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Cabarrus Magazine

Charlotte Symphony Returns to Cabarrus; 'Up Front' Has the Details

Apr 07, 2021 08:27AM ● By Jason Huddle
It has been a long year without having live performing arts, but that is beginning to change. The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra has announced some upcoming dates at Cabarrus Brewing Co. where people will be able to enjoy some culture, along with their favorite beverage. This week, we have John Clapp, VP of Artistic Operations for The CSO, as he discuses how the organization has survived the past 12 months and what we can look forward to at these upcoming events!

For more information on the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, click HERE!

Jason Huddle  00:00

The past 12 months have been especially hard on the performing arts community. However, as the pandemic begins to wane, opportunities to see live music are emerging once again. But that's not to say there haven't been some positives learned from this era of going virtual. Do you think the virtual broadcasting the virtual experience is helping you to reach a younger crowd?


John Clapp  00:20

We've definitely seen some traction on that. It's also been a great way to get some different kinds of music out there as well. We've had to reshape our program. And in that case, we've looked at some underrepresented composers, female composers, composers of color that we've mixed into our programming. And that's been a real treat. And I think some of the younger audience really likes.


Jason Huddle  00:40

Today we talk with john clap of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra on how they have adjusted to the dark theatres and we look forward to some live performances coming right here to Cabarrus County,


John Clapp  00:50

You know, it's a really interesting atmosphere, it gives us a chance to try some different repertoire really mix it up. It gives the audience a really up close and personal feel to what's happening. The audience is much much closer than a concert hall so you really get to see all the technique.


Jason Huddle  01:05

That's all coming up right now on Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, a presentation of CabCo Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Cabrrus Healthcare Foundation, Geico Concord Mills office, Level Up Realty, and New Hope Worship Center. I'm your host Jason Huddle.


Jason Huddle  01:27

Welcome back to the program we are pleased to have on the line with us today. John Clapp. He is the Vice President of artistic operations and general manager of your Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. And first of all, John, thanks a lot for being on our program today.


Jason Huddle  03:32

Hello, my friends and welcome to Episode 95 of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. I am your host Jason Huddle. And I am excited to bring you today's program. As a lover of the arts and a musician myself, I am excited to bring you the news that live music is coming back to Cabarrus County and the Charlotte symphony orchestra is one of those organizations that is going to be providing that at Cabarrus Brewing Company next week. And in May today on the program, we have john clap with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. He's going to tell us all about that, as well as how the orchestra has adapted to basically having a silent theater for a year and how they've been able to maintain operations. It is fascinating, the way that this shutdown has taught us to adjust our sales and figure things out as we have come through the shutdown and this pandemic. So we're going to get into all of that right after shameless plug time. You may have caught in the intro, that we have a new sponsor for our show Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation, you might not recognize the name because they were formerly known as northeast foundation. Now this is a great nonprofit group that assists in all kinds of causes around our community, specifically dealing with healthcare and helping to provide care for those who cannot afford it themselves. This month, they are raising funds to help those victims of child abuse that need medical care. You're going to hear all about that in a spot running during the first break of this program. And you can also check out cupbearer health care for more information. So make sure that you support this group. It is very, very worthwhile. And I am thrilled that they are a part of our show now and I get to promote them. By the way if you would like to sponsor this program, we would love to talk to you as well please give us a call at 704-782-2353 and ask about a community sponsorship with cupbearer us magazine. And that is today's shameless plug time. Alright kids stick around and prepare for some culture. We've got John Clapp with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra coming up next.


John Clapp  04:39

Thanks for having me.


Jason Huddle  04:40

So you guys have some events coming up in Cabarrus County, which is why we have you on the program today. But before we get into that I want to talk about how the orchestra has been doing in the wake of this shutdown you guys haven't really had anybody to perform for So how have you guys been surviving?


John Clapp  04:58

It's been a huge adjustment for The orchestra, you know, when this all sort of happened about a year ago, and we are if you can believe it's about one year ago, since the our stages went dark, we had to come up with a totally different way to perform. I mean, when it first happened, I remember, we were getting ready to perform Empire Strikes Back the film with a live orchestra. Yeah, we called off the performances, right before that evening, and everything just kind of shut down. The next day, the governor shut everything down. And we were like, okay, well, maybe this is going to be a few weeks, and we'll look at rescheduling. And then as time went on, we realized we're not coming out of this, and we're gonna have to transform what we do. And the first part of that is seeing musicians playing farther apart from each other. I think, folks, when they come to a symphony, they see a large workers show on stage. And if you look closely, most, you know, you have violin players that share a stand that are really close to each other, maybe less than a foot apart. And then they're really packed in there. And then rows of winds and brass instruments and percussion, well, that's really can't happen. When you're sitting six feet apart, we also had a health partner and all this Atrium Health, based here in Charlotte, who created a set of entry protocols just coming into the stage, knowing exactly where your entry point is doing a symptom checker, having to do a temperature check, we had to do COVID testing, as well, in order to make sure that we created a safe environment for musicians to come to work. But what's interesting is, we did all this with the idea that we would start to present virtually, and that's something that you're has not done a lot of. And in some ways, this whole situation has made us become a more flexible group, and look into digital media, which is something that orchestras really need to do anyway,


Jason Huddle  06:48

With the risk of getting too technical for our listeners, but I was a music industry major. So we talked about performing virtually, my mind immediately goes to how in the world can you make that Symphony sound like it does when you're sitting in the theater? over a computer? How does that even work?


John Clapp  07:06

Well, we actually have a sound engineer that plays in the orchestra, our third French horn player, Bob (inaudiable), who's been in the orchestra for many years, is also as exceptional music and video producer. So we designed to plan in mind, he'd already been recording our projects for radio, because we did some of that already. We play on WVAV. But it's a good question, how do you translate it and get it out there streaming and everything. And we had to go through a process where we were actually are recording or live streaming, using remote cameras, actually electronic operating cameras, because one thing is, is when you see something like live from Lincoln Center, that's an entire film crew. That's tons of people behind the camera. I mean, no Symphony, our size could ever afford anything like that, right. So we actually were able to invest through Bob's company, acoustic mobility, and set up positions where we have unmanned cameras that are remote controlled from basically a computer setup, where we'll have myself and the producer, we're calling shots and getting shots of the orchestra to get the video. But I can tell you that the audio is top notch, it's always been top notch, because we are so lucky to have a recording engineer that plays in the orchestra. And, you know, basically we create private YouTube links that folks can buy tickets to Charlotte, and can actually listen to the orchestra in their own homes in the comfort of your own home. It's the best seat in the house. And we've actually got a response from some folks that said, Wow, I wish you would hope that you continue to do this, or you would have already done this, because I can't come to the symphony anymore. I can't come to uptown, I'd love to still be able to hear it. And when they finally got to hear it, they said this sounds fantastic. Like the quality is very, very good.


Jason Huddle  08:56

They bring up a great point that you know, there is just some people, either they can't come because of physical problems, or disabilities or they are unwilling to still come out because of COVID. And this is a great opportunity for them to still be able to enjoy the symphony. Have you seen that your interest in the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra has increased over this time, or at least at least not decreased? Or how has the response been so far?


John Clapp  09:26

I say all the above, I would say we held on to many loyal subscribers and supporters of the symphony that were just thrilled that we were doing something we were the only major company in town putting out consistent product. By the time we're done with this will have done 16 mainstage performances virtually either a direct live stream or recorded and live stream at a later date and produced and we've also reached some other audiences that we might not have before. I mean when you look at sort of the streaming history, you can see people maybe just outside the region or maybe they have family or in some cases, they used to live in Charlotte and said, I never get to hear the Charlotte Symphony anymore. I loved it when I lived here, and they got to hear it and someone in Arizona was listening to relativity. That's, that's pretty interesting, because we just, you know, you only think of the live experience in front of you most of the time, because live music is what we do. But maybe there's a way to add on to that live experience, not replace it, but add on to it.


Jason Huddle  10:23

Do you think the virtual broadcasting the virtual experience is helping you to reach a younger crowd that may not have been interested in coming to the theater, but now they're exposed to it through these virtual performances, and they're starting to gain interest is, have you seen that


John Clapp  10:39

I've seen a little bit of that, and I think in sort of the context of, I'd like to try this out without having to go, as you say, in the Uptown and Park, and, you know, do the experience that I've really never been to it before. And we've definitely seen some some traction on that, it's also been a great way to get some different kinds of music out there as well, we've had to reshape our program, we can't just play all the same music we play, we have to look at things that fit on the stage. And in that case, we've looked at some of the some underrepresented composers, female composers, composers of color that we've mixed into our programming. And that's been a real treat. And I think some of the younger audience really likes that.


Jason Huddle  10:39

for those people who haven't been to a symphony performance or aren't familiar with your repertoire, as it is called, obviously, you guys play classical music, mostly. But what are some typical things that people could expect to hear? Are they hearing familiar favorites like Mozart and Beethoven? Are they hearing sort of avant garde stuff that they may or may not like? What what's your sweet spot? What can people expect to hear when they come to a to a performance where they watch one on on their computers?


John Clapp  11:51

I think they will most always hear something very recognizable, at least in the name of the composer, or maybe the title of the work. And of course, what they hear the tunes, as you said, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms hyden, those are composers that we play regularly. But that's really, you know, in the classical genre, and I think people forget that we call it classical music, but it spans hundreds and hundreds of years. Sure. stuff we would play is from 1600s, the stuff that's in the 2000s. And we always try to mix in different styles, but then, you know, is there some sort of thread that connects the pieces together? And that's, that's what you will hear in the season reimagined that you can stream, there's generally a Mozart or Haydn or Beethoven piece, and then maybe something less familiar. But you're always in the context of in this case, you know, what can we perform safely on stage that we can distance the musicians try to have very limited winds and brass as you can imagine, winds and brass are instruments that produce aerosol. So risk level because they can't wear a mask when they play. It's difficult.


Jason Huddle  13:02

And you can't put something over the bell of an instrument or anything like that. It just doesn't work very well. Right. Okay, great. Well, you guys have some performances coming up in Cabarrus County, some live performances I'm very excited about which is the crux of why we wanted to have you on today. So let me do this. Let me cut to break and when we come back, I want to talk about these live performances that are coming out that people can come out and actually enjoy in person. Sound good?


John Clapp  13:29

Sounds great.


Jason Huddle  13:30

All right. We will be back in just a moment with John Clapp from the Charlotte symphony orchestra in just a moment. Stay tuned.


Commercial  13:36



Jason Huddle  14:51

Welcome back to the program. We are joined once again by John Clapp vice president of artistic operations and general manager for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and We talked in the first segment about how the orchestra has adapted to the shutdown and not having physical audiences to play for. However, times are changing, and normal is just around the corner. And so now we finally have some live performances. And not only that, but they're coming to cabarrus County, they is called CSO on tap. They have two dates planned one is for next week, April 6, and the other ones coming up in May at cupbearer Brewing Company and john, why don't you tell us a little bit about those events and what people can expect?


John Clapp  15:38

Yeah, we're we're really pleased to create a new partnership with comparis Brewing Company, we have a series that we created about five years ago called CSO on tap. And the idea was to find somewhere in the community in Charlotte, that would be a different performing space. And somewhere that's a little more relaxed than being in a concert hall where, honestly, you can enjoy a nice beverage while you're listening to this Symphony, I mean, a great atmosphere. So we came up with the idea of maybe taking our large workers trend, shrinking it down to a more portable size, and bringing it out to the community. And one of the places that jumped on board for the original set was no debris Brewing Company, they've been our partner for the last five years, and we've created a model that really works, we can bring a chamber orchestra or chamber music, which are anywhere from, say, four players to maybe up to 20, depending on the size of the venue. And it's a great partnership, it allows us as a nonprofit, to play somewhere bring music that doesn't cost rent, or having to pay for a staff and such. And at the same time brings the brewery say on a weekday night like we do it generally on Tuesdays, and many a different crowd that does isn't there on that day, upwards of 100 200 people at a time. I mean, in non COVID times we we generally have two to 250 people would come out, which is great on a Tuesday night. And you know, it's a really interesting atmosphere, it gives us a chance to try some different repertoire and really mix it up. It gives the audience a really up close and personal feel to what's happening. The audience is much much closer than a concert hall. So you really get to see all the technique. You see if it's a string player, you get to really see the bow move. You can see what are their hands really doing. If it's a Windsor brass player you to see how much effort they exert, because it really gets tiring playing a wind and brass instrument that long as far as breathing in and out all the time. So the response we've gotten has been tremendous and comparis just seem like a natural fit. Their their facility is amazing. They have both indoor and outdoor places where we will eventually play and the owners had the right attitude. It's that kind of, you know, we really want the symphony here. We can really help them. They can help us. And we really want our community to have the chance to hear this music. And we're very excited to be there.


Jason Huddle  18:05

Awesome. Yeah. Steve Steinbacher, who is a friend of the show has been on the show before. He is one of the owners over comparis Brewing Company and he is a phenomenal guy. We certainly appreciate all he's done for our community and so I am thrilled that he is helping to bring music as a music major from college and a music performer. I am always excited about live performance music. Can you tell us a little bit about what the setlist might include?


John Clapp  18:35

Sure for the upcoming PR on April 6, we will bring our string quartet which actually features our concert master (Inaudiable). So cream of the crop is coming for the opening performance and it is a stellar quartet with some composers that will sound familiar and some not George Gershwin, I think sounds very familiar. Yep, Rhapsody in Blue, playing his lullaby, which is a piece that was originally a string quartet switch makes sense. While they're playing as a string quartet, we actually often hear it more as a larger String Orchestra piece. And a little known fact is that the melody from that work actually went into a one act jazz Opera in only three years later in 1922. That was honestly a failure for for Gershwin. It was Monday as a jazz opera opera that didn't last very long. But what it did was a got him noticed. He got put on brought on by a producer, it would eventually get his music out there. And only two years after that musical we have Rhapsody in Blue.


Jason Huddle  19:41

Problably one of his famous pieces from that time period.


John Clapp  19:45

Absolutely. So that's very interesting. And then, you know, the theme of the program is is that the the works that we're playing, therefore, String Quartet but the composers who wrote them that's not what they're known for. One other composer is Puccini. And Puccini is a huge opera composer. Yeah, I would all I would have to say is labo. m, that is probably a very, very famous opera to most folks, even if they're not opera goers, right. But here's a string quartet. And it's like, well, what is that all about? And he actually wrote it for a friend who had passed away. And, but once again, it's like, well, would this piece just fall to obscurity, because he's not a string quartet writer it lived on, he reused the two main themes. In the later opera, that was a success. And then let's go. So it's a very cool program where you get to hear something in one version, I will challenge the audience to go in here and another version, even after the concert and here to get and all the composers were very good at doing this. So it's a very intriguing program for the first one.


Jason Huddle  20:51

Are there some other live performances that the orchestra has planned? It doesn't have to be in Cabarrus County, but are there some other performances that they can't make the one next week there is one I believe it's may 18. Coming up, also it bears Brewing Company. But if you can't make those, what are some other live performances that are coming up that the they might be able to catch?


John Clapp  21:11

We will be announcing in just a couple of weeks, hopefully some outdoor series in Charlotte. Still Zelin development, we don't have an announcement going out right yet. But I would encourage everyone to visit the website. And stay tuned for an announcement coming up right around April 12. Hopefully, we'll be outdoors in our summer venue, presenting some music that folks can enjoy in a safe environment, we're just planning out ways to utilize open space, and maybe use some pod seating and stuff where people can buy tickets and be separated and still be outside wouldn't be something on the scale of say our our larger outdoor events where there's 1000s of people there, we're just not there yet. But we will be able to be doing some of that continuing more of these these outdoor brewery series. And then hopefully, we'll be able to do a large event, a large controlled event at the end of the summer around a patriotic program. So all that is coming. We're just on the edge of making sure we have l to safety in place, and that we'll be able to tell the audience that this is happening and how we're going to do it.


Jason Huddle  22:16

And what is the website where people can go for information?


John Clapp  22:19

That would be Charlotte


Jason Huddle  22:22

 Wonderful and can they also get the information on CSO and tap on that as well?


John Clapp  22:27



Jason Huddle  22:27

Okay. Wonderful. All right. And we'll put that in the show notes for you guys. Just in case you didn't catch that. We'll we'll have that in our show notes for everybody to click on. And we hope to see everyone out there eco bears Brewing Company next week or on May 18. For the CSO on tap event. John Clapp with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Thank you so much for being a part of today's show and telling us all about what's going on with you guys.


John Clapp  22:52

Thanks so much for having me and we're very excited to be in Cabarrus County.


Jason Huddle  22:56

Wonderful you guys. Stay tuned, we will be back to close up the program in just a moment. Stick around


Commercial  23:02



Jason Huddle  23:46

Once again I want to thank John Clap for being on the program today. I really enjoyed hearing about the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and how they have adapted to this pandemic just like we all have, and it was really fascinating. I'm looking forward to catching some of those virtual performances when I can't get out to the live ones and I hope you are too. I just want to remind you those live performances are coming up on April 6 and may 18 at the cub bears Brewing Company so please make sure you go check those out, support the arts and support our local establishments. lycabettus Brewing Company next week we are thrilled to have on the show with is Page Castrodale. She is the newest head of the cupbearer Economic Development Corporation. She's going to tell us all about what is in store for Cabarrus County coming up and some exciting projects that they've been working on during the pandemic. So I hope you will join us for that. Until then you have been listening to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. It is produced and hosted by yours truly Jason Huddle and is a presentation of CabCo Media Group. We are also sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation, Geico Concord Mills office, Level Up Realty and New Hope Worship Center. Until next week, getcha symphony on!

Episode 95: A Little Culture Returns to Cabarrus County

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