Sound of Charlotte Blog
This season, you'll notice a few new faces in the orchestra! We caught up with Judson Baines, Jacob Lipham, Alaina Rea, and Gabriel Slesinger to welcome them to the CSO and learn a little more about who they are.
Judson Baines, Assistant Principal Double Bassist
|Where did you grow up?
I was born in Wilmington, NC and grew up in the Raleigh area. I've spent a considerable amount of time in the mountains of western part of the state, as well as the coast, enjoying the merits of living in North Carolina throughout my life!
What do you look forward to most about living and working in Charlotte?
I think it's really awesome that I can be in my home state and have my family easily visit me and vice versa, so I'm really looking forward to that.
What else should we know about you?
I would love the audience to know that I am genuinely so excited to join the CSO and play music with other people again after a long hiatus due to the virus!
Learn more about Judson.
Jacob Lipham, Principal Timpanist
|How were you introduced to music and the timpani?
I began studying piano at a young age, around five, and really enjoyed it. When I got to middle school I decided to join the band. When it was time to pick my instrument for the band, the array of percussion instruments in the back of the room looked very enticing to play! Many of the kids wanted to play percussion, so my middle school band director prioritized students who had studied piano to join the percussion section. Thankfully I had studied piano, so I was able to begin playing percussion, and the rest is history! My decision to pursue orchestral timpani happened in my collegiate studies. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Percussion Performance at The Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
While at Indiana University, I was introduced to a diverse range of percussion styles and fields of work. The experience I found the most excitement and joy through was playing timpani in the orchestra. The diverse sounds, colors, and roles the timpani can provide within an orchestra, in addition to the thrill of creating music beside colleagues, was more than enough to convince myself to narrow my pursuit to an orchestral career.
What do you look forward to most about living and working in Charlotte?
I moved to Charlotte recently, and I am very excited to explore and get to know the city more. The culture seems vibrant, diverse, and welcoming. I can't wait to explore the vast restaurant and brewery scene, and check out the local sport teams! I am so thrilled to be a new member of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, to begin making music with my new fantastic colleagues, and seeing you all from the stage hopefully soon!
Learn more about Jacob.
Alaina Rea, Assistant Principal Violist
|How were you first introduced to the viola?
I started playing the violin at the age of 4 in the Suzuki method. During high school, my teacher suggested that I learn the viola. At first I reluctantly agreed but ended up loving it and decided to make the switch.
What are you looking forward to about being part of the Charlotte Symphony?
I am most looking forward to making music with talented colleagues and exploring different parts of the city.
What do you do for fun when you're not practicing or performing?
Outside of music, I enjoy hiking, cooking, and spending time outside.
Learn more about Alaina.
Gabriel Slesinger, Third/Associate Principal Trumpet
|How were you introduced to music and the trumpet?
My parents both value music and it was important to them that my siblings and I all learn instruments. My two older sisters played the piano and my older brother played the violin. My earliest musical memories are of hearing them practice every day, overhearing their lessons and recitals, and listening to the classical station on every car ride. As the youngest, I think I picked the trumpet because I wanted my instrument to be louder than theirs. My parents are fans of Louis Armstrong and Herb Alpert, so I had a little bit of awareness of these great trumpet players before starting.
I really like the people in this orchestra. There is a very high level of playing here, but it's also like a family. The musicians here really stretch themselves and take risks in concerts. I love closing my eyes during a rest in a concert and pretending I'm an audience member, and I can't wait to be onstage again. The first concert back is going to be absolutely electric. I'm happy to live in a city where people value live music. The Charlotte Symphony has a wonderfully supportive audience.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can name all the US presidents in less than 10 seconds.
Learn more about Gabriel. Read more
This summer, a number of the Charlotte Symphony's talented musicians participated in the 2020 virtual Colorado Music Festival. Concertmaster Calin Lupanu was joined by Associate Concertmaster Joseph Meyer, Second Violinist Monica Boboc, Cellist Marlene Ballena, and Principal Harpist Andrea Mumm to perform works by Ravel and Dvořák. Please enjoy these performances - available for a short period of time - courtesy of the Colorado Music Festival.
Maurice Ravel, Introduction and Allegro
Antonín Dvořák, Terzetto in C Major, Op. 74I. Introduzione: Allegro ma non troppo
Bob Rydel - Audio and Video Post-Production
Today marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which prohibits states and the federal government from denying U.S. citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex. To celebrate this historic achievement, the Charlotte Symphony is using its platform to highlight the many contributions of women in classical music. We asked a few CSO musicians and conductors to share with us a list of women composers who they wish everyone knew more about.
"She's an extremely talented individual, an accomplished violinist and chamber musician in the Catalyst Quartet, and I've been so proud to perform her wonderful music alongside the rest of our canon of timeless art pieces. I hope we will continue to share her beautiful work with our Charlotte community!" - Principal Violist Benjamin Geller
"Gabriela Lena Frank is a varied & important fixture in American composition, has numerous awards & Composer in Residence credentials, and has founded a Creative Academy of Music which enables opportunity for dozens of up & coming composers. Her string orchestra piece 'An Andean Walkabout,' written for A Far Cry in Boston, is both visceral in energy & jarring rhythmically. A terrific, monumental piece that I love." - Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees
"I think her music is important to be celebrated because, to be honest, I just really like it. When I have performed some of her solo pieces, they have spoken personally to me, and I found myself lost in tunes that I wish I had written myself." - Trombonist Thomas Burge
"When I was 13 years old, Chaminade's Concertino for Flute and Orchestra was one of the first big flute solos that I had ever performed. It's a very popular piece for young flutists, and I didn't realize until years after playing it that Chaminade is actually female!" - Youth Philharmonic Conductor Jessica Morel
"Chaminade composed more than 400 pieces, but the Concertino is her most beloved and remains an important piece in the flute repertoire. Though her father did not permit her to attend the Conservatoire de Paris, she was able to study composition privately and eventually gained popularity as a composer and pianist." - Flutist Amy Orsinger Whitehead
an orchestral piece in celebration of the city's 250th anniversary.
"I think Nkeiru Okoye is important because her works incorporate many different sounds and styles from cultural areas that are both part of her own personal journey, and also are part of a larger narrative regarding the history of African American people. Spending her youth divided between living in New York and Nigeria, she offers an important personal perspective through her music that also highlights a broader cultural connection that resonates with many Americans." - Trombonist Thomas Burge
Inspired to learn about more women composers? A great place to start is Music Critic Anne Midgette's list of the top women composers in classical music from The Washington Post. Read more
The Charlotte Symphony is thrilled to be partnering with Google Arts & Culture along with 12 other local cultural institutions to celebrate our hometown, Charlotte! The Queen City's Google Arts & Culture page explores the unique cultural DNA of Charlotte, told through stories that dive into everything from food favorites, sports stars, contemporary and fine art, regional history, performing arts, and more. Together with our cultural partners, we paint the picture of our thriving and creative city.
On the Charlotte Symphony's page we've created exhibits where you can explore our rich history and see how we're inspiring and connecting with our community through exceptional musical experiences. You can also catch up with the CSO's musicians and see what they've been working on from home in our #CSOatHome exhibit.
Google Arts & Culture puts the treasures, stories and knowledge of over 2,000 cultural institutions from 80 countries at your fingertips. If Google's mission is to make the world's information more accessible, then Arts & Culture's mission is to make the world's culture accessible to anyone, anywhere. It's your doorway to explore art, history, and wonders of the world. Read more
We're thrilled to announce your Charlotte Symphony's next President & CEO: David Fisk, current Executive Director of the Richmond Symphony, begins his new position at the CSO on August 31.
Born in Great Britain, Fisk moved to the United States in 2002 to serve as Executive Director of the Richmond Symphony, where access to music for all and strong financial management were consistent themes under his leadership.
Fisk began his musical life at the age of eight in the choir at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. He went on to receive his degree in music from Manchester University and a postgraduate diploma in piano accompaniment from the Royal Northern College of Music, where he also studied harpsichord, composition, and conducting. Prior to moving into arts management, Fisk worked for a number of years as a freelance composer/arranger, conductor, repetiteur, and orchestral keyboard-player.
Fisk is married to Irish soprano Anne O'Byrne. They have a daughter, Fionnuala or "Finn" (22) and son Oliver (19). Other than music, his hobbies include swimming and scuba diving - often off the coast of North Carolina - horseback riding, and motorcycling.
Our city and our nation are struggling right now - forced, once again, to confront the hard truths of systemic injustice and inequality that People of Color know all too well and face daily. We cannot, in good conscious, continue to stand by and wait for change to happen.
The mission of the Charlotte Symphony is to connect and strengthen our community - our entire community - through exceptional musical experiences. We believe that music is a right, not a privilege; and that music can even be an agent for change. But we know that music alone is not enough. We recognize that we have not done enough to confront racial inequity in our organization or our industry, and we are truly committed to being part of the solution.
So where do we go from here?Last summer, the Charlotte Symphony began work with a consultant who conducted a listening and survey process to get perspectives from internal and external stakeholders and assembled an advisory group - comprised of staff, board, and orchestra members - to help guide us through the difficult work of changing our culture. This advisory group is creating an actionable, long-term plan to examine our racial and other disparities, both onstage and off, so our organization can truly be equitable, diverse, and inclusive. We are honored to have received a grant from the League of American Orchestras' Catalyst Fund to advance these essential efforts.
We must strengthen our commitment to intentionally seeking out composers and performers of color, who are underrepresented in our industry, and commit to learning how to better serve the next generation through Project Harmony, our Youth Orchestras, and other education programs.
We realize that we have a lot of work to do, and we need the help of our staff, orchestra, partners, and especially the Charlotte community to hold us accountable as we move forward.
In recognition of Juneteenth, the Charlotte Symphony will be closed on June 19. Our musicians, staff, and board will be provided with a list of suggested activities and resources so they may use this time to better understand, honor, and reflect on the meaning of this important day.
We serve the Charlotte community, and we want to hear from you. Please share with us your thoughts and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interim President and CEO
As we face this global pandemic, the Charlotte Symphony has been tasked with adjusting to a new normal. Our musicians have turned their living rooms into performance spaces, Zoom has become a place for online learning, and our public performances have gone digital on #CSOatHome.
The fear around this public health emergency is certainly overwhelming, but it has also shown us inspiring acts of kindness, both big and small, in our city and around the world. The musicians and staff of the CSO have been humbled by the immense support we've received during this very difficult time, and we've felt inspired to give back to our community. From offering free lessons and performances to healthcare workers and donating blood, to baking for neighbors and sewing masks, the CSO is doing what we can to pay it forward.
Musicians of the Charlotte Symphony are volunteering to perform for healthcare workers at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center during their shift changes. Here, violinist Martha Geissler performs near the staff entrance.
"My feeling is if it gives even 5 or 10 seconds of respite from what they have faced and what they will continue to face, I feel honored." ~ Martha Geissler
Musicians from the Charlotte Symphony are offering free virtual lessons to healthcare professionals as a casual and fun respite from their daily work stress. The program consists of weekly, thirty minute lessons for six weeks. Healthcare workers that are interested should write to email@example.com.
Musicians and staff have been making and donating cloth face masks. Interim President and CEO Michelle Hamilton shows off some of the 120 masks she made for Charlotte Symphony staff, musicians, friends, and neighbors to help keep them safe during the pandemic.
Multiple staff members have given blood to help with the critical nation-wide blood shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, Grants Manager Caroline Cave smiles through her donation.
Development Coordinator Senta Harvey and her family moved up the delivery of their traditional holiday cookies for friends and neighbors. "We're going to do it during this time to spread smiles!" Read more
The Cherokee Chamber Singers have a powerful message to share: Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here). Nestled in an all-American Classical Series concert on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2020, below is everything that you need to know about this powerful work and our collaboration.
Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here) sprang from the minds and hearts of students of Cherokee Middle and High Schools under the guidance of the Cherokee Chamber Singers. Composed in 2018 by contemporary American composer (and NC native) William Brittelle, Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here) is sung in the Cherokee language and musically documents the past, present, and future of the Cherokee people who have lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina for several thousand years.
The Cherokee Chamber Singers vocal group was formed in 2016 as the advanced vocal group from the Performing Arts Department at Cherokee High School, the Native American high school in the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, NC (also known as the Cherokee Indian Reservation). Under the direction of Michael Yannette, the singers' unique and varied repertoire offers audiences both traditional and modern Native American music, as well as choral, classical, musical theater, and pop/rock genres.
"I have been a teacher for 33 years and have never been part of something with the impact of this work," Yannette said. "The audience reaction has been overwhelmingly positive; I thought people might be disturbed by it in Raleigh, but it had universal acceptance. They were open to what these kids had to say: 'We're still here, and we're always going to be.'"
This concert serves as a continuation of the Symphony's commitment to use music to both explore issues of systematic injustice, and to look to a more equitable future for all people. Under the baton of Music Director Christopher Warren-Green, the orchestra will perform this powerful work that celebrates the creativity and cultural heritage of the original citizens of North Carolina, but also amplifies their voices.
"Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here) is not only an artistically excellent work that shines a light on North Carolina music and composers, but it also gives voice to a group of people in our home state who feel forgotten," Michelle Hamilton, Charlotte Symphony Interim President and CEO, said. "The Charlotte Symphony is proud to share the stage with these young singers and provide a platform for their voices."
Hear their message: Join us on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at Belk Theater. Also on the program: Copland's Appalachian Spring and Barber's Adagio for Strings.
We're trying something a little different this season. On October 15, a quartet of CSO musicians are going "Off the Rails" with a performance of contemporary music at Snug Harbor in Plaza Midwood. We caught up with two members of the quartet, Assistant Concertmaster Kari Giles and Acting Assistant Principal violist Kirsten Swanson, to get a sneak peek of the program.
|Have you ever played a concert like CSO Off the Rails before?
Kari Giles: I've never been fortunate to play a concert quite like Off the Rails! I have always been passionate about new music and putting together creative programs. It is so fun to search and discover new composers, bring their works to life, and then share them with an audience for the first time. [So] having the freedom to create a program and literally being told to "get wild" and "out there" was thrilling. I knew immediately that I wanted to partner with Jenny Topilow and Kirsten Swanson. On top of being amazing musicians, they are dear friends, and we have a long history of playing chamber music together. Jeremy Lamb has also been involved in many local new music collaborations and is a composer himself, so I knew he would be perfect addition.
Assistant Concertmaster Kari Giles
Kirsten Swanson: I have been very fortunate to have spent a lot of my career playing contemporary music, and I absolutely love the creativity of 20th and 21st Century string quartet writing. I did a similarly programmed concert last year, but what I especially love about these pieces is that the composers play around with the Western musical tradition of a steady, toe-tappable, rhythm and sends the listener's inward pulse "off the rails."
What kind of music is on the program? How was it selected?
KG: The concert will open with John Adams' "John's Book of Alleged Dances." When it was suggested by my husband Mark Lewis, who is also a composer, I instantly loved it and knew we had to program it. Next on the program is "Carrot Revolution" by young and upcoming composer Gabriella Smith. The words "Rock Out" are literally marked into all of our parts in the opening, and the piece is filled with fiddle, blues, and rock riffs. Listen closely to hear her homage to The Who! A friend recommended I check out our third featured composer, Pamela Z. As an artist and composer, Pamela Z creates eclectic works using voice, live electronic processing and sampled sound. I don't want to give too much away, so I will just say that this work is dreamy and super cool. We have a few more surprises as well, so I hope everyone will come out ready to hear some new music they've never heard before!
Acting Assistant Principal violist Kirsten Swanson
KS: The works on the program toy with our sense of pulse and rhythm, one of the most essential elements of music. In the Adams work, he has the quartet playing with a pre-recorded track played on a player piano. The track is sort of our metronome, except it's not quite steady (or is it?), which is a trip for us as players and for the audience! Adams is making such fun of the idea of what makes a dance a dance and how we each frame our sense of pulse. I'll be so curious to hear what the audience feels throughout these.
Which do you think is the coolest or most fun piece on the program?
KG: The part of the program that is most personal to me is a movement of the Adams work called "Judah to Ocean."
KS: Carrot Revolution is totally the most fun! Anything that says "Rock Out" is going to be my favorite piece!
What kind of music do you listen to for fun?
KG: Currently my go-to musical companions are Prince, Rhianna, Tori Amos, and The Cure. I am also really going through a traditional Irish phase, and Dervish is just magical. My all-time favorite band, though, is Jump Little Children, who I went to school with when I was at NCSA.
KS: Oh man. My playlist is embarrassing. Last week I listened to Lizzo (butchered the lyrics); Raffi because he has a beautiful voice and the lyrics still get me as an adult (I mean! Robin in the rain/what a saucy fellow); Anderson .Paak because he's just amazing; and the oldies...because my parents did, and it's the music I listened to growing up.
What do you think people need to know about the concert before they show up?
KG: Just put on your coolest (or uncoolest) outfit, grab a drink at the bar, and have fun!
FLY Dance Company, dubbed The Gentlemen of Hip Hop, join us this summer to take on Mozart, Debussy, Brahms, and other greats of classical music in Breaking Classical with The Gentlemen of Hip Hop on June 21, 2019 at Belk Theater.
What exactly are they planning on doing on stage with a full orchestra behind them? These clever dancers are going to use their skills to show you just how poweful and beautiful a fusion of street dance and classical music can be.
So you think you know Hip Hop? Classical music? Think again.
Meet the crew:
Jorge Casco, Executive DirectorJorge Casco's love for music began at age four as a drummer and street dancer in Houston, Texas. Winning underground dance battles and making a name for himself in the underground B-Boy circuit, however, wasn't enough for him. He saw Fly Dance Company (FLY) perform at his school, and after a year as an understudy, Jorge became a principal dancer with FLY and toured internationally. Jorge performed in 110 school shows, and 65 dance concerts, reaching over 30,000 kids in a single season.
With a natural comedic side, Jorge's humor adds fun to every FLY engagement. Another particular strength is his ability to relate to and interact with his students--adults and kids alike.
Jorge works daily on his dream of growing FLY grow into a nationally recognized company with several chapters across the country.
Chris Cortez, DirectorChris Cortez is the product of one of the first in-school hip-hop dance programs that took place at Spring Woods Middle School in Houston, TX. The program provided three hours a week where he learned choreography, performance skills and new dance skills guided by his instructor Kathy Wood, who was also the Director of Fly Dance Company at the time.
Shortly thereafter, Chris joined FLY and had the chance to educate over 100,000 students about the positive impact of hip-hop on the youth. This was the beginning of the hip-hop culture leading Chris's life into a quest of providing hope and health to the youth that once was him.
Chris has traveled worldwide since 1998, performing, competing, instructing, and educating the youth about the art of B-Boying and hip-hop, as well as their positive impact. He has also been a part of the world-famous Houston Rockets Launch Crew for nine consecutive years. Chris had the opportunity to travel with the Rockets organization to the China games in Beijing & Guangzhou, the All-Star Game in 2011, and, most recently, the games in Taiwan and the Philippines.
Chadwick Franklin, Principal DancerChadwick started his journey into dance at Westside High School after being inspired by his friends and classmates. After graduating he continued his experience by working at John Marshall Middle School under Lori Amare-Bujung as a Dance Instructor. Through instructing youth and creating choreograph, his love for the arts grew. He also performed with Theresa Chapman at Ronald McDonald's Boo Ball in 2014. He soon joined Sonkiss'd Dance Theater and briefly worked as a Principal Dancer for their Urbanity show, Urban Ballet, and toured with them in 2017 in Pennsylvania. After parting ways with the company, he found himself joining Fly Dance Company, of which he has been a member since the third quarter of 2018.
Jesse Magana, Principal DancerJesse started performing at age 10, working with Kathy Wood's FLY Kids group. By the age of 15, he was performing, teaching, competing, and inspiring professionally. Jesse is a college graduate with an Associates Degree in business and marketing, and is pursuing his Bachelors Degree in advertising. His dream is to become an entrepreneur with his own entertainment company.
Timothy Pena, Principal DancerAn artist with aspirations of making it big in the fashion, music and dance industry, "Lil Moe", as his friends call him, was named after the father he never knew. Raised by his great-grandparents, they eventually adopted him. He is currently working at Caught in Customs manufacturing Boutique, teaches hip-hop to young children at various Houston schools for after school programs, dances for the Houston Rockets Launch Crew, and dances with Fly Dance Company. FLY is proud of Timothy's achievements, given his tough and emotional up ringing, and they're excited to see what the future holds for him.
Sidney Pritchett, Principal DancerSidney Pritchett developed his dance background at Westside High School in Houston, TX, where he danced all four years for the school's Inertia Dance Company. His performance experience includes, but is not limited to, working with the Houston Symphony at the Wortham Center for "The Twelve Days of Christmas", H-E-B's Thanksgiving Day Parade with singer/song writer Naturi Naughten, in China at the Eight Chinese Folk Art Festival in Beijing, Suzhou, and Shanghai, The Orange Bowl for Bowl Games of America in Miami, FL, and "The Thriller Dance" with Tony Smith. He has attended Mandy Moore, Pilobolus and Bollywood workshops. Last year, Sidney was featured in singer/song writer Beyoncé's new video, "Blow."
Adam Quiroz, Principal DancerAdam Quiroz first got into dance mostly being inspired by hip-hop and B-Boying. Known for bringing creative new ideas to B-Boying, it enabled him the privilege to attend events all over the US, Mexico, Canada, France, and Holland for competitions and judging. In 2005, Adam decided to branch out from San Antonio to Houston to be a part of Youth Advocates (Y.A.), working with at-risk youth. Shortly after, he joined the Houston Rockets Launch Crew, an NBA entertainment group and had the opportunity to perform at the NBA All Star Games from 2010-2013.
Adam has also worked and performed with various other dance groups most notably performing in Doha, Qatar for the Emir (known as the general/prince). Performing and teaching students about the positive aspects of Hip-Hop has been Adam's main goal over the last few years. Currently a member of Fly Dance Company he is most excited about building the new legacy of FLY for years to come.
Mrince Williams, Principal DancerMrince Williams is a natural performer, named after both Michael Jackson and Prince. So you can imagine his dynamic performing ability! The youngest member of the group, he has been dancing since a young age, educating himself in all hip-hop and Latin styles of dance.
|Older Posts »|
- A thanks to arts educators, from CSO Musicians
- Celebrating Arts in Education Week
- Outrunning Beethoven
- Meet Your CSO’s Newest Musicians
- Education Goes Virtual
- CSO Musicians Perform in Virtual Colorado Music Festival
- 100 Years of Voting Rights for Women
- Celebrating Charlotte with Google Arts & Culture
- Trailblazer: Composer Florence B. Price
- Congratulations to our CSYO Grads!