Founded in 1932, the North Carolina Symphony is a vital and honored component of North Carolina's cultural life. Its 175 performances annually are greeted with enthusiasm throughout the state in communities large and small, in concert halls, auditoriums, gymnasiums and outdoor settings.

Based in spectacular Meymandi Concert Hall at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, the state's capital city, and an outdoor summer venue at Regency Park in nearby Cary, NC, the orchestra has also appeared twice at Carnegie Hall in New York and once each at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and Orchestra Hall in Chicago.

Under the gifted artistic leadership of Music Director Grant Llewellyn, the orchestra has grown in stature and sophistication. His heralded arrival in 2004 brought audiences to their feet and his inspired performances create a palpable excitement at North Carolina Symphony concerts across the state. A powerful communicator, Llewellyn has invigorated musicians to achieve ever greater levels of passion and eloquence in their playing.

The orchestra enjoys an increasing reputation for its innovative programming and collaborative projects. In 2005-06 a four-concert series, "Crossing the Atlantic," examined the cultural and musical similarities and differences between America and Britain, featuring the work of composers such as Robin Holloway, James MacMillan, Edgar Meyer and Jennifer Higdon. In 2007-08, the orchestra collaborated with noted conductor John Mauceri, as well as actors and a director from the North Carolina School of the Arts to present a ground-breaking performance of Shostakovich's film score for the 1964 Soviet film version of Hamlet. A project entitled "Postcards from North Carolina" featured commissioned works by six noted North Carolina composers, including Stephen Jaffe and Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Ward, in celebration of the organization's 75th anniversary in 2006-07. "Blue Skies and Red Earth" showcased the richness of traditional music of the state in all its forms, including gospel, blues, mountain and Native American. The 2008-09 season included a collaboration with the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University's El Greco to Velazquez: Art During the Reign of Philip II exhibition that featured a commissioned work as well as chamber music concerts based on the concepts embodied in the art works.

Devoted to bringing music to the entire state of North Carolina, one of the Symphony's proudest achievements is its extensive education program, unrivaled by any US orchestra. Approximately 40 of the orchestra's 175 concerts annually are performed free for school children throughout the state and are part of the schools' music education curriculum. In addition, the North Carolina Symphony stages the annual Youth Concerto Competition, honors an outstanding music educator, sponsors the Triangle Youth Philharmonic, holds regular Instrument Zoos for budding young musicians, offers an "Ensembles in the Schools" program and master classes and presents many other education programs for both adults and young people.

The North Carolina Symphony can be heard monthly on National Public Radio's WUNC 91.5 in North Carolina. Additionally, the Symphony has released five recordings, the most recent of which, Sketches 2004-05, features Music Director Grant Llewellyn conducting the orchestra in works by Rameau, Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten and North Carolina Symphony musician and composer Terry Mizesko. Two discs are underway with BIS Records, including a collection of American contemporary works, two of which feature saxophone sensation Branford Marsalis. Some of the top soloists in the world, such as Yo-Yo Ma, André Watts, Leila Josefowicz, Lang Lang, Joshua Bell, Midori, Vladimir Feltsman, Gil Shaham, Denyce Graves and Lynn Harrell have performed with the North Carolina Symphony.
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Simeon - 22 Dec 2009