Sound of Charlotte Blog
If you're headed out to Symphony Park to Celebrate America on July 3, don't miss these top 4 insider tips--from getting the best spot on the lawn to parking, and more.
1) Arrive and buy your tickets early
We're expecting a large crowd, and the best spots always get snatched up right when the gates open at 5 p.m. If you haven't purchased your tickets in advance, ticket prices will increase by $2 day of show. Tickets will be available online until noon and then you can purchase them at the gates beginning at 4 p.m.
There are 3 gates at Symphony Park: one by the DoubleTree, the main gate in the SouthPark Mall parking lot near Dick's Sporting Goods and Reid's Fine Foods, and one off of Barclay Downs Road. Pro tip: People begin lining up at the gates as early as 3 p.m.!
2) Bring lots of water, sunscreen, and bug spray
We'll have vendors selling beverages on-site, but it's going to be very hot and crowded. Wine and beer are allowed, but we ask that you please drink responsibly. Some of our vendors include King of Pops and Sunset Slush. You may bring umbrellas, but you will be asked to take them down right before the orchestra starts playing.
3) Carpool or use rideshare to get to the park
Parking is limited to the SouthPark Mall parking lot, which means close parking to the main gate gets claimed very early in the day. For your convenience, we have a guest drop off area right by the main gate.
4) Bring low-back chairs or blankets
As a courtesy to others, especially those sitting on blankets, please bring low-back chairs, such as one you might bring to the beach. We ask that if you do bring a high-back chair to please sit around the perimeter of the lawn and the park.
Most importantly, be respectful to others around you, and just have fun!
For more information on accessibility, prohibited items, and more, visit our FAQ page.
Since moving to Charlotte nearly five years ago, I've discovered plenty of summer activities worth checking out. But though my list of "must attend" events is long, the Charlotte Symphony's Summer Pops performances remain at the top. If you're new to the experience, here are a few of my tips for making the most of it.
Schedule out-of-town visits accordinglyWhen my best friend from high school came to check out Charlotte for the first time, a Summer Pops show was definitely on the itinerary for her trip. It was the perfect way to break up a weekend that included plenty of eating, brewery hopping, and pool time. If you've got friends and family members who are eyeing a trip to the Queen City, plan accordingly.
Bring the whole familyThe Summer Pops experience is perfect for everyone in your family, because it doesn't matter how much or how little you know about the symphony. You're hearing familiar music (selections this year will be from E.T., Star Wars, Wicked, and The Sound of Music, just to name a few) in a relaxed, comfortable setting. Kids will love running around outside at the park before the show starts, and the experience feels approachable for attendees of all experience levels.
Get there early to snag the ideal spotNeedless to say, the Summer Pops shows are popular. If you want a great sightline, get to Symphony Park early - gates open at 5 p.m., prelude acts are at 7 p.m. - so you have time to set up shop and pick the perfect spot. Bring your favorite blanket or a low-backed chair so you stay comfortable throughout the evening without blocking others' views.
Pack accordinglyUnlike other concert experiences where you're spending money on food and drinks in addition to the price of a ticket, at Summer Pops you can bring your own treats to munch on as you enjoy the show. Personally, I'd recommend something light, such as cheese and fruit. Don't forget that you can bring wine and beer too (no liquor)! Another favorite option of mine is to pop over and enjoy the patio at Reid's Fine Foods before heading to the performance. Reid's is also on site at the park, so you can purchase charcuterie, etc. without walking too far, if you didn't pack your own.
Choose the Premium Seating Club for shade and easeWhen you want the easiest Summer Pops experience from start to finish, the Premium Seating Club is your best bet. A little pricier, but that's because your ticket includes VIP parking, seating under a tent, and a boxed picnic from Reid's. It's probably the most relaxing way to experience the show, if you have it in your budget.
Beat the heatIn case you haven't noticed, Charlotte summers are hot, to say the least. But if you want to enjoy the music of the Charlotte Symphony without the added dose of humidity, the Summer Pops series has an indoor experience, too! On June 22, a DeLorean will be riding down Tryon Street for Back to the Future In Concert at Belk Theater. I repeat, a DeLorean. Soak up both the music and the sweet, sweet air conditioning.
Maximize your flexibilityIf you love the option of buying tickets at the gate but also are trying to be kind to your wallet, the GoPass is your best bet. Select the shows that appeal most to you, and save 25 percent versus if you bought tickets for individual shows.
Use your social media skills to your advantageIf you're social media savvy, you can use your love of hashtags and filters to your advantage! When you snap a great shot during a Summer Pops show, post it to your favorite social media channel and you may win a pair of tickets to an upcoming performance. Hashtag is #SummerPops2018
Also, before you go, be sure to consult these handy Summer Pops FAQs to find answers to all your park questions.
Which Summer Pops shows are you planning to check out this year? If you see me at a performance, make sure to say hi!
By Lauren Levine, guest blogger
Lauren Levine is a Charlotte-based freelance writer and co-host of The Margarita Confessionals podcast. Follow her on Twitter at @lifewithlauren1.
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?
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
2012 was a good year for the Charlotte Symphony family. We said good-bye to some individuals but welcomed many more new additions to our family. Here's twelve stories that highlight the organization's happenings in 2012.
12. First Annual Ulysses FestivalThe CSO along with N.C. Dance Theatre, Opera Carolina and other regional cultural partners participated in a month-long celebration of the arts community. The theme for the inaugural festival was The Music of Tchaikovsky.
Read More | Read More
11. Entire Artistic 'Family' Takes the StageFor the first time in Charlotte Symphony history, members of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO) and Junior Youth Orchestra (JYO), the Winterfield Elementary Youth Orchestra, the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte, and Charlotte Symphony musicians performed together on the Belk Theater stage.
Read More | Read More
10. Violins of HopeCharlotte had the great honor of hosting the North American premiere of this exhibit which restores the memory of the nameless millions, including the musicians and artists who were lost in the Holocaust. Numerous events took place throughout the city and culminated with the performance, Triumph of Hope: Violins of Hope with the Charlotte Symphony.
Read More | Read More
9. 11th Summer Pops at Symphony ParkThe CSO continued its tradition of delighting audiences with special outdoor performances at the beautiful Symphony Park including an Independence Day concert and fireworks show.
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8. Instruments for Kids Program LaunchDonated instruments are used in the symphony's extensive education and community programs, creating a lending library of musical instruments for students who don't own their own.
7. Live Image MagnificationAn All-Tchaikovsky program gave audiences the chance to view the orchestra in a brand new way via video cameras and a large screen. Patrons also voted by text message for the encore piece.
6. Martin Heads to Dallas and Donor Steps InAfter four great years, Jonathan Martin left Charlotte to become president and chief executive of the Dallas Symphony. Shortly after this announcement an anonymous donor came forth to offer financial assistance in the search for a new executive director.
Read More | Read More
5. Stickler named Interim DirectorFormer Bank of America executive Robert Stickler is our interim executive director as the orchestra seeks a new leader. Stickler has served on the orchestra's board of directors since 2008 and is a former president of the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte.
4. Wells Fargo Challenge GrantThe bank offered assistance to the organization by matching up to $100,000 of contributions to the orchestra's general operations and $100,000 of gifts to CSO programs on power2give.org.
3. World Premiere of Weinstein Digital AnimationA partnership between the CSO, the Knight Foundation and Mint Museum of Charlotte brought Matthew Weinstein's work to the city. Audiences experienced brilliant animation in sync with the hypnotic music of Ravel's Bolero.
Read More | Read More
2. Celebrating Eighty-One Years of MusicThe 81st season opened in September with "The Music of Billy Joel" in the Pops series and and an All-Beethoven program in the Classics series.
Read More | Read More
1. Christopher Warren-Green Renews ContractOur Music Director Christopher Warren-Green renewed his contract through the 2015-2016 season. His vision for the future of the organization includes artistic excellence, increased partnerships with other organizations, innovation through new programs and service to the community.
We look forward to what 2013 will bring. We thank you so much for being part of our Symphony Family!
- Trailblazer: Composer Florence B. Price
- Congratulations to our CSYO Grads!
- WATCH NOW: Meet Incoming President & CEO David Fisk
- We're committed to a more equitable future
- A peek behind the curtain with General Manager John Clapp
- How your Charlotte Symphony is giving back
- Educating from a distance
- 14 years of passion for arts education & outreach with Chris Stonnell
- A powerful message from Cherokee Nation youth: Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here)
- CSO Musicians Go Totally '80s!