Sound of Charlotte Blog
The Charlotte Symphony is… Educating! With Youth Ensemble Conductor Eric ThompsonMarch 8, 2022
The Charlotte Symphony Youth Ensemble (CSYE) is a new training ensemble designed to bridge early music education with the Intermediate and Advanced Youth Orchestras. The CSYE is an introduction to music ensemble learning and provides regular coaching by Charlotte Symphony musicians and conducting staff. >> Learn more
We recently caught up with Eric Thompson, conductor of the Charlotte Symphony's new Youth Ensemble to hear about the group's first rehearsal and what he hopes students gain from the experience.
How does the Youth Ensemble differ from the Symphony's Youth Philharmonic and Youth Symphony?
Sometimes students are discouraged by the audition process, they might not have a private teacher or access to this level of music education, but this is an ensemble that they are able to play in. In this group, the ensemble playing comes first, then the rest.
I understand the Youth Ensemble recently had its first meeting how did it go?
It was absolutely amazing! The kids are very excited, many are playing in an orchestra for the first time. The excitement was certainly there and I can't wait to see what's going to happen!
What do you hope students will take away from their first season?
From this first season, I really hope that the students start that journey -- that lifelong pursuit and interest in music. I'm certainly hoping they learn to love music as much as I do. And I want to get them plugged into the music pipeline, not only the CSO's three ensembles, but other things, like Western Regionals, All-State, arts camps, and all the things they can get into with music.
What other skills have you seen students develop from playing music?
Certainly, some of the skills that you gain from music and playing in an ensemble include a sense of community, confidence, motor skills -- but it's more than that. My brother started an El Sistema-based program in Philadelphia. Not too long after starting the program, the schools improved tremendously. The Principals thought that they were doing something like a study hall, but it was all the music. There are all these extra positive things that happen from being involved in music and an ensemble -- even without the kids knowing it! I'm really looking forward to seeing that happen.
What would you say to students who don't think orchestral music is for them?
Music is for everyone. Music is absolutely universal. I remember hearing my first live concert -- the New York Philharmonic performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in the Park. It was just so exciting! I see so many students who are not interested in orchestral music. But if they give it just a little bit of a chance, they are always excited about it. I would encourage students to give it a chance and give it a try. There are so many things out there that we can close ourselves off to because we've been told that it's not for us, or we assume that it's not for us. But when I think about all of the music that's out there from all of these different composers -- it really is just wonderful.
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