Sound of Charlotte Blog
The Cherokee Chamber Singers have a powerful message to share: Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here). Nestled in an all-American Classical Series concert on Jan. 31 and Feb.1, here's everything that you need to know about this powerful work and our collaboration.
Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here) sprang from the minds and hearts of students of Cherokee Middle and High Schools under the guidance of the Cherokee Chamber Singers. Composed in 2018 by contemporary American composer (and NC native) William Brittelle, Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here) is sung in the Cherokee language and musically documents the past, present, and future of the Cherokee people who have lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina for several thousand years.
The Cherokee Chamber Singers vocal group was formed in 2016 as the advanced vocal group from the Performing Arts Department at Cherokee High School, the Native American high school in the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, NC (also known as the Cherokee Indian Reservation). Under the direction of Michael Yannette, the singers' unique and varied repertoire offers audiences both traditional and modern Native American music, as well as choral, classical, musical theater, and pop/rock genres.
"I have been a teacher for 33 years and have never been part of something with the impact of this work," Yannette said. "The audience reaction has been overwhelmingly positive; I thought people might be disturbed by it in Raleigh, but it had universal acceptance. They were open to what these kids had to say: 'We're still here, and we're always going to be.'"
This concert serves as a continuation of the Symphony's commitment to use music to both explore issues of systematic injustice, and to look to a more equitable future for all people. Under the baton of Music Director Christopher Warren-Green, the orchestra will perform this powerful work that celebrates the creativity and cultural heritage of the original citizens of North Carolina, but also amplifies their voices.
"Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here) is not only an artistically excellent work that shines a light on North Carolina music and composers, but it also gives voice to a group of people in our home state who feel forgotten," Michelle Hamilton, Charlotte Symphony Interim President and CEO, said. "The Charlotte Symphony is proud to share the stage with these young singers and provide a platform for their voices."
Hear their message: Join us on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at Belk Theater. Also on the program: Copland's Appalachian Spring and Barber's Adagio for Strings.
We asked CSO musicians to "turn back time"... and, boy, did they deliver! With its distinctive fashion, slang, and music, the 1980s was definitely the raddest decade in history. Take a blast to the past with these old-school cool photos, and then set your Swatch watch for Jan. 24 & 25 because we're going Totally '80s at Knight Theater!
Violist Ning ZhaoNing immigrated to the U.S. to further his music education at Kent State University in 1986. This photo was taken during his first year. With this white jacket and sneaker combo, Ning shows that he definitely knows as much about fashion as he does about music - like the back of his hand.
Acting Assistant Principal Double Bassist Jason McNeelJason may have been young in the '80s, but he definitely had his finger on the pop culture pulse. On Halloween of 1988, Jason was repping one of the most iconic characters of the decade: Alf. He definitely proved his love for the extraterrestrial by featuring him in his outfit not once, but twice.
Evidently, I loved Alf! ~ Jason McNeel
Violist Nancy Marsh LevineIf there is one thing the '80s is known for, it's volume. This photo from Nancy's wedding in 1989 definitely exemplifies that trend. The amount of sleeve on her dress is beyond impressive. Modern-day bridal fashion really isn't what it used to be!
Violist Ellen FerdonAs hard as it may be to believe, this is not a still from a John Hughes film. This photo was taken in 1982 of Ellen and Jeff Ferdon, just before their wedding. As impressive as the fashion and hair are in this photo, the only thing we can focus on is the adoring look they're sharing.
Double Bassist Jeffrey FerdonThis photo from 1984 shows Jeff graduating from University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Jeff claims he "had zero interest in clothes at the time," but judging by that sleek white button-up shirt and voguish clogs, we don't believe him at all. Finding inspiration from MTV's hottest music videos, Jeff's hair evolution included both the infamous mullet and even a foot-long rat tail. We can only hope to see a revival of one of those looks on stage!
Break out those Members Only jackets, stirrup pants, and shoulder pads, and hold on to your hairspray -- We're going Totally '80s, Jan. 24 & 25 at Knight Theater.
Emmy-winning composer Gary Fry returns this season for Magic of Christmas & The Singing Christmas Tree, Dec. 13-22 at Knight Theater. We sat down with Gary to find out if his beloved carol written for the Queen City, "Christmastime in Charlotte," will sport a new verse, when he begins listening to Christmas music every year, and more.
Do you have any holiday traditions?
I think our family traditions are pretty normal. We gather for family dinner on Christmas Eve, and my wife gives all our children (and now, grandchildren) Christmas pajamas before bedtime, and we read the Clement Moore poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and the Nativity story from the Gospel of Luke. Christmas Day is a time for spending time with family and opening gifts!
Last year, you wrote a new Christmas carol for us, "Christmastime in Charlotte." Will there be any changes or additions to the carol this year?
From the beginning, the idea was to have one verse of lyrics that changed each year to reflect things that were happening currently in Charlotte, or something special related to the Magic of Christmas program that particular year. You'll just have to come to the concert to find out what the "topical lyrics" are this year!
Which part of the concert are you most excited for?
It's all exciting to me especially the fact that this year joining our wonderful Charlotte Symphony are Carolina Voices' The Singing Christmas Tree, the Charlotte Children's Choir, and Grey Seal Puppets. It will all make for a very fresh and exciting new sound and look - filled with Christmas spirit!
What's your favorite Christmas carol?
Well, I must say I especially like "O Holy Night" as a traditional carol, and the music from the movie The Polar Express is wonderful as far as newer Christmas songs go. And, hearing "Christmastime in Charlotte" is always a wonderful thrill for me as a composer.
If you were a sugar cookie, what shape would you be?
Ha! A Christmas cookie shaped like a harp or a bell-- something musical!-- would be appropriate for me.
A potentially controversial question: At what time of the year do you start listening to Christmas music?
Since I work on so much Christmas music, I listen to it literally year-round. I'm already listening to Christmas music for 2020!
Joyful. Heartwarming. Pure family fun. Make new family memories to cherish for years to come at Magic of Christmas & The Singing Christmas Tree, Dec. 13-22 at Knight Theater.
|Taylor Maness is currently a senior at UNCC, and in the last year and a half she has interned at five Charlotte arts organizations, including your Charlotte Symphony. We were blown away by her ambition and dedication, so we asked her why she is voting FOR the quarter-cent sales tax referendum on Nov. 5. Find out below.|
The Priceless Cost of Arts & Culture
If you've stepped outside, turned on your TV, or listened to your radio these past few weeks, you've heard about the possible quarter cent sales tax referendum that would support the arts, parks, and education in Mecklenburg County.
With tensions rising and Election Day quickly approaching, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to remember why we proposed this sales tax in the first place. Our arts organizations have been benefitting our community and the individuals within it, and now it's time that we give back to these organizations.
I understand that increasing a tax is no small ask, but, ultimately, I feel it's well worth it for reasons more profound that we're neglecting to see. These organizations strengthen our economy, educate us, and increase our overall quality of life.
Arts and cultural organizations have contributed significantly to economic growth in Mecklenburg County. Due to our vast array of cultural institutions, many tourists flock to Charlotte, generating $359 million in annual economic activity and employing over 11,180 people in our community.
These organizations also bridge gaps between cultural and political divide. We live in a world polarized by personal belief, and Charlotte is no different. One of my favorite things about art is that it is an outlet for individuals to express themselves in a way that is both comprehensive and peaceful.
On top of everything else, the arts improve our quality of life. It's easy to become consumed by work, school, and our other seemly endless string of responsibilities. We need to be excited, challenged, and fascinated. Some of my fondest memories of being in Charlotte revolve around me strolling through an art exhibit, going to a Broadway musical, or experiencing a live symphony performance. These are the occasions that have made my time here special. It saddens me to think that the opportunity to experience these magical moments may be taken away.
Art affects our lives in more ways than we know. We are fortunate to have these organizations that fill out lives with culture and innovation, and we should all want them to continue to thrive. This is why I encourage everyone to vote in favor of this tax referendum. We are voting on so much more than just simple sales tax; we are voting on the creative future of our community.
This blog was written by Taylor Maness. All opinions are her own.
The Holidays are just around the corner, which means the return of time-honored traditions and the making of new ones. From acrobatics above the orchestra to snow in the theater, check out these five exciting experiences that you can have, only with your CSO.
1. Snow in the Knight TheaterYou may already be familiar with the CSO's annual Magic of Christmas, but did you know that it snows in the theater following the concert? Featuring a visit from Santa, audience sing-alongs and your favorite holiday music, this longstanding Charlotte tradition combines this year with Carolina Voices' The Singing Christmas Tree December 13-21.
2. Acrobatics above the orchestraWhen the circus comes to town, they don't mess around. Cirque de Noel on December 28 at Belk Theater will include stunning aerial feats that will wow the whole family.
3. Dancing on stage for New Year's EveThe party has moved to the Belk Theater this year to accommodate more room for the post-concert festivities. Swing into the New Year with style with Gershwin's famous Rhapsody in Blue, followed by champagne, desserts, a live jazz band, and a countdown to midnight.
4. Halleluja!Handel's Messiah returns this year by popular demand. The CSO will perform this beautiful, dramatic work featuring the Hallelujah Chorus with the Charlotte Master Chorale and four soloists on December 6 & 7 at Knight Theater.
5. Watch Kevin get left Home AlonePart of the CSO's Movie Series, the orchestra will perform the soundtrack to this delightful holiday classic live in sync with the film projected on a large screen above orchestra. Don't miss it on November 29 at Belk Theater. Read more
Violinist Jenny Topilow has a special connection to our upcoming Stars, Stripes and Sousa concert on Nov. 15 & 16: her father is the guest conductor! Find out in our interview below what it's like for Jenny to see her dad on the podium, and how Carl Topilow creates his patriotic clarinet for this concert.
Jenny, what's it like to have your father on the podium as your conductor? Have you worked together like this before?
JT: My Dad was my primary conductor when I was 18-22 years old. During that time, I wouldn't say we "worked" together as much as I was a student learning from him as a teacher, which he's great at. He did give me a B in conducting class [at the Cleveland Institute of Music], though (he was probably being generous!).
Since becoming a member of the Charlotte Symphony, I have worked with my Dad many times. Often it's just us playing duets (with him on the clarinet), but also in [an orchestral setting] a few times, too.
I'm very proud of my dad and his amazing career, and it is special when he is on the podium, but he's very cognizant about not treating me any differently when we are in a professional setting. Maybe he'll point out that I'm his kid and he's excited to have me in the band, but then it's down to business. As he says "I've worked with hundreds of violinists, and you're definitely one of them."
Carl and Jenny, what inspired you to choose a career in music?
CT: My love of music and my desire to pass this passion on to other people as teacher and performer was my inspiration to make this a full-time profession.
JT: I started violin at age three after seeing Itzhak Perlman on Sesame Street (a surprisingly common story!). It's been simply amazing to share the stage with him recently.
My dad being a conductor and my mom being a ballet dancer, they basically had the 16th sized violin waiting for me in the closet. I was pretty talented and practiced pretty diligently, but as a professional musician and a teacher at a conservatory, my dad knows just how hard it is to have a successful career in music, and never pushed me to go into it. He didn't exactly stand in my way, but he made sure I knew how competitive it is.
When I won my job with the CSO, he was the first person I called and he was the one person who cried happy tears with me, because he really understands how rare it is to win a job and how hard musicians work to prepare for auditions.
Is anyone else in your family musical?
CT: My brother, Arthur, is an excellent jazz pianist. He's also a much-respected hematologist/oncologist. My younger daughter Emily enjoyed performing as violinist with her college orchestra for 4 years and is now playing with a community orchestra in Cleveland. I recently appeared as guest conductor with that orchestra, and it was very rewarding to perform together!
JT: Like my dad said, my Uncle is a fantastic jazz pianist and my little sister plays the violin. My mom was a ballet dancer with Joffrey and the Metropolitan Opera in NYC before I was born and is a great lover of classical music (especially opera), and my stepmom, Shirley, is a professional tap dancer and also started the Cleveland Pops.
Carl, this kind of patriotic concert is one of your specialties. How did that come to be?
CT: These concerts do so much to instill a sense of pride and privilege to be living in the United States. There are many portions of the concert that are very moving, but I strive to create a balance of solemn and upbeat selections. It's always great to observe the reaction of the audience when they are touched by particular piece.
We hear you have a very patriotic clarinet... What's the story behind that?
CT: I have red, white, blue, and green clarinets, and can assemble parts of each to come up with multicolored clarinets. I always play the piccolo obbligato to the Stars and Stripes along with the orchestra piccolo players on a red, white, and blue clarinet.
See Jenny and Carl on stage together at Stars, Stripes and Sousa, November 15 & 16 at Knight Theater. Read more
We're trying something a little different this season. On October 15, a quartet of CSO musicians are going "Off the Rails" with a performance of contemporary music at Snug Harbor in Plaza Midwood. We caught up with two members of the quartet, Assistant Concertmaster Kari Giles and Acting Assistant Principal violist Kirsten Swanson, to get a sneak peek of the program.
|Assistant Concertmaster Kari Giles|
KG: I've never been fortunate to play a concert quite like Off the Rails! I have always been passionate about new music and putting together creative programs. It is so fun to search and discover new composers, bring their works to life, and then share them with an audience for the first time. [So] having the freedom to create a program and literally being told to "get wild" and "out there" was thrilling. I knew immediately that I wanted to partner with Jenny Topilow and Kirsten Swanson. On top of being amazing musicians, they are dear friends, and we have a long history of playing chamber music together. Jeremy Lamb has also been involved in many local new music collaborations and is a composer himself, so I knew he would be perfect addition
KS: I have been very fortunate to have spent a lot of my career playing contemporary music, and I absolutely love the creativity of 20th and 21st Century string quartet writing. I did a similarly programmed concert last year, but what I especially love about these pieces is that the composers play around with the Western musical tradition of a steady, toe-tappable, rhythm and sends the listener's inward pulse "off the rails."
What kind of music is on the program? How was it selected?
KG: The concert will open with John Adams' "John's Book of Alleged Dances." When it was suggested by my husband Mark Lewis, who is also a composer, I instantly loved it and knew we had to program it. Next on the program is "Carrot Revolution" by young and upcoming composer Gabriella Smith. The words "Rock Out" are literally marked into all of our parts in the opening, and the piece is filled with fiddle, blues, and rock riffs. Listen closely to hear her homage to The Who! A friend recommended I check out our third featured composer, Pamela Z. As an artist and composer, Pamela Z creates eclectic works using voice, live electronic processing and sampled sound. I don't want to give too much away, so I will just say that this work is dreamy and super cool. We have a few more surprises as well, so I hope everyone will come out ready to hear some new music they've never heard before!
|Acting Assistant Principal violist Kirsten Swanson|
KS: The works on the program toy with our sense of pulse and rhythm, one of the most essential elements of music. In the Adams work, he has the quartet playing with a pre-recorded track played on a player piano. The track is sort of our metronome, except it's not quite steady (or is it?), which is a trip for us as players and for the audience! Adams is making such fun of the idea of what makes a dance a dance and how we each frame our sense of pulse. I'll be so curious to hear what the audience feels throughout these.
Which do you think is the coolest or most fun piece on the program?
KG: The part of the program that is most personal to me is a movement of the Adams work called "Judah to Ocean." Adams is from San Francisco, and this movement is a musical picture of the N Judah train. It also happens to be one of the trains I took quite frequently when I was a student at the San Francisco Conservatory! Lots of good memories there.
KS: Carrot Revolution is totally the most fun! Anything that says "Rock Out" is going to be my favorite piece!
What kind of music do you listen to for fun?
KG: Currently my go-to musical companions are Prince, Rhianna, Tori Amos, and The Cure. I am also really going through a traditional Irish phase, and Dervish is just magical. My all-time favorite band, though, is Jump Little Children, who I went to school with when I was at NCSA.
KS: Oh man. My playlist is embarrassing. Last week I listened to Lizzo (butchered the lyrics); Raffi because he has a beautiful voice and the lyrics still get me as an adult (I mean! Robin in the rain/what a saucy fellow); Anderson .Paak because he's just amazing; and the oldies...because my parents did, and it's the music I listened to growing up.
What do you think people need to know about the concert before they show up?
KG: Just put on your coolest (or uncoolest) outfit, grab a drink at the bar, and have fun!
CSO Off the Rails will rock Snug Harbor on October 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online in advance or at the door.
We're thrilled to announce the return of "Charlotte Symphony in Performance" on WDAV Classical 89.9!
Tune in from 3-5 p.m. on Saturdays, August 24 through October 12, to enjoy (or relive!) four popular concerts from 2017 and 2018 in their entirety. View the schedule below to plan out an afternoon with your Charlotte Symphony playing Gershwin, Bernstein, Mozart, and Mahler.
Air dates: Saturday, August 24, 3 p.m.
Saturday, September 21, 3 p.m.
Christopher Warren-Green, conductor
Charlotte Symphony Chorus
GERSHWIN An American in Paris
COPLAND Old American Songs
MARK O'CONNOR Americana Symphony
Air dates: Saturday, August 31, 3 p.m.
Saturday, September 28, 3 p.m.
Christopher Warren-Green, conductor
Jennifer Johnson Cano, mezzo-soprano
BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 1, "Jeremiah"
BERNSTEIN Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront
BERNSTEIN Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Mozart Exsultate Jubilate
Air dates: Saturday, September 7, 3 p.m.
Saturday, October 5, 3 p.m.
Christopher Warren-Green, conductor
Amanda Forsythe, soprano
MOZART Overture to The Magic Flute
HAYDN Symphony No. 65
MOZART Exsultate, jubilate
HAYDN Symphony No. 45
Mahler Symphony No. 2
Air dates: Saturday, September 14, 3 p.m.
Saturday, Saturday, October 12, 3 p.m.
The 2016-17 Classical series finale featured just one work; and it was big. More than 250 musicians joined forces to perform Mahler's Second Symphony. A magnificent work that explores the full range of human emotion and our shared quest for understanding. Experience wonder, doubt, triumph and faith in this epic, life-affirming journey
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 (in C Minor), "Resurrection"
Christopher Warren-Green, conductor
Charlotte Symphony Chorus
Kathleen Kim, soprano
Maya Lahyani, mezzo-soprano
This concert titled "Mahler Symphony No. 2" was performed at Belk Theater, May 12-13, 2017.Read more
This season, we're thrilled to have two outstanding women conductors lead the orchestra in concerts featuring masterworks by Beethoven and Bach. Find out how these women broke the "Glass Podium" and became trailblazers in the industry.
JoAnn Falletta: Classical Woman of the Year
JoAnn Falletta is the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center and Music Advisor to the Hawaii Symphony. This year, she was named by Performance Today Classical Women of the Year. Falletta joins us April 3-5, 2020 to guest conduct Beethoven's Pastoral at Knight Theater.
Here's how Falletta is making waves in the industry:
- Upon her appointment as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, she became the first woman to lead a major American ensemble. She has since been credited with bringing the Philharmonic to a new level of national and international prominence.
- In 2018, she made history as the first American woman conductor to lead an orchestra at the prestigious Beethoven Easter Festival.
- She has a discography of 115 titles, 2 of which won GRAMMY® Awards and 10 received nominations.
- She is acclaimed by The Washington Post as having "Toscanini's tight control over ensemble, Walter's affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski's gutsy showmanship, and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein."
- She has guest conducted over a 100 orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.
- She has introduced over 500 works by American composers, including well over 100 world premieres.
Jeannette Sorrell brings fire to Baroque
GRAMMY®-winning conductor and harpsichordist Jeannette Sorrell is recognized internationally as one of today's most compelling interpreters of Baroque and Classical repertoire. She joins us April 17-18, 2020 to guest conduct Bach Brandenburg Concertos at Knight Theater.
What makes Sorrell extraordinary?
- She is the founder and artistic director of the renowned period ensemble APOLLO'S FIRE, with which has one of the largest audiences of any baroque orchestra in North America and sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall, London's BBC Proms, Madrid's Royal Theatre, the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), and more.
- She, with APOLLO'S FIRE, has achieved 8 bestsellers on the Billboard classical chart and a 2019 GRAMMY®-winner.
- She studied conducting under Leonard Bernstein and Roger Norrington; and studied harpsichord with pioneer and pillar of the early music movement Gustav Leonhardt.
- She won both First Prize and the Audience Choice Award in the Spivey International Harpsichord Competition, competing against over 70 harpsichordists from Europe, Israel, the U.S., and the Soviet Union.
- She has attracted national attention and awards for her creative programming, which has brought many new listeners to early music.
- In demand with topnotch symphony orchestras and period groups alike, Sorrell has led the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Handel & Haydn Society, and more.
See these women in action at Knight Theater on April 3-5, 2020 for Beethoven's Pastoral and April 17-18, 2020 for Bach Brandenburg Concertos. Read more
It is with a heavy heart that we share former Charlotte Symphony cellist Dr. Samuel Craig Davis passed away on July 2, 2019. Dr. Davis was a musician, CMS educator, and trailblazer as one of the first African Americans to integrate into the Symphony in 1963. Current Charlotte Symphony musicians gathered at his funeral service on July 6 at First Baptist Church-West and played Bach's Air as he was laid to rest.
Dr. Davis's grandson, Derrick Eure, shares the main details of his life's work and how his perseverance made an impact on the symphony, and the greater Charlotte community.
Dr. Samuel Craig Davis's, life was highly dedicated to music education. As an African American Orchestra teacher in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools System in the early 1960's, Dr. Davis was already a trail blazer for introducing classical music into the world of a segregated Charlotte at the junior high and high school level. It wasn't until 1963, on his third attempt auditioning for the symphony, that himself and lifelong friend, Leroy Sellers (also a Violin teacher with CMS) were selected to be apart of the symphony under the direction of Richard Cormier. Following Cormier as Director, Jacques Browman would direct the two friends for the next 13 years.
During that time, Dr. Davis went on to foster a plethora of friendships with symphony friends, further crossing the racial divide with the common love for the music. Quartets were formed, and so many recitals took place as the symphony played in the home my grandfather masterfully built. In fact, Aurdrey Browman, wife of the director Jacques Bowman, even gave a piano recital, with notable members of the symphony performing, time and time again as he opened the doors to his home.
Let it never be about your skin, or where you're from or where you studied. Instead, let it always be about the music.
Names of famous opera singers like Dorothy Manor (NYC), & Gloria Davey even shared in the beautiful parties my grandfather put on, because he truly understood what magic could come when people no longer saw difference, but instead - simply, the music. That, is what I believe Dr. Samuel C. Davis's life work has shown us us all that we sometimes forget even still today. Let it never be about your skin, or where you're from or where you studied. Instead, let it always be about the music.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Davis's loved ones during this difficult time.
|Older Posts »|
- A powerful message from Cherokee Nation youth: Si Otsedoha (We're Still Here)
- CSO Musicians Go Totally '80s!
- Meet "Christmastime in Charlotte" composer, Gary Fry
- UNCC student shares why she's voting FOR the quarter-cent sales tax referendum
- 5 Exciting holiday experiences with your CSO this season
- Father and daughter share the stage at Stars, Stripes and Sousa
- Sneak peek: 'Off the Rails' with Kari Giles and Kirsten Swanson
- CSO concerts return to WDAV Classical 89.9
- Meet the women taking the classical world (and your CSO) by storm
- Dr. Samuel C. Davis - Always About the Music