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Fall 2020 

New Faces of the Charlotte Symphony

Please welcome our newest members! We gave each of them a chance to introduce themselves:

Hi everyone! My name is Judson Baines and I’m the new Assistant Principal Bassist of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. I’m an NC native and I’m sincerely grateful to be back in my home state. I received my Bachelor of Music from the University of North Texas, and pursued graduate studies at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University before winning my position with the orchestra.  


Even though I am from NC, I never really had the chance to explore Charlotte. I’m definitely looking forward to hanging out in the different neighborhoods in the city and hiking/ running/ biking the trails in the area. Of course with any new place it’s always really fun to figure out where good spots are to eat and grab drinks as well. 

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Some quick facts about me: I’m an avid electric bassist and it’s something I’ve genuinely loved to do since I picked it up when I was 9. I love to play and listen to neo-soul, funk, motown, rock, pop, bluegrass and folk music. I also like to write music, and play a little bit of guitar, piano, and banjo. A few of my favorite artists off the top of my head are Led-Zeppelin (my favorite band!) D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder, Edgar Meyer, Victor Wooten, Bela Fleck, The Allman Brothers, John Mayer, Joni Mitchell, and James Taylor. I would say that Edgar Meyer is easily one of my biggest influences with the double bass but also as a musician in general. 


I can’t wait to adventure in the city more and meet new people here! I’m very excited to start playing live music with others again in a safe manner!

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Hello! My name is Jacob Lipham, and I’m the new Principal Timpanist of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Previous to this position, I was the Timpanist of The Orchestra Now (TŌN), a training orchestra located at Bard College in Upstate New York. I’m originally from Daphne, Alabama, and I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Percussion Performance at The Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. 

I moved to Charlotte recently, and I am thrilled to explore and get to know the city and community better. I’m very much looking forward to meeting new friends, and exploring the vast restaurant and brewery scene! I’m also an avid runner, and excited to learn the good hiking spots nearby. A few fun facts: I’m a huge fan of R&B/Soul Music, coffee, traveling, college football (Roll Tide!), and randomly enough I’m an enthusiast of roller coasters and amusement parks! 

I’m thrilled to be a new member of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, and I look forward to seeing you all from the stage hopefully soon!

My name is Alaina Rea and I’m so excited to be starting my first season with the Charlotte Symphony as Assistant Principal Violist. I grew up in the Chicago area and started playing the violin in the Suzuki method around the age of four. I joined the Chicago Youth Symphony in the 3rd grade and played there until graduating high school. Playing in an orchestra for the first time was a really pivotal moment for me and definitely led me to pursue music and specifically orchestral playing as a career.  During high school I switched to the viola, and ended up attending Juilliard for my undergraduate degree. This past May I (virtually) graduated from Peabody with a Graduate Performance Diploma. 

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Outside of music, I enjoy hiking, cooking and generally spending time outside. I moved to Charlotte about two months ago and have been enjoying the city and all of its green spaces. I’ve also been making a list of things I want to do once it’s a bit safer to do so.

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Hi— I’m Gabe Slesinger and I am a new trumpeter in the CSO! I started performing here last season as a substitute and am very excited to now be joining as a regular member. I grew up in the DC area and have also previously lived in Chicago, Houston, and Salt Lake City. Some of my non-musical hobbies include outdoor stuff and cooking. Although COVID has been a challenge, I am slowly discovering more and more to love about Charlotte, including the natural beauty of this part of the state as well as the local food. Thanks for being a fan of the Charlotte Symphony— I can’t wait to perform live again for you soon!

Here, There and Elsewhere

by Janis Nilsen

The Musicians of the Charlotte Symphony have sought avenues to provide music to the community in compliance with Stay at Home restrictions. While we sound best in a concert hall engineered to contain, blend and project our sound, we must now resort to electronics to transmit our work or outdoor spaces to hold small, “safe” performances.

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A duet played in the parking garage of a hospital at shift change might uplift an exhausted health care provider on the way home. We are all deeply indebted to them for their commitment.

One musician offered: "When a staff member has either come out from a 12 hour shift or is gathering the strength to face whatever will transpire in the next 12;  when they stand there, even for a few seconds and soak in the music and its healing power, that means everything to us.”

Among the performers were Jane and Ron Brendle, Emily Chatham, Ellen Ferdon, Kathy Jarrell, Tatiana Karpova, Jeremy Lamb, Sarah Markle, Ellyn Stuart, and Kirsten Swanson.

Neighborhood Concert: Lenora Leggatt, Tatiana Karpova violins, Ning Zhao, viola, and Tanja Bechtler, cello presented music of Tchaikovsky, Borodin, The Beatles and Gershwin.


CPCC’s Connor Chamber Series Virtual Concert

Concertmaster Calin Lupanu with pianist Phillip Bush, violist Ben Geller and cellist Marlene Ballena presented Mahler Piano Quartet in A Minor and Brahms Piano Quartet in G Minor op. 25.


Though the Colorado Music Festival was not held live this summer, Concertmaster Calin Lupanu and his wife, violinist Monica Boboc took part in its virtual performances playing Ravel Introduction and Allegro, and Dvorak Terzetto as well as being part of the Beethoven Symphony No. 7 virtual project. 


Chamber Music 4 All September 27, 3:00 pm  Violinists Calin Lupanu and Monica Boboc joined by Joseph Meyer on viola presented Dvorak Terzetto and Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia

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Erinn Frechette, New Standards in Solo Flute-Family Music at Charlotte New Music Festival 2020 streamed live on YouTube from her home music studio as part of the Charlotte New Music Festival. Works by Hoover, Dick, Liebermann and others performed on flute, piccolo, alto flute, and bass flute

Erinn also performed on the American Guild of Organists/Charlotte Chapter Summer Recital Series in August at First United Methodist Church, Charlotte. Live streamed and available at Summer Recital Series - John Apple, organ

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Backyard Production for CSOatHome video:

Amy Orsinger Whitehead, flute; Jane Brendle, violin; Ron Brendle, bass. They played "La Fiesta" by Chick Corea, arranged by Jane Brendle.

Driveway Concert at Sharon Towers:


Violinist Jane Brendle and friends played Vivaldi, Bach, Telemann, Brahms, “and we took requests for pop tunes”.


The audience included residents who watched outside with distanced seating, residents who listened from their balconies, and it was livestreamed so that all other residents could view in their rooms.


Patio Concerts:

Produced and arranged by Jeff Ferdon, double bass; with Ellyn Stuart, violin; Ellen Ferdon, viola; Amy Orsinger Whitehead, flute

The first concert was so popular, they were invited to perform two more. Programs included Thursday, Saturday and Sunday movements from Telemann’s Pyrmonter Kurwoche for violin, viola and continuo, The Division Violin (1685) by John Playford, Mozart’s Flute Quartet K. 285, Michael Hayden’s Divertimento for flute, viola and bass, and a Brazilian tango, Floraux by Ernesto Nazareth which Jeff arranged for solo flute and strings.



CSO "Al Fresco" - YouTube Series

June 10 Music for Cello and Harp  Alan Black, cello; Andrea Mumm Trammell, harp


June 17 Music in the Time of Mozart  Alan Black, cello; Jeffrey Ferdon, double bass; Victor Wang, flute; Monica Boboc, violin; Kirsten Swanson, viola; Sarah Markle, cello


June 24 Winds in the Woods  Amy Orsinger Whitehead, flute; Hollis Ulaky, oboe; Sam Sparrow, clarinet; Olivia Oh, bassoon; Bob Rydel, horn


July 1 Viennese Serenades  Jenny Topilow and Lenora Leggatt, violin; Alan Black, cello


July 8 All-Lamb Jam  Jeremy Lamb and Sarah Markle, cello, Taddes Korris; double bass


July 15 Romance of the Viola  Joseph Meyer, violin; Kirsten Swanson, viola; Marlene Ballena and Alan Black, cello


July 22 Cellissimo!  Alan Black, Marlene Ballena, Jeremy Lamb, Sarah Markle, cello; Taddes Korris, double bass


July 29 CSO Brass  Alex Wilborn and Jon Kaplan, trumpet; Andrew Fierova, horn; Tom Burge, trombone; Scott Hartman, bass trombone


A Musician's Perspective

Guest Contributer Kari Giles

What is the role of the Arts?

An age old question that becomes all the more urgent during challenging times. This year has been full of challenges, and one of the greatest and most urgent is the ongoing and escalating fight against racial injustice in our country. Black Lives Matter.  In response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, arts organizations across the country posted black Instagram squares and Facebook messages of support and unity. But what if we look more closely? What if we ask: are our actions upholding what we claim to be our Values?


Justice Walk through South Park in honor of George Floyd, June 2020

None of us wants to realize that we may be a part of the problem. As artists, we often see ourselves as instruments of beauty and connection. However, much like the #MeToo movement of 2017 brought to light long standing issues of sexual harassment in our industry, this summer has seen an unveiling of racism in the arts and orchestral world as our Black and Brown colleagues speak their truth.  How will we respond?


Change begins with Awareness. The Charlotte Symphony is fortunate to be entering its second year as a recipient of the Catalyst Grant, which is awarded through the League of American Orchestras. The Catalyst Fund is a three-year pilot program that awards member orchestras annual grants to advance their understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion. During our first year, we hired consultant Octavia Seawell, and assembled a committee consisting of Board, Staff and Musicians. I am honored to be one of the musicians on this panel. As a committee we have sought to understand and define EDI and its relation to our organization, determine our core values, and create a Mission Statement. Ms. Seawell is in the process of creating a five-year Strategic Plan. This has included conducting focus groups and surveys to capture input from key stakeholders, and we are now engaged in an organizational assessment process.  Our goal is to build an internal culture that constantly strives to support equity, diversity, and inclusion through the building of authentic relationships and sustained informed action.


For a musician who is more adept at tackling the intricacies of a Paganini Caprice, or spinning the lines of a lengthy phrase by Brahms, this process of collecting and analyzing data, understanding contract law, critiquing policy, and uncovering the role of EDI in our organization and field feels daunting and overwhelming at times. But I know it is too important to give up.  One of the most consistent lessons I have learned from community organizers over the past few years is that the Answer is IN the community. To this end, I have begun the process of talking one on one with each of our musicians about their experiences in music. What are our strengths as an organization and as a larger musical community? What are our weaknesses? What are our solutions? What policies can be put into place that will create an environment that is more Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive?  Each talk has taken a different turn, and each has been enlightening. Our field is filled with creative, compassionate, brilliant individuals. We each have our own unique stories along with unique insight into how to make our lives in music better.


The question is: Are we all being given a voice?


If we as a musical community say we value unity and inclusion, then we must show with our actions that Black Lives Matter. We must listen to and value the voices of our Black and Brown colleagues. It is time to actively welcome Black and Brown voices as leading roles on our Boards, as members of our Staff, as our stand partners, as featured composers on our Classics concerts, as leaders on the podium, and as our awe-inspiring soloists.  The answers are already there in our community. Let’s Listen.

Thank You to our Hospital Workers!

by Amy Orsinger Whitehead

Musicians of the Charlotte Symphony had the opportunity to express their thanks to local hospital workers in a musical way.  The idea was devised by trumpeter Gabe Slesinger, who reached out to area hospitals to offer the services of the musicians for donated online music lessons.  Lessons were given on flute, clarinet, and percussion and were reported to be as enjoyable and meaningful to the musicians as they were to the "students".  Gabe says, "We wanted to find a way to use our skills to personally contribute to the medical community.  We ended up having more volunteers than necessary, which was very heartwarming.  I'm proud we were able to provide our services in some small way."

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CSO Flutist Amy Orsinger Whitehead and student Carleen Grossman in a virtual lesson 

Remembering Jim Ognibene

by Sarah Markle

We were saddened to learn of the passing of former Charlotte Symphony clarinetist Jim Ognibene. Jim played in the CSO from 1978 to 1986, before his 33 year tenure with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Jim Ognibene(R) with Gene Kavadlo(L).jpe

Recently retired CSO Principal Clarinetist Eugene Kavadlo, a dear friend of Jim's since their college days together at Indiana University, had this to say about him:

"Jim is the only CSO musician I know who made a deliberate effort to keep in touch with his CSO colleagues after he left for another job, namely the MET. Aside from his world class musicianship, I think his legacy is his world class sense of humor. He played with the MET for 33 years, but after so many years away from the CSO, we still laugh about things he said while he was here. The stories are timeless. Of course, a whole new set of stories arose among the MET musicians, and I’ve heard quite a few of them since they sent me their own tributes. He received comments of praise from some of the most prominent clarinetists and other musicians in the musical world today. Steve Williamson, Principal Clarinet with the Chicago Symphony (the other CSO), said, 'if ever there was a saint on this earth, it was Jim.' That’s an example of the love people had for him. We could probably put together a little book."


"A group of Jim’s Indiana University clarinet buddies are starting a clarinet scholarship in memory of Jim at the school he attended as a student - Dana School of Music in Youngstown, Ohio. Anyone interested in contributing to this effort please contact Gene Kavadlo at 704 365-2009 or"


Jim's superb playing can be heard in several Grammy Award-winning Metropolitan Opera recordings, including Wagner's Ring Cycle on Deutsche Grammophon. He will be dearly missed in the orchestral community, and by all who knew him here in Charlotte.

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