Weill and Jessie Montgomery. What goes into programming a concert like this?
One of my greatest interests in music is programming, and in the way that we can find connections between music that might be so disparate - 300 years between pieces or completely different focuses from the composers, but that one piece might lead somehow, imaginatively, into another and maybe even open our ears in new ways so that we can hear old music afresh.

In this program, as with any program, I tend to start with a seed of an idea, and then from that seed I look to see how it grows, and I never know from the beginning how it will grow! The initial idea of this program was that I really wanted to do The Seven Deadly Sins with the Charlotte Symphony. Somehow that felt like a perfect matching of minds and musical intellect. It's such a fantastic piece, so incredibly theatrical, and it has such a brilliant way of depicting humor, ideas, and nuances through Kurt Weill's musical style. He had only just fled Berlin for Paris in 1933 and this is his imaginary fantastical version of the United States; of this young woman sent out into the world to make money by her greedy exploitative family. It's almost 100 years old but it's still so fresh. The work includes so many different musical styles: foxtrots, a church choral, barbershop quartet, tangoes, and lots of wit. And that wit is really what led me to the Stravinsky.

That would be the Stravinsky Circus Polka?
Yes, the piece was written for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, for elephants to dance to - which is incredibly preposterous! There's a certain theatricality to the circus that works really well with the Kurt Weill piece. 



Which leaves us with Ravel's Piano Concerto and Jessie Montgomery's Strum.
The Ravel has a strong jazz influence, which linked so well to both the Weill and the Stravinsky. And I'm very much looking forward to working with Stewart Goodyear, I think this will be a really great meeting of musical minds. I've known Jessie Montgomery's pieces for a while and I've conducted Strum in numerous places - I just love it! It's just what it sounds like, the string players spend quite a lot of time strumming their instruments rather like a banjo. I thought it linked in well to the dichotomy of the classical being influenced by more popular styles of a particular time. 

I've heard that in your limited spare time, you're learning to fly helicopters! 
Yes! I've had to stop due to the pandemic, but I look forward to getting back into that whenever it happens. There's something really special about flying. It's exhilarating and humbling, and sort of life-affirming being able to lift oneself above where we normally are and look down and have a birds-eye view. As musicians, we spend so much time on forensic detail - and we must, it's so important - but keeping an eye on the bigger visual architecture is so freeing, really. 

  Read more

Posted in Classics. Tagged as Classical, interview.

John Williams on His Harry Potter Children’s Suite for Orchestra



Whether it's the soaring heights of Harry on his broomstick, the grandeur of his snowy owl, or the fear of facing one's enemy in battle, John Williams perfectly captures - through sound - the majesty and wonder of Harry Potter's magical world. 

His Children's Suite for Orchestra brilliantly introduces each section of the orchestra through the musical themes we all know and love. Below, Williams describes how this piece came to be and what you can expect to hear when the Charlotte Symphony performs this piece on January 22.


When I wrote the full orchestral score for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I hadn't planned to write the eight miniatures presented here. The film's score did not require them, and our production schedule, usually very difficult in the film world, made no provision for their arrival.

However, if I can be permitted to put it a bit colorfully, each piece seemed to insist on being "hatched" out of the larger body of the full score.

Hedwig's Flight

I began writing Hedwig's little piece, and each of the others followed quickly as they seemed to arrive all clamoring for their individual identities. I selected a combination of instruments that suited each theme, and this suite of pieces is the result.

Hedwig, the beautiful owl who magically and mysteriously delivers mail to Harry Potter at Hogwarts School, is musically portrayed in the first miniature by the celesta, a luminous little instrument which is capable of producing pearly, crystalline tones at dazzling speeds. The celesta begins its flight alone, but quickly is joined by the violins, possibly the only other instrument capable of attaining the dizzying pace needed to defy gravity and achieve flight.

Hogwarts Forever

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, that august institution that has trained and taught young wizards for centuries, is probably best described by the French horn section of the orchestra. No other instrument seems so perfectly suited to capturing the scholarly atmosphere of Hogwarts than the noble and stately French horn.

Voldemort

In the third miniature we meet Harry Potter's arch-enemy, the evil Lord Voldemort, who is portrayed here by a trio of bassoons sounding their mysteriously deep and sonorous tones.

Nimbus 2000

The Nimbus 2000 is Harry Potter's own personal broomstick. To musically depict this ingenious mode of transportation we have the woodwind section, with its flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons, all capable of extraordinary leaps and astonishing agility, forming a perfect match for the nimble Nimbus 2000.

Fluffy and his Harp

On the third floor of Hogwarts School, we find Fluffy, the huge three-headed guard dog. Fluffy is a music lover who can only be made to fall asleep to the sound of music. Here the contrabassoon represents the snoozing Fluffy, while his music is provided by the beautiful...and in this case...soporific harp.

Quidditch

In the Harry Potter books, Quidditch is a form of intramural competition that's played on flying broomsticks. The games are conducted every year at the Hogwarts School with great pageantry, featuring colorful flags and cheering crowds. In the sixth miniature, the pomp and ceremony of these Quidditch games is best represented by the blazing brass section of the orchestra, with its tuba, French horns, trombones, and heraldic trumpets.

Family Portrait

In the seventh miniature, "Family Portrait," the clarinet introduces the themes that relate to the disparate parts of Harry Potter's emotional life, and here it is accompanied by the cello section of the orchestra, which produces a wonderfully warm and beautiful sound.

Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley is a sort of shopping mall of the wizard world. Along with the wondrous things to be seen in the Alley, we're also transported by the sounds of antique recorders, hand drums, and percussion instruments of all kinds. There is even an elaborate solo part for the violin, cast in the role of the witch's fiddle.

With all of the miniatures presented, the suite concludes with the entire orchestra as it explores many of the themes heard throughout "Harry's Wondrous World."

My fondest hope is that instrumentalists and listeners alike might share in some of the joy that I have felt in writing music for this delightful story.

~ John Williams
  Read more

Posted in Family. Tagged as Family Series.

The Mahler Journey



This month, Music Director Christopher Warren-Green and the Charlotte Symphony complete their journey through Mahler's Symphonies with his final completed work, the powerful and introspective Symphony No. 9. 

Gustav Mahler is, undoubtedly, one of the most important and influential composers throughout history. His towering symphonies contain multitudes the very essence of the human condition love, hatred, life, and death. It's easy for people to hear echoes of their own fears, joys, doubts, and sorrows in his music. It's universal. 

"A Symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything" ~ Mahler

Despite this, decades after his death, Mahler's music was overshadowed by the modernist sounds of the second Viennese school - Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern - and his longer-living contemporary Richard Strauss. It wasn't until the 1960s that conductors, most notably Leonard Bernstein, began to rediscover and champion his works; demystifying the genius to be found within these complex and massive symphonies. 



And this is precisely what Christopher Warren-Green set out to do when, early in his tenure as Music Director, he invited Charlotte to join him and the Orchestra on a journey through Mahler's most epic Symphonies.  

"By now, everyone knows that Mahler is one of my absolute favorite composers," said Music Director Christopher Warren-Green, "not only because of the pure majesty and grandeur of his compositions but because of their complexities." 

Now, in the final leg of the Mahler Journey, Maestro Warren-Green hopes all of Charlotte will join him in experiencing Mahler's greatness through the Ninth Symphony. "If you've ever heard Mahler's music, you'll know what I mean, especially if you've heard it live, there is simply nothing like hearing it in person in the concert hall." 



Mahler was consumed with thoughts of his own and others' mortality as he composed his Ninth Symphony, following the death of his four-year-old daughter and the diagnosis of a heart condition that would take his life just four years later. But if despair and anguish are undoubtedly present in the music, they stand side-by-side with a passionate love of life and nature, and a heroic defiance of death. 

"You've trusted me along this Mahler Journey thus far," said Maestro Warren-Green, "and I truly do hope you'll join us for the final part. You'll be in for a real treat."   

The Curse of the Ninth

Mahler went out of his way to avoid a Ninth Symphony as neither Beethoven nor Bruckner had managed to reach a Tenth. At first he titled Das Lied von der Erde as the Ninth, but crossed the number out. As he wrote his next symphony, which he called the Ninth, he said to his wife, "Of course, it's actually the Tenth, because Das Lied von der Erde was really the Ninth...the danger is past." Despite his efforts, Mahler died before he could see the Ninth Symphony performed.   Read more

Posted in Classics. Tagged as Classical, Mahler.

Inspiring the Next Generation



A decades-long partnership between the Charlotte Symphony and Northwest School of the Arts continues to inspire the musicians of tomorrow. 

After a quick tune, the musicians of Northwest School of the Arts Orchestra split into sectionals the cellos follow Charlotte Symphony cellist Denielle Wilson to work on the opening bars of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition while the first violins work on fingerings and technique with Kathleen Jarrell, assistant principal second violin for the Charlotte Symphony. These coaching sessions are part of a decades-long partnership between the Charlotte Symphony and Northwest School of the Arts, a CMS Magnet School that provides specialized arts instruction for students in grades 6-12. 

The CSO's Northwest Residency Program is an immersive music education program in which NWSA students work intensively with professional Symphony musicians through individual, sectional, and ensemble settings. 

"The students look forward to seeing the coaches come in," said NWSA Orchestra Director Erica Hefner. "I see students taking more ownership over their role in the ensemble, whether it's by being a leader, or by identifying their strengths and challenges."

Denielle Wilson, who recently joined the CSO, worked with NWSA cello students for the first time last month. "The students were very responsive and flexible. On the first day I was trying to get an idea of their playing levels and what they were comfortable with, and I found that they were all good at figuring out how to make music with their instruments independently, and that makes me excited as a coach!"



Kathleen Jarrell, on the other hand, has been coaching violin at NWSA for more than ten years. "It's been exciting to see the orchestra program's growth. I love helping kids feel more successful at violin, and helping them enjoy being a part of an orchestra. Performing is one of the great joys of my life, and helpings students find that joy and excitement is fulfilling."

Outside of regular coaching sessions, NWSA students attend CSO concerts and rehearsals and work with the Symphony's talented conducting staff. They can also enroll in Recital Seminar, a class unique to the region which focuses entirely on chamber music. CSO musicians serve as both coaches and mentors, focusing on the communication between players, music analysis, and expressive playing. 

Erica has seen first-hand how this partnership has impacted the lives of her students both musically and personally. "Having someone who is a professional on your specific instrument tell you how, when, and why can be incredibly validating to a teenager. In a world where they are constantly questioning their choices and finding themselves, having a professional say 'Yes, that's it!' is motivating."

For Kathleen, it's about creating an experience that is enlightening and inspiring. "I hope the students come away from a coaching session with increased skills and with new confidence and a sense of accomplishment."

"Most of our students do not take private lessons, so having coaches work with them on solo audition material, as well as college audition material, is not only valuable it can be life changing!" ~Erica Hefner, NWSA Orchestra Director

Read more

Posted in Education & Community. Tagged as Education, Northwest Residency Program.

SLIDESHOW: Spoon River Anthology


The Charlotte Symphony kicked off spooky season with the premiere of a new stage adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, a series of monologues that collectively tell the story of Spoon River, a fictional small town in Illinois, spoken from beyond the grave by the town's former residents who provide accounts of their lives, losses, and deaths. Charlotte's Elmwood Cemetery provided the perfect backdrop for this supernatural performance.

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The audience gathers around tombstones in Charlotte's historic Elmwood Cemetery, surrounded by the graves of those that lived, worked, and died in the same era as our Spoon River residents.
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Nearby, the cast and crew assemble for a quick photo op (From L-R: Frank Dominguez, Melissa Bowden, Nancy Cottingham, Haley Harkins, Nick Asa, Morgan McDonald, Anthony Neal, Isabel Gonzalez, Tyler Hope Milton, Kat Brown, Chris Stonnell, Hank West, Gray Rodgers)
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Writer and Director of the production, Chris Stonnell, who is also the CSO's Director of Education and Community Engagement, sets the stage before the performance begins.
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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - Michael Hosford, Joe Brown, Scott Hartman, and Tom Burge - pose for a quick photo. The unique trombone quartet brings the show to life, weaving music throughout the dialogue.
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In the distance, actress Morgan McDonald stands next to her character's resting place - poised to return to Spoon River and speak of her earthly travails. 
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The audience sits at attention as the spirits of Spoon River gather once again to spin old tales.
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The Four Horsemen delight with tunes evoking turn-of-the-century America including selections by John Phillip Sousa, Scott Joplin, and W.C. Handy.
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As the final strains of "Going Home" from Dvorak's New World Symphony die down, the ghosts of Spoon River head back to their eternal resting places while the audience erupts in applause.
 
 
Read more

Posted in Community. Tagged as community.

In Her Own Words: Jirah Montgomery



A former member of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra, Jirah Montgomery also received musical training through the Symphony's Northwest Residency Program. Now, as an assistant with the Charlotte Symphony helping with the Youth Orchestra program, Jirah shares how early access to music education has shaped her into the person she is today.  

My name is Jirah Montgomery, and I've been playing the violin for close to 13 years. Throughout the years, I've learned countless things about how to play the violin both skillfully and artistically. I've learned that playing every note in a piece of music perfectly does not equate to you mastering the piece. There may be a number of "rules" as a violinist, but it's the sole act of playing the violin that helps me feel liberated as I continue to grow up. 

I started playing the violin in 3rd grade in a community program at my elementary school. It's where I met my first violin teacher, a woman I still learn from and now work with today. I had liked the act of playing/learning the violin, but I was not too keen on learning how to read sheet music. I would simply remember how a piece sounded as the class played it all together, go home, and play around on the violin until I found the correct notes by ear. I didn't get very far with this method, as the more challenging the music grew, the more challenging it was to "fake it till I made it". However, once my teacher found out my method, she made sure to spend time with me, showing me how to read music. Not only did she teach me how to read music, but she helped me find my passion for music. She taught me how to take the joy and motivation I felt from actually learning the notes and apply them to the music, literally. 

That feeling continued throughout elementary to middle school, from middle school to high school, and then on. That joy I felt from my first year of playing the violin continued to grow through intense music camps/events, music auditions (both the successful ones and not so successful ones), good seating auditions, and not so good seating auditions. No matter what challenge I encountered and no matter how I came out at the end of the challenge, that joy stayed there, and eventually, through opportunities I was blessed to receive, I was able to share that joy with others. 
 

Jirah Montgomery performing side-by-side with the Charlotte Symphony as part of the Northwest Residency Program

I mentioned those music camps/events where I would be able to share my joy of music with others, but those were usually for a weekend or a week (at the most). It was the events through CSA, CSYO, and my middle/high school orchestra that helped me make longtime friends who also have a passion for music. I would look forward to the days where I would leave school and head to "reunion class" or CSYO rehearsals. Some of my fondest memories come from my reunion class days where we would have potlucks every once in a while. We would all bring our food of choice (it didn't matter whether it was homemade, KFC, or a cultural dish) and we would all sit and eat like a huge family (which we definitely were). I also have countless memories, all of them fond, from CSYO. The rehearsals were held at my high school, so every Tuesday my friends and I would meet in the orchestra room (where the rehearsal took place) before walking out to my car in the student parking lot. We would drive through after-school traffic to a cookout not too far from the school, and we would do this every Tuesday without fail. We would get back to the school, eat, and then help set up. It may seem simple to some, even a little "too much" to others, but it was something I genuinely looked forward to every week. What's better than a meal with close friends followed by playing beautiful but challenging music alongside other friends? 

Even in the hardest times, I vividly remember music always helping me in some way. It could be listening to music, playing music, or downloading random sheets of music from IMSLP; without fail, music has always been there for me. A lot of people wonder where they would be had they not done something when they were younger; I have never wondered what my life would be like had I not continued to play the violin in elementary. 

Right now, as a junior in college, I major in Criminal Justice and minor in Psychology. I've been asked what made me "stop liking the violin". I stand by my answer that I never stopped liking the violin and that I just found something else that I'm also passionate about. Music has always been, and will always be, a monumental part of my life. It's because of music that I've made the friends I have today, who in turn have shaped me into the person I am today. Music has quite literally had an effect on everything in my life, and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. 

~Jirah Montgomery  Read more

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

Welcoming Back Our Youth Orchestra Musicians

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The Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra is back for the 2021-22 season! On September 7, our Youth Orchestra Programs returned to in-person rehearsals at Park Road Baptist Church. Rehearsals resumed in the Gymnasium allowing for a greater number of students to socially distance while masked. Despite the larger rehearsal space, our attendance has grown and necessitated splitting the orchestra into two smaller groups for rehearsal purposes. Those mini orchestras are rehearsing the same repertoire and will later be combined for full rehearsals and concerts. Everyone on site was overjoyed and smiling beneath their masks at the prospect of making music again. Read more

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

Meet the Charlotte Symphony’s Newest Musicians, Part I



You might notice a few new faces in the Orchestra this season! We caught up with six of the new members to welcome them to the CSO and learn a little more about who they are. Stay tuned next month when we meet the remaining four. 

Drew Dansby, Acting Section Cello

 
How were you introduced to music and the cello?
My parents, neither of whom played an instrument, started me on violin lessons on my fourth birthday after I begged them to start playing when I saw a violinist perform at our church. Six months later, I saw another student having a cello lesson before me, and I begged my parents again to add cello. My teacher rented us both instruments and split my lesson time into half violin and half cello. I continue to play both instruments to this day!

What do you look forward to most about living and working in Charlotte?
I'm really looking forward to spending a year in my hometown with family very close, and exploring more of this constantly changing city.
 
I grew up going to CSO concerts and already feel like I know so many of the people, and it's surreal to finally get to join the orchestra myself. It will also be pretty intimidating to be colleagues with many of the musicians I studied with and was coached by when I was a kid.

What do you do for fun when you're not performing/practicing?
I'm an avid reader, and I also love spending time in nature, doing Sudoku puzzles, volunteering for Crisis Text Line, and continuing my quest to find the best chicken and waffles in Charlotte.

>> Learn more about Drew

Leah Latorraca, Acting Section First Violin

 
Where were you born? 
I was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin.

How were you introduced to music and the violin?
I started playing violin when I was four. My older sister had started taking violin lessons, and naturally, I wanted to copy everything that she was doing!

What do you look forward to most about living and working in Charlotte?
I am looking forward to meeting and playing with a new group of wonderful colleagues. Outside of work, I am excited to explore Charlotte and see what North Carolina has to offer! 
 
What do you do for fun when you're not performing/practicing?
Outside of violin, I enjoy running, baking, traveling, and hanging out with friends!

>> Learn more about Leah

Margaret O'Leary, Acting Section Bassoon

 
How were you introduced to music and the bassoon?
When I was in fourth grade I started guitar lessons because I wanted to be in a rock band. However, practicing took way more discipline than I expected and after a year or so I gave up. In middle school I decided to give playing music another try and joined the school band program on the clarinet. A few months later I went to a Boston Pops concert, which was my first time ever seeing or hearing a bassoon. I was intrigued by how many keys it had, and liked the way it sounded. I doubled on clarinet and bassoon for about a year before deciding I wanted to focus on bassoon.
 
What do you look forward to most about living and working in Charlotte?
I'm looking forward to trying new restaurants and visiting Charlotte's museums, but I am most excited just to be playing in an orchestra again. Like most musicians, I haven't had many chances to play with other people over the past year and a half, so I really can't wait to perform more regularly. I feel lucky to be a part of this community; everyone in the orchestra has been very warm and welcoming, and I can't wait to make music with everybody!

What do you do for fun when you're not performing/practicing?
I really like to read, and I'm lucky to live just a short walk away from a branch of the Charlotte Public Library. One new hobby I have picked up recently is playing chess. I'm slowly studying up on strategies, but I also enjoy just playing for fun and seeing what happens.

>> Learn more about Margaret

Alice Silva, Acting Section Violin

 
Where were you born? 
I was born and raised in Fortaleza Brazil and came to the U.S. in 2007 to go to college.

How were you introduced to music and the violin?
I was introduced to music and the violin in my hometown through an afterschool program for underprivileged children. 
 
What do you do for fun when you're not performing/practicing?
Performing is my fun! Besides the symphony, I love playing Broadway shows, operas, weddings, Christmas concerts, chamber music, and in new music ensembles. But I also like to hang out with friends, discover different coffee shops in town, and travel when I can. I am a licensed Realtor in NC and SC and I am also a reservist in the U.S. Army. I am very excited to join CSO for the season!

>> Learn more about Alice

Denielle Wilson, Acting Section Cello

 
How were you introduced to music and the cello?
I was primarily introduced to music at church. My father loves singing, and started me and my siblings on piano lessons when we turned five years old. The classical station was often our radio listening of choice, and by the time I was ten, my dad started taking me to cello lessons.

What do you look forward to most about living and working in Charlotte?
I look forward to getting to know the outdoor beauty of Charlotte, making new friends, and growing more familiar with the feelings of playing in an orchestra full-time. I am hoping to find at least one good vegan/vegetarian Caribbean restaurant.
 
What do you do for fun when you're not performing/practicing?
I enjoy eating out, listening to music, reading, and having long telephone conversations with my siblings. An occasional visit to the movie theater is also nice.

>> Learn more about Denielle

Naho Zhu, Acting Section Bassoon

 
Where were you born? 
I was born in Kyoto, Japan, where I lived until I was 7 years old. After that we moved to Massachusetts, where my parents still live.

How were you introduced to music and the bassoon? 
My mom had me start piano lessons when I was three years old and, apparently, I fell asleep at my first lesson. The bassoon was something I became interested in after I joined the middle school band on the flute. We were working on a piece that had several measures of silence where a bassoon solo was supposed to be but we had no bassoonist at the time, so I volunteered to play it!
 
What do you look forward to most about living and working in Charlotte? 
I got a pandemic puppy last year, so I'm excited to explore parks and walking trails around Charlotte with him! Coming from Boston, I'm also looking forward to warmer weather, especially during the winter.

What would like the audience to know about you? 
That I'm so grateful for their passion and interest in music! As much time as we spend practicing by ourselves, what really gives our work meaning is the fact that we have people in the audience who are receptive to it, and who hopefully each take away something personal from the collective experience.

>> Learn more about Naho Read more

Posted in Community. Tagged as CSO Musicians.

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