Sound of Charlotte Blog
Charlotte Symphony Music Director Christopher Warren-Green has been busy since the Classics series season finale of Verdi's Requiem in May. He kicked off the summer by conducting the Minnesota Orchestra in performances of the final three symphonies by Mozart Nos. 39, 40, and 41. Next up: Turkey, where he led the Istanbul State Symphony for the city's Summer Music Festival. Later in June, he returned to the UK to conduct the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in an all-Tchaikovsky gala at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Back in the States, he conducted the Detroit Symphony in performances featuring the DSO principal trumpet performing the Telemann Trumpet Concerto and other works by Schubert, Rossini, and Mozart. After a busy summer, he spent a much-deserved rest with family in the beautiful Surrey Hills countryside outside of London. We look forward to his return to Charlotte next month, as he gears up to lead the Charlotte Symphony for Beethoven's "Eroica" Sept. 19-20 to open the season. We hope to see you opening weekend!
Maestro Warren-Green and the Charlotte Symphony will perform A Little Knight Music at noon and again at 7:30 pm on Friday, March 28 in Knight Theater at the Levine Center for the Performing Arts.
If you've never been to the symphony, you might be concerned about what to wear or when to clap. If you're a regular concertgoer, you might dread the thought of stifling a cough, especially if you forget to--gasp--unwrap your throat lozenges before the music starts!
Forget all that.
Now try to imagine a maestro welcoming your peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich in the concert hall...
The Charlotte Symphony is dedicated to enriching the community through live orchestral music. To that end, Warren-Green wanted to relieve barriers of budget, time and comfort with the matinees.
BENJAMIN BRITTEN The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
"I have a small film to write for the Board of Education," said Benjamin Britten. The educational film, commissioned by the Crown Film Unit, was designed to introduce children to the various instruments of the orchestra.
The premiere of the educational film, entitled Instruments of the Orchestra, took place on November 29, 1946. "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" proved to be a success from its inception. "I'm glad that the Min. of Ed. chaps approve," Britten told a friend. "I never really worried that it was too sophisticated for kids--it is difficult to be that for the little blighters!"
The "Young Person's Guide" remains one of the most popular compositions of its kind. As with any superior educational experience, Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" simultaneously informs, stimulates and entertains students (of all ages).
FRANZ LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2
The legacy of Franz Liszt, the legendary virtuoso pianist and showman, sometimes overshadows his considerable achievements as a composer. One of the great pioneers of the Romantic movement, Liszt advanced the concept of music as a form of programmatic expression and, in fact, invented the term "sinfonische Dichtung" ("symphonic poem"). He also demonstrated bold and revolutionary possibilities for traditional musical conventions and forms, as in the case of his Piano Concerto No. 2.
Concertos of Liszt's time typically featured three movements, each with clear lines of demarcation. By contrast, the Second Piano Concerto is in a single movement, containing several episodes, all connected by a central theme. That theme (marked dolce soave) is introduced by the clarinet at the very start of the Concerto's opening portion, which functions as a slow introduction (Adagio sostenuto assai). The theme, played by various instruments, accompanies the soloist's entrance, dreamlike at first, then more emphatic. The music once again journeys from a serene to more violent character, capped by the soloist's brilliant octave descent. A moment of silence precedes a stark, quick-tempo episode (Allegro agitato assai). A short, introspective solo cadenza leads to the next principal episode (Allegro moderato), an extended lyrical sequence, featuring gorgeous interplay between the pianist and solo cello. Another cadenza for the pianist yields to a virtuoso quick-tempo episode (Allegro deciso), with rapid-fire exchanges between the soloist and orchestra. Another brilliant, descending passage for the soloist resolves to a transformation of the Concerto's principal theme into a fff march (Marziale, un poco meno Allegro). After a lyrical section capped by the soloist's cadenza, the Concerto ends with a brilliant dash to the finish (Allegro animato), dominated by the pianist's virtuoso fireworks.
GUSTAV HOLST The Planets
Gustav Holst once observed: "As a rule I only study things that suggest music to me." And it was Holst's lifelong interest in astrology that provided the inspiration for his most popular orchestral work, The Planets.
Holst characterized his orchestral work as "a series of mood pictures" in which the movements--each representing a planet of the solar system--"acted as foils to one another." The various movements were not arranged in accordance with the order of the planets in the solar system, but rather, in such a manner as to achieve optimal musical contrast and effect.
I. Mars, the Bringer of War. Allegro--While many believed that Holst created the opening movement as a memorial to the horrors of World War I, the composer insisted that "I had the whole of Mars fixed in my mind before" the August 4, 1914 Declaration. The movement begins softly, but ominously, with an incessant rhythm introduced by the timpani and col legno ("with the wood"; i.e., the string instruments play with the wood, rather than the horsehair portion of the bows) strings, and interjections by woodwind and brass. The music proceeds to a furious climax. Several brief episodes follow, all maintaining a relentless momentum to the shattering final bars.
II. Venus, the Bringer of Peace. Adagio--Venus offers blissful contrast to the violent opening movement. The solo horn's ascending phrase is answered by a descending woodwind figure. A solo violin introduces the central Andanteepisode. A varied reprise of the opening Adagio concludes Venus.
III. Mercury, the Winged Messenger. Vivace--The third movement is a scherzo that exhibits a charm and grace reminiscent of Felix Mendelssohn's Octet for Strings and Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream. A 6/8 figure is deftly transferred from instrument to instrument. A middle section features lovely solo appearances by the violin, oboe, flute and celeste. The return of the opening section (with a nod to its predecessor) concludes Mercury.
IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity. Allegro giocoso--Jupiter is the movement that most clearly reflects Holst's love of British folk music. It opens with a flurry of activity in the violins and a bold orchestral statement. Several melodies follow, the most notable being an eloquent theme, marked Andante maestoso(Moderately slow, majestic), introduced by the strings and horns. This melody was later used as the basis for a patriotic hymn, "I Vow to Thee, My Country." The bustle of the opening reappears for the jubilant finish.
V. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age. Adagio--The hypnotic opening features the flutes, bass flute and harps. Over the repeated tread of pizzicato cellos and basses, the trombones introduce a somber march. The music builds to a powerful climax, featuring the repeated tolling of the bells. A reprise of the opening finally yields to a serene conclusion.
VI. Uranus, the Magician. Allegro--The trumpets and trombones, followed by the tubas and timpani, intone a four-note motif that returns throughout the movement. The bassoons then offer a puckish staccato figure, soon taken by the remainder of the orchestra. A solo bassoon and pizzicato cellos introduce a new theme, followed by a broader melody in the horns and strings. A prominent recapitulation of the four-note motif leads to a martial passage. A ffff climax is followed by an eerie postlude.
VII. Neptune, the Mystic. Andante--The composer directs that in the finale: "(t)he Orchestra is to play sempre pp throughout." Various repeating figures, couched in orchestration of the utmost delicacy, masterfully evoke a sense of timelessness. A six-part wordless female chorus enters in the latter part ofNeptune. The Planets concludes with the chorus's final measure, repeated "until the sound is lost in the distance."
Program notes by Ken Meltzer.
1. Order high tech phone lines, called ISDN lines. The letters stand for Integrated Service Digital Network and it's the precursor to high speed Internet. They use these lines to get the stereo signal of the concert performance back to the WDAV studios for broadcast to radios and Internet and smart phone streams.
2. Secure Extra engineering Help Audio engineers set up microphones and sound boards, mix the music and monitor the sound. Broadcast engineers establish a connection and monitor the signal back to the studios.
3. A staff person directs the activities of the hosts and serves as liaison to the broadcast studios.
4. An executive producer plans the outline of the broadcast, acquires and produces interviews and writes a script for the hosts to follow.
Just a few other things WDAV Staff does -
1. Spread the word about the broadcast and archive it, before and during, via social media and other digital platforms.
3. Coordinate activities with the Symphony and Performing Arts Center staff so that details such as when the concert actually starts and whether there will be any intermissions or encores, are all anticipated and planned for.
Thanks to WDAV's Frank Dominguez for these notes. In his words "it's a huge team effort, but one we feel is well worth it because of the ability it gives us to share a live concert performance with listeners who may not have the opportunity to attend."
"Tune in at 8pm tonight for a live broadcast of the CSO performing Beethoven's 9th. WDAV thanks OrthoCarolina for sponsoring the broadcast."
Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor
The first performance of this work by the Charlotte Symphony took place on October 4, 1955 with James Christian Pfohl conducting at Ovens Auditorium. The twelfth and most recent performance set took place April 22-24, 2010 with Stefan Sanderling conducting in the Belk Theater of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.
Beethoven's final Symphony, the Ninth ("Choral"), represents--on a number of levels--a fitting culmination and apotheosis of the immortal composer's artistic life. The Ninth is by far the most epic of Beethoven's Symphonies, both in terms of length and performing forces. The revolutionary introduction of vocal soloists and chorus in the finale was a bold masterstroke that forever expanded the potential of symphonic expression.
The text of the Symphony's finale, based upon the 1785 Ode "To Joy" by the great German writer, Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), held a lifelong attraction for the composer. Beethoven first became acquainted with Schiller's Ode "To Joy" ("An die Freude") when the composer was a student in his native Bonn
The beloved melodic setting of Schiller's text in the Finale of Beethoven's Ninth was also the product of an extended genesis. A version of the melody first appears in a song Beethoven composed in the mid-1790s, entitled "Gegenliebe" ("Mutual Love"), based upon a text by Gottfried August Bürger. An even more striking premonition of the Ninth Symphony may be found in Beethoven's 1808Fantasia in C minor for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra, Opus 80. In that work, the melody--in this case, a setting of a text by Christian Kuffner--receives a treatment quite similar in many ways to that found in the "Choral" Symphony.
The premiere of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony took place at the Vienna Kärnthnerthor Theater on May 7, 1824. By this stage of Beethoven's life, the composer's hearing had deteriorated to such an extent that conducting the performance was out of the question. Instead, Ignaz Umlauf led the premiere. All the while, however, Beethoven was at Umlauf's side, attempting to direct the tempos for the various movements.
At the conclusion of the performance, the audience erupted with a spirited ovation. Karoline Unger was the alto soloist at the premiere of the Beethoven Ninth. More than four decades later, she met with the British music writer, Sir George Grove. During that meeting, Unger described what happened at the May 7, 1824 concert:
JOHANNES BRAHMS Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra
The first performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto took place at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany, on January 1, 1879, with Joseph Joachim as soloist and the composer conducting.
The first performance of this work by the Charlotte Symphony took place on April 10, 1947 with J. Albert Fracht conducting at Armory Auditorium. The thirteenth and most recent performance took place on February 2 & 3, 2007 with Christof Perick conducting at the Belk Theater of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.
Brahms created the Violin Concerto for his dear friend, the Austro-Hungarian virtuoso violinist, composer and conductor, Joseph Joachim. On December 12, just a few weeks before the anticipated New Year's Day premiere, Brahms wrote to Joachim: "I send you the part herewith and agree to your alterations. The orchestral parts will be ready for Jan. 1st in case you play it in Leipzig. If so, I will meet you in Berlin a few days before..." Despite the minimal amount of remaining preparation time, Joachim agreed to give the premiere as scheduled. He also composed the first-movement cadenza that, to this day, remains the preferred version among soloists.
The world premiere, conducted by Brahms, was far from an unqualified triumph. Perhaps the audience was confused by the unusual prominence of the orchestra, which traditionally played a decidedly subservient role in violin concertos. Brahms's unconventional approach prompted conductor Joseph Hellmesberger to dub the work a concerto "not for, but against the violin." Violinist Bronislaw Huberman took a somewhat different view, stating that the Brahms Concerto was "for violin against orchestra--and the violin wins!"
In time, Brahms' D-Major has secured its place as one of the greatest violin concertos, a veritable Mt.Everest of technical and interpretive challenges. As with many of Brahms's finest works, it is also a brilliant and immensely satisfying synthesis of Classical form and Romantic passion.
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5
The first performances of this work by the Charlotte Symphony took place on October 16 & 17, 1968 with Jacques Brourman conducting at Ovens Auditorium and in Gastonia, NC. The sixth and most recent performance set took place on February 8 & 9, 2008 with Stefan Sanderling conducting at the Belk Theater of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.
On January 22, 1934, the first performance of Dmitri Shostakovich's opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk took place in Leningrad. Lady Macbeth, a work Shostakovich described as a "tragedy-satire," lampoons the decadence of capitalism as personified by the kulaks--comparatively wealthy peasants who resisted Soviet collectivization. Joseph Stalin, the tyrannical Secretary General of the Communist party, walked out of the theater before the conclusion of a performance of Lady Macbeth. Shortly thereafter, an article appeared in the official Communist newspaper, Pravda, entitled "Muddle Instead of Music." Although the author of the article was not identified, it appears certain it was either written by Stalin, or penned under his direction and approval. The author dismissed Lady Macbeth as a "stream of deliberately discordant sounds...Lady Macbeth enjoys great success with the bourgeois audience abroad."
Shostakovich withdrew his Fourth Symphony, a work he feared might inspire the same negative government reaction as Lady Macbeth. In the spring of 1937, Shostakovich turned his attentions to the Fifth Symphony. A seemingly penitent Shostakovich offered the following subtitle for the work: "A Soviet Artist's Practical Creative Reply to Just Criticism."
The 1937 premiere, conducted by the composer's longtime friend and advocate Evgeny Mravinsky, was a resounding success. The Fifth Symphony pleased the Soviet critics, and soon, the world at large. It appeared that Shostakovich had succeeded in creating a work that managed both to glorify the Soviet regime and appeal to international audiences.
In 1979, four years after the composer's death, Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, stunned the music world. The Shostakovich who emerged from this book was far different from the one who had seemed to follow the Communist party line. For the Shostakovich of Testimony, the Fifth Symphony was hardly a paean to Communism:
Shostakovich's friend and student, Solomon Volkov, compiled Testimony from what he claimed were the composer's own words. Many, including, not surprisingly, the Soviet government, questioned the authenticity of Testimony. The controversy continues to this day, although as time has progressed, many of Shostakovich's friends and family members have acknowledged that Testimonyexpresses the composer's real feelings.
Program notes by Ken Meltzer.
Leading up to the 2013-2014 Classics Season Announcement, we gave clues on Facebook and Twitter about details of the new season. Did you follow us? Check out the questions we asked below and test your classical music (and Charlotte Symphony) knowledge!
- What composer would be 100 this year? We'll perform works by this composer several times in our next Classics season.
- What piano concerto will make its Charlotte Symphony Premiere at our first Classics concert next season? (Hint this work is more than double our 'age')
- What 'out of this world' movement will we perform next Classics season that will have our Oratorio Singers of Charlotte Women's chorus singing offstage?
- In our second Classics program of next season we'll perform this violin concerto that the composer dedicated to a fellow composer who played the solo part at the premiere.
- Next fall we'll welcome this Irish Musician who's on a three-year plan to perform all of the Mozart piano concertos. Who is this gentleman?
- What oratorio is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of classical sacred music? This is part of next season's Classics Series!
- When we feature our Principal harpist next classics season, you might just leave the concert 'dancing'... What piece will be on the program?
- Name a composer from Charlotte. Name a conductor who lives (full-time!) in North Charlotte. They're both part of next year's Classics season!
- What pianist who shares the same homeland with our music director Christopher Warren-Green, will return to the Belk Theatre stage next season?
- Benjamin Britten. Featured in Classics 1 (Listen), Classics 6 (Listen), and Classics 8 (arrangement) (Listen)
- Lizst Piano Concerto No. 2 (Listen)
- Holst's The Planets (Listen)
- Saint-Saëns's Violin Concerto No. 3 which he dedicated to Pablo de Sarasate (Listen)
- Finghin Collins
- Bach's St. Matthew Passion (Listen)
- Debussy's Dances Sacree et Profane (Listen)
- (Composer) Dan Locklair is from Charlotte and is Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Music at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. (Conductor) Robert Moody is Music Director for the Winston-Salem Symphony (NC) and has lived in Lake Norman.
- Stephen Hough last performed with us in May 2011.
2012 was a good year for the Charlotte Symphony family. We said good-bye to some individuals but welcomed many more new additions to our family. Here's twelve stories that highlight the organization's happenings in 2012.
12. First Annual Ulysses Festival
The CSO along with N.C. Dance Theatre, Opera Carolina and other regional cultural partners participated in a month-long celebration of the arts community. The theme for the inaugural festival was The Music of Tchaikovsky.
Read More | Read More
11. Entire Artistic 'Family' Takes the Stage
For the first time in Charlotte Symphony history, 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 performed together on the Belk Theater stage.
Read More | Read More
10. Violins of Hope
Charlotte had the great honor of hosting the North American premiere of this exhibit which restores the memory of the nameless millions, including the musicians and artists who were lost in the Holocaust. Numerous events took place throughout the city and culminated with the performance, Triumph of Hope: Violins of Hope with the Charlotte Symphony.
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9. 11th Summer Pops at Symphony Park
The CSO continued its tradition of delighting audiences with special outdoor performances at the beautiful Symphony Park including an Independence Day concert and fireworks show.
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8. Instruments for Kids Program Launch
Donated instruments are used in the symphony's extensive education and community programs, creating a lending library of musical instruments for students who don't own their own.
7. Live Image Magnification
An All-Tchaikovsky program gave audiences the chance to view the orchestra in a brand new way via video cameras and a large screen. Patrons also voted by text message for the encore piece.
6. Martin Heads to Dallas and Donor Steps In
After four great years, Jonathan Martin left Charlotte to become president and chief executive of the Dallas Symphony. Shortly after this announcement an anonymous donor came forth to offer financial assistance in the search for a new executive director.
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5. Stickler named Interim Director
Former Bank of America executive Robert Stickler is our interim executive director as the orchestra seeks a new leader. Stickler has served on the orchestra's board of directors since 2008 and is a former president of the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte.
4. Wells Fargo Challenge Grant
The bank offered assistance to the organization by matching up to $100,000 of contributions to the orchestra's general operations and $100,000 of gifts to CSO programs on power2give.org.
3. World Premiere of Weinstein Digital Animation
A partnership between the CSO, the Knight Foundation and Mint Museum of Charlotte brought Matthew Weinstein's work to the city. Audiences experienced brilliant animation in sync with the hypnotic music of Ravel's Bolero.
Read More | Read More
2. Celebrating Eighty-One Years of Music
The 81st season opened in September with "The Music of Billy Joel" in the Pops series and and an All-Beethoven program in the Classics series.
Read More | Read More
1. Christopher Warren-Green Renews Contract
Our Music Director Christopher Warren-Green renewed his contract through the 2015-2016 season. His vision for the future of the organization includes artistic excellence, increased partnerships with other organizations, innovation through new programs and service to the community.
We look forward to what 2013 will bring. We thank you so much for being part of our Symphony Family!
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.
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."
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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