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How your Charlotte Symphony is giving back

As we face this global pandemic, the Charlotte Symphony has been tasked with adjusting to a new normal. Our musicians have turned their living rooms into performance spaces, Zoom has become a place for online learning, and our public performances have gone digital on #CSOatHome

The fear around this public health emergency is certainly overwhelming, but it has also shown us inspiring acts of kindness, both big and small, in our city and around the world. The musicians and staff of the CSO have been humbled by the immense support we've received during this very difficult time, and we've felt inspired to give back to our community. From offering free lessons and performances to healthcare workers and donating blood, to baking for neighbors and sewing masks, the CSO is doing what we can to pay it forward.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Novant Health (@novanthealth) on


Musicians of the Charlotte Symphony are volunteering to perform for healthcare workers at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center during their shift changes. Here, violinist Martha Geissler performs near the staff entrance.

"My feeling is if it gives even 5 or 10 seconds of respite from what they have faced and what they will continue to face, I feel honored." ~ Martha Geissler



Musicians from the Charlotte Symphony are offering free virtual lessons to healthcare professionals as a casual and fun respite from their daily work stress. The program consists of weekly, thirty minute lessons for six weeks. Healthcare workers that are interested should write to feedback@charlottesymphony.org.



Musicians and staff have been making and donating cloth face masks. Interim President and CEO Michelle Hamilton shows off some of the 120 masks she made for Charlotte Symphony staff, musicians, friends, and neighbors to help keep them safe during the pandemic. 



Multiple staff members have given blood to help with the critical nation-wide blood shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, Grants Manager Caroline Cave smiles through her donation.



Development Coordinator Senta Harvey and her family moved up the delivery of their traditional holiday cookies for friends and neighbors. "We're going to do it during this time to spread smiles!"  Read more

Posted in Community. Tagged as community.

A powerful message from Cherokee Nation youth: Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here)

The Cherokee Chamber Singers have a powerful message to share: Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here). Nestled in an all-American Classical Series concert on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2020, below is everything that you need to know about this powerful work and our collaboration.


Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here) sprang from the minds and hearts of students of Cherokee Middle and High Schools under the guidance of the Cherokee Chamber Singers. Composed in 2018 by contemporary American composer (and NC native) William Brittelle, Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here) is sung in the Cherokee language and musically documents the past, present, and future of the Cherokee people who have lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina for several thousand years.



The Cherokee Chamber Singers vocal group was formed in 2016 as the advanced vocal group from the Performing Arts Department at Cherokee High School, the Native American high school in the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, NC (also known as the Cherokee Indian Reservation). Under the direction of Michael Yannette, the singers' unique and varied repertoire offers audiences both traditional and modern Native American music, as well as choral, classical, musical theater, and pop/rock genres.

"I have been a teacher for 33 years and have never been part of something with the impact of this work," Yannette said. "The audience reaction has been overwhelmingly positive; I thought people might be disturbed by it in Raleigh, but it had universal acceptance. They were open to what these kids had to say: 'We're still here, and we're always going to be.'"

This concert serves as a continuation of the Symphony's commitment to use music to both explore issues of systematic injustice, and to look to a more equitable future for all people. Under the baton of Music Director Christopher Warren-Green, the orchestra will perform this powerful work that celebrates the creativity and cultural heritage of the original citizens of North Carolina, but also amplifies their voices.

"Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here) is not only an artistically excellent work that shines a light on North Carolina music and composers, but it also gives voice to a group of people in our home state who feel forgotten," Michelle Hamilton, Charlotte Symphony Interim President and CEO, said. "The Charlotte Symphony is proud to share the stage with these young singers and provide a platform for their voices."
Hear their message: Join us on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at Belk Theater. Also on the program: Copland's Appalachian Spring and Barber's Adagio for Strings.
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Posted in Classics, Community. Tagged as Classical, community, guest artists.

Sneak peek: 'Off the Rails' with Kari Giles and Kirsten Swanson

We're trying something a little different this season. On October 15, a quartet of CSO musicians are going "Off the Rails" with a performance of contemporary music at Snug Harbor in Plaza Midwood. We caught up with two members of the quartet, Assistant Concertmaster Kari Giles and Acting Assistant Principal violist Kirsten Swanson, to get a sneak peek of the program.


Have you ever played a concert like CSO Off the Rails before? 
Kari Giles: I've never been fortunate to play a concert quite like Off the Rails! I have always been passionate about new music and putting together creative programs. It is so fun to search and discover new composers, bring their works to life, and then share them with an audience for the first time. [So] having the freedom to create a program and literally being told to "get wild" and "out there" was thrilling. I knew immediately that I wanted to partner with Jenny Topilow and Kirsten Swanson. On top of being amazing musicians, they are dear friends, and we have a long history of playing chamber music together. Jeremy Lamb has also been involved in many local new music collaborations and is a composer himself, so I knew he would be perfect addition.
Assistant Concertmaster Kari Giles

Kirsten Swanson: I have been very fortunate to have spent a lot of my career playing contemporary music, and I absolutely love the creativity of 20th and 21st Century string quartet writing. I did a similarly programmed concert last year, but what I especially love about these pieces is that the composers play around with the Western musical tradition of a steady, toe-tappable, rhythm and sends the listener's inward pulse "off the rails."

What kind of music is on the program? How was it selected?
KG: The concert will open with John Adams' "John's Book of Alleged Dances." When it was suggested by my husband Mark Lewis, who is also a composer, I instantly loved it and knew we had to program it. Next on the program is "Carrot Revolution" by young and upcoming composer Gabriella Smith. The words "Rock Out" are literally marked into all of our parts in the opening, and the piece is filled with fiddle, blues, and rock riffs. Listen closely to hear her homage to The Who! A friend recommended I check out our third featured composer, Pamela Z. As an artist and composer, Pamela Z creates eclectic works using voice, live electronic processing and sampled sound. I don't want to give too much away, so I will just say that this work is dreamy and super cool. We have a few more surprises as well, so I hope everyone will come out ready to hear some new music they've never heard before!

Acting Assistant Principal violist Kirsten Swanson
KS: The works on the program toy with our sense of pulse and rhythm, one of the most essential elements of music. In the Adams work, he has the quartet playing with a pre-recorded track played on a player piano. The track is sort of our metronome, except it's not quite steady (or is it?), which is a trip for us as players and for the audience! Adams is making such fun of the idea of what makes a dance a dance and how we each frame our sense of pulse. I'll be so curious to hear what the audience feels throughout these.

Which do you think is the coolest or most fun piece on the program?

KG: The part of the program that is most personal to me is a movement of the Adams work called "Judah to Ocean."
Adams is from San Francisco, and this movement is a musical picture of the N Judah train. It also happens to be one of the trains I took quite frequently when I was a student at the San Francisco Conservatory! Lots of good memories there.

KS: Carrot Revolution is totally the most fun! Anything that says "Rock Out" is going to be my favorite piece! 

What kind of music do you listen to for fun?
KG: Currently my go-to musical companions are Prince, Rhianna, Tori Amos, and The Cure. I am also really going through a traditional Irish phase, and Dervish is just magical. My all-time favorite band, though, is Jump Little Children, who I went to school with when I was at NCSA.

KS: Oh man. My playlist is embarrassing. Last week I listened to Lizzo (butchered the lyrics); Raffi because he has a beautiful voice and the lyrics still get me as an adult (I mean! Robin in the rain/what a saucy fellow); Anderson .Paak because he's just amazing; and the oldies...because my parents did, and it's the music I listened to growing up.

What do you think people need to know about the concert before they show up?
KG: Just put on your coolest (or uncoolest) outfit, grab a drink at the bar, and have fun!

CSO Off the Rails will rock Snug Harbor on October 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online in advance or at the door.
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Posted in Community. Tagged as community, CSO Musicians, interview, Musicians.

Street Dance meets Classical Music



FLY Dance Company, dubbed The Gentlemen of Hip Hop, join us this summer to take on Mozart, Debussy, Brahms, and other greats of classical music in Breaking Classical with The Gentlemen of Hip Hop on June 21, 2019 at Belk Theater.

What exactly are they planning on doing on stage with a full orchestra behind them? These clever dancers are going to use their skills to show you just how poweful and beautiful a fusion of street dance and classical music can be.

So you think you know Hip Hop? Classical music? Think again.

 

Meet the crew:

 

Jorge Casco, Executive Director

Jorge Casco's love for music began at age four as a drummer and street dancer in Houston, Texas. Winning underground dance battles and making a name for himself in the underground B-Boy circuit, however, wasn't enough for him. He saw Fly Dance Company (FLY) perform at his school, and after a year as an understudy, Jorge became a principal dancer with FLY and toured internationally. Jorge performed in 110 school shows, and 65 dance concerts, reaching over 30,000 kids in a single season.

With a natural comedic side, Jorge's humor adds fun to every FLY engagement. Another particular strength is his ability to relate to and interact with his students--adults and kids alike. 

Jorge works daily on his dream of growing FLY grow into a nationally recognized company with several chapters across the country.



Chris Cortez, Director

Chris Cortez is the product of one of the first in-school hip-hop dance programs that took place at Spring Woods Middle School in Houston, TX. The program provided three hours a week where he learned choreography, performance skills and new dance skills guided by his instructor Kathy Wood, who was also the Director of Fly Dance Company at the time.

Shortly thereafter, Chris joined FLY and had the chance to educate over 100,000 students about the positive impact of hip-hop on the youth. This was the beginning of the hip-hop culture leading Chris's life into a quest of providing hope and health to the youth that once was him.        

Chris has traveled worldwide since 1998, performing, competing, instructing, and educating the youth about the art of B-Boying and hip-hop, as well as their positive impact. He has also been a part of the world-famous Houston Rockets Launch Crew for nine consecutive years. Chris had the opportunity to travel with the Rockets organization to the China games in Beijing & Guangzhou, the All-Star Game in 2011, and, most recently, the games in Taiwan and the Philippines.

Chadwick Franklin, Principal Dancer

Chadwick started his journey into dance at Westside High School after being inspired by his friends and classmates. After graduating he continued his experience by working at John Marshall Middle School under Lori Amare-Bujung as a Dance Instructor. Through instructing youth and creating choreograph, his love for the arts grew. He also performed with Theresa Chapman at Ronald McDonald's Boo Ball in 2014. He soon joined Sonkiss'd Dance Theater and briefly worked as a Principal Dancer for their Urbanity show, Urban Ballet, and toured with them in 2017 in Pennsylvania. After parting ways with the company, he found himself joining Fly Dance Company, of which he has been a member since the third quarter of 2018.



Jesse Magana, Principal Dancer

Jesse started performing at age 10, working with Kathy Wood's FLY Kids group. By the age of 15, he was performing, teaching, competing, and inspiring professionally. Jesse is a college graduate with an Associates Degree in business and marketing, and is pursuing his Bachelors Degree in advertising. His dream is to become an entrepreneur with his own entertainment company.

Timothy Pena, Principal Dancer

An artist with aspirations of making it big in the fashion, music and dance industry, "Lil Moe", as his friends call him, was named after the father he never knew. Raised by his great-grandparents, they eventually adopted him. He is currently working at Caught in Customs manufacturing Boutique, teaches hip-hop to young children at various Houston schools for after school programs, dances for the Houston Rockets Launch Crew, and dances with Fly Dance Company. FLY is proud of Timothy's achievements, given his tough and emotional up ringing, and they're excited to see what the future holds for him.

Sidney Pritchett, Principal Dancer

Sidney Pritchett developed his dance background at Westside High School in Houston, TX, where he danced all four years for the school's Inertia Dance Company. His performance experience includes, but is not limited to, working with the Houston Symphony at the Wortham Center for "The Twelve Days of Christmas", H-E-B's Thanksgiving Day Parade with singer/song writer Naturi Naughten, in China at the Eight Chinese Folk Art Festival in Beijing, Suzhou, and Shanghai, The Orange Bowl for Bowl Games of America in Miami, FL, and "The Thriller Dance" with Tony Smith. He has attended Mandy Moore, Pilobolus and Bollywood workshops. Last year, Sidney was featured in singer/song writer Beyoncé's new video, "Blow."



Adam Quiroz, Principal Dancer

Adam Quiroz first got into dance mostly being inspired by hip-hop and B-Boying. Known for bringing creative new ideas to B-Boying, it enabled him the privilege to attend events all over the US, Mexico, Canada, France, and Holland for competitions and judging. In 2005, Adam decided to branch out from San Antonio to Houston to be a part of Youth Advocates (Y.A.), working with at-risk youth. Shortly after, he joined the Houston Rockets Launch Crew, an NBA entertainment group and had the opportunity to perform at the NBA All Star Games from 2010-2013.

Adam has also worked and performed with various other dance groups most notably performing in Doha, Qatar for the Emir (known as the general/prince). Performing and teaching students about the positive aspects of Hip-Hop has been Adam's main goal over the last few years. Currently a member of Fly Dance Company he is most excited about building the new legacy of FLY for years to come.

Mrince Williams, Principal Dancer

Mrince Williams is a natural performer, named after both Michael Jackson and Prince. So you can imagine his dynamic performing ability! The youngest member of the group, he has been dancing since a young age, educating himself in all hip-hop and Latin styles of dance.
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Posted in Community, Summer. Tagged as community, Dance, guest artists.

Superbowl bet with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (video)

CSOvsCSO The Charlotte and Colorado symphony orchestras put a little wager on the big game! May the best team (and orchestra) win. Go Panthers!



Update: So, we lost. We know it's time to pay up and we're working on scheduling our performance of "Hoe Down." Watch this space or follow us on social media for all the latest information!

Update, 3/18/16: Maestro Warren-Green was happy to repay our debt to the Colorado Symphony last night.


Posted in Classics, Community. Tagged as Classical, community.

Thanking our Veterans with Vet Tix

We are proud to partner with Veteran Tickets Foundation to provide tickets for members of the military and their families for select concerts.  Providing these tickets for veterans is only a small way that we express our appreciation for their service to our country. We recently received notes of their gratitude in attending a symphony performance, but the pleasure is all ours!


Thank you Vet Tix and Charlotte Symphony for allowing my family to reconnect and enjoy our first symphony. It was a wonderful production and was thoroughly enjoyed. We loved it and will be back. 
- Sonya, United States Army Veteran, 1983-1990

Thank you Charlotte Symphony and Vet Tix for the wonderful evening with my wife. The movie and the orchestra was extraordinary and beautiful. 
- David, United States Air Force Veteran, 1978-1982

I want to send a big Thank You to the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra...I can't not explain how much I enjoyed the performance. I left the Belk Theater wanting to sing and dance all over the streets of Uptown!
- Erin, United States Air Force Veteran, 1996-2012

Thank you Charlotte Symphony and Vet Tickets, it was a wonderful evening. It was like stepping back in time and seeing not only how complex movie making was, but how magical a trip to the cinema could be... Again thank you for the magical evening.
Melinda, United States Army, Currently Serving

I really would like to thank the Charlotte Symphony for the great seats! My wife and I were excited at the opportunity to attend the show... What a great performance by the Charlotte Symphony to have their timing executed flawlessly with the movie.
- Patrick, United States Marine Corps Veteran, 1986-1995

It is so nice to have the opportunity to make these events into memories with my family. It means a lot to us to make up for lost times. Thank you again.
- Wendy, United States Air Force, Veteran, 2001-2003

Before my twenty two years in the Air Force I enjoyed classical music as a percussionist in a major university symphony orchestra. Last night's performance was a flashback to some Mahler sections I played about 50 years ago. Thanks for an opportunity for my wife and I to enjoy a special night out as we approach our 48th anniversary.
-
 Larry, United States Air Force Veteran, 1967-1989 Read more

Posted in Community. Tagged as community.

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 Community, Education & Community. Tagged as community, Internship.

Urban Sketchers Group Captures Bachtoberfest II Rehearsal

Urban Sketchers Charlotte and artist Don Colley joined us at the dress rehearsal for Bachtoberfest II: Bach and Beer on October 22. Don is a Faber-Castell artist who is currently on a sponsored roadtrip across the US, sketching as he goes. Thanks to Urban Sketchers for joining us again!















Posted in Community. Tagged as community.

Musician's Perspective: Martha Geissler

I have been participating in "Bridging Musical Worlds," celebrating the legacy and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. since January of 2009 (the date was the day before President Obama's first inauguration).

For the past six years A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas, a local jazz group, and musicians from the Charlotte Symphony (myself included) have presented a collaborative performance at The Historic Excelsior Club, the first African-American nightclub in Charlotte, to mark MLK Day.

"Bridging Musical Worlds" at Charlotte's historic Excelsior Club.

Among the goals of this collaboration for the Charlotte Symphony is to expose audiences who may not necessarily have been to a Symphony concert to classical music in a setting other than the Blumenthal, and I applaud that. However, I feel that these concerts have served as outreach in both directions, helping symphonic musicians expand our horizons too.

An attitude trend among some classical musicians is that classical music is the apex of musical art; however, I have learned that this can be a rather tunnel-vision view.

The Excelsior experiences have been extremely beneficial to me because they take me out of my classical comfort zone. When the Symphony ensemble performs with A Sign of the Times, Tyrone Jefferson, the leader, encourages us to improvise; for most classical players, if you ask us to improvise a tune by ear, we freeze because there are not notes on a page! This is a skill which is second nature to jazz players...basically composing on the spot, which actually used to be an expected performance practice for classical musicians back in the 18th and early 19th centuries. To do this is both rather frightening and liberating, and I am grateful to the fact that Tyrone is very accepting and encouraging of our baby steps in that direction, no matter how tentative.

We are so fortunate to work with Tyrone, who served as the music director for the great James Brown. The things he learned about music (rhythmic feel, improv, etc.) from Mr. Brown he shares with his band, the young people who sit in on their rehearsals and with the Symphony players. Jazz has been called, on more than one occasion, "America's Classical Music." It is one thing for the Symphony to play arrangements of jazz works on a pops show, led by a classically trained conductor; it is a completely different level when one gets to play these pieces in a group which is steeped in that tradition and led by someone who thoroughly understands the style.

The performance venue and format of "Bridging Musical Worlds" at the Excelsior is quite different than a concert hall, but we Symphony musicians are given an extremely warm and gracious welcome by the audience and the jazz musicians. When we get into the jazz pieces, the classically trained musicians can be ducks out of water, but everyone from the band members to the people in the audience help us to swim.

There is a feeling of fellowship, mutual respect and goodwill that can be quite a rarity, and that has touched me deeply.

- Martha

Martha Geissler has been a violinist with the Charlotte Symphony since 1981. This year she is joined by fellow Charlotte Symphony musicians Jane Hart Brendle (violin), Joseph Meyer (Associate Concertmaster) and Matthew Lavin (extra/substitute cello).

At 7 p.m. on Sunday, January 19 at Charlotte's Historic Excelsior Club (921 Beatties Ford Road) A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas and the Charlotte Symphony present "Bridging Musical Worlds: Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." for the sixth consecutive year. The program is excited to welcome UNC Charlotte Department of Music as a new partner this year, 
 
The event is FREE and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Posted in Community, Education & Community. Tagged as Bridging Musical Worlds, community, CSO Musicians, Education, Musicians.

BEETHOVEN NINE LIVE BROADCAST WITH WDAV

booth1

WDAV 89.9 FM broadcasted our performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on Friday, May 10, 2013. As you can imagine it takes a bit of work to do this. Here's just an idea of what the checklist and plan for the WDAV staff looks like...

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.
 
Live bcast behind the scenes 1
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.
 
board
3. A staff person directs the activities of the hosts and serves as liaison to the broadcast studios.
 
booth2
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...

  • Spread the word about the broadcast and archive it, before and during, via social media and other digital platforms.
  • Help with logistics, such as having dinner delivered.
  • 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."
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Posted in Classics. Tagged as Beethoven, Classical, community.

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