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Sound of Charlotte Blog

Announcing Kwamé Ryan as the Charlotte Symphony’s Next Music Director

We are thrilled to announce that Kwamé Ryan, hailed as a "dynamic conductor" by The Baltimore Sun, will assume the role of your Charlotte Symphony's 12th Music Director, beginning in 2024-25, ushering in a new era for the Orchestra's 93rd season.

"On my very first visit to Charlotte, I felt instantly connected with the dynamic energy of the city and then profoundly inspired by the wonderful musicians of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra ... I very much look forward to discovering how this exciting new partnership can enrich the orchestra's legacy and the cultural fabric of Charlotte." ~ Music Director Designate Kwamé Ryan

Born in Canada and raised on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, Kwamé Ryan discovered his passion for conducting at the age of nine. He studied Musicology at Cambridge University and trained in conducting under the guidance of renowned composer/conductor Peter Eötvös. An active guest conductor, Ryan has led orchestras across the United States, UK, and Germany. In the fall of 2023, Ryan conducted the world premiere of Jake Heggie's Intelligence at Houston Grand Opera, and in 2024, he makes his debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the New York Philharmonic.

When not on the podium, Ryan dedicates his time to educational and community engagement initiatives. He has previously served as Musical Director of the National Youth Orchestra of France and as Director of the Academy for the Performing Arts at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. Additionally, Ryan is the host of "8 Minute Idea," a podcast in which he offers insights, tools, and life hacks.

"As a dynamic leader who understands the full potential of the relationship between an orchestra and its community," said President and CEO David Fisk, 'Kwamé will undoubtedly deepen the Charlotte Symphony's service to Charlotte and the region, and, with his passion for music education, bring extraordinary, powerful music-making to a wider audience of all ages."

Ryan's selection was unanimous by the Music Director Search Committee, comprised of Charlotte Symphony musicians, staff, and members of the Board of Directors.

"From the outset, there was an incredible chemistry between Kwamé Ryan and the musicians which created an atmosphere of collaboration and inspiration," said Bassist Jeffrey Ferdon and Principal Violist Benjamin Geller, who served as co-leaders on the Music Director Search Committee. "Kwamé's dynamic performances, as well as his ability to connect with audiences in a meaningful way, truly distinguished him. We are thrilled to welcome this exceptional conductor to Charlotte!"

Looking Back

Ryan made his Charlotte Symphony debut in January 2023 leading the Orchestra in Copland's Symphony No. 3, John Adams's Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and Korngold's Violin Concerto featuring Bella Hristova as soloist. For Music City Review, critic Joseph Morgan described the performance as, "...exciting, optimistic, and almost manically utopian. When it ended, I realized I had been holding my breath!" 

Returning in November 2023, Ryan conducted Verdi's Requiem, earning acclaim from WDAV critic Lawrence Toppman who noted, "He's cheerfully animated on the podium, attentive to details, unlikely to linger in places where other conductors might do so ... yet unafraid to use silences to make emotional points. He can hold the orchestra in check carefully or let it roar, and it made a monumental sound Saturday."

Looking Ahead

Kwamé Ryan will return to Charlotte this spring to conduct the Orchestra in two performances of Wang Jie's Symphonic Overture "America, the Beautiful," Brahms's Symphony No. 1, and Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, April 5-6. 

"On behalf of the Board of Directors, it is with great enthusiasm that we welcome Kwamé Ryan as our next Music Director," said Chair of the Board of Directors Linda McFarland Farthing. "His incredible talent and passion promises an exciting future for our orchestra and the greater community." 
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Tagged as Music Director.

The Classical Series: Reimagined

Your Charlotte Symphony's virtual concerts have already been viewed by thousands of people and received widespread acclaim, with a critic from Classical Voice North Carolina observing that, "the Charlotte Symphony's [virtual concert series] demonstrates the persistence and resilience of the arts and artists and the organization's commitment to its musicians, as well as its listening community."

We're reimagining what it means to serve as your orchestra during the pandemic, and it's been thrilling to find new and innovative ways to bring the music directly to you and your families. 

But we're just getting started! The New Year brings four new virtual concerts.

Highlights include:

  • The return of Music Director Christopher Warren-Green conducting works by Elgar, Holst, Mozart, and more.
  • The continuation of our celebration of Beethoven 250 with performances of his First and Seventh Symphonies.
  • Concertmaster Calin Ovidiu Lupanu and Principal Trumpet Alex Wilborn take center stage for concerti by Mendelssohn and Hummel, respectively. 
  • Contemporary works by Jessie Montgomery and Leonardo Balada, led by Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees.

We're Here to Help

We want you to make sure that everything is working for you once you're settled in to watch our concerts. Please check out this blog post for information on how to access the CSO's virtual concerts. We also have step-by-step instructions for how to stream the concert from a variety of devices, including your computer, phone, or smart TV.  

If you would prefer to speak to someone, please contact Patron Services at 704.972.2000 or
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Posted in Classics. Tagged as Classical, CSO Musicians, Music Director, Musicians, Virtual Concerts.

What Christopher Warren-Green Loves About CSO On Demand

Photo by Joshua Komer, The Charlotte Observer

Christopher Warren-Green sees opportunities as he embarks on an unprecedented season at the helm of the Charlotte Symphony

When Music Director Christopher Warren-Green returned to Charlotte in October, it had been more than 7 months since he stood at the podium. "It's like a great big hole in your life," he said about the lengthy break from performing. "It's forced me to slow down and reevaluate what's important." 

One thing that's important to Maestro Warren-Green is getting back to work with the musicians of the CSO. "When you have an Orchestra that's played together for 80 years, it becomes like its own instrument a well-oiled machine with its own developed sound. If they go too long without playing together it can cause problems, not to mention that we'd all have nervous breakdowns! At the end of the day, we all live, eat, and breathe music. You wouldn't do this job if that wasn't true."

"We are living in a technological revolution, and maybe something good comes out of this."

While concerts this season -- Warren-Green's eleventh with the CSO -- might be a bit different, the Maestro is looking forward to the opportunities that it will bring. "Because of social distancing, we've had to scale down from our full symphony orchestra. What that does, strangely enough, is give us the opportunity to explore repertoire that we wouldn't normally be able to share with our audience."

CSO on Demand -- the Symphony's virtual concert series -- includes two concerts conducted by Maestro Warren-Green this fall, including works by Brahms, Dvořák, Grieg, and Tchaikovsky. He's been pleasantly surprised by the success of virtual concerts during the quarantine. "As a musician watching the BBC Proms from my living room this year, it was almost like the concert was happening just for me. And knowing that there were thousands of other people in their houses feeling the same thing; it really got into my heart. I thought, 'Wow! There is something really special going on.' We are living in a technological revolution, and maybe something good comes out of this."

His advice for you? "Get dressed, go into your living room, have a glass of wine, sit down and make sure no one interrupts you. Do that and watch our virtual concerts, and you'll get something extraordinary from it." Read more

Posted in Classics. Tagged as CSO On Demand, Music Director, Virtual Concerts.

A message from the Maestro

This weekend, we present Mahler's First Symphony on Friday and Saturday evening at Belk Theater. Read this letter from the Maestro below to learn why he thinks this concert is a must-see.

By now you know that Gustav Mahler is one of my absolute favorite composers. Not only because of the pure grandeur and genius of his writing, but also because of its complexities.

In 2012, I conducted Mahler's Fourth Symphony - my first step in this Mahler journey with your Charlotte Symphony - then Mahler's Fifth Symphony came next in 2015. In 2017, we experienced Mahler's Resurrection Symphony together a program that was met with a rousing standing ovation.

Now you have the chance to hear how it all began to hear how one of the greatest orchestral composers of the 20th century started carving out his symphonic path. Through his imaginative use of symphonic poetry, Mahler's First Symphony the "Titan" changed the genre forever.

Journey with me next as we experience the full range of human emotion out of the inferno and into paradise with your Charlotte Symphony. I've also programmed on the evening Mahler's Blumine, one of the original movements of Mahler's First Symphony, which the composer later removed from the piece.

You've trusted me along this Mahler journey thus far, and I truly do hope you'll join us this weekend at Belk Theater. You'll be in for a real treat.

See you at the Symphony!

Christopher Warren-Green
Music Director  Read more

Posted in Classics. Tagged as Classical, Mahler, Music Director.

Christopher Warren-Green's Summer

Charlotte Symphony Music Director Christopher Warren-Green has been busy since the Classics series season finale of Verdi's Requiem in May.

He kicked off the summer by conducting the Minnesota Orchestra in performances of the final three symphonies by Mozart Nos. 39, 40, and 41. Next up: Turkey, where he led the Istanbul State Symphony for the city's Summer Music Festival. Later in June, he returned to the UK to conduct the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in an all-Tchaikovsky gala at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Back in the States, he conducted the Detroit Symphony in performances featuring the DSO principal trumpet performing the Telemann Trumpet Concerto and other works by Schubert, Rossini, and Mozart.

After a busy summer, he spent a much-deserved rest with family in the beautiful Surrey Hills countryside outside of London. We look forward to his return to Charlotte next month, as he gears up to lead the Charlotte Symphony for Beethoven's "Eroica" September 19 & 20 to open the season.

Posted in Classics. Tagged as Classical, conductors, Music Director.

A Little Knight Music, with Lunch

Photo by Logan Cyrus
It's not music or lunch, it's music and lunch (or music and cocktails if you attend the evening concert)! With the Brown Bag Matinees and KnightSounds, Charlotte Symphony Music Director Christopher Warren-Green says "it's all about making classical music accessible to as many people as possible."

Maestro Warren-Green and the Charlotte Symphony will perform A Little Knight Music at noon and again at 7:30 pm on Friday, March 28 in Knight Theater at the Levine Center for the Performing Arts.

Starry pieces Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music) and two movements from Serenata Notturna, as well as the rondo from Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp featuring Principal Flute Elizabeth Landon and Principal Harp Andrea Mumm, comprise the mostly-Mozart program. The concerts will aptly close with Joseph Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony, complete with the ceremonial disappearance of the musicians, true to Haydn's original intent (that's a whole other story!).

If you've never been to the symphony, you might be concerned about what to wear or when to clap. If you're a regular concertgoer, you might dread the thought of stifling a cough, especially if you forget to--gasp--unwrap your throat lozenges before the music starts!

Forget all that.

Now try to imagine a maestro welcoming your peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich in the concert hall...Starting at noon and lasting just under an hour, the Brown Bag Matinee is a perfect mid-day break. And yes, you can actually eat in the theater while the Symphony plays.

The Charlotte Symphony is dedicated to enriching the community through live orchestral music. To that end, Warren-Green wanted to relieve barriers of budget, time and comfort with the matinees.

For only $12, the short, noon-time concerts compete less with lunch, work and weekend schedules and do not require a late-night outing. Such a package is a win for many music lovers, including uptown professionals, savvy spenders, senior citizens, symphony newcomers, families with pre-school aged children and student groups.

The Symphony had a successful soft launch of the Brown Bag Matinees this past October; the March 28 matinee is the second, and the next corresponds with the May 9, 2014 Carnivale KnightSounds.

Like all KnightSounds programs, $29 general admission to the 7:30 pm performance includes a free drink and pre-and-post-concert happenings. Discovery Place, Charlotte's science and technology museum, is cohosting the evening event and will provide activities and demonstrations related to luminescence.

Tagged as Music Director.

2014-2015 Classics Season Announcement!


Warren-Green Unveils the 83rd Seasn, His Fifth as Music Director

Music Director Christopher Warren-Green has announced the Charlotte Symphony's 2014-2015 Classics Series, laying out a season that will tell symphonic stories of adventure, celebrate the anniversaries of composers Richard Strauss and Jean Sibelius, generously  showcase beloved pieces from the piano repertory and present the North Carolina premier of a Concerto for Pipa, a four-stringed Chinese instrument, to be played by reigning pipa virtuoso Wu Man. 
Other 2014-2015 highlights include Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 "Eroica, Schubert's "Tragic" Symphony, A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms, Tchaikovsky's "Little Russian" Symphony No. 2,  Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber and, finally, Dvorak's "From the New World," for which a Sunday Mother's Day Matinee has been added as a third performance to close the season. 
A special sprinkling of music by Richard Strauss and Jean Sibelius throughout the season celebrates the 150th anniversaries of their 1864 and 1865 births, respectively. 
In addition to Finlandia, the Symphony will also present Sibelius' Symphony No. 5, but his Violin Concerto in D Minor is not to be overshadowed: the young and versatile Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, considered the premier Sibelius interpreter by Warren-Green and other experts, will feature as soloist. 
Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life) and Don Quixote add tales of adventure to the season, but Strauss isn't the only composer getting in on the hero theme. Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, "Eroica," will be featured in January, as will Rossini's Overture to William Tell, and Lincoln Portrait by Aaron Copland will be part of an all-American Ulysses Festival program commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. 
Lovers of piano music will not be disappointed: long-renowned Lebanese composer and pianist Abdel Rahman El Bacha will play "Emperor" (Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5) in October; the commanding young Lukas Vondracek will return to perform with the Charlotte Symphony for Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 in February; In April, the most recent winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition, Yulianna Avdeeva, will delight with Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2; and finally, in May, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 will be presented by the dynamic Natasha Paremski. 
Beyond the pianists, other 2014-2015-Season soloists include Gary Hoffman performing the Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor, cellist Julian Schwarz representing Strauss' Don Quixote, the Charlotte Symphony's talented concertmaster Calin Lupanu on the Barber Violin Concerto and, of course, Wu Man and Pekka Kuusisto. 

The Oratorio Singers of Charlotte will feature in Brahms' A German Requiem in November and again in March for the all-American program of Copland, Barber and Bernstein. 
Christopher Warren-Green will conduct eight of the ten programs scheduled for the 14-15 Classics Season. Rising female conductor Mei-Ann Chen will take the podium for October program featuring the Pipa Concert. Gerard Schwarz, former Music Director for Seattle Symphony as well as New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, will conduct the January Don Quixote program featuring his son, cellist Julian Schwarz. 
All concerts take place at the Belk Theater in the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. 
In addition to the usual 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday night concerts, the Symphony has added 7:30 p.m. Thursday performances to its Classics III and Classics IX programs in hopes that music lovers who cannot make it to the Symphony on weekend nights will be able to join the audience. 
Season subscriptions make for a substantial savings over single ticket prices and offer the best seats among other subscriber benefits. Renewing subscribers are given first priority; new subscribers can create and purchase their packages starting March 3. Single tickets will go on sale this summer. 

Posted in Classics. Tagged as Classical, Music Director.

WFAE’S Duncan McFadyen Interviews Christopher Warren-Green

After this past Tuesday's rehearsal, Christopher Warren-Green sat down with Duncan McFadyen for an interview about Friday and Saturday's Mozart Mass concert. The interview aired Friday morning on WFAE 90.7 FM, Charlotte's local NPR affiliate.
By Duncan McFadyen | Originally aired 11/16/12 on WFAE
Listen to the full story here.

Excerpt from the interview:

WARREN-GREEN: I've wanted to bring the children onto the stage at the Symphony every year, because I believe the Symphony is a family, and that family embraces the audience--the people who work for the symphony, the volunteers, everyone who comes to concerts, everyone who listens on radio--it's a community; it's a family, and I want our audience to see what their patronage is doing for the community.

Christopher Warren-Green leads the Charlotte Symphony in a rehearsal of Mozart's Mass in c minor. Credit Duncan McFadyen

MCFADYEN: Where do you think this perception that classical music is inaccessible comes from? Do you think that teaching children about the arts early in life helps to dispel that myth?

WARREN-GREEN: ...there is a preconception that the concert hall is maybe not a place for us. It's wrong! Everyone is musical, and if you get a chance with all the churches around here to get your children into some kind of choir,  my goodness, the training is extraordinary. And it changes their life, it really does. This is not a corny catch phrase. Music transforms lives. It did it for me: I was nowhere until music picked me up out of the gutter at a very young age...

Read or listen to the entire interview here.
Were you introduced to music at a young age? Have you been shaped by a Youth Orchestra experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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Posted in Classics, Education & Community. Tagged as Classical, interview, Music Director.