Sound of Charlotte Blog
Summer is just around the corner, and that means it's time for one of Charlotte's most anticipated events of the year: the Charlotte Symphony's Summer Pops series! Whether you're buying single tickets or reserving a pod for all four concerts, we've got some pro tips to make you feel like a Summer Pops expert and prepare you for the ultimate experience.
Buy your tickets today, and plan to arrive earlyPsst...did you know early bird pricing is available for Summer Pops? Prices increase when you purchase at the gate, so make sure you buy your tickets before June rolls around! The Summer Pops series is a popular event every year, so you won't risk missing out on a great concert that sells out or having to wait in the purchase line.
With your tickets bought, plan to arrive early to enjoy the evening at the park. Summer Pops brings a large crowd of enthusiastic concert-goers each week, so the best spots on the lawn get snatched up when the gates open at 5 pm. Make sure to arrive early and claim your spot. Then, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy dinner and the preshow at 7!
Reserve your lawn space for the VIP experienceWant to avoid the rush altogether? Reserve your lawn space and arrive whenever you want! New this year, subscribe to all four Summer Pops concerts and your own pod-style space will be waiting for you each week. A subscriber check-in station will allow you to skip the general admission lines. Available in 2-person, 4-person, 6-person, and 8-person pods, you'll enjoy a premium location front and center on the lawn. Get your family or friends together, because the larger the pod, the less you'll pay per person! You'll want to claim your space early -- pods are selling quickly, and only available until June 2 or until premium spaces sell out. Learn more about pods here.
Dine like a proThe seasoned Summer Pops fan knows food is an essential part of the Summer Pops experience. At Symphony Park, you've got great options for dinner! Reid's Fine Foods inside SouthPark Mall offers a variety of sandwiches, salads, and gourmet entrees until 8 pm on Sundays, and you'll find street food staples like hot dogs and ice cream at food trucks in the parking lot just outside Symphony Park! Whatever you choose to grab or bring to eat, a blanket or low-backed lawn chairs and a cooler are key to dining comfortably in the park. Beer and wine are allowed, too, so you're welcome to sip your favorite drink as you enjoy music under the stars.
Don't forget water, sunscreen, and bug sprayIf you've experienced summer in Charlotte, you know having fun in the sun means planning to bring the trio of essentials: water, sunscreen, and bug spray. The Symphony Park lawn is uncovered and open to the elements, so don't forget to pack your bag and cooler accordingly!
Carpool or use rideshareSeveral lots at SouthPark Mall and around Symphony Park offer free parking, but spaces fill up fast. When practical, carpooling and ridesharing are encouraged for easy access to and from the park. So catch a ride with friends or grab a Lyft or Uber right to the check-in tent.
Ready to enjoy Summer Pops? Buy your tickets or pod now (you Summer Pops pro, you!), and for any other lingering questions, check out the Summer Pops FAQs. We can't wait to see you at Symphony Park!
Last week, the young students from Charlotte Bilingual Preschool held their final music concert -- a performance three years in the making! The partnership between the Charlotte Symphony and Charlotte Bilingual Preschool began just five weeks before the pandemic forced students to go remote. The CSO quickly pivoted, integrating music education into the school's literacy objectives via online instruction. Despite the challenges, the program was a success! Teachers observed the students improve their connection between language and music education and expand their musical skills, including instrument position, rhythm, and intonation.
At their final -- and first in-person -- performance of the year, these young musicians played variations of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on box violins while Charlotte Symphony musicians assisted. We're so proud of all of their hard work and look forward to helping more future musicians learn and grow.
Photos by Mical Hutson Read more
Spend your Saturday evenings with the Charlotte Symphony this summer with nine new episodes of "Charlotte Symphony in Performance" on WDAV Classical 89.9. Each episode features incredible performances recorded live during the Symphony's celebratory 90th anniversary season.
Tune in at 6 pm on Saturdays, August 6 through September 17, at wdav.org and enjoy the sounds of your Charlotte Symphony.
Beethoven Symphony No. 4Air date: August 6, 2022, at 6 pm
Christopher Warren-Green, conductor
Taylor Marino, clarinet
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 1, "Classical"
MOZART Clarinet Concerto in A Major
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4
This concert was recorded at the Knight Theater on November 19 & 20, 2021.
Brahms Serenade No. 2Air date: August 13, 2022, at 6 pm
Roderick Cox, conductor
Benjamin Beilman, violin
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major
BRAHMS Serenade No. 2 in A Major
This concert was recorded in the Knight Theater on October 29 & 30, 2021.
Vivaldi Four SeasonsAir date: August 20, 2022, at 6 pm
Christopher Warren-Green, conductor
Paul Huang, violin
RESPIGHI Trittico Botticelliano
MASCAGNI Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana
VIVALDI The Four Seasons
This concert was recorded in the Knight Theater on October 15 & 16, 2021.
Tchaikovsky's PathétiqueAir date: August 27, 2022, at 6 pm
Kensho Watanabe, conductor
Sara Davis Buechner, piano
ANNA CLYNE Within Her Arms
CLARA SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique"
This concert was recorded in the Belk Theater on February 11 & 12, 2022.
Mahler Symphony No. 9Air date: September 3, 2022, at 6 pm
Christopher Warren-Green, conductor (Mahler)
Christopher James Lees, conductor (Leonard Mark Lewis)
Alan Black, cello (Leonard Mark Lewis)
MAHLER Symphony No. 9
LEONARD MARK LEWIS I Will Wade Out
Mahler's Symphony No. 9 was recorded in the Belk Theater on January 14 & 15, 2022. Leonard Mark Lewis's I Will Wade Out was recorded at Queens University on April 3, 2022.
Kabalevsky Cello ConcertoAir date: September 10, 2022, at 6 pm
Paolo Bortolameolli, conductor
Christine Lamprea, cello
GABRIELA ORTIZ Téenek-Invenciones de Territorio
DMITRI KABALEVSKY Cello Concerto in G Minor, Opus 49
JOHN CORIGLIANO Symphony No. 1
This concert was recorded in the Belk Theater on February 25 & 26, 2022.
90th Anniversary Concert: Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis PacemAir date: September 17, 2022, at 6 pm
Christopher Warren-Green, conductor
Christina Pier, soprano
Daniel Okulitch, bass
THOMAS BURGE Charlotte Symphony Fanfare
HOLST Walt Whitman Overture
MALCOLM ARNOLD Four Scottish Dances
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Dona Nobis Pacem
This concert was recorded in the Belk Theater on March 11 & 12, 2022.
Ravel Piano ConcertoAir date: September 24, 2022, at 6 pm
Jessica Cottis, conductor
Stewart Goodyear, piano
Lindsay Kesselman, soprano
William Edwards, tenor
Zachary Taylor, tenor
Robert Wells, baritone
Reginald Powell, bass-baritone
JESSE MONTGOMERY Strum
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
STRAVINSKY Circus Polka
KURT WEILL The Seven Deadly Sins
This concert was recorded in the Knight Theater on January 28 & 29, 2022.
Beethoven Symphony No. 9Air date: October 1, 2022 at 6 pm
Christopher Warren-Green, conductor
Alicia Russell Tagert, soprano
Sara Larsen, mezzo-soprano
Sean Panikkar, tenor
Jordan Bisch, bass
Charlotte Master Chorale
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9
This concert was recorded in the Belk Theater on May 20-22, 2022. Read more
This month, the Charlotte Symphony will make its debut at Little Rock AME Zion Church with a free concert filled with uplifting works that unite us all during challenging times. The Symphony, led by Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees, will perform works by Barber, Mozart, and John Williams and will join forces with the Little Rock AME Zion Church Choir to perform favorites like, "Oh, Happy Day" and "Amazing Grace."
"It's an honor to join the beautiful singing heard every week at Little Rock AME Zion with the artists within the Charlotte Symphony string section," said Christopher James Lees. In a time when we as a society are faced with images of inhumanity on a weekly basis, music & this program will be a vehicle for healing, inspiration, and peace. From the sorrowful sounds of Barber's Adagio for Strings to the full assembly of forces singing 'Oh Happy Day' at the top of their lungs, emotions will run deep in this cathartic & uplifting program. The choir at Little Rock AME Zion Church, led beautifully by Sidney Oliver, has vocal power which matches the potency of their message, and we are privileged to come together with them for this evening of beauty & light."
Little Rock AME Zion Church was founded in 1884 and has been located in Uptown Charlotte for over one hundred years. It is a church that has sought to open its doors to the community in an effort to uplift and empower those it is called to serve.
It will be a celebration of the unity found in our diversity!
~ Rev. Dr. Dwayne A. Walker
"We are delighted and excited to partner with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra!" said Rev. Dr. Dwayne A. Walker. "This will be a historic event. Our Minister of Music, Mr. Sidney Oliver and members of The Little Rock Choirs join me in looking forward to this collaboration. It will be a celebration of the unity found in our diversity! The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra is to be commended for their willingness to reach out to the community. We are honored to be a part of that effort."
The concert will take place at Little Rock AME Zion Church (401 N. McDowell Street) on June 8, 2022, at 7:30 pm. >> Learn more Read more
For over 20 years the Charlotte Symphony's Healing Hands program has sent musicians to perform in area hospitals, libraries, senior care centers, and shelters for people experiencing homelessness. Since the program's inception, CSO Flutist Amy Orsinger Whitehead, violinist Elizabeth Pistolesi, and cellist Deborah Kauffman Mishoe -- named The Laurel Trio -- have been using their music to enrich the lives of patients, residents, and community members throughout Charlotte. We recently caught up with Amy to discuss what makes this program so unique and special.
Why is the Healing Hands program so important to you?
Our trio has done lots and lots of Healing Hands performances throughout the years taking our music on the road to wherever the need exists. I think it's very important to meet people where they are because some get to a certain point where they're not able to come to the concert hall to hear us play. If we are able to take ourselves to where people live and give them the gift of beautiful music something they've enjoyed all their lives it's a privilege for us. I think, honestly, that we get as much out of it as the people we perform for. It's really a lot of fun and it's quite meaningful for us because we enjoy being able to make a little bit of a difference in someone's day with our music.
How does the audience respond to your performances?
This has been quite powerful for us. In a situation where we're playing in a dementia setting, you might see a resident that doesn't seem to be responding to anything around them, but you'll see them react and respond to the music and even start singing along! We have a Motown medley that has inspired a lot of spontaneous dance parties, too! The music reaches deep inside people and has an impact that might not be easily achieved outside of music, and that is just so incredible. It's actually pretty hard to play the flute when you feel like you're getting choked up or teary-eyed, and so it can be a bit hard for me, I have to tell myself not to get swept away by the emotion of it. Seeing the immediate impact that we're having to think that we're making even the tiniest difference for people is really wonderful, and we feel so fortunate to get to have that experience.
Your trio performs a lot at senior care facilities and senior centers, but you've also performed at Moore Place, a supportive housing residence for chronically unhoused adults.
Yes, we have! It's a whole different age range than we usually play for, and we love to hear them tell us about their stories and musical connections the songs they remember and the instruments they played in school. Music can help ground us to where we are currently, moment by moment, but it has such a great way to take us back to a previous time in our lives. It's pretty incredible when we get to see this happening and experience the music the way the people listening are experiencing it. It's nice to relive people's memories with them.
How was the program able to adapt during the pandemic?
We were able to pre-record two programs, one holiday program and another non-holiday program for people of all ages. We provided online performances where the video was played and each one of us would announce the next piece live. It was a really great mix of technology and heartfelt love between all of us! We loved being able to interact with the people who were zooming in and we always had a really fun chat thread during the performance. People were really needing something like this in their lives at that moment. And to be able to have a holiday concert in December, when we were so closed off from each other for so long was extra meaningful.
Do you have a favorite memory from a Healing Hands performance?
I think my favorite moment ever was when we were playing at a senior living facility called Renaissance West. That's the place where they have been known to break into spontaneous dance parties and they love to sing along! One time, during a holiday concert, I could see a lady moving from person to person and I could tell she was on a mission to get everyone in the room to do something. We didn't think much of it, but at the end of the concert they brought up to us a Christmas card that they had all signed. It was just so sweet, and I carry that with me in my folder because it's such a special memory. That was such a great day, I can't think of it without smiling.
Learn more about the Charlotte Symphony's Healing Hands Program. Read more
A fixture of the Charlotte Symphony since 1986, Principal Cellist Alan Black is stepping back from his role of leading the cellists to continue playing in the section. Black will be ending his tenure on a high note at the end of our 2021-22 season, having played the solo in John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1 and capping off with his feature in the Music & Healing concert at Queens University on April 3. We talked with Alan about his decision to step back now, his favorite memory with the CSO, and his hopes for the section as he ends his tenure as Principal Cellist and begins the 2022-23 season as Principal Cello Emeritis.
Why have you decided to step back into the section at this time?
Well you know, I've been thinking about this for a couple years. I'm going to be 65 in a month and I'm thinking to myself, well, what else do I need to accomplish as a principal player? I've done all the solos....my colleagues are great cellists and I feel the talent level has risen. They're great players and so it's time for somebody else to do it. And the stress of sitting principal is actually fairly strong.... I want to enjoy playing without the stress of the job. And since I've done basically everything I've wanted to do and checked off all those boxes, I feel like it's kind of time for me to let somebody else take over the mantle; let somebody younger come on in and provide a fresh vision.
How have the other players reacted to your decision?
I think a lot of them were surprised, which makes me feel good because they were like, "Wait a minute, what? Why are you doing that?" A lot of them didn't realize I was going to be 65 and that makes me feel good....I think my cello colleagues were surprised and they've been very gracious about it.
After so many years as Principal, you must have some great memories.
Oh, yes! The highlight of my career was in 2000 when Yo-Yo Ma was in town performing with us and I got to play the Vivaldi Concerto for Two Cellos with him. Aside from being the most visible and famous musician on the planet, he is also an amazing human being -- warm, engaging, and filled with humility. We had a great time together and hung out at the after-party on the 60th floor of the Bank of America center. I had a great time and will never forget this moment. Ultimately, it was because of this concert that five years later I was able to purchase the cello I bought from him. In many ways, he has been the most influential person in my musical life, and I am filled with gratitude for this.
Do you have any words of wisdom for your successor?
I felt like as a principal the most important thing I could do is manage the section in a way that creates a great working atmosphere; a collegiality within the section. That's been my most important goal for the last twenty years, that I want us to all get along and be happy together....To me, the most important thing is that you've got to treat your colleagues with respect and you've got to treat them right.
What are your hopes for the cello section, and the CSO as a whole, for the coming years?
I hope we can continue to have great dialogue with our management and the board; that we continue to work as a team the way we did during COVID. These have been the best two years of my entire career in terms of our working relationship....it's been great and that's what we should have. We should have a great working relationship: between the players, the management, and the board. We need to do that....and I'm really hopeful for that going forward.
What can you tell us about your part in Music and Healing?
Two years ago I commissioned Leonard Mark Lewis to write [I Will Wade Out] for cello and piano, and we played it at Davidson [College] when I was on faculty there. And I really loved that piece. So I was thinking about what I wanted to do -- because I want to go out strong, like "Yeah, I'm making this decision. I don't have to, but I am because I just want to go out on a high note." And I thought, "You know, the perfect thing to do was play Mark's piece," because Mark and I are very close friends. I really like it, and it will give him a chance as a local composer to be showcased and to have another orchestral piece out there. So I'm really excited about us being able to do that. We've done a lot of tinkering with it since we played it two years ago. So it's been really neat to sort of reconnect with it and find more things that are amazing about it. So yeah, it's going to be fun. I'm really excited about it and it's a new venue that we've never played in, so I think it will be a really nice addition to the program.
Is there anything you'd like to say to the audiences who have been with you for so many years?
I want to say thank you to everyone, it's been such an honor to be Principal Cellist of the Charlotte Symphony. It's been an absolute joy!
Join us at Queens University for Alan's final solo performance as Principal Cellist of the Charlotte Symphony.
The Charlotte Symphony kicked off spooky season with the premiere of a new stage adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, a series of monologues that collectively tell the story of Spoon River, a fictional small town in Illinois, spoken from beyond the grave by the town's former residents who provide accounts of their lives, losses, and deaths. Charlotte's Elmwood Cemetery provided the perfect backdrop for this supernatural performance.
The Charlotte Symphony welcomed over 4,000 fans to Truist Field to Celebrate America with an evening of patriotic favorites and fireworks. Concertgoers enjoyed the North Carolina premiere of Fanfare for Democracy, a work performed at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration; works by Aaron Copland, John Williams, and more; an appearance by Charlotte Knights' mascot Homer the Dragon; and a spectacular fireworks finale. (Photos by Laura Wolff for the Charlotte Knights)
The Charlotte Symphony takes the field on June 25 to Celebrate America with an evening of patriotic favorites and memorable anthems and marches. Truist Field, home of the Charlotte Knights, will be rocking with an all-star lineup of works by Aaron Copland, John Williams, Duke Ellington, and more. And what better way to cap off a celebration of America than with a spectacular fireworks display in the home of America's favorite pastime!
Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees will kick off the concert by leading the CSO in Jim Stephenson's Fanfare for Democracy, a work premiered at the historic inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris in January 2021.
The concert continues with Morton Gould's American Salute, a tribute to the bravery of America's frontline and essential workers.
Christopher James Lees and the CSO will dedicate John Williams's "With Malice Toward None" to the memory of those who have lost their lives during the pandemic. This piece comes from the critically acclaimed film Lincoln and the title refers to a line from the second inaugural speech of former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. John Williams chose to set a trumpet solo for this scene -- which will be performed by Principal Trumpet Alex Wilborn -- to remind listeners of its evocations of bugle calls, trumpet annunciations, and the death call of Taps.
The evening will also include popular works by power hitters Leroy Anderson, Aaron Copland, Percy Grainger, Marvin Hamlisch, and Duke Ellington. And we'll keep an eye out for pinch-hitter and Charlotte Knights mascot Homer the Dragon.
In the bottom of the ninth, the CSO will serve up a grand slam of marches by John Philip Sousa, including Stars and Stripes Forever, followed by a spectacular fireworks display that will light up the Uptown sky.
We hope you and your families will join us for a fantastic evening of music and fireworks under the stars! Read more
We couldn't be prouder of Kaleb, Shreya, and Micah, who join our Director of Youth Orchestra Programs Aram Kim Bryan in representing the Charlotte Symphony's Project Harmony at the 2021 El Sistema USA National Symposium and Seminario. This year's theme is "Connect, Adapt, Thrive!" with a focus on racial diversity and cultural understanding, musical excellence during the pandemic, and team and family support pre- and post-pandemic.
Kaleb, Shreya, and Micah performed the premiere of "What We Will Be," a work composed by Danielle Williams of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's OrchKids, as part of the 2021 ESUSA National Seminario Orchestra. Along with her PRESTO (Program for Rising El Sistema Organizations) Cohort members, Aram Kim Bryan will present on the core values of El Sistema, USA.
Project Harmony is inspired by the revolutionary music-for-social-change organization, El Sistema, which began in Venezuela in 1975. There are more than 100 El Sistema USA member organizations and programs throughout the United States. The CSO is one of only five in the state of North Carolina, and Project Harmony is the only affiliated program in the Charlotte region. Read more
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