Charlotte Symphony music director signs extensionMay 8, 2015
If you passed Belk Theater at 6:15 Thursday and heard a roar from inside, here's why: Board chairman Brian Cromwell announced Christopher Warren-Green will return for another three years as the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra's music director. He's now staying until at least 2019.
Cromwell hugged the maestro as he said so, and it was a day for hugs all around. President Robert Stickler said the CSO should finish with a surplus for the second straight year: It has surpassed goals for the Classics and Pops series with three concerts left this week, and foundation giving doubled to $400,000. (The final 2014-15 figures will be in by August.)
Kurt Riecken, the new principal bassist, gave a taste of the last program with excerpts from Dvorak's New World Symphony. (Listen to the basses in the fourth movement and learn where John Williams got inspiration for "Jaws.")
The whole event was a family affair, from Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra players delivering Ravel's String Quartet above the lobby hubbub to affiliate groups holding meet-and-greets all around them.
Though the audience reacted with joyful surprise to Warren-Green's re-enlistment, symphony insiders weren't surprised.
"When I came in 2010, I (decided) to stay until this orchestra is where it needs to be for Charlotte," Warren-Green had said earlier. "I felt something could really be built here, and Rome wasn't built in a day.
"It's common to sign an evergreen contract and renew one year at a time. But I signed for another three years to send that message loud and clear. I love this orchestra, and I love this city."
Looking back over five years, Warren-Green found highlights in certain raise-the-bar performances, such as this season's tremendous rendition of Richard Strauss' "Ein Heldenleben."
He's proud of new appointments in the orchestra, "the fact that the string section can and does project like crazy now," and innovations such as the KnightSounds concerts, which attract a different range of ages and income levels to classical music.
Warren-Green expects to spend four more years "doing more of the same: forming traditions, keeping the string sound and the wind sound I'm trying to create. It's a question of raising the standard all the time.
"The main thing is to enable and inspire musicians. If an orchestra is frightened to death of making a mistake, they'll never make great music. If you can inspire them, you'll get the kind of (playing) that evokes emotions in the audience's hearts."
Article at Charlotte Observer