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Winter 2022

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Don't Miss: A Premiere by One of Our Own

by Sarah Markle

On April 19th our audience will get a chance to hear what I believe is a rarity in the world of symphonic music: a piece composed by a member of the orchestra! Cellist Jeremy Lamb wrote A Ride on Oumuamua over the course of two years, first for string trio (two cellos and bass), and now arranged for string orchestra. The piece will be premiered as part of the CSO On Tap series at Noda Brewing Co. and will feature a full complement of strings, including Jeremy himself in the cello section.

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"I'm frickin' thrilled to hear this piece come to life, and even better that it's with my very own colleagues in the Charlotte Symphony. I originally wrote it as a way to make music with you and Taddes [bassist], since you're my best friends and there's nothing written for two cellos and bass. After performing it as a trio, my girlfriend badgered me a LOT to arrange it for full orchestra, and then John Clapp [personnel manager] and Alan Black [principal cello] also piled on the encouragement. Without their support I don't think I would have thought something like this could happen. I still can't believe the CSO is really going to play it!” 


As the title suggests, the piece is named after the first known interstellar object to be detected passing through the solar system, which made headlines in 2017 and grabbed the attention of astronomy fans everywhere. Whether or not Oumuamua was an alien space probe (you can't prove it wasn't!), its mysterious origins inspired this one-movement work, which takes us on a gorgeous, lyrical journey through the cosmos, briefly passing by Earth before hurtling on toward other distant galaxies. 


"When I read that it arrived from an incredibly empty area of space, somewhere lacking any visible galaxies, I just thought of how marvelous it would be to suddenly arrive at our beautiful planet Earth. I don't think I'd want to be on that long journey myself exactly, but it definitely sparked my imagination. Now I just hope the music conveys some of that awe to listeners, and if not, at least I get to play an original piece with all of my colleagues. That's a dream come true!" 


Click here to see the original trio version of A Ride on Oumuamua, performed at CSO's Al Fresco concert series in July 2020. 

Wishes for the New Year

by Gabriel Slesinger

2022 is upon us! To properly celebrate our organization’s 90 years of music making, we asked four members of the Charlotte Symphony universe to share their hopes for the CSO in this upcoming lap around the sun. 

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"What a fantastic way to start the new year— with Mahler’s Ninth Symphony! I'm so excited to see new faces as well as familiar ones on stage. It makes me feel hopeful that our orchestra will continue to grow and make great music for our audience. In 2022, I wish that the orchestra will become more financially stable so that we can retain the best musicians here in Charlotte. I also hope the orchestra will perform more diverse repertoire."


— Ning Zhao, Violist

"In 2022, I’m really looking forward to growing my relationships with peers in the CSO, something that has been somewhat slow due to the pandemic. In addition, as I’m sure many musicians are, I’m hoping to perform a diverse and full scale of repertoire. Last but not least, I hope to meet and get to know more of our CSO patrons."


— Jacob Lipham, Principal Timpanist

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"Every year, I focus on a word that I hope will characterize and elevate the weeks and months ahead. This year, I chose the word 'impact'. But this word began to feel too small, so I added one more— 'irreversible impact'. As I think about the work we are all doing in our daily lives and through the symphony, it is my hope that we will inspire irreversible impact for those who encounter the CSO’s artistry and the talent both on-stage and off. It is my dream that the orchestra will make such an impression on the community of Charlotte that the impact can not be undone and the joy that is birthed through music becomes a flywheel for change."


— Dr. Shanté Williams, board member

"In the near decade I have enjoyed being a season ticket subscriber to the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, my life has been enriched with the exceptional performances, passion and unparalleled musicianship of this exemplary ensemble. I proudly sit in balcony box 1 left seat 1 (a seat which took me three years to purchase) so that I may continue to learn from and be inspired by Maestros Christopher Warren Greene, Christopher James Lees and all of the wonderful guest conductors.

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"In 2022, I am looking forward to sharing these performances with members of my conducting team and undergraduate conducting students from Appalachian State University, where I serve as Director of Bands. I leave each performance breathless, invigorated and deeply inspired. I was unable to attend the recent Mahler 9 performance because of the inclement weather, but transferred my ticket to my colleague O'Shae Best (Assistant Artistic Director of the Charlotte Pride Band) who was enthralled by their mesmerizing performance.  The CSO is meant to be shared with and enjoyed by everyone!


"Here's to a new year of amazing performances with our Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.  I truly believe the very best is still yet to come!" 


— Dr. John Stanley Ross, subscriber

An Interview with Anne Marie Forbes, the CSO’s Vice President of Development

by Amy Orsinger Whitehead

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How did Anne Marie Forbes, Vice President of Development for the Charlotte Symphony get her start in fundraising? The daughter of a librarian and attorney/college professor, she grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and actually started fundraising when she was 5 years old! She remembers, “I was one of those kids who went door to door raising money for the Jerry Lewis telethon. I watched all 22 hours of it with my dad. And usually at around 2:00 a.m., Jerry Lewis would look at the camera and say, “the phones aren’t ringing, it’s time...” And I would turn to my dad, and he would agree to let me call to make my $2 pledge. There was just something about knowing that my $2 was a part of that big number. I instantly made that connection.”

She went to the University of Kansas as a theater/voice major, but switched to journalism and graduated with a journalism degree. Her last year of school, she was the director for an on-campus fundraising event where sororities, fraternities, and residence halls all submitted scripts of original music to be performed at a show. “I thought that if I could just find a job where I got to do something like this...well, that didn’t happen for many years, but I started on my path with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and had 19 years there in different roles. I worked for them in Kansas City for 3 years, and then in Denver, CO in a national role, traveling the country.” Despite her travels, while in Denver, she became a singer with the Colorado Symphony Chorus.


About her career move here, Anne Marie says, “I moved to Charlotte (in 1994) because I wanted to be in a community and not traveling all of the time. For 13 years, I was the Executive Director of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society chapter here, and I loved it. During those years, all of these new treatments were developed for MS, so it was a really amazing time in their history of providing solutions for people with MS.”


Once in Charlotte, she auditioned for and sang with the Oratorio Singers (a.k.a. Charlotte Symphony Chorus; a.k.a. Charlotte Master Chorale).


Anne Marie decided on a career change and went to Merrill Lynch to train to become a financial advisor. “I entered the Merrill Lynch training program just in time for the recession in 2008.” Despite it being 2008-2010, Anne Marie built her book and graduated from the program. However, a volunteer collaboration with a former colleague led Anne Marie to a relationship with the Alzheimer’s Association, where she was offered a job. “I realized that I was meant to be in a non-profit. It’s who I am.” She was there for 6 years traveling to Chicago or another market every week.


“Then, I went to work for Autism Speaks for 3 years. I was traveling to New York City or a different city every week, so I could no longer continue to sing with the Oratorio Singers. But that’s ok because I am a great audience member!  I still sing in church and for weddings, too.”


In order to spend more time with her family (who all moved to Charlotte in 2007), Anne Marie knew she needed to travel for work less and began to work for the Humane Society of Union County. “There’s just nothing like going to work every day and having puppies and kittens around.”


“When I learned of this (CSO Development) position opening, I thought, could this really be true that after all of this time, (my) vocation and avocation can meld and align? And it just so happens that they chose me, and everything came together...well, except for the puppies and kittens!”


She began her work at the CSO 7 months ago, and despite the pandemic part of it, has not found it hard to tell the story of the CSO. “People are so excited to have live music again. It is something normal, even though we are not completely back to normal. Even with social distancing, even with masks on...they are getting something back that is part of their souls. And that is a pretty easy story to tell. People are in awe of how we hung in there together during the pandemic because many symphonies weren’t able to. And the CSO was able to work together to figure it out. There was so much innovation. Every single facet of the CSO had to innovate to make this work. And if that doesn’t show the power of the team, I don’t know what does!


When asked if Development was working on any big projects at the moment, Anne Marie responds, “We are working on significant initiatives to build our financial stability and our artistic vitality to continue to strengthen our organization.” She adds that “there is always a way for people to support us: making a gift of any size that works for them.” Because, as she remembers from her 5-year-old self making her $2 pledge to the Jerry Lewis telethon, “if what someone can give is $20, that becomes part of the whole. And if what someone can give is a million dollars, that becomes part of the whole. And we love both, and we need both. We want people to know that their gifts matter.”


Is there a typical day in the life of the Charlotte Symphony VP of Development? “One reason I love this work is that it’s not typical. There is a nimbleness that needs to happen to be able to be responsive to what comes in during the day. On any day, I get to interact with the very talented members of my development team and other CSO teams, board members, donors and volunteers. Every day, there is something related to stewarding all of the wonderful people and companies that support the symphony. And we truly can’t do what we do without their support.”  

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About her non-CSO time, Anne Marie says, “I love to entertain, which has been completely curtailed during the past two years. That has been one of the hardest things about the past couple of years is that I can’t throw parties. I love to cook, but I don’t like to bake because you have to be too precise. I love reading fiction. And I enjoy a little bit of retail therapy every once in a while. I have a bit of a shoe problem.” (which this author does not see as a problem at all!)


Anne Marie lives in south Charlotte with her two spoiled rotten rescue cats, Toby and Henry.

Back in Time: 1987 CSO European Tour

Throwbacks aren't just for Thursdays! CSO bassist Jeff Ferdon shares photos and memories from the orchestra's trip to Poland. Pictured below: the combined bass sections of the CSO and the Polish National Opera Orchestra for a 1987 performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Warsaw. CSO musicians numbered left to right: 1) Mike Moseley 2) Ivan Zugelj 7) Jeff Ferdon 8) Liz Stewart 9) Leo Bjorlie

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Below: Backstage at Warsaw’s Old Town Square for a joint performance of Beethoven’s Symphony #9 with musicians of the Polish National Opera Orchestra. This was an important concert for the people of Poland, as it marked the end of the government’s ban on public gatherings during its crackdown on pro-democracy groups.
Left to right: David Ramsey (official tour photograher, Leo Bjorlie and Jeff Ferdon (bassists), Paul Christopher and Carol Bjorlie (cellists)

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Below: Principal Cellist Alan Black packed up and ready to be shipped to Poland.

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