Sound of Charlotte Blog

Time Traveling with A Little Night Music


By Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees 

Analogies for the art form we know as "classical music" run the full expressive gamut from museum pieces under glass to masterpieces delivered by the Divine through unparalleled genius. While each person develops their own relationship with this timeless music, along my journey I learned that classical music is a "living tradition." As artists, we honor our important history through our repertoire choices and performance practices, while also breathing life into new pieces filled with fresh inspiration. Sometimes the ink is still wet on the page it's so new.

And every so often, the timelines combine. A composer from the current century may look directly into a piece from the past for inspiration. Such is the case with Leonardo Balada's magnificent 2007 work: A Little Night Music in Harlem

Like so many composers we know, Leonardo Balada left his home to study composition in another country. His journey took him from the Catalan region of Spain to New York City, in 1956. 

Perhaps then, as now, there was no more famous a piece than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's own Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which itself translates to "A Little Night Music." One only need hear the opening two bars to immediately connect with its universal representation of all classical music in popular culture. 

Combining the energy of Balada's adopted home in New York with the perfect craftsmanship of Mozart, we hear incredible reflections and refractions of both worlds simultaneously. Details of Mozart's genius we might miss during a casual listening become magnified and transformed through Balada's contemporary eye and ear. Other moments take us straight to West 132nd street, with urban grit and energy summoned through the brilliant virtuosity of the Charlotte Symphony strings.

I'm so excited for this upcoming concert because as we play the first two movements of Mozart followed by the Balada, I envision it as Mozart's brilliance and Balada's captivating compositional sounds becoming linked through time, that ephemeral medium all performing artists wield on stage. 

It is this unique time traveling experience that keeps our marvelous tradition very much alive - breathing, full of inspiration, and made perpetually new. 
Don't miss Mozart Night Music, led by Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees, streaming live on Feb. 6 at 7:30 pm. Read more

Posted in Classics. Tagged as Mozart.

Meet the Mozart Requiem Soloists

This weekend, April 12-14, we're performing Mozart's Requiem, a powerful and breathtaking work featuring the Charlotte Symphony Chorus and four soloists. Meet the impressive soloists taking the Belk Theater stage with us:



Soprano Margot Rood is praised by The Washington Post for her "colorful and vital" singing. She made her solo debut at Boston's Symphony Hall in 2011, and since then has been a frequent soloist with the Handel and Haydn Society.

Margot's recent and upcoming stage appearances include La Renommée in Lalande's Les Fontaines de Versailles and Francesca Caccini's Alcina with Boston Early Music Festival; Galatea in Acis & Galatea and First Witch in Dido & Aeneas with Handel and Haydn Society; Hyacinthus in Mozart's Apollo et Hyacinthus with Emmanuel Music, among others.

In addition to opera and oratorio, Margot was a 2015 recipient of the St. Botolph Club Foundation's Emerging Artist Award for her work in new music. She has recorded numerous world premieres and 21st century works. Her solo recording with composer Heather Gilligan, Living in Light, is now available from Albany Records. Margot holds degrees from the University of Michigan and McGill University.


Simon Pauly photography 

Praised by Opera News as a "silvery-luminescent mezzo-soprano of power and poise," Sofia Selowsky is an exciting artist on both the operatic and concert stage. She has appeared with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as Frau Grubach in the American premiere of Philip Glass' The Trial and Mère Jeanne in Dialogues of the Carmelites, as well as performed Storgé in Handel's Jephtha (Ars Lyrica Houston), Handel's Messiah (Minnesota Orchestra), and was the mezzo soloist in Falla's The Three-Cornered Hat and Schumann's The Pilgrimage of the Rose (Houston Symphony). 

Ms. Selowsky was a 2016 grant recipient from the Gerda Lissner Foundation and a 2015 recipient of a Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshanna Foundation. In 2014, she was a National Semifinalist in Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and won Third Place in the Houston Grand Opera's prestigious Eleanor McCollum Competition.



Isaiah Bell's work is characterized by his "beautiful tenor, command of style, and natural stage presence." In October of 2018, he created the role of Antinous in the world premiere of Rufus Wainwright's Hadrian at the Canadian Opera Company. He also recently returned to Mark Morris' acclaimed doublebill production of Curlew River/Dido & Aeneas at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, giving "a performance of exquisite poignancy" (The New York Times). 

This season Isaiah makes solo debuts at Carnegie Hall, the Caramoor Festival, the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music, among others. Other recent engagements include George Benjamin's Written on Skin with the Toronto Symphony; Messiah with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony, among many others.

As a composer, Isaiah has written four operas including the music and libretti for two operas for young audiences commissioned and widely toured by Opera NUOVA and a number of song cycles and arrangements.



American bass Adam Lau, has been praised as a "bass of real quality, with sonorous low notes." Adam appears this season with Wexford Festival Opera as Creon in Medea; as Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Kentucky Opera; and as the Old Hebrew in Samson et Dalila with North Carolina Opera. 

Most recently, Adam sang in Verdi's Requiem with Guelph Symphony Orchestra, returned to Seattle Opera as The Speaker in The Magic Flute, and performed in the Mahler 8th Symphony with Maestro Kent Tritle at the Berkshire Music Festival. 

Adam won First Prize in the 2016 Jensen Vocal Competition, and Top Prize in the 2015 George London Foundation competition. He was also a finalist in the 2016 Dallas Opera Competition. He has appeared with some of the nation's leading summer festivals including Merola Opera Center, Aspen Opera Theater Center, and Santa Fe Opera.
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Posted in Classics. Tagged as Classical, guest artists, Mozart.

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