The New Charlotte Youth Ensemble aims to make performance more accessible to young musicians | DFA 90.7


There is something special about learning music. For people who start playing at a young age, music can become a lifelong passion, even a career.

But as with so many things, it’s not that simple, even for those with a natural talent. There are barriers to entry, such as cost, access and support. Charlotte Symphony Orchestra is launching an initiative to lower these barriers with a youth ensemble that will open in early 2022.

“This set is designed to give children the first experience of playing with others and getting a feel for what it’s like to be part of a great music team,” said CEO and President of Charlotte Symphony, David Fisk.

The Symphony already has programs for young people, an orchestra and a philharmonic. But they do require auditions; the new set does not.

“We want to make sure that there are opportunities along the learning journey for everyone,” said Fisk. “And the gap that we identified was the kids who have been learning the instrument for about a year but are not yet ready to join an ensemble that requires auditions, which is a more advanced stage. “

Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra


Eric Thompson, a Charlotte Symphony veteran and teacher at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, will lead the new youth ensemble.

The simple act of eliminating hearing is a huge burden on new musicians. On top of the pressure, Fisk says, auditions can create a flawed system in which some talent misses the mark. Sometimes people have bad days, even the pros.

“It’s definitely always an experience that no one looks forward to as a professional musician,” said Fisk. “Auditioning is one of the hardest parts of getting your foot in the door, so we don’t want to start kids out feeling stressed out about playing music. “

The program begins in February and is aimed at musicians aged 8 to 16.

Participants will get used to playing and each rehearsal will include personal training from the conductors and musicians of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Fisk says the program will likely start with around 30 attendees, but could grow to as many as 70. And the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra also plans to have the youth ensemble stick around – this is just the first. handle.

The group of young people will be held at First Baptist Church-West in Charlotte’s McCrorey Heights neighborhood.

“It’s a very welcoming environment,” said Fisk. “They are already in this space, and they have a very strong educational musical mission. They have a track record of working with young people for decades in a very supportive environment. It is also an essential element.

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Genesis group photography


The audience watches the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra’s summer concert at Symphony Park. A new ensemble, distinct from the youth orchestra, aims to introduce more young people to group musical interpretation.

Composer Eric Thompson will conduct the ensemble. He played with the Symphony Orchestra as a double bass player before teaching at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.

And Fisk says logging into the CMS is also important. After all, the ensemble is designed to be the first step towards group performances for young musicians. Children can use the skills they have learned to take a second step, such as entering school district orchestra or marching band programs.

The ensemble also builds on the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s Harmony Project, a free after-school program that helps introduce children in financially struggling families to music. And as another way to lower barriers to entry, the set offers a sliding scale for tuition fees.

The weekly program will end in June with a performance for the public. All the details of the performance aren’t settled yet, but Fisk says it’s something families can look forward to watching – and knowing it wasn’t just about the music.

“Building towards something, having that goal, having that special occasion at the end where it all comes together – that’s the culmination of the work you’ve done, but it’s also good practice for what comes next because , in so much of our lives, we’re always heading towards something and a final performance after a series of rehearsals, ”said Fisk. “It’s like preparing kids for life in different ways and the kinds of things they’re going to encounter in the workplace. We have to build towards a final presentation or an end result.

Parents and young musicians who want to know more can visit the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra website.


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