WDAV Blog

Five History-Making, Heart-Pounding Takeaways from the 2022 Tony Awards

By Carly Gillis

“Phone rings, door chimes, in comes company….” as the nominees flocked to Radio City Music Hall for the 75th annual Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Broadway Theatre last Sunday, June 12. Never short on razzle and dazzle, the American Theatre Wing’s annual awards ceremony was a triumphant celebration of not only this year’s winners, but the theater community as a whole. In honor of the first “real,” in-person Tony Awards ceremony in three years, WDAV counts down five standout moments from American theater’s biggest night.  

     

5. Angela Lansbury wins the Tony Lifetime Achievement Award

One of the most celebrated stars across many entertainment mediums, Angela Lansbury was recognized on Sunday night for her 70+ years in showbusiness with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Theatre. Unable to attend the ceremony herself, Len Cariou, who originated the title role in Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 musical Sweeney Todd opposite Lansbury’s Ms. Lovett, dedicated a touching speech to her followed by a performance from the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. The choir sang a meaningful piece from the musical Mame, which won Lansbury her first Tony Award. 

VIDEO: The Tony Awards: Act One | The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus Performs “Mame”

     

4. A British Invasion 

Mirroring the British Invasion of the 1980s and early 1990s when smash hits from West End found their way to equal Broadway success, hit productions from across the pond made their mark on this year’s Tony Awards. Six, a gender-swapped revival of Company, and The Girl From North Country all won multiple Tony Awards after dominating the Olivier Awards in 2019 (not to mention that as Company swept the awards, the legendary Patti Lupone took home her third Tony). History tends to repeat itself, and it’s safe to say this won’t be the last crop of West End musicals to make it big on Broadway. 

VIDEO: The 75th Annual Tony Awards | Six: The Musical

     

3. A Strange Loop Wins Best Musical and Best Book of Musical

Micheal R. Jackson’s groundbreaking new musical A Strange Loop follows the life of Usher, who is trying to write a musical about being a Black gay man while also dealing with what it means to embrace both Blackness and queerness in modern-day NYC. The touching work, which recently became the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama before heading to Broadway (no small feat), uses internal dialogue to progress the plot and bring the audience into Usher’s mindset. In his acceptance speech, Jackson spoke of how he wrote to help him understand himself and cope with the low periods of his life. 

VIDEO: ‘A Strange Loop’ wins best musical at the 75th Tony Awards

     

2. Jennifer Hudson Achieves EGOT Status 

When Jennifer Hudson, one of the most decorated actresses of her generation, received her first Tony Award for co-producing A Strange Loop, she achieved one of the American entertainment industry’s highest honors: the EGOT. Hudson is the second African-American woman to achieve EGOT status (meaning someone has won at least one Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) and 17th person to do so in history. In a previous interview, Hudson explained that she adopted two dogs named Oscar and Grammy before her Oscar and Grammy wins, joking that she should adopt two more dogs named Emmy and Tony to complete her set. Either way, having four dogs and an EGOT is a win in our books. 

VIDEO: Jennifer Hudson Achieves EGOT Status

     

1. North Carolina-Raised Ariana DeBose Makes a Splash as Host

Coming fresh off an Academy Award win for Stephen Spielberg’s adaptation of West Side Story, North Carolina born and raised Ariana DeBose was selected to host the 75th Tony Awards, a massive achievement in itself. However, DeBose exceeded every possible expectation, making the ceremony one for the memory books. From kicking off the show with a Broadway medley featuring numbers from Chicago and Hamilton, to dancing Fosse style with Sam Rockwell, to getting audience members involved (looking at you, Andrew Garfield), DeBose proved she truly is a triple threat ready to take the entertainment industry by storm. 

VIDEO: The 75th Annual Tony Awards | Ariana DeBose Opening Number

     

Sources and Further Reading

Moments From the 2022 Tony Awards: ‘Strange Loop,’ ‘Lehman Trilogy’ and More (New York Times)

Patti LuPone Pays Tribute to Broadway Understudies and COVID Safety Officers at 2022 Tonys (People)

How ‘A Strange Loop’ fits into Black Theater Legacies (NPR)

Angela Lansbury Receives Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre Award at 2022 Tonys(People)

     

“Omar” Triumphs, “Unholy Wars” Struggles

Pictured: Cheryse McLeod Lewis in “Omar” photo by Leigh Webber/courtesy Spoleto Festival USA.

By Lawrence Toppman

“A folk musician and a movie composer.” I heard that fragment of speech, which sounded a bit dismissive, in the lobby of the Sottile Theatre before the second performance of “Omar.” But why should the pairing of co-composers Rhiannon Giddens, who also wrote the libretto, and Michael Abels raise eyebrows?

Composers best known in their day for songs have written operas for 200 years, from Schubert through George Gershwin and up to Rufus Wainwright today. Many authors of film scores have written operas: Bernstein, Copland, Britten, Vaughan Williams, Herrmann, Saint-Saens, Walton and others. And Giddens received classical training at Oberlin College, while Abels has written for symphony orchestras. (The Charlotte Symphony played his “Global Warming” this season.)

In any case, they left virtually no skeptics unconvinced, no eyes dry and nobody’s sense of wonder unstirred with this piece based on the 1831 memoir of Omar ibn Said. They turned that brief and ambiguous book, so short on details about Omar’s passage to America and life as a slave in the Carolinas, into a universal story about a man’s search for self-understanding and refusal to give in to hatred and despair.

Omar, an educated Arabic-speaking man from West Africa, came to Charleston as a slave. His memoir tells us he received cruel treatment at the hands of his first master, ran away, ended up in a Cumberland County jail (surely no other opera contains the plea “Go to Fayetteville!”) and was bought by the relatively kind James Owen, who attempted to convert Omar to Christianity and gets much praise in the little book. Owen may have helped Omar publish his memoirs to show the world Southern slaves were well-treated, but even he probably never knew whether the slave clung to his original Islamic faith.

Writers can adapt this story however they like, and Giddens and Abels did an especially fine job. They quote from it, don’t make significant alternations – Omar doesn’t get a love interest or escape to freedom at last – yet expand it philosophically, as Omar considers his plight and his duty to Allah.

The composers give most of the simpler melodies to the two dozen members of the Spoleto Festival Chorus, who put them across clearly and emotionally. Elements of folk music do come in, as do north African percussion, and all fit. Two women, not described in the book, counsel Omar along the way: young Julie, sung beautifully by Laquita Mitchell, and mama Fatima (dignified UNC-Greensboro and UNCSA graduate Cheryse McLeod Lewis), who supplies balm.

Yet the show belongs to Jamez (pronounced Jah-MEZZ) McCorkle. Spoleto fans heard him in 2017 as a heartbreaking Lenski in “Eugene Onegin.” Here, hobbling slightly on a boot encasing a damaged ankle, he radiated a powerful if sometimes anguished physical presence and a tenor that sailed out over the big orchestra like a lighthouse beacon above a stormy sea. Though the opera rarely approaches atonality, he gets long stretches of declamatory singing, especially in Act 1, and brings each vividly to life.

He will reportedly tour with the show, which goes to Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and New York before ending up in Chapel Hill. I can hardly imagine “Omar” without him, though if the opera has a long life – and this one might – he’ll have to pass the torch.

Karim Sulayman and Coral Dolphin on kneel on stage in a position of prayer in Unholy Wars. Photo by Leigh Webber.
Karim Sulayman and Coral Dolphin in Unholy Wars; photo by Leigh Webber.

In “Unholy Wars,” a worthy idea got short-changed by awkward execution. Lebanese-American Karim Sulayman conceived the idea, assembled the music and sang most of the numbers in a plangent, flexible and sensitive tenor voice. He wanted to look at the way European composers stereotyped Middle Eastern people through opera, especially in works about the Crusades, and challenge our assumptions by giving those characters individuality.

Unfortunately, he chose no composer later than Handel, whose “Lascia ch’io pianga” (the only familiar melody) capped the 70-minute show. That decision made the production monochromatic and finally monotonous – there’s not a single fast-paced section – and simply showing victimized characters as stereotypes does little to make us care about them.

The small pit band at Dock Street Theatre played with taste and restraint, and soprano Raha Mirzadegan and baritone John Taylor Ward supported Sulayman well, especially in the longest excerpt: Monteverdi’s “Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda,” where a Christian crusader loves a Saracen, kills her unknowingly in battle, then baptizes her so she can enter a Christian heaven.

This demise, as slowed-down as the rest of the show, made Suleyman’s point long before the end of the number. Why silent dancer Coral Dolphin slowly writhed around the stage, sometimes washing herself with water and sometimes with sand, I cannot guess.

     

In Spoleto Festival Chamber Music Series, Last Minute Changes Can Be Good News

By Lawrence Toppman

Ever-restless Geoff Nuttall, wearing a brown suit and a sheepish grin, paced the Dock Street Theatre stage before concert No. 4. “I like getting emails from you,” the host of the Bank of America Chamber Music Series told the audience. “A lot of them start out in a nice way: ‘I really enjoy your chamber music programs.’ Then there’s the ‘but.’ They go on, ‘But…I really don’t like contemporary music as much as you do.’

“Well, those of you who don’t like contemporary music will be happy to hear we’re not playing Andy Akiho’s ‘The War Below,’ because Alexi Kenney got COVID, and the piece was too complicated to get another violinist on short notice.” One audience member applauded lustily. “Don’t be mean!” Nuttall said with a laugh. “The good news is, Pedja Musijevic will play C.P.E. Bach’s Sonata in C Minor instead.”

And there, in 30 seconds, you had the perennial attraction of Spoleto Festival USA’s chamber music concerts: humor, a chatty connection between musicians and listeners, spontaneity at every level and the ability to supply an internationally respected artist on short notice. Musijevic played the piano without a score, so he had the Bach in his fingertips, but he did so with only a day’s warning.

I hadn’t gone to Spoleto on a weekday for many years, and the availability of seats at both the 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. concerts surprised me. They’ve traditionally been full on weekends, but the lesser number of midweek tourists and lingering anxiety about COVID during a spike in Charleston thinned the crowd. (The festival continues through June 12.)

I wouldn’t attribute lower sales to Nuttall’s fresh and ingeniously balanced scheduling. The second program I saw exemplified his deft sonic juggling. It began with a slightly reorchestrated Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, where clarinetist Todd Palmer sailed through the prominent solos usually given to a high-pitched trumpet.

Next came two living composers. Gabriella Smith’s string-woodwind quintet “Children of the Fire” set up a quiet groove, tore it apart to the point of chaos, then set off on a dreamlike, harmonious arc. Tabea Debus turned her recorder into an anxious, fluttering bird through the intense solo “Two and a Half Minutes to Midnight” by Dani Howard.

Then Debus dropped back five centuries to skip nimbly through anonymous Renaissance variations on the tune “La Monica,” subtly abetted by theorbo player Adam Cockerham. Schumann’s Piano Quartet, anchored by gray-maned Stephen Prutsman at the keyboard, ended the program with an ecstatic performance by him and string players from the next generation.

As always, Nuttall prepared the ground for maximum enjoyment. He pointed out that Schumann required the cello to play a low C; cellist Paul Wiancko would suddenly have to re-tune to reach this note for a few moments, then quickly return to conventional tuning to play the rest of his part. Watching Wiancko fiddle frantically with the fine-tuners near the base of the cello added to the pleasure of his warm-hearted playing.

I doubt you could attend two Spoleto chamber concerts without making at least one joyful discovery. I made two.

First, I learned that a sopranino recorder – the tiniest version of that instrument, hardly larger than the fat pencils you give schoolkids learning to write – can sound like something other than steam escaping from an unattended kettle. Tabea Debus played one in the Vivaldi Recorder Concerto in C (RV 443), and the sounds ranged from a pennywhistle-like exuberance to a gentle breeze of melody.

Second, the Castalian String Quartet blew me away with a turbo-charged performance of Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 6, an agonized piece written soon after the death of his beloved sister, Fanny. (This may have been the best performance of Mendelssohn’s last major work I’ve ever heard.) Nuttall’s own St. Lawrence String Quartet played on the first three chamber concerts and left the rest of the festival to the Castalians, who played superbly together and apart when joining other ensembles.

They and Debus both reside and work in England. We’re lucky that Nuttall keeps finding new faces like these, and Spoleto Festival USA keeps footing the bills to bring them to us.
__

Featured Image: Geoff Nuttall (far left) with Owen Dalby, Paul Wiancko, Christopher Costanza, and Lesley Robertson at the Dock Street Theatre. Photo by William Struhs/courtesy of Spoleto Festival USA.

Local Pride: LGBTQIA+ Affirming Arts & Culture Events to Attend in June

This June, many Charlotte area arts and culture organizations will present special programming in celebration of LGBTQIA+ Pride Month. Take time to celebrate and reflect throughout the month with meaningful visual art, music, cinema, and more. 

Why is Pride Month celebrated in June? Distinct from LGBTQIA+ History Month, which occurs in October, Pride Month is celebrated in June in the United States in recognition of the Stonewall Uprising in June and early July of 1969. This series of riots in response to the violent New York City police raid of the Stonewall Inn was a catalyst for the modern LGBTQIA+ rights movement. Parades and memorials throughout Pride Month honor the ongoing struggle for LGBTQIA+ rights and celebrate the joy of love in all forms.

This list is not exhaustive and will be updated as events come to our attention. If your event is missing from this list, please send a detailed request to malathem@wdav.org.

     

FRIDAY, JUNE 3

Charlotte Master Chorale: Considering Matthew Shepard   |   7:30 PM   |   Tickets

Myers Park United Methodist Church

1501 Queens Rd.

Charlotte, NC 28207

“On the eve of the 20th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s tragic death, composer Craig Hella Johnson created Considering Matthew Shepard. The three-part ‘fusion oratorio’ incorporates a variety of musical styles with texts by such poets as Hildegard of Bingen, Lesléa Newman, and Michael Dennis Browne, as well as passages from Matthew Shepard’s personal journal, interviews with his parents, and newspaper reports.”

     

SUNDAY, JUNE 5

Charlotte Master Chorale: Considering Matthew Shepard   |   7:30 PM   |   Tickets

Christ Church Charlotte

1412 Providence Rd.

Charlotte, NC 28207

     

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8

Wednesday Night Live: Pride Celebration   |   5 – 9 PM   |   FREE

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

420 S. Tryon Street

Charlotte, NC 28202

“In honor of National Pride Month in June, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art invites our Charlotte communities to join us for a Wednesday Night Live Pride Celebration featuring performances by the Charlotte Pride Band.”

     

SUNDAY, JUNE 12

Classic Black Cinema Series: The Watermelon Woman   |   2 PM   |   Museum Admission

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

551 S Tryon St

Charlotte, NC 28202

“The opening sequence of ‘The Watermelon Woman’ gives us a sly look at the social state of American affairs. An African-American lesbian is filming a heterosexual wedding. The bride is white, the groom is black and the wedding party is oh, so very civilized. But look closely.”

     

FRIDAY – SATURDAY,
JUNE 24 – 25

One Voice Chorus presents Match Game: Bon Appétit  |  8:00 PM  |  Tickets

701 N. Tryon St.

Charlotte, NC 28202

“Join us for our long-awaited summer show, returning for the first time since 2019. We’re bringing back our magnificent panel of special guests from the local drag scene. And this year, we’re introducing Onya Nerves as our fabulous host!”

     

SUNDAY, JUNE 26

Party in the Park   |   1 – 5 PM   |   FREE

Mint Museum Randolph

2730 Randolph Road

Charlotte, NC 28207
“Enjoy free admission to the Mint Museum, food trucks, live music, and special programming themed around LGBTQ+ Pride Month.”

     

Five Classical Artists to Know this AANHPI Heritage Month

What does AANHPI stand for? “AANHPI” is short for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Americans, a vast, diverse group including manifold cultures, identities, and nationalities. May is AANHPI Heritage Month, observed annually to recognize the history, achievements, and influence of AANHPI individuals and cultures in the United States. Before the month comes to a close, take a moment to get to know five artists from AANHPI communities who are building lasting legacies in classical music. 

Quinn Kelsey

Though Native Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey is no stranger to the world’s most famous opera stages (in fact, he’s playing the title role in Rigoletto and starring in La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera this season), one of his recent projects hits much closer to home. Last year, Kelsey was the first classical artist to perform as part of the Hawaiʻi Opera Theatre’s Opera Kanikapila project, which matches opera singers with Hawaiian musicians from different backgrounds in a series of collaborative concerts. In an interview with Opera World, Kelsey expressed how deeply he appreciated the experience of working with ukulele virtuoso Taimane, explaining that the process “opened the door in order to access my own culture more.”

Kelsey, who is perhaps best known for his Verdi interpretations, is a recipient of the 2015 Beverly Sills Artist Award and a 2022 Opera News Award. 

Fun Fact: Kelsey’s time with the Hawaii Opera Theatre didn’t start with Opera Kanikapila! He got his start as a chorus member with the company in 1991. 

     

VIDEO: Quinn Kelsey and ukulele virtuoso Taimane perform “Deh, vieni alla finestra” as part of Opera Kanikapila
     

Miya Masaoka

Composer, musician, and sound artist Miya Masaoka has been a driving force in contemporary classical and experimental music for decades, often incorporating traditional Japanese string instruments into her work in unexpected ways. With compositional interests including “instrument building, wearable computing, and sonifying the behavior of plants, brain activity, and insect movement,” Masaoka’s wide ranging works often explore the natural world and themes of social justice. A 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, Masaoka is the director of the Sound Art MFA program at Columbia University and has been teaching at New York University and Bard College since 2002.

     

VIDEO: Miya Masaoka performs “Bones”
     

Sean Panikkar

Lauded by Opera News as “one of the stars of his generation,” Sean Panikkar is an internationally sought-after American tenor of Sri Lankan heritage. Panikkar’s recent credits include performances at the Salzburg Festival, the Festival d’Aix en Provence, the Metropolitan Opera, and a starring role as Gandhi in the Los Angeles Opera production of Satyagraha. An esteemed interpreter of contemporary music, Panikkar’s performance in the title role of Jack Perla’s Shalimar the Clown at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis was praised by audiences and critics alike (including a particularly glowing Broadway World review). 

If you listened to our live broadcast of the Charlotte Symphony performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on Saturday, you may be more familiar with Panikkar’s voice than you think! He was the tenor soloist in the concert.

Fun Fact: During Season 8 of America’s Got Talent, Panikkar was recruited to join the classical crossover group FORTE at the last minute when the show’s rules forced a personnel change. The group finished in fourth place and has since released 2 albums together.

     

VIDEO: Sean Panikkar sings Florestan’s aria, “Gott! Welch’ Dunkel hier,” from “Fidelio”

     

Reena Esmail

Sought-after composer Reena Esmail, who “works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music,” has garnered the attention of many of the world’s top ensembles in recent years – so much so that she’ll premiere 11 new works in 2022 alone. In a Q&A with the Seattle Symphony earlier this year, Esmail discussed one of her latest works, a Violin Concerto written in collaboration with Indian classical violinist Kala Ramnath, and how it speaks to her personal mission as a composer: 

“(The piece brings) Hindustani classical and Western classical musicians into direct contact with one another, because I am able to speak to both of those worlds… I think more about how I can be that space where that intersection and connection happens. How can I and my music create that place?”

Esmail is the current Swan Family Artist in Residence at the Los Angeles Master Chorale and an Artistic Director of Shastra, a nonprofit organization founded to connect musical traditions between India and the West. In addition to numerous other accolades, she has been named a 2019 United States Artist Fellow in Music and a 2017-18 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. 

     

VIDEO: The Los Angeles Master Chorale performs Reena Esmail’s “TaReKiTa”

     

Jennifer Koh

Amid the isolation of the early COVID-19 pandemic, violinist Jennifer Koh found a new way to foster togetherness in the classical music community: with the help of composers Tania León and Vijay Iyer, she recruited dozens of composers to write short violin pieces for a series she titled “Alone Together.” Beginning on April 4, 2020, Koh premiered each piece on Instagram – eventually recording all 40 works in a digital album that won Best Instrumental Solo at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards. “It was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had, to be honest,” Koh remarked in an NPR interview, “to see how much my community cared about each other, and also about the younger generation and about the art form itself.”

In addition to a thriving performance career, Koh invests her time in numerous groundbreaking projects and is a member of the Mannes School of Music faculty. She is the founder and artistic director of ARCO Collaborative, a nonprofit established in 2014 that “commissions, develops, and produces new musical works that highlight artists of color and women composers.” Learn more about Koh’s work and accomplishments at her website

     

VIDEO: Jennifer Koh and bass-baritone Davóne Tines discuss the new work Everything Rises.
     

Featured picture: Miya Masaoka plays the Laser Koto; photo credit: Lori Eanes.

     

Sources and Further Reading

Miya Masaoka Bio – Official Website

Miya Masaoka (Wikipedia)

Sean Panikkar Bio – Official Website

BWW Review: Opera Theatre of St. Louis Offers a Powerful World Premiere of SHALIMAR THE CLOWN

Quinn Kelsey Bio – Official Website

Q & A: Quinn Kelsey on Opera Kanikapila, Hawai’i Opera Theatre & Collaborating with Taimane Gardner

Reena Esmail Bio – Official Website

Highly sought-after composer Reena Esmail debuts new piece with Seattle Symphony

Q & A with Reena Esmail (Seattle Symphony)

Jennifer Koh Bio – Official Website

Isolated By Pandemic, Violinist Jennifer Koh Nurtured A New Community Online

Charlotte Symphony’s Maestro Discusses Tenure, Future Plans

[The Charlotte Observer] – After 12 years leading the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Christopher Warren-Green is taking his final bows as music director this weekend. His tenure will end with a flourish, as he conducts Beethoven’s iconic Ninth Symphony May 20-22 at Belk Theater. But Warren-Green isn’t entirely leaving. He will become conductor laureate and artistic adviser to the orchestra until his successor is named. Orchestra leaders have said they expect that decision to be made by 2024.

Read more at The Charlotte Observer

Pictured: Christopher Warren-Green; photo by Jeff Cravotta.

“Angelus,” Lupanu’s Violin Highlight A Mixed-bag Concert

by Lawrence Toppman

Three composers with uncomfortable ties to Russia and the Soviet Union came together Friday in the last guest-conducted concert of the Charlotte Symphony’s classical season.

Vladivostok-born Victoria Borisova-Ollas moved away from her homeland as a teenager in the 1980s and has spent the bulk of her life in Sweden. Dmitri Shostakovich faced condemnation and censorship through much of his career in the USSR. And Jean Sibelius spent the first 50 years of his life under Russian sway: The armies of Tsar Alexander I took control of Finland in 1809, making it an autonomous Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire until World War I.

No wonder, then, that the current invasion of Ukraine hung over the concert. Even soloist Calin Ovidiu Lupanu, who played Shostakovich’s long-suppressed Violin Concerto No. 1, prefaced his encore with the simple phrase “For peace.” He then gave us the sarabande from Bach’s Partita No. 2 for solo violin, soul-soothing music at its deepest.

Karen Kamensek, presumably the sixth music director candidate to come through this season, seemed most connected to Borisova-Ollas’ “Angelus.” The two women have known each other for years, and this U.S. premiere of the 2008 tone poem brought out all the beauty and diversity in its 22 minutes.

Kamensek told us the composer had walked around Munich, absorbing the sounds of that metropolis, and you could hear those elements in the steady pulse of her piece: church bells, birdsong, traffic, hurried conversations among scurrying people, perhaps even the rain and thunder of a quick storm. Though the music never varied much in tempo, changes in dynamics and mood kept it interesting.

Shostakovich’s concerto caught fire intermittently, usually when Lupanu played. It lasts about 36 minutes, longer than any mainstream violin concerto except Beethoven’s and Brahms’, and it needs the most incisive playing to make it come to life. Lupanu provided that, especially in the ferocious passages of the scherzo and the savage humor of the final burlesque.

The orchestra seldom did, except in a few waves of passion during the wilder sections. Most of the time it jogged along correctly, in a manner nearly free of tension and despair. Lupanu’s few minutes of Bach contained more heart than most of the orchestral passages of the concerto put together.

Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2, a self-described “confession of the soul” that put him on the world’s musical map in 1902, got somewhat more energetic treatment after the intermission. Yet even here, we heard a rendition where all the notes were in place without special insight.

Kamensek carefully observed dynamic markings, took reasonable tempos and occasionally gave us flashes of high drama. But the dark mystery, the sense of danger, the sudden rush of joy at the glorious start of the fourth movement – these were not to be found, and chills never ran up the spine.

P.S. Anyone still describing Charlotte with the embarrassing adjective “world-class” might consider this: Kamensek assuaged anxieties about “Angelus” by saying, “Don’t be afraid because it’s modern. It’s very cinematic.” No concertgoers in any world-class city on Earth would need to hear that before a premiere.

The concert repeats tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Knight Theater. You can get details here.

Pictured: Conductor Karen Kamensek; photo by: Benno Hunziker.

5 Reasons You Need to See NoteWorthy at Charlotte SHOUT!

By Mary Lathem


NoteWorthy LIVE at Charlotte SHOUT!
Wednesday, April 6 @ 7:30 p.m.
Victoria Yards in Uptown Charlotte
209 E 7th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Visit the Facebook Event


     

After a year of virtual concerts, WDAV and FAIR PLAY Music Equity Initiative’s NoteWorthy concert series is finally making its in-person debut! You’ll hear music from four visionary artists featured in NoteWorthy’s first season – Quisol, Karen Poole, and Harvey Cummings II – onstage with Charlotte icon DJ Fannie Mae and some of the region’s top classical musicians. 

We think that’s all the convincing you should need to get in the car and head to Charlotte – but if you’re still weighing your options, we’ve got you covered with five great reasons to make the trip. 

     

1. Charlotte’s music scene will come together in front of your eyes. 

When NoteWorthy was just an idea back in early 2021, WDAV and FAIR PLAY formed a shared vision for the project: “to build one Charlotte music community that values all voices.” To honor that vision, we knew that every NoteWorthy pairing needed space to meld together organically, sharing ideas with one another to create something entirely new. That meant that although the first group of artists was strong, those of us behind the scenes still weren’t sure what we were going to hear when it came time to film NoteWorthy’s first episodes.

At the shoot, any nerves we felt were immediately replaced with sheer joy. The energy in the room was electric. The music went beyond our highest hopes for what the project could be. And best of all, the artists’ pride in what they had created together was contagious. Just like that first shoot day, performing in-person at SHOUT! marks a new chapter for NoteWorthy – and this time, you have a chance to be there for the start of it all. 

     

VIDEO: Jazz composer and saxophonist Harvey Cummings II incorporates a string quartet into his striking arrangement of George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” 
     

Pictured: Lenora Cox Leggatt playing a violin on stage.
Violinist Lenora Cox Leggatt films a virtual NoteWorthy concert in March 2021. 

2. It’s FREE.

No tickets. No reservations. Just unforgettable collaborations, out in the open for the whole community to experience together. Come as you are and enjoy the music! 

3. NoteWorthy artists never stop making moves. 

One of the things we love about NoteWorthy is that every audience member gets a chance to discover something, whether it’s a budding interest in classical music or a new favorite Charlotte artist (or five). The best part? Keeping up with the musicians onstage at NoteWorthy is a gift that keeps on giving. Case in point, here’s what some of our featured artists have been up to in just the last month:

  • Limited edition CDs for Quisol’s new album Dreamworld came out (in addition to its streaming release on Bandcamp), featuring NoteWorthy classical musicians Kari Giles and Jeremy Lamb. 
     

VIDEO: A music video for Quisol’s “In the Flesh” from their new album “Dreamworld” was released in October 2021.
     

4. FAIR PLAY Music Equity Initiative is making a difference in Charlotte’s music scene.

NoteWorthy is a collaborative project between WDAV and FAIR PLAY Music Equity Initiative, a Charlotte organization that envisions “a fair Charlotte music scene where what makes us different is what makes the difference.” Through projects like NoteWorthy, Open Mic Nights, and Charlotte Community Music Hangs, FAIR PLAY works toward inclusivity in music programming and equitable platforms for all Charlotte artists every day. Meet the FAIR PLAY team and learn more about the initiative at their website

     

VIDEO: David ‘Dae-Lee’ Arrington, founding member of FAIR PLAY Music Equity Initiative, shares FAIR PLAY’s impact with PBS Charlotte.
     

5. The Charlotte SHOUT! festival fun doesn’t end with NoteWorthy. 

Art, music, food, and ideas are the pillars of Charlotte SHOUT!, a multi-week celebration of Charlotte’s creativity – and with hundreds of activities planned, you won’t have trouble checking off all four of those boxes! Before you head over to Victoria Yards on Wednesday night, spend the day learning to screen print textiles with MacFly Fresh Printing Co., browsing SHOUT!’s ArtPop Street Gallery, playing mini golf at Wells Fargo Plaza, or exploring the festival’s numerous outdoor art installations. If you’re hungry after all that excitement, grab a bite to eat at one of three mouthwatering food trucks standing by at the NoteWorthy concert: Abbott’s Frozen Custard of Tega Cay, Sandwhich Express, and Sandra Lee’s Country Kitchen

For a full list of activities, check out the Charlotte SHOUT! website.

     

VIDEO: A visual recap of Charlotte SHOUT! 2019
     

NoteWorthy is made possible, in part, with funding from ASC, Charlotte Center City Partners, & a HUG Grant awarded from Lending Tree and Charlotte is Creative.