Sound of Charlotte Blog
Concertmaster Calin Lupanu plays on an 1857 Pierre Silvestre violin. He traveled to many cities - at least 10 - and says he considered about 70 different instruments before coming across the one he would eventually own.
"I knew the moment that I saw it that it was a special violin," says Lupanu. "It was in mint condition and was part of a lady's estate -- she had been a professional violinist and it hadn't been played in over 30 years." He bought the violin from John Montgomery Violins in Raleigh.
Prior to his purchase of the Silvestre, Calin says he performed on a loaner instrument. And, he says, he still has his violin from Romania, where he's originally from, which he plays at outdoor venues.
But he saves the Silvestre for the mainstage. Hear Calin play on his beloved instrument when we feature him, May 17-19 as a soloist on Ravel's Tzigane at Ravel Bolero.
1. Mars, the Bringer of WarAngry and ominous, Holst's first movement represents the Roman god of war, Mars. The craggy rhythms and pulsing drum beats give the music a military feel.
2. Venus, the Bringer of PeaceThe cool blue Venus follows angry red Mars. The music is slower and beautifully eerie, complete with relaxing tunes played on harps and flutes, shimmering strings, and ethereal solo violin passages to call to mind the Roman goddess.
3. Mercury, the Winged MessengerFlighty and fast, the lively Mercury is quick and powerful in equal measure. The high-pitched harp, flute, and glockenspiel tunes hop, skip, and jump throughout the suite's short duration usually just over four minutes.
4. Jupiter, the Bringer of JollityAs the round-faced cheery uncle of all the planets, and king of the gods, Jupiter is impressive and majestic. The swelling brass and slow waltzing strings are met with moments of poignant beauty in the glorious tune now known as 'I Vow to Thee My Country'.
5. Saturn, the Bringer of Old AgeA favourite movement of Holst's, Saturn is quite a shift from the positive music heard in Jupiter. The opening is slow and almost unsettling, until the music expands into a heavy march.
6. Uranus, the MagicianStarting with four brassy notes, Uranus shifts from heavy timpani blows to a boisterous gallop. The full orchestra shows the impressive power of this icy planet, represented in Greek mythology as the god of the sky.
7. Neptune, the MysticWhen Holst scored this work as a piece for piano duet, he used an organ to represent this planet the piano, he thought, couldn't portray a planet as mysterious as Neptune. Beautiful harp and string melodies slide over each other, until Holst brings out the crowning glory: a mystical choir, which gives the music an other-worldly quality.
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|In line with the historical context of the work, your CSO musicians will snuff out their candles and leaving the stage at the close of Haydn's Symphony No. 45, "Farewell" (Jan. 19 & 20, 2018 at Knight Theater). So, what's the story behind this tradition?
It all started with the premier in 1772. Haydn was employed as royal conductor to Prince Nikolaus Esterházy and had taken temporary residence at the Prince's castle in Hungary. After what seemed to be an extremely long season, Haydn and his musicians were long overdue to return home to their families.
To their dismay, the Prince requested they stay longer to perform a new symphony.
During the last movement at the premier, just as the music's dynamic momentum began to bring the movement to a close, there was an unexpected pause and an Adagio began. As this new, slower section of the movement proceeded, musician after musician finished his part, snuffed his candle, and left the stage. By the time the piece was over, all but two violins remained on stage. Did the protest work? According to the historical telling of this story, the Prince bid his musicians a farewell the following day, and allowed them to return home to their families. Read more
What moment should audiences listen for in the Charlotte Symphony's performance of Mahler Symphony No. 2?
Wow - there are so many! I think the chorus opening would be my favorite. It is hair-raisingly quiet.
What are the challenges in preparing a 140 person chorus for the Resurrection Symphony?
Speaking of....getting them to sing so quietly at the entrance. Also, it is such a massive work, balancing the chorus and orchestra is always an exciting challenge.
What percentage of the Chorus would you say has participated in it before?
Very few 13 people out of the 140-member chorus, and I've only performed it twice.
How do you connect the singers with the emotions of Mahler's work?
It isn't that difficult to do. You play a recording one time and they are hooked - then they sing it with piano and it gets really exciting. Only when they perform it with the full ensemble do you understand why this piece is so beloved.
What kind of response are you getting from the members of the Chorus about this piece? What makes Mahler 2 different for them?
They seem to be enjoying it, other than the fact that some of them are terrified to sing from memory! The challenge is that it is so physically and musically exhausting, particularly to be such a brief portion of the overall work (roughly 15 minutes).
In recognition of unwavering dedication to the music and mission of the Charlotte Symphony, Frank Gentry is the recipient of the 2013 Sally Ann Hall Spirit of the Symphony Award. The award will be presented on Saturday, January 11 at Belk Theater in conjunction with the Orchestra's performance of Brahms Symphony No. 2.
"This award honors the unsung heroes of the Symphony who work diligently behind the scenes. Frank Gentry has seen the Symphony through thick and thin in his quiet and unassuming way for many years. We are thrilled to honor him," said Emily Smith, Chair of the Charlotte Symphony Board of Directors.
Like many dedicated members of the Charlotte Symphony family, Frank got his start with the Symphony as a listener, a music lover. Frank and his wife, Sarah Gentry, have been Classics patrons for many years, loyally supporting the Symphony from the seats of the audience, in addition to being generous donors. Frank served as a member of the Charlotte Symphony Board of Directors, devoting countless hours to the thankless work of committees, task forces and advisory groups. Behind the scenes, he helped the Symphony through trying financial times.
But, it is not only his passion for the music or the generous commitment of his time and money that makes Frank this year's winner of the Spirit of the Symphony Award. Frank stands out as an advocate, a champion, for the Symphony, who has rallied significant support for the Orchestra from others in the community when it was most needed.
"Frank's genius was his uncanny ability to bring people together to plan and develop out-of-the-box strategies that moved the causes he cared about forward, and he mentored others through the process," said Elizabeth McLaughlin, longtime Charlotte Symphony patron, former board chair and current board member who has worked with Frank over the years.
The Sally Ann Hall Spirit of the Symphony Award was created in 2007 to honor the memory of one of its most committed patrons, Sally Ann Hall. Devoted to classical music, Sally Ann Hall (1939-2005) was a member of the Charlotte Symphony Board of Directors and served as President of the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte Board. In 2004, she and her husband Joseph Kirkland Hall, III established the Sally Ann Hall Chair for the directorship of the Oratorio Singers, now held by Scott Allen Jarrett.
Like Sally and Frank, recipients of the annual award demonstrate a commitment to the Symphony as an organization, show a profound respect for its music and musicians and motivate and encourage others to become actively involved with the Symphony family. Winners are chosen from an open slate of nominations by a committee that represents the CSO Board, Staff, and Musicians and the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte. Past recipients include David Mills (2007), Dr. George Stegner (2008), Richard J. Osborne (2009), Patricia A. Rodgers (2010), Mark R. Bernstein (2011) and Deena Outwater Surphlis (2012).
A South Carolina native, Frank was born in Abbeville, SC in 1942, and grew up in Clemson, SC, graduating from Clemson University in 1964. He then went on to earn a prestigious Mellon Fellowship and a masters of science in industrial administration from Carnegie Mellon University. He landed in Charlotte with Bank of America, and retired as an executive vice president for Bank of America Corp. As a volunteer and philanthropist, Frank has served on boards of the Charlotte Symphony, Clemson University, International House and the John Crosland School among other engagements. In his retirement, he has become a Bridge Life Master and continues to attend Charlotte Symphony concerts. With his wife Sarah he has two sons, John and David, and two grandchildren.
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.
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