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North Carolina Symphony Blog
Welcome to the North Carolina Symphony blog! We encourage you to share and exchange ideas, stories and commentary in this space. You'll also hear from Grant Llewellyn, William Henry Curry, and Joan Landry, as well as our musicians and members of the staff. We hope our blog will be both entertaining and enlightening and that you will visit us often and contribute your thoughts.
298 Entries
The brilliant conductor Lorin Maazel passed away July 13 at the age of 84.  North Carolina Symphony Resident Conductor William Henry Curry shared this remembrance.

I am greatly moved by the passing of Lorin Maazel.

I first saw Maazel when the New Philharmonia was on an American tour and came to my home town of Pittsburgh. I was 16. I was used to seeing the rather restrained and idiosyncratic William Steinberg conduct. He was the longtime Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony, and in failing health.  In comparison, Maazel was a cyclone of youthful energy and commitment. For me, his intensity and control of the orchestra that evening was the most stunning concert experience of my teen years.

The program that night was truly "his":

Sibelius 7th symphony
Bartok Miraculous Mandarin Suite
Intermission
Delius Paris
Strauss Till Eulenspiegel

An absolutely unforgettable concert! Sitting directly behind him in the second row I felt electric shock waves from him in the climax of the Sibelius where the strings suddenly play alone. After the concert, as I was waiting on the elevator at the parking garage, I surprised myself and all my friends by suddenly throwing the printed program to the floor and shouting, "THAT is the standard! Otherwise, you shouldn't bother!"  After that, I resolved that, whatever it took, I was going to be a conductor. [More]
17 days ago | |
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The North Carolina Symphony will celebrate America's 238th birthday with patriotic favorites and high-spirited classics in its popular free Independence Day concerts July 1 in Fayetteville, July 3 in Garner, and July 4 in Cary

The programs, which will be conducted by North Carolina Symphony Associate Conductor David Glover, will include "Servicemen on Parade," "Hoedown" from Copland's "Rodeo," and "Duke Ellington Fantasy." The concert also includes John Philip Sousa's "Washington Post March," Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," and much more. 

Each patriotic concert will, of course, include the Star Spangled Banner.  North Carolina Symphony 2014-15 Scholar-in-Residence Will Robin recently wrote a fascinating piece on How the National Anthem Has Unfurled in the New York Times.

These free Independence Day concerts are part of the North Carolina Symphony's "Concerts in Your Community" series. Click here for more information about these outdoor concerts that highlight the role of the Symphony as the state's orchestra.
31 days ago | |
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As the fiscal year draws to a close, our Philanthropy department has been asking our donors to remember to make a year-end gift.  One of our appeals was for them to be a bit "EXTRAordinary" and give more this year, Dr. and Mrs. James W. Winslow, from Tarboro, N.C., replied: "We are glad to be a bit extraordinary this year--the Symphony is extraordinary all the time." Thanks to generous North Carolinians, the Symphony is able to continue to be extraordinary through comprehensive statewide service and artistic excellence.
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1 month ago | |
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As folks drive the highways and byways of North Carolina they see a very visible reminder of the North Carolina Symphony -- our 28-foot insulated truck with the orchestra's photo on both sides and a beautiful violin on the back door -- purchased through a generous gift from State Employees' Credit Union (SECU) members via the SECU Foundation.   The truck carries instruments and gear as the Symphony travels 18,000 miles each year to North Carolina students and communities. 
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2 months ago | |
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If you are a first-time visitor to a North Carolina Symphony Rex Healthcare Summerfest concert at Cary's Booth Amphitheatre, or even if you are a Summerfest veteran, it may help to peruse these FAQs.   They answer some of the more common questions about Summerfest.

Opening night on Saturday, May 24, features three pieces performed by the orchestra with the addition of citizen musicians.  Every year, we love hosting "Play With the Pros," which nearly doubles the orchestra's size for those pieces.  We will also feature saxophonist Dylan Ward, winner of the 2013 Kathleen Price and Joseph M. Bryan Youth Concerto Competition, and after intermission, Beethoven's famous 5th Symphony!  Click here for more concert information.

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2 months ago | |
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We are within view of the end of another fantastic Classical season and we are closing it in a larger-than-life way -- with Mahler's Symphony No. 3, which is one of the most epic musical statements ever made.  In it, he writes about nature, love, heaven, humanity...it's not overstating it to say that he truly has tried to encompass the world and the human condition in this one piece of music.

And, Mahler's orchestra matches that epic statement in its sheer size and variety -- he calls for four flutes, all doubling on piccolo; four oboes, including English horn; five clarinets, including bass clarinet and two E-flat clarinets; four bassoons, including contrabassoon; eight horns; four trumpets; four trombones; one tuba; two timpanists and five percussionists; two harps; and a larger than normal string section to hold their own among all of those winds, brass and percussion.

This weekend is your chance to hear a thrilling example of what an orchestra can really do.  We'll have the Maserati of ensembles on stage and the sound is sure to be magnificent. We'll be joined by the women of the North Carolina Master Chorale and the wonderful mezzo-soprano Susan Platts.  You'll also hear the sweet voices of the Raleigh Boychoir from their perch high above the orchestra, in one of the upper boxes -- that location is specified by Mahler in the score. 
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2 months ago | |
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In her program with the North Carolina Symphony, titled "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda," legendary Broadway star Patti LuPone performs songs from hit Broadway musicals which she could have played, should have played, did play and will play. The musicals include Hair; Bye, Bye Birdie; Funny Girl; West Side Story and Peter Pan and, of course, from her Tony Award-winning performances in Evita and Gypsy.

In recent interviews, Ms. LuPone talks about how she is looking forward to performing with the North Carolina Symphony.  When she spoke with the News & Observer's Roy Dicks, she also shared memories about the last time she appeared in Raleigh in 1976.  During a chat this week with WPTF's Brian Freeman, she talked about Broadway, singing, and about being in the Carolinas. 

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3 months ago | |
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We sat down with North Carolina Symphony Music Director Grant Llewellyn after rehearsal today to talk about his collaboration with guest artist Rhiannon Giddens and arranger Aaron Grad.  That work will culminate in performances this weekend that feature the singing of the Grammy Award-winning Giddens and special guests the Carolina Chocolate drops, along with Grad's orchestrations of three songs by Black Broadway pioneer Will Marion Cook, and orchestral works by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and William Grant Still.

How did this weekend's concerts come about?
As is the case with so many successful artistic collaborations, it came about from already making music and being in the concert hall on another project, called the Gathering (pictured at left), a few years ago. 

That gets the juices flowing and ideas start springing forth.  And, when you have Rhiannon Giddens and Aaron Grad in town, they play off each other.  Then, you throw me into the mix and the orchestra, and the sky's sort of the limit, although it took a bit of working out... 

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4 months ago | |
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One of the powerful things about pairing a mime company and a symphony orchestra is that both demonstrate universal languages, and the Magic Circle Mime Co. is here this weekend to make some noise (albeit quietly) with the North Carolina Symphony.

Company founder Doug MacIntyre and fellow mime Sara Mountjoy-Pepka are looking forward to Saturday's NCS Kids productions of Music, Noise & Silence at 1 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. in Meymandi Concert Hall in downtown Raleigh.  This is their third collaboration with the North Carolina Symphony.

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4 months ago | |
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One of the wonderful things about the North Carolina Symphony is that it speaks so many different musical languages. In the space of just one week, the orchestra will have performed Swan Lake, a Children's concert with Magic Circle Mime Co. (mime being, of course an unspoken language), and tonight's concert with the legendary Irish group, The Chieftains.

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4 months ago | |
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