Amanda Preston

Villa Keith and Davidson’s Orchestra Win Top Prizes

WDAV’s mission is, in part, to make high-quality classical music accessible to the community. Lucky for us, and for our friends in the area, we’re not the only ones working tirelessly to make sure that classical music flourishes in our region. Dr. Tara Villa Keith, and her students in the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra, work diligently week over week to prepare challenging repertoire and perform these difficult and inspiring programs several times a year. Their work adds to the student experience at Davidson College – not just for the 50 student musicians in the ensemble, but for all Davidson students who get to see their peers perform at an exceedingly high level. Since their performances are open to the public, our community can also enjoy the fruits of their labor and talent.

In fact, the quality of these concerts is so high that the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra (DCSO) won the 2018 American Prize in Orchestral Performance in the college orchestra division. The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit, competitions unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings. The American Prize has attracted hundreds of qualified contestants from all fifty states, has awarded more than $50,000 in prizes in all categories since 2010, and is awarded annually in many areas of the performing arts.

Tara Villa Keith headshot

Tara Villa Keith

In addition, Dr. Keith placed second for The American Prize’s Vytautas Marijosius Award for Orchestral Programming for the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra’s 2016-17 season for which she received a special judge’s citation for “remarkable growth in the programming of major repertoire.” Dr. Keith also won third place for The American Prize in Conducting, College/University Orchestra Division with a special judges’ citation for “exceptional improvement in ensemble performance.”

Davidson’s Associate Dean for Academic Administration Leslie Marsicano notes “I have always been proud that Davidson College music ensembles are open to all interested students rather than just limited to music majors. This prize is confirmation that under the direction of our talented and committed faculty, our students achieve the highest level of performance.”

Regarding the honor, Dr. Keith also credits her students as the real winners, noting “this award is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and relentless spirit of the student musicians. Even though most of the students aren’t music majors, their talent is, obviously, strong enough to make them competitive on a national level.” She adds, “it is an honor to be able to create and share music with the Davidson College students and community, and I’m looking forward to seeing where our orchestral journeys take us in the upcoming seasons!”

You can join the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra for their season opening performance, Celtic Adventure, on Thursday, September 27th on the Davidson College campus. The ensemble will be joined by internationally-recognized artists Jamie Laval and Rosemary Warren-Green. Tickets available here.

Watch the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra take you on a tour of the solar system with music of Gustav Holst.

5 Reasons to Check Out WDAV’s Small Batch Concert Season Finale

WDAV’s popular Small Batch Concert Series at Free Range Brewing in Charlotte returns Tuesday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m. to bring together great people, great music, and great beer! Here are five reasons you should get your tickets to the last performance of the concert series season:

  1. You’ll get to witness several world premieres!

Since we’re collaborating with the Charlotte New Music Festival, you’ll get the chance to witness several world premieres, including a piece by the winner of the 3rd annual Charlotte New Music & Beo String Quartet National Composition Competition: Kyle Sanna.

 

Kyle Sanna

Pictured: Composer Kyle Sanna.

 

  1. The Beo String Quartet is performing!

All members are insanely talented and super passionate about new music, which is sure to make this concert a home run.

 

  1. Free Range is brewing a new beer specifically for this event!

We all know Free Range Brewing (FRB) has really great beer. Be the first to try a new brew from FRB’s Jason Alexander crafted with this special Small Batch concert in mind!

 

Jason Alexander

Pictured: Jason Alexander, brewer, from Free Range Brewing Co.

 

  1. Complete your collection!

We’re bringing back glasses from earlier in the season this time around, so come snag one if you’ve missed a performance! We’ll also be selling our Small Batch Concert Series t-shirts and bringing a bunch of new LP’s for you to snatch up.

Glasses from Small Batch Concert Series.

  1. Free Range Brewing is opening just for us!

Normally, our friends at Free Range get a night off on Tuesdays, but they were so psyched about this opportunity, they decided to open just for us! Doors open at 6pm, so get there early to try a few of their great beers or grab some kombucha for a nice refresh! As it says behind their taps, “let your taste buds roam.”

 

Pictured: "Let your taste buds roam" over bar taps.

 

Sounds good, right? A $10 ticket gets you a pint glass of your choice and a pint of the new brew! Get yours now!

Not enticed yet? Check out our last two Top 5 Lists on our blog here!

See you Tuesday, June 26th at 7:30 p.m. at Free Range!

5 More Reasons to Check Out WDAV’s Small Batch Concert Series

WDAV’s Small Batch Concert Series returns to bring together great people, great music, and great beer! Here are five reasons you should check out our next performance:

 

  1. Quartet Amí attacks Bartók!

Bartók is more than Rasputin’s cheeky bat sidekick in Anastasia. He’s a prolific composer who has written some super intense chamber music. Quartet Amí doesn’t hold back when performing – you’ll see.

 

 

  1. Gotta catch ’em all! 

WDAV’s producing special pint glasses for each Small Batch concert. Be sure to come to our next gig to add to your collection.

 

New Small Batch pint glasses filled with beer.

 

  1. Meet some new classical music fans.

Small Batch is a great opportunity to make friends with people who share your passion for classical music. All while drinking some seriously good beer.

 

Crowd at Small Batch concert in February 2018.

 

  1. You can treat yourself to a post-concert dessert.

Free Range Brewing is right near Amélie’s French Bakery in NoDa. Nosh on a salted caramel brownie or grab some macarons to go.

Assorted colors of macarons.

 

  1. TWO-FOR-ONE DEAL.

Folks who come out to our next Small Batch Concert will receive a voucher to claim two free tickets to WDAV’s upcoming Young Chamber Musicians Competition on Sunday, April 23 at 3pm at Davidson College. Four incredible ensembles compete to win prizes, and you even get to help award a $2,000 prize by voting for your fave group!

 

Quartet Bellezza performing at the Young Chamber Musicians Competition finals in the Duke Family Performance Hall on the campus of Davidson college.

 

Interested? $10 tickets that get you a limited-edition pint glass and a beer from Free Range are still available.

Need more reasons to attend? Check out our last Top 5 List

See you Wednesday, April 18th at 7:30 p.m. at Free Range!

A Simple but Powerful Message: Girls Rock

For prominent composers like Clara Schumman, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Louise Farrenc, composing beautiful pieces was only half the battle in becoming successful, influential figures in the classical music canon. They also had to deal with the social inequality faced by women in music and in a variety of other professions, making their musical accomplishments even more commendable.

If these women were alive today, perhaps they’d have an easier time making names for themselves- they’re no longer required to compose whilst in rib-squeezing girdles, they can exercise their right to vote, they can get musical education just like their male contemporaries. But women still face obstacles as musicians, no matter the genre.

Fortunately, there are a handful of organizations and institutions working to combat this gender gap. Locally, Girls Rock Charlotte (GRC) works “to educate and empower girls through music, creativity, and collaboration.” The annual summer camps and workshops are part of a national organization with the same goals, the Girls Rock Camp Alliance.

At these camps, campers (most of whom have never played a musical instrument), form a 5-person band, write an original song together, learn how to play their instrument and practice all week for a community concert. New campers learn basic chords, melodies and rhythms while returning campers become increasingly sophisticated with their original songs and arrangements. The campers practice all week, learning to collaborate across diverse identities as they perfect their timing and performance.

Girls Rock Charlotte Executive Director Kelly Finley notes, “they cheer each other on and grow evermore confident as they prepare to rock the stage. In between practices and instrument instruction, campers attend workshops on leadership, confidence-building, gender equality and more. It’s a powerful mix! By the night of the concert they are in true rock star form – impressing their families and delighting the crowd. These Girls Rock Charlotte concerts are open to the community and they are the perfect, family-friendly musical event sure to inspire!”

 

The aforementioned female composers and their contemporaries would surely appreciate the development of such a program – one that arms young women not only with musical skill, but self-confidence, empowerment, and role models. In fact, they might go so far as to tell the girls to rock on.

You can learn more about Girls Rock Charlotte, and how to get involved, at their website here.

Top 5 Reasons to Check Out WDAV’s Small Batch Concert Series

WDAV’s Small Batch Concert Series brings together great people, great music, and great beer! Here are the top five reasons you should check out our next performance:

  1. You get to hear the Tesla Quartet!

This ensemble is top-notch. They’re fun, energetic, and innovative. You’ll want to hear chamber music the way they do chamber music.

 

  1. It’s affordable. 

In fact, it’s free! But, a $10 ticket gets you a sweet Small Batch pint glass and a tasty beer from Free Range. You can also pick up a Small Batch t-shirt produced right here in Charlotte.

Small Batch Concert Series T-shirt

  1. It’s your chance to stock up on LP’s.

WDAV opens our vault and brings down some of our vinyl collection for folks to peruse. Albums can be yours for only $1 each or 6 for $5.

Boxes of records.

 

  1. The beer is amazing. 

We’re so lucky to have Free Range Brewing as our co-host for this series. They know their beer. Their flagship brew, Cream of the Crop, is mighty delicious, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on tap there.

Small Batch Concert Series commemorative pint glass.

 

  1. Your social media accounts will thank you.

This concert is highly-Instagrammable. Your Facebook posts will get tons of likes. Your Snaps will be enviable. We even set up a photo booth and send the shots straight to your email so you can capture a happy moment with your beau and your pooch.

Small Batch attendees with their dog.

 

Interested? $10 tickets that get you a limited-edition pint glass and a beer from Free Range are still available.

See you Sunday at 4 p.m. at Free Range!

Q & A: Music starts from silence

By Amanda Preston

I first heard of Time for Three a few years back, constantly finding myself stumbling on their music and collaborations. As a violist, string players who are innovating have always been exciting for me. The group performed on PBS with the Indianapolis Symphony and I found my jaw on the floor more than once.

All the members of Time for Three are classically trained. Violinist Nicolas “Nick” Kendall and double-bassist Ranaan Meyer met at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and violinist Charles Yang is a Julliard graduate.

When I heard that they were headed to Davidson to perform with the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra (DCSO) as part of the C. Shaw Smith Artists Series, I was thrilled that the students at Davidson College would get the chance to work with such vibrant musicians.

Late one afternoon, slightly before catching a train, Nick Kendall, of the energetic string group, took a moment to talk to me about music, creativity, and life.

Could you give us a sense of how your classical training has affected your work with Time for Three? From performing to composing/arranging to improvisation, how has it shaped your music making?

Each one of us has a similar background in how we came to music from a very early age. All three of us learned through the core classical canon, but each of us had a natural desire to make music for people walking on the street and people who maybe wouldn’t listen to the same kind of music that we were learning. We wanted to connect with them in some way musically, and that often meant a lot of improvisation, playing in bands, etc. It took a lot of effort and challenge to learn these great classical masterworks, but at the same time, it was amazing to have other musical experiences as kids that were so “in the moment.” It wasn’t until later in life that those two worlds fused together and didn’t need to be separated. And that’s at the center of Time for Three.

Nick Kendall

Nick Kendall/www.tf3.com

“Classical Crossover” is starting to gain some footing in the performance world in Charlotte. Last season, Steve Hackman led the Brahms vs. Radiohead program on the Charlotte Symphony’s Altsounds series, and this year Mark O’Connor is the Charlotte Symphony’s first Artist-in-Residence. Why do you think it’s important for people to be exposed to the “crossover” work you guys are doing?

I think if you talk to any of us who are interested in this new area of music, the word “crossover” is kind of nasty word. I think it’s a term that brings a lot of clarity to what the actual “genre” might be, but in a lot of ways, the music is genre-less. It’s this rich, experimental area. There are a whole slew of young artists who share something in common: the way we make music starts from silence. Silence is our canvas. After that, it’s creating experiences where there may be familiar things you can hang your hat on, but also an expectation that you go on a bit of journey, a place where you learn. There’s such a world that’s open to that. With the ability for people to curate their own content online, this allows for artists not to be confined to genres but to exist in their own way with whatever they want to do.

A lot of your work is very genre-bending and far beyond just a merge of classical and pop. Do you just follow your ear and make music that’s interesting to you, or do you take another approach?

For Time for Three, it’s evolving in a very exciting way. Before Charles, we were definitely a group that spent a lot of time building these compositions that took the familiar and fused it with core repertoire from classical music that we love. It’s kind of like we show up at the bar or something and are telling people how awesome Brahms is, and the emotional reason why the horns go through those juicy chord progressions, playing that music is just sick! There’s nothing like it out there. We spent a lot of time doing that, but now with Charles, we’re adding another component to our group: singing. Besides being an amazing violinist, Charles is an amazing singer. Ranaan and I sung in choir before and have had ear training, but we didn’t realize we actually had voices. We’re adding to our sound now, and with that, we’re head on into writing original songs. We’ll be playing a lot of new stuff on the road; none of the new material is released except for our live shows. We’re kind of shifting from being a mash-up band to a more original band moving forward. 

What makes you the most excited about working with young orchestras, like your upcoming performance with the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra?

Each one of us has been through so much, so many challenges, but the reward is that we keep learning and are open to new experiences. Whenever we have the opportunity to inspire or encourage younger musicians to work hard and to continue working to find their expressive path, we take that platform very seriously. It’s kind of like we’re all on this one big train, and Time for Three is just a couple cars ahead looking back at all the younger people and saying “keep working hard because it’s really awesome up front.” We do our thing, but that’s not to say that people should play or do exactly what we do. But all the ingredients that go into how we found our thing are things that people can understand. That means intense work at your craft and perspective on yourself as a person. There’s nothing worse than an artist that takes [himself or herself] way too seriously and doesn’t know how to live. And honestly, when you work with younger orchestra, sometimes the end result is so much more exciting and memorable experience for everybody than with a professional group because everybody’s putting so much into it. And for us, that’s something we really look forward to…that’s irreplaceable. 

As you know, most young classical musicians are taught to play the notes on the music and not encouraged to improvise and explore their instrument and creativity in a new way. What advice would you give young musicians or those who are new to improvisation to help them get started?

Improvisation is a tool, not a result. It’s a tool you use to say something. We believe very strongly that when you’re playing core repertoire, there’s an element of improvisation that needs to be applied because you’re flexing in the moment. The more reactionary you are, it becomes alive. There’s nothing worse than playing a masterwork straight down the line, and in tempo, one tempo only, it’s just boring. The best is when it comes alive. But it can also be used when you’re just making things up on the spot. It’s also important to remember that if you know how to communicate as a human being, you are improvising all the time. Every human being has the capacity to improvise, the only difference between speaking and improvising and playing on your instrument is that you’re speaking more than you’re playing. So all you have to do is practice. You have to practice improvising. You practice knowing the tools of your instrument to be the conduit for being expressive in your own way. 

If you played a different instrument than you do now, what would it be and why?

Kazoo! No, I’m just kidding. I love the viola; I was just speaking to one of my best friends who is an amazing violist and we both agreed that the viola is just such a warm instrument, that tenor voice. It’s also, when you’re playing in an ensemble, the tenor line…you actually have lot of control, a lot of people don’t realize this. You have so much inner voicing — the gears of a work are so much in the hands of the violist. We’ve actually been talking about adding the viola to part of our sound in Time for Three. We’re working on a future where Charles and I both switch between violin and viola. The viola is awesome.

I’ve also always been attracted to drumming. I used to be a part of a bucket band when I was a teenager. My mom is from Japan, and the traditional Taiko drumming was something I experienced as a very young child. The rhythm of life, the heartbeat of the world…. I think rhythm has always drawn me in.

If you’re interested in learning more about Time for Three, visit their website or consider supporting the group and the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra by attending their performance on September 23rd, 2017 at Davidson College.

Amanda Preston is the Marketing Manager at WDAV. In addition to her marketing responsibilities, she also manages WDAV’s Young Chamber Musicians Competition and works on community outreach for the station. Amanda is a Davidson alumna, a graduate student at UNC-Charlotte, and plays viola in the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra.