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The CSO Demonstrates Resilience Through "CSO On Demand"

Nov 6, 2020

By Cecilia Whalen, CVNC 

Like many performing arts organizations, the Charlotte Symphony's 20-21 season has been forced out of the theater and into the unknown. In response to the times; the orchestra has recently adapted with an array of virtual musical offerings to sustain itself and its viewers throughout the uncertain days of the pandemic. In addition to a few socially distanced outdoor concerts, the orchestra's current programs include "#CSOatHome" a collection of free audio streams of past performances, listening guides, and more, available through its website as well as "CSO On Demand," a program of newly recorded concerts streamed with ticket purchase. "CSO On Demand," a four-concert series which began streaming on Oct. 23, premiered its second digital concert featuring the music of John Williams, Aaron Copland, and Mark O'Connor (among many others) this past week on Nov. 6.

Recorded in Charlotte's Knight Theater, the orchestra presented just the strings (for obvious reasons), a pianist, and a percussionist, all of whom were masked and spaced across the stage. Directed by resident conductor Christopher James Lees, the orchestra played ten brief, light pieces, including Copland's "Hoe Down" from Rodeo, two Irish tunes by Percy Grainger, and a John Williams trilogy of themes from Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Jurassic Park.

Production quality of the concert was high, both sound-wise and visually, as multiple viewing angles were provided through smooth transitions, and the sound was clear (at least as heard through my personal laptop). The CSO strings were bright and playful in "Hoe Down," triumphant in the Williams trilogy, and full of pluck (both literally and figuratively) in Leroy Anderson's "Jazz Pizzicato." In "Appalachia Waltz," a piece by former CSO composer-in-residence Mark O'Connor, the orchestra demonstrated soft and legato sounds inspired by the mountain region.

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