Sound of Charlotte Blog
We sat down with longtime Charlotte Symphony Concertmaster Calin Lupanu and Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra Concertmaster Victor Chu, a senior at Providence Day School. Here, they dish about this important role, from onstage pressures to having the best seat in the house!
Calin, you've had this job for over 15 years. What's the best part about being Concertmaster?
Calin Lupanu: The responsibility that comes with the job. Personally, I love it. I embrace pressure. I also love interacting with my colleagues, getting to play solos, and working with great conductors and soloists.
And the best part for you, Victor? You're much newer to this.
Victor Chu: To be honest, I'm a pretty quiet guy. But this process -- becoming a more confident leader -- has been the best part. I still remember the first time I had to tune with Conductor Christopher James Lees. In addition to walking me through his process, he was fixing my posture and teaching me how to address the different people in the orchestra. The icing on the cake? The concertmaster seat has a great view!
Can you recall a moment of terror on stage?
Any memorable faux pas?
CL: One happened when our Music Director, Christopher Warren-Green, auditioned for the CSO job. During the dress rehearsal, with an audience in the hall, my bridge (the little wooden thing that holds the strings) collapsed! I managed to give the violin to my stand partner, and took a colleague's violin and kept playing. But...it's virtually impossible to have success, without experiencing failure.
VC: There was one time that the first violin section kept messing up and I had just nailed it on the last run-through. Mr. Lees asked me to play it as an example. Everyone went silent. I started playing and it was suddenly SO OUT OF TUNE. To this day, I still don't know how that could have happened.
What do you do right before a concert? Any rituals?
CL: I try to focus and relax. I try to get ready mentally and enjoy it at the same time.
VC: Mostly I think, "You're not walking weird. It just feels weird because people will be watching." Even basic things like walking just don't feel the same when so many strangers are staring at you!
Calin, other than practicing and mastering the violin technique, what advice do you have for Victor?
CL: Moving forward always and most importantly, learning from your experiences.
Victor, what are your plans? Pursuing the stage as a career?
VC: My current plan is to explore Computer Science this fall in college. But don't worry, I'll still spend my fair share of time in the practice room!
See Victor and Calin perform together at the Charlotte Symphony and Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra Side-by-Side on May 4!
Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
This action-packed program is female fronted, with Jessica Morel conducting and China Forbes leading the revolutionary Pink Martini.
Need some suggestions? Have a glass of wine at Sophia's Lounge or dinner at 204 North before the show. Enjoy a signature cocktail at the concert venue - ask for the Pretty in Pink at the bar. Afterward, indulge your sweet tooth at Amélie's Uptown.
Meet the leading ladies
In 1995, China Forbes was plucked from New York City by Harvard classmate Thomas Lauderdale to sing with Pink Martini, and has since written many of Pink Martini's most beloved songs, including "Sympathique," "Clementine," "Let's Never Stop Falling in Love," and "Over the Valley." Her original song "Hey Eugene" is the title track of Pink Martini's third album and many of her songs can also be heard on television and film.
Jessica Morel is currently serving in her third season as the Assistant Conductor for the Winston-Salem Symphony. In this role she conducts nearly all Pops concerts, Family Discovery concerts, Educational concerts, Symphony Unbound concerts, and serves as a cover conductor for all Classics concerts. In addition to conducting, Morel plays an active role in programming for the Winston-Salem Symphony, gives pre-concert lectures, and is committed to her role in community outreach. Read more
China Forbes (vocals) was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she graduated cum laude from Harvard and was awarded the Jonathan Levy Prize for acting. She appeared in New York regional theatre and off-off Broadway productions, earning her Equity card alongside future stars of stage and screen such as Norm Lewis, Peter Jacobson and Rainn Wilson.
Soon after college China formed and sang with her first band. They regularly performed at NYC clubs CBGB's Gallery, Mercury Lounge and Brownies. Her first solo album Love Handle was released in 1995 and she was chosen to sing "Ordinary Girl," the theme song to the TV show Clueless.
In 1995, she was plucked from New York City by Harvard classmate Thomas Lauderdale to sing with Pink Martini, and has since written many of Pink Martini's most beloved songs with Lauderdale, including "Sympathique," "Lilly," "Clementine," "Let's Never Stop Falling in Love," "Over the Valley" and "A Snowglobe Christmas," which can be heard on Pink Martini's holiday album Joy to the World. Her original song "Hey Eugene" is the title track of Pink Martini's third album and many of her songs can also be heard on television and film. She sang "Qué Será Será" over the opening and closing credits of Jane Campion's film In the Cut and her original song "The Northern Line" appears at the end of sister Maya Forbes' directorial debut Infinitely Polar Bear, which was released in 2015 by Sony Pictures Classics.
With Pink Martini, Forbes has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Later with Jools Holland. She has performed songs in over twenty languages and has sung duets with Michael Feinstein, Jimmy Scott, Georges Moustaki, Henri Salvador, Saori Yuki, Faith Prince, Carol Channing and Rufus Wainwright among others. She has performed in venues from Carnegie Hall to Red Rocks, the Sydney Opera House to the Grand Rex in Paris. She released her second solo album '78 on Heinz Records in 2008, a collection of autobiographical folk-rock songs.
Jessica Morel is currently serving in her third season as the Assistant Conductor for the Winston-Salem Symphony. In this role she conducts nearly all Pops concerts, Family Discovery concerts, Educational concerts, Symphony Unbound concerts, and serves as a cover conductor for all Classics concerts. During the 2018-2019 season, Morel will make her debut conducting on a Classics subscription concert and will lead a majority of the Winston-Salem Symphony's performances. In addition to conducting, Morel plays an active role in programming for the Winston-Salem Symphony, gives pre-concert lectures, and is committed to her role in community outreach.
As a guest conductor, Jessica Morel has been invited to conduct the Charlotte Symphony, the Amarillo Symphony, the Abilene Philharmonic, and has served as a cover conductor for the Memphis and Portland Symphony Orchestras. She has also conducted at many summer music festivals, including the Eastern Music Festival, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy, the Atlantic Music Festival, and the Hot Springs Music Festival, where she was selected to be the festival's Assistant Conductor in 2015. Internationally, Morel has conducted the Budafok Dohnanyi Orchestra in Budapest, the North Czech Philharmonic, and the Lyatoshinsky Ensemble in Kiev. In 2014 she was chosen as one of three competition winners at the International Conductors' Workshop and Competition in Atlanta.
A passionate music educator, Jessica Morel serves as the Music Director of the Winston-Salem Symphony Youth Orchestras Program, which has seen significant growth under her leadership. Prior to coming to Winston-Salem, Morel served as the Visiting Director of Orchestras at the University of Evansville, Indiana, and also worked with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, where she conducted their Lollipops concerts for kids and assisted on all Classics concerts. A native of Los Angeles, Jessica Morel received her Bachelors degree in flute from Indiana University and her Masters degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She recently completed her Doctorate at the University of North Texas, where she studied orchestral conducting with David Itkin and Clay Couturiaux.
Concertmaster Calin Lupanu plays on an 1857 Pierre Silvestre violin. He traveled to many cities - at least 10 - and says he considered about 70 different instruments before coming across the one he would eventually own.
"I knew the moment that I saw it that it was a special violin," says Lupanu. "It was in mint condition and was part of a lady's estate -- she had been a professional violinist and it hadn't been played in over 30 years." He bought the violin from John Montgomery Violins in Raleigh.
Prior to his purchase of the Silvestre, Calin says he performed on a loaner instrument. And, he says, he still has his violin from Romania, where he's originally from, which he plays at outdoor venues.
But he saves the Silvestre for the mainstage. Hear Calin play on his beloved instrument when we feature him, May 17-19 as a soloist on Ravel's Tzigane at Ravel Bolero.
Whether, like us, it's a 20-year holiday tradition for you, or you're attending for the first time with your family, Magic of Christmas is sure to be full of memorable fun! Make it even better with these need-to-know tips to help enhance your experience.
This year, we're shaking things up a bit and holding performances at Knight Theater - that's the theater on the Levine Center for the Arts campus at 430 S. Tryon St.
Know the players.
Sneak Peek the Program here.
Get to know our composer, Gary Fry.
You know when you just CAN NOT get a song out of your head? We promise that our NEW Christmas carol written just for us this holiday season will do just that. Emmy-winning composer Gary Fry, who's new to the area (he moved here from Chicago to be closer to his family), joins us for Magic this season. Get to know Gary.
For these performances, Francene Marie Morris join us as host and narrator for 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Join the chorus!
Of course the Charlotte Symphony Chorus will make the event merry. But we know in your heart of hearts that you want to join in the fun! The chorus will lead YOU and your kin in singalongs, including the world premiere of "Christmastime in Charlotte." Pro chorister tip: Drink lots of hot tea and cover up your throat when outdoors!
Come early - or stay after - to snap family photos with Santa!
The Jolly man himself will join us on and off stage. Look for the man in red before the concert and afterwards. Charlotte Symphony backdrops and Santa's pals will make for great holiday card shots! Tag @cltsymphony and use the hashtag #CSOmagic.
And by that, we mean wear the ugliest sweater or fanciest dress you can find. In other words, come as you are - our musicians will be festive and they always love looking out to see our smashing audience. Finally, dress wamly, beacuse IT WILL SNOW in the theater!
Each day leading up to the first of 10 performances of Magic of Christmas, we'll spotlight one of the many magical elements of this year's program. Check back each day for the next installment!
Our stage is set, and we're ready to kick off the first of ten performances of Magic of Christmas! We can't wait to see you tonight.
Some sounds of the season are quintessentially Christmas particularly in Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride. And no one knows that better than Acting Principal Trumpet Alex Wilborn, who performs the notorious horse whinny. Get a sneak peek of his rendition here.
Magic of Christmas includes all of your favorite holiday tunes, festive singalongs, and a brand new Christmas carol written just for Charlotte. In THREE days, we kick off the first of ten performances! Click here for a sneak peek of the program.
Did you know that there are 10 GUARANTEED snowfalls in Charlotte? At each Magic of Christmas, snow will fall in Knight Theater using four snow cannons positioned around the theater.
December 9 is World Chorus Day, and there are just six more days until the Charlotte Symphony Chorus joins us for carols and singalongs at Magic of Christmas!
Just eight days until we kick off this year's ALL NEW Magic of Christmas program! Take a look at how this year's performance stacks up.
Santa's bringing some friends to Magic of Christmas in just nine days! Don't forget to capture the memories with a photo when you join us for Charlotte's favorite holiday tradition!
Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees will take the podium to kick off this year's Magic of Christmas in ten days! Hear a message from him here.
Whether you know him as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, or Santa, don't forget to visit the jolly man himself at each Magic of Christmas performance!
Get to know "Christmastime in Charlotte" composer Gary Fry.
At this year's Magic of Christmas, new Charlottean and Emmy-winning composer Gary Fry has written a Christmas carol fit for the Queen City! Get to know Gary below.
Tell us briefly about how you came to be a composer.
I grew up in Iowa, and my parents were farmers. I loved music from an early age and had public school music training with wonderful teachers who encouraged me to write for high school chorus and jazz band. Following my time at the University of Miami (Florida)--where I met more great mentors in choral music and composition--I graduated with a double major in music composition and music education. I taught middle school general music in New Jersey briefly, began to write arrangements for music publishers, and in a couple of years got a staff position at a commercial music agency in Chicago. I've now written thousands of commercials and began to write arrangements for the Chicago Symphony Christmas program, which I did for 19 years. I still write a lot of music, especially for Christmas!
What's your favorite thing about writing music? Do you prefer composing Christmas music?
Three things. First, the "aha" moment when you think about a concept that really makes a piece work. Second, the moment when you hear musicians bring that concept to life for the first time; and third, when you see an audience respond to that concept the way you had hoped.
And yes, I love writing Christmas music! It's such a joyful season, filled with family and tradition and generosity and good will.
How do you gather inspiration when beginning to look at a piece like "Christmastime in Charlotte?"
Well, it's easy to be inspired when you consider all the things I just mentioned--and then, of course, there's the city of Charlotte itself and the things that make it special and the Christmas activities and traditions that make it unique.
You're from Chicago. What have you learned about Charlotte along this process?
It's been terrific for me as a new resident of the area to become acquainted with the city: learning the landmarks like Independence Square, and street names like Tryon and Trade, and nicknames like "The Queen City," and discovering the things that folks here commonly do at Christmastime (especially without the sometimes frigid weather I knew in Chicago). It's all been great fun, and though I definitely still feel like a newcomer, but that does give me a fresh view of just how dynamic and full of energy the city of Charlotte is.
How does this type of collaboration work?/How much input does the conductor have?
This is very much a collaboration! My first contact was with Mary Deissler, who has a wonderful vision of what the all-new Magic of Christmas concerts could be for the orchestra and for the city. And then there's Christopher James Lees--what a marvelous conductor and person, whose personality on the podium will really infuse the program with enthusiasm and joy and fun. And in seeking input from both of them, I actually wrote two songs with completely different melodies and musical frameworks, so that they could consider them both and choose the one they thought would work best for the orchestra and the program. And we're still fleshing out all the lyrics, with plenty of back-and-forth about that. They are both invaluable resources to a composer!
How many songs have you written total?
That depends on just what you consider a song! If mini-songs like commercial jingles count, that number would be well into the thousands. But if you're talking full-length, original songs with verses and refrains and so forth, it's in the hundreds. And as an arranger, I've written hundreds more arrangements of existing songs. So ... a lot!
What makes a holiday tune "catchy," so you can't get it out of your head?
With a background in commercial jingles that are supposed to do exactly that, it boils down to simplicity, sing-ability, and repetition. The trick is to do that without being boring! I think it's also the way the words marry to the melody, and hopefully a little different sort of twist that sets the tune apart and gives it real identity.
For "Christmastime in Charlotte," my hope is that by the end of the very first performance, the audience is singing along!
Hear this world premiere Christmas carol at Magic of Christmas, December 14-23 at Knight Theater.
Holst's The Planets is colorful, emotional, and full of movement exactly what you'd expect from a trip through the galaxies and beyond. Written between 1914-1916, The Planets represents all the known planets and their corresponding astrological characters. Learn more about the movements from Classic FM below.
1. Mars, the Bringer of WarAngry and ominous, Holst's first movement represents the Roman god of war, Mars. The craggy rhythms and pulsing drum beats give the music a military feel.
2. Venus, the Bringer of PeaceThe cool blue Venus follows angry red Mars. The music is slower and beautifully eerie, complete with relaxing tunes played on harps and flutes, shimmering strings, and ethereal solo violin passages to call to mind the Roman goddess.
3. Mercury, the Winged MessengerFlighty and fast, the lively Mercury is quick and powerful in equal measure. The high-pitched harp, flute, and glockenspiel tunes hop, skip, and jump throughout the suite's short duration usually just over four minutes.
4. Jupiter, the Bringer of JollityAs the round-faced cheery uncle of all the planets, and king of the gods, Jupiter is impressive and majestic. The swelling brass and slow waltzing strings are met with moments of poignant beauty in the glorious tune now known as 'I Vow to Thee My Country'.
5. Saturn, the Bringer of Old AgeA favourite movement of Holst's, Saturn is quite a shift from the positive music heard in Jupiter. The opening is slow and almost unsettling, until the music expands into a heavy march.
6. Uranus, the MagicianStarting with four brassy notes, Uranus shifts from heavy timpani blows to a boisterous gallop. The full orchestra shows the impressive power of this icy planet, represented in Greek mythology as the god of the sky.
7. Neptune, the MysticWhen Holst scored this work as a piece for piano duet, he used an organ to represent this planet the piano, he thought, couldn't portray a planet as mysterious as Neptune. Beautiful harp and string melodies slide over each other, until Holst brings out the crowning glory: a mystical choir, which gives the music an other-worldly quality.
Listen on Spotify now!:
|Older Posts »|
- Side-by-Side: Concertmasters
- Make it a Girls Night Out!
- Meet China Forbes of Pink Martini
- Meet Jessica Morel, conductor
- Concertmaster Calin Lupanu chats about his 1857 Pierre Silvestre violin
- Making the Most of Magic of Christmas
- 12 Days of Magic
- Get to Know Composer Gary Fry
- Magic of Christmas 2018
- A guide to Holst's The Planets