October 3, 2017
Before you are bedazzled by the awe-inspiring performance of Cirque Goes to the Cinema, get to know the incredible Juilliard-trained musician and former Cirque du Soleil and Ringling Brothers performers that comprise Cirque de la Symphonie!
||Janice Martin is a solo violinist who brings multiple talents. A Juilliard School of Music standout, she has won competitions such as the Washington International Competition and the Lena Na International Competition and was recipient of the Amadeus Career Grant Award and the Career Award Grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. In addition to being a concert violinist, opera singer and classical pianist, Janice has become an accomplished aerialist as well.
||Vitalii Buza began his gymnastic training in the Republic of Moldova and soon competed as an elite gymnast with the Russian national team. After a move to the US, he starred in productions at Sea World, Universal Studios, and Walt Disney World. He has been featured in numerous TV ads and won a role in the Walt Disney movie Enchanted. He excels in duo hand-balancing, straps, Cyr wheel, spinning cube, Chinese pole, and Russian bar.
||Alexandra "Sasha" Pivaral has performed and headlined in countless productions around the world, including famous "Cirque Du Soleil". She has won prestigious awards for competing in top International Circus such as "Monte Carlo International Circus Festival" in Monaco and considered to be one of the most talented acrobats in her field of contortion, balancing and hula hoops. It is her stage presence, originality of elements and choreography that set her far above anyone else.
||Vladimir Tsarkov provides a spell-binding performance with combinations of mime and juggling feats. A favorite of the younger members of the audiences, Vladimir's Red Harlequin act features rings, balls, and batons, and he's even been known to teach the maestro a trick or two! He is a veteran of Circus Circus, Cirque Ingenieux, and various Cirque de la Symphonie performances.
||Elena Tsarkova the "Lady in White," is a graduate of the famed Moscow Circus School and first-place winner of the prestigious National Russian Circus Festival. From her Master of Sports in gymnastics, Elena developed into a unique and graceful performer with the Big Apple Circus, Switzerland's Circus Knie, and Germany's Circus Roncalli. Her combination of contortion, balance, and graceful dance moves has made her a major star.
||Pavel Prikhodko is a native of Voronezh, Russia, and is a 3-time national champion of Russia, 2-time World Champion, and 2-time Champion of the World Cup in acrobatic sport. A former veteran with Cirque du Soleil's "Varekai," Pavel is a multi-talented performer on straps, Russian swing, trampoline, and acrobatics.
||Ekaterina Borzikova is a graduate of the School of Olympic Reserve in St. Petersburg, Russia. A dynamic professional circus performer, Ekaterina has been involved with all aspects of the art form as a performer and creator of unique acts. She is a 10-year veteran of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, and is an accomplished performer on the aerial platform. She was the recipient of the Jean-Louis Marsan Award as an outstanding performer.
||Vitaliy Korshunov is a native of Ukraine, where he graduated from Kiev State Circus College. He began his career with the National Circus of Ukraine, winning first place at the New Ukrainian Circus Festival. His acrobatic experience includes worldwide tours with Nikulin's Moscow Circus.
October 1, 2017
Before you step into Knight Theater to hear the romantic and fiery sounds of Rodrigo Guitar Concerto, check out these facts about our guest classical guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas, otherwise kown as "the soul of the Spanish guitar."
1. Pablo was born June 16, 1977 in La Rioja, Spain.
Sáinz Villegas has performed numerous world premieres, including the first guitar piece to have been written by five-time Academy Award-winning composer John Williams.
Pablo was given the honor of performing in the presence of the Dalai Lama as well as the Royal Family of Spain. He was also chosen to serve as Cultural Ambassador to the Vivanco Foundation and its museum, considered by UNESCO as the best museum of wine culture in the world.
Sáinz Villegas has an extensive history of winning prestigious awards. Perhaps his most honorable was when he became the first guitarist to ever win Spain's top classical music honor, El Ojo Crítico. Pablo also won the famed Parkening International Guitar Competition, and prior to that he was already the recipient of more than 30 international awards, including the Francisco Tárrega Award and the Andrés Segovia Award at age 15.
Pablo has helped serve over 15,000 children, as he is the founder of "The Music Without Borders Legacy," a program that seeks to bridge communities across cultural, social, and political borders for the benefit of youth.
Sáinz Villegas is well known for his emotional artistry with the guitar, whether it's been in an intimate setting or before more than 85,000 people, as he did while accompanying the admired tenor Plácido Domingo, at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid.
In the 2015-16 season, Pablo accompanied Plácido Domingo on a floating stage in the Amazon River which was broadcast live to millions of people around the world. Read more
March 20, 2017
Oboist Gordon Hunt joined us Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25, 2017 for the riveting Strauss Oboe Concerto. We asked Mr. Hunt a few questions about his friendship with Music Director Christopher Warren-Green, his relationship to the Strauss piece, and his instrument.
|Could you share a bit about your friendship with Christopher Warren-Green, both on and off stage?
Chris and I have been friends for a very long time, going back to when he joined the Philharmonia Orchestra as concertmaster. We hit it off straight away, both musically, within the orchestra, and also out of work time, when we spent a great deal of time together.
What is it like to perform with someone you know so well? Does it change the performance at all?
It feels good to work with a close friend - and especially as I am a conductor too, I really appreciate having someone I trust beside me.
However, I don't think it fundamentally changes the performance, as in a way the music itself is even greater than the friendship. We are both there to serve the composer and his intentions.
What can listeners expect from the Strauss Oboe Concerto?
The typical mastery of orchestration and understanding of instrumental balance one expects from Richard Strauss, but in this very late work, also a more classical approach than one would expect in his great tone poems.
What should they listen for specifically, if anything?
The effortless way in which Strauss uses and develops the first simple four note motif, played by the cellos. In effect, he bases the whole concerto on this. Also listen for the very extended lines he weaves for the solo oboe, and the interplay between the soloist and the wind players.
Do you recall the first time you performed this work? How did you feel?
Yes, even though I have performed this piece well over 80 times now, I do remember the first time. I was 21 years old, in Oxford, England. I was excited to be facing this challenge (perhaps the greatest for my instrument), hoped there would be many more chances, and I felt immensely privileged to be playing such wonderful music.
What do you do just before you go on stage? Do you think any thoughts or have any rituals?
I try to have a few minutes to myself, just being quiet, but I have no rituals!
How would you describe this work?
It is in a way nostalgic, looking to the past, and musically simpler than so much of what Strauss had written before (I have already mentioned the quite "classical" approach). In some way, Strauss is nodding towards his lifelong hero Mozart, but with the unmistakable fingerprint he himself leaves on all his works.
Can you share a few fun facts about your instrument?
As oboists, our lives can seem to revolve around reeds, and sometimes it seems impossible to have one that you really like. Ultimately, it is down to the player to make the instrument sing and to communicate, so I always say that 50% of success in playing the oboe is learning to make good reeds, and the other 50% is leaning to play on bad ones! Read more
January 23, 2017
Composer, conductor, and producer Steve Hackman joins us Friday, January 27 for an exciting, one-night-only performance of his popular mash-up, Brahms v. Radiohead. Here, we chat with Mr. Hackman about how he created this interesting concept, why he chose Brahms, and what we can expect from this performance.
How and why did you think of this cool mash-up concept?
I have always been passionate about both classical and popular music, equally. It doesn't matter to me if it is a Mahler symphony or a Kendrick Lamar song; if it's great, it's great. Mashing up Brahms and Radiohead is a way of illustrating this point, and even more, to show that this music is not as dissimilar as many people may think. Categorizing things and judging them based on those categories or labels is dangerous and destructive and a performance like this works against that.
Tell us about these soloists. How did you select them?
The soloists really make every performance of this show a total joy, and I know the audience is going to love them. Bill Prokopow is an old friend of mine, and one of the most talented and versatile musicians I know. He and I sung in the same a cappella group at the University of Illinois, where I went to undergrad, called The Other Guys
. We have been collaborating ever since. Andrew Lipke was coming into prominence as a singer/songwriter in Philadelphia when I was in grad school there at the Curtis Institute of Music. I wanted to be like him, such an incredible songwriter and performer! We got to know each other and I learned he was a true student and lover of classical music, and again, a musician of extreme versatility. And Kérén heard about the show because of an ad I posted on Stagebill and boy did we luck out with her! She is a brilliant artist and writer.
Why Brahms specifically? Why not, say, Mozart or Beethoven?
Brahms took 20 years to write this First Symphony. You can feel all that tension and earnestness and toil and struggle in the piece (and he creates unbelievable release in the fourth movement). That balance towards tension is something this music shares with Radiohead. They also share a density and weight--each music is extremely substantial--and they can stand alongside each other. But there are specific musical reasons, too: The harmonic language is much more similar than you would think; the time signature of the first movement (6/8) allows for a mash-up with a very important song from OK Computer
("Subterranean Homesick Alien") and the overall key of C Minor was perfect for the seminal Radiohead song "Paranoid Android."
What can concertgoers expect? Walk us through the evening.
The most important thing regarding expectation is that the music of Radiohead will be presented through the lens of Brahms. I use only Brahms's orchestration. There are no electric guitars or ondes Martenot or any of the Radiohead synthesizers and keyboards. I have treated Radiohead's music with the same kind of scoring, voice leading and counterpoint that Brahms uses in his music. In that way, it is sometimes hard to distinguish if a theme came from Radiohead or Brahms! There are times when the singers are floating Radiohead melodies over the pure music of Brahms; there are many times when Brahms's melodies are superimposed over the songs of Radiohead.
This is a really cool way to engage new symphony audiences. Do you find the attendance to skew younger/more diverse?
Absolutely. Radiohead fans are the best. They are passionate
about music, and they tend to be very creative, open-minded and adventurous folks. Beyond that, I think this concert is perfect for people that love music but have yet to really be introduced to classical music for whatever reason. It is such a pleasure and honor to share symphonic repertoire and the experience of seeing a symphony orchestra. Read more
June 2, 2016
This Sunday, we kick off our 2016 Summer Pops series. As preparations mount, we sat down with Conductor Albert-George Schram (he goes by George!) to ask him a few questions about his Summer Pops experience, from start to finish.
So, tell us about how you program a Summer Pops concert?
It begins with a simple question: How can we continue to have fun? It's an organic process that starts with finding the right theme, and then plugging music into that. Sometimes I find music that I want to play and then cultivate a theme from that, but mostly it's the other way around. It starts with an idea or concept, and then it evolves, and we find the right balance of variety for our audience.
This year, there was a suggestion to play music about a lot of different places, countries, or cities. All I had to do from there was find a few more pieces of wonderful music that had been written with places in mind - from Baghdad to Chicago, New York to Paris. That idea became Oh, the Places You'll Go, which we'll present on June 26.
Do you have a favorite concert on the 2016 line up?
If I'm not excited about it, I don't do it. I love all of the shows we've programmed, and they'll all be special.
I'm excited about Symphony Swings
because of all the big band and swing music we'll get to perform. Symphony orchestras aren't big bands, so it's exciting to find a moment to rock the house down, and it's a lot of fun for our musicians especially the brass section.
And I'm always particularly proud of and excited about the Father's Day celebration. We have a gloriously testosterone-ridden evening this year with music from some of our favorite movies. We'll celebrate all the manliness that we can muster with lots of Star Wars
, Jurassic Park
, and Indiana Jones
Tell us about your Summer Pops rituals. What do you do to prepare for and/or unwind from the concert?
Right before the concert, I tend to keep a low profile. I mostly prefer being alone so I can get in the right mindset. I never eat before a gig because I get too focused and it gets in the way of my concentration.
When we've wrapped up the performance, I'm always wet with sweat from the heat and the movement during the performance, so I definitely need to shower. Then, I change clothes and by that point, I need to eat and I do so with great joy and gusto! Typically, several members of the Symphony staff join me and we get a chance to unwind from the day and enjoy each other's company.
What is your favorite thing about Summer Pops?
I like how deeply we reach into the community. It's a different event all together, and there are people who come out to Summer Pops who don't come to any other concert throughout the year. To be able to connect with those people is a particular treat.
It's a wonderful, family-friendly tradition for the city and I so relish the opportunity to strut the stuff of the Symphony for the faithful audience who is there every year, and the newbies who are joining us for maybe the very first time. It's a mighty fine gang and I'm pleased to be a part of it.
How does the Summer Pops atmosphere differ from a regular Pops show?
It's a bit more relaxed and laid back; we can simply allow ourselves to have a bit more fun. It's typically a bit more raucous, too even more so than a Pops show!
It's also accessible to a wide audience, and it's important to me that we have that. The kids don't have to be absolutely quiet and stay in one seat. People can enjoy time with their friends and family, and bring something to eat and drink and I like all of those things. We just want to play good music that people enjoy. What more could we as an orchestra want?
January 15, 2016
Meet Liz Wooley. Liz is our hardworking Operations Manager, who, since we are presenting the one-and-only Randy Newman tonight, had to work on her birthday due to rehearsal. But, there was a surprise in store for her at the end of the evening! Read more
October 13, 2015
|When the 70-member U.S. Naval Academy Men's Glee Club drops anchor in Charlotte over Veteran's Day weekend, November 13-14, one of its singers will feel right at home.
Midshipman 4th Class Adam Thomas is a June 2015 graduate of South Mecklenburg High School and says he's ecstatic about the opportunity to continue his music education at the Naval Academy. "I have many fond memories of performing in the Charlotte area, and I am looking forward to performing with the Symphony," says Thomas. "Even more important, I am excited to bring some of my new friends at the Academy home to Charlotte and let them enjoy some true southern hospitality!"
A Salute to America's Heroes promises a patriotic program honoring all who have served and are serving our country. This talented group of midshipmen perform a wide range of sacred music and American spirituals, plus the famous "Naval Hymn," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Ave Maria," and more!
Conductor Albert-George Schram has collaborated with the Men's Glee Club on three previous occasions in Charlotte, Columbus, and Nashville and is excited once again to be working with one of America's premier men's choral ensembles.
"I am deeply proud and honored to be able to bring these highly talented young men to Charlotte and introduce them to our Symphony and our audience," says Schram. "This Glee Club is extraordinary, and together with our Symphony, they will provide attendees with an evening of music they will long remember."
September 10, 2015
We caught up with Mr. Goberman before he joins us in Charlotte for Singin' in the Rain next weekend.
|John Goberman is a legendary name in performing arts circles. Probably best known as the creator of Live From Lincoln Center, Goberman developed the audio-video technology for telecasting live arts performances without audience or performer disruption and has earned tons of accolades (including Emmy and Peabody Awards) for his work in the arts.
Goberman also created a series of film-and-concert presentations called Symphonic Night at the Movies with many orchestras, including the Charlotte Symphony.
So how did the idea of Symphonic Night at the Movies come to you?
John Goberman: It all started with Alexander Nevsky, the great Prokofiev/Eisenstein cowboys-and-Indians Hollywood western, which they converted into a Russians-and-Germans non-esoteric thrilling picture with the best
film score ever written. It turned out to be the worst
film score recording ever, which is why I thought it would be great to have a real orchestra play it--live--and figured out ways to do that, which we premiered in Los Angeles with Andre Previn.
Why was that important to implement when you did?
Because there was a period of Hollywood filmmaking that used symphonic music, I thought there might be some other films where the live presence and sound of a symphony orchestra would fill (at least the composer's) concept of the music. The Wizard of Oz, Singin' in the Rain, Psycho, Casablanca
--they're all films in which the music is extremely important to the experience. The presence of an orchestra turns the event into a performance of a film, instead of just a screening of a film.
Seems complicated. How exactly will Conductor Albert-George Schram coordinate all of this?
I like to think that this experience for the conductor and orchestra is very much like playing an opera--when there's give and take between the performers and orchestra--except here there is no give. The conductor will be accompanying the singers on the screen just as he would in an opera. And while there is no "adjusting" coming from the screen singers--you can be sure they will do it the same every time! Same with the dancers.
So, does the orchestra rehearse with the movie on? How do they prepare?
Yes. The orchestra and conductor can prepare completely in advance by studying a DVD prepared for them. The study DVD contains all the visual elements of the performance, plus the dialog, vocal and sound effect tracks, without the music (as it will be in the performance) and also the original tracks with the music so he knows he is correct. There is also a clock, an analog clock with a sweep hand, which he uses as a guide so that the music is accompanying the picture correctly (a certain time at a certain point marked in the score).
How did you get into the field of music production? Did you study music?
I used to be a cellist, and then I started the Live from Lincoln Center
television series, which I produced until recently. But I have always had an affection for my live orchestra presentations of film. It is an audience experience and a musical experience that allows the work of some great composers to be heard fully, in context.
We kicked off our 2025-16 Pops series with a presentation of Singin' in the Rain on September 18 & 19, 2015, Belk Theater.
September 29, 2014
Photo credit Chad Batka
Wu Man is recognized as the world's premier pipa player, dedicating her career to giving the ancient Chinese instrument a new role in today's music.
Born in Hangzhou, on the east coast of China, Wu Man studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she became the first person to earn a master's degree in pipa.
The Grammy Award-nominated artist is a respected expert on the history and preservation of Chinese musical traditions. In 1999, Yo-Yo Ma selected her as the City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize in music and communication, and she is the first artist from China to have performed at the White House, along with a cellist with whom she now performs as part of the Silk Road Project
She has been referred to as "the artist most responsible for bringing the pipa to the Western world."
About the Pipa
The pipa is a four-stringed Chinese lute-like instrument with a history dating more than 2,000 years. During the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 BC 220 AD), instruments with long, straight necks and round resonators, with snake skin or wooden sound boards, were played with a forward and backward plucking motion that sounded like "pi" and "pa." Throughout history, the instrument has evolved, and today's pipa consists of 26 frets and six ledges, arranged as stops, and its strings are tuned to A, D, E, A.
What does it sound like? Find out in the video below!
June 16, 2014
Albert-George Schram is known at the Charlotte Symphony as the joyful white-haired conductor that makes seeing the orchestra play Pops concerts, ranging from Christmas music and Broadway to Motown, exciting. Elsewhere around the country, he's known for conducting Classical music. In a recent article in The Charlotte Observer, Larry Toppman covers this in "Charlotte Symphony's Albert-George Schram leads two lives."
Within the article, we learn 5 interesting facts about George:
1. He got bad early reviews from his piano teacher: "As a boy, my first instrument was tuba. I played cornet, euphonium, other wind instruments. And I'd ride my bike up to an old lady's house and sit among these big dark curtains to study piano. She told my father, 'You are really wasting your time.' "
2. He was a 20-year-old 12th-grader in Canada: "I was living in Alberta, and they wouldn't accept my Dutch high school degree. So I finished school while working on a farm with 12,000 chickens, collecting eggs and hammering fence posts into the ground."
3. After getting a bachelor's in music from the University of Calgary, he became music director of Stratusfaction, a 25-piece Canadian jazz ensemble that peaked with gigs in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. He played trombone and trumpet, sang, arranged and wrote musical charts.
4. Languages come quickly to him. He improved his English after settling in Canada by watching TV. His favorite program: "Stampede Wrestling," where Archie "The Stomper" Gouldie battled Abdullah the Butcher. Much later, he spent a month at a Spanish-language institute, so he could conduct in Bolivia and Argentina.
5. He watches the Grammy Awards. "I do it because I want to know what's happening now," he said. "If I don't think any of the music played today is good music, and millions of people take to it, then I have to start opening my ears wider." Read more