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Giving back to our community

By Cabir Kansupada
The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has a long history of giving back to the community. During the summer of 2014, I volunteered at the Winterfield Elementary music camp sponsored by the CSO. While assisting professional musicians in teaching the classes, I was inspired by the confidence these students gained as they learned an instrument for the first time. Sensing a need, I organized student mentors to encourage and empower fellow student musicians. We were all brought together by the same desire: to help other students experience the thrill of music.
The Instruments for Kids program, sponsored by the CSO, accepts used instruments and repairs damaged ones to donate to music programs such as the one at Winterfield Elementary. The Tri-M Music Honors Society at my high school supports young artists to experience creativity, friendship, and expression though music. At our first pizza fundraiser, we raised over one hundred dollars to contribute to the Instruments for Kids program! We were ecstatic to see our efforts encourage the next wave of eager musicians and, like the CSO, give back to our community.

Cabir Kansupada is a senior at Charlotte Country Day School and a Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra violinist.

Posted in Education & Community, Youth Orchestras.

Meet Kiffen Loomis

The 28th annual Youth Festival takes place on Wednesday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Belk Theater. This annual concert highlights the talents of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO), the Junior Youth Orchestra (JYO) and the grand-prize winner of the senior division of the  Symphony Guild of Charlotte 's annual Young Artists Competition.

This year's winner this year is Kiffen Loomis, who is 16 and lives in Asheville, NC. He's a pianist who's been playing since age five. Get to know this talented young man!

How were you introduced to the piano?
As a 3 and 4 year-old, I would sit under the piano as my older brother practiced. Hearing each hammer strike the string, and seeing his foot guide the pedal up and down fascinated me. By the age of 5, I was ready to crawl up from under the piano, and play it for myself.

Name a performer you respect.
Glenn Gould is one of the most enthralling pianists of the last century. His attention to detail, in combination with his fearless interpretation of the hallmark works, demands great respect.

What piece would you love to perform?
Bach's Goldberg Variations carry with them a divine character, making them stunningly beautiful, yet daunting. I would love to study the work, but question whether I would ever be able to perform it. 

What other contests/awards have you won? 
I have won the North Carolina Symphony's Junior Kathleen Price and Joseph M. Bryan Youth Concerto Competition, the Winston-Salem Symphony's Peter Perret Youth Talent Search, the Hendersonville Symphony Young Artist Concerto Competition, the junior division of the Charlotte Symphony Guild's Young Artist Competition, and eight first-place awards at the statewide competitions hosted by the NCFMC.

What else we should know about you?
I serve as president of the Western North Carolina region of the Order of the Arrow, part of the Boy Scouts of America. I devote much of my time to promoting leadership development among those in my region, and serving the community as a whole. In addition to my BSA interests, I play on my high school's varsity tennis team.

I also lead an organization called Notes from the Soul. NFS is a group of student musicians from WNC who performed for over 2,000 children in elementary schools and after-school programs this year. The group exposes its listeners to different types of music and promotes musical interchange among the children and young adults who perform.

Do you know what you'd like to study in college? 

I would like to study Nuclear Physics while maintaining my piano studies. This summer I will be working in the TUNL Research Institute for Nuclear Physics at Duke University and hope to determine whether nuclear physics is indeed my calling.

Posted in Youth Orchestras.

Meet CSYO Member Daniel Carpenter

The 27th Annual Youth Festival takes place on April 23. The festival will feature separate performances by the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (grades 8-12) and Junior Youth Orchestra (grades 4-9), as well as the winner of the Symphony Guild of Charlotte's Young Artist Competition.

Meet Daniel Carpenter, a 17-year-old percussionist.  He was recently interviewed for Matthews Monthly and here's what he had to say about his musical experiences.

Music has always been important to me; I grew up surrounded by it in my family and church. At age 8, I began playing piano, which helped me develop a strong sense of rhythm. Ever since, I have loved to improvise rhythmic accompaniment to musical recordings. When I was 12, I had my first percussion lesson, and I've been committed to percussion since then.
Five years ago, I decided to audition for the Charlotte Symphony's Junior Youth Orchestra (JYO) at the recommendation of two close friends who were members. I made it in and loved it from the first rehearsal! I continued in JYO for a second year before entering the Youth Orchestra. Being a part of the Youth Orchestra has improved my skills as a percussionist and helped me grow tremendously as a musician and person. In fact, the Youth Orchestra was a major factor in preparing me to be a percussionist in the World Youth Symphony Orchestra in Interlochen Arts Camp last summer.
Youth Fest is going to be particularly exiting for me this year. Not only do I get to be on stage with the Charlotte Symphony, but we are going to perform three movements from "The Planets" by Gustav Holst with a part for two sets of timpani played side by side. This is one of my favorite orchestral pieces of all time!
Music is so significant to me because it can express deep and powerful things about God's beauty in this world. It reaches people's hearts and minds in a universal way not hindered by any language barrier and can speak personally to people. I am very thankful to have music as such a major part of my life.
This article originally appeared in Matthews Monthly, April 2014 edition. Read full story here.

Posted in Youth Orchestras.

Meet CSYO Member Brandon Castillo

 The 27th Annual Youth Festival takes place on April 23. The festival will feature separate performances by the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (grades 8-12) and Junior Youth Orchestra (grades 4-9), as well as the winner of the Symphony Guild of Charlotte's Young Artist Competition.
Meet Brandon Castillo, a senior at W.A. Hough High School. He started playing the viola in fifth grade.  Brandon was recently interviewed for Corneilus Life and here's what he had to say about his musical experiences.

With help from Frank Albert, owner of Davidson Violins, and my orchestra teacher, Dr. Bill Myers, I auditioned for and made the Junior Youth Orchestra in eighth grade. I am now in my fourth year with the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra. Being a member is an honor, and every concert we perform I am filled with pride. It has also made me a much better violist.
I have made CMS Honors Orchestra, Western Regional Honor's Orchestra, All-State Honor's Orchestra and All Nation Symphony Orchestra (the only musician from North Carolina). Thanks to the high level the Youth Orchestra trains us, I could count on seeing my Youth Orchestra friends when I made the Western Regional and All State orchestras. Truly, if it ware not for the CSYO, I would not be the violist I am today.
I have loved every second of being in the Youth Orchestra: the friends I've made, the concerts I've performed in and the memories I have. My favorite things have been our trip to D.C., the annual summer camp and the annual Youth Festival.
Youth Festival is always exiting. Nowhere else can I play with actual professional musicians of a major symphony orchestra! My skills always progress the most around "youth fest" because I a, anxious beforehand and always learn a few thing during the concert. One example is page turning. Last year I noticed a page-turning technique that a Charlotte Symphony musician used, turning pages with a bow so that the page turn was quick and quiet. I have used that technique ever since, and other musicians comment on how well I do it!
This article originally appeared in Corneilus Life, April 2014 edition. Read full story here.

Posted in Youth Orchestras.

Meet CSYO Member Meredith Nelson

The 27th Annual Youth Festival takes place on April 23. The festival will feature separate performances by the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (grades 8-12) and Junior Youth Orchestra (grades 4-9), as well as the winner of the Symphony Guild of Charlotte's Young Artist Competition.
Meet Meredith Nelson. She's a senior at Myers Park High School and began her musical career at age two! She joined the Junior Youth Orchestra in seventh grade, and Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO) as a freshman in high school, She was recently interviewed for Inside Myers Park and here's what she had to say about her musical experiences.

As a member of the Charlotte Youth Orchestras, I have collaborated with talented and dedicated musicians from around the region, while forming rewarding friendships and increasing my musical abilities and appreciation.
Each week, eighty CSYO musicians from 37 different schools gather together for, unified in our mutual love for music. We weave together our personal techniques and interpretations, and with the help of conductor Dr. Pereira, fit our parts into a complex, yet wonderful musical puzzle. We work together as friends, teachers and students, as we all learn from and teach each other. As my skills have developed, my enjoyment of music has increased.
From our regular season concerts to Festival in the Park, the Summer Pops Concert and our performance in DC, we have played some of the best musical repertoire in wonderful venues.
My most memorable musical moments are playing ensembles with three generations of my family during birthdays and holidays. My sister, Audrey (who plays in the JYO), mother, aunt, grandmother, cousins and I perform for the rest of the family; we sound nowhere near professional, but all truly love to play together. Musical performance is a lifelong pursuit that creates the most wonderful connections and experiences. It's a skill I hope to never lose, but to gain from throughout life.

This article originally appeared in Inside Myers Park, April 2014 edition. Read full story here.

Posted in Youth Orchestras.


tromboneUnder the guidance of Dr. Ernest Pereira, the more than 160 students of the Charlotte Symphony's Junior Youth and Youth Orchestras received 25 hours of top-notch coaching with CSO musicians this spring. Training in a professional setting with the pros not only enhanced their development as young musicians, but also prepared them for a series of performances starting with February's 26thannual Youth Festival and culminating with their Spring Concerts.

Twenty-one seniors graduated from the Youth Orchestra this May, marking their final performance as Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra musicians.

Senior Patrick Hoffman plays viola for the CSYO and values the unique experience the Youth Orchestra provides: "[The CSYO is] an opportunity to play mature repertoire where people want to play because it's not something that's required." Hoffman also appreciates the connections he's made saying "Maybe you sit next to someone you've never met from Cornelius. ... [The CSYO] really brings the Charlotte area together."  Patrick will attend UNC Greensboro in the fall where he will pursue a degree in Music Education.

For their next performance, the Youth Orchestra will play to a crowd of more than two-thousand on Sunday, June 16, presenting the prelude to the Charlotte Symphony's "A Summer Pops Fantasia" concert at Symphony Park.

Other summer activities include the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra Summer Camp July 31 August 4, and a once-in-a-lifetime trip to DC in June, where the young musicians will train and perform with prestigious youth orchestras from other cities.

Written by Kristen Freeman, CSO Intern
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Posted in Education & Community, Youth Orchestras. Tagged as CSYO, Education.


The Symphony Guild of Charlotte and the CSO will celebrate our symphonic future at the 26th annual Youth Festival on Thursday, February 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Belk Theater. This annual concert highlights the talents of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO), the Junior Youth Orchestra (JYO) and the grand-prize winner of the senior division of the Guild's annual Young Artists Competition.

The grand-prize winner of this year is Chambers Loomis, a high school senior who lives in Asheville, NC. He's a pianist, who's been playing since age six and gave his first solo recital at nine. He regularly appears in a variety of venues as a soloist performing a growing range of repertoire. Get to know this talented young man just as we did in the following interview.
Name a performer you respect; why?  The Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin. In his playing, he adheres to the composer's intentions while still executing sublime, refreshing interpretations. He always places the music first and himself second.

Name a piece of music you've either performed or would love to perform  Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3. This pianistic warhorse probes nearly every human emotion and is captivating throughout. When the work's technical and interpretive challenges have been mastered, it drips of an unrivaled sense of nationalism.

What's your vision for how young adults should engage with the artistic community and/or how arts organizations can engage young adults? Exposure is the key to engagement. I've had many friends who dismissed classical music as outdated until they heard their first great performance. Following the lead of El Sistema in Venezuela, we must also place instruments into the hands of young people from a very young age. Arts organizations must gain a presence in schools and partner with youth organizations to find volunteers. Young people should be made aware of discounted student tickets. Arts are the lifeblood of culture, and thriving arts communities sow seeds well beyond the concert hall walls.

What other contests/award have you won? I have received nine first prizes in state-level solo competitions sponsored by the NCFMC and was named the Federation's 2011 "King" of Music. In 2011, I had the pleasure of performing the first movement of the Schumann Piano Concerto with the Hendersonville (NC) Symphony and on NPR station WCQS. In 2012, I was also the top pianist in the North Carolina Symphony's Kathleen Price and Joseph M. Bryan Youth Concerto Competition. I will be performing with the Winston-Salem Symphony on March 16 as winner of the 2013 Peter Perret Youth Talent Search.

Where are you heading to college and what do you plan to study?  In April, when I hear back from a number of colleges, I will know where I will matriculate this fall. I am a presently a finalist for UNC-Chapel Hill's Morehead-Cain Scholarship. I plan to study physics and music in college.

What are your artistic dreams and aspirations? In college, I plan to remain an active performer, explore musicology, engage in music outreach, and expose myself to as many new musical influences as possible. I hope to play piano for the rest of my life and remain an enthusiastic ambassador for the art

View Chambers' playing - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93wD0ynf47g
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Posted in Education & Community, Youth Orchestras. Tagged as CSO Musicians, CSYO Education.


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

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

Meet Ernest Pereira, Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras Music Director

Dr. Ernest Pereira leads our Youth Orchestras and was recently interviewed by Dr. Maha Gingrich for CPCC-TV's Charlotte: A City of International Success. Did you happen to catch the program on WTVI, Time Warner Channel 17?

For more details about the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras or other Education programs, visit http://www.charlottesymphony.org.
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Posted in Youth Orchestras. Tagged as Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras, CPCC-TV, CSYO, WTVI.

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