Longfellow wrote, “And the night shall be filled with music, And the cares, that infest the day, Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, and as silently steal away.”
That truth about the incredible power of music was evidenced recently at the Robert E. Lee Auditorium, when the Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra presented “The Cosmos and Beyond,” under the inspired direction of Maestro David Michael Wolff.
It was a brilliant musical experience. Longfellow would have been amazed to hear it. In one remarkable evening the audience was enthralled with sounds inspired by Mozart, Beethoven, Hobst, Strauss and John Williams. The original composition, “Beyond the Stars,” by Graham Plowman, commissioned by the orchestra, was premiered by the orchestra.
The Carolina Philharmonic is entering its second decade. In its first, it grew successfully from a small chamber orchestra to a distinguished regional symphony orchestra that regularly provides remarkable concerts and recitals.
The Philharmonic’s 2019/2020 season will start with the opening of the Bradshaw Performing Arts Center at Sandhills Community College on Nov. 8 and 9. SCC’s new Bradshaw Performing Arts Center comprises a completely remodeled Owens Auditorium, Evelyn’s Courtyard, an intimate performance area; a black box theater in Wellard Hall, the McPherson Theater and the McNeill-Woodward Green in the center of the campus.
Featured at the opening will be Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto,” performed by violinist Natasha Korsakova; and Grieg’s “Piano Concerto” played on a stunning new concert grand piano by David Wolff. November will offer a holiday pops concert, featuring a Broadway star, at the Carolina Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. January will feature music from the golden age of film. February will offer a multimedia piano recital featuring Wolff celebrating great works of art and music. March will offer violinist/composer Christian Colberg’s “Viola Concerto Don Quixote” and Beethoven’s “7th Symphony.” April will bring to the Bradshaw three extraordinary tenors and soprano Young Mee Jun. In May, the orchestra will offer “Cannons and Fireworks,” including Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” Cutting-edge technology, including a 3-D printed baton, will ignite virtual fireworks projected onto large screens.
In addition to providing concerts and symphonic experiences, The Carolina Philharmonic brings the rare joy of exceptional music to thousands of Moore County schoolchildren every year. Its comprehensive music educational program expects to serve just under 4,000 children next year.
Carnegie Hall Link Up reaches students in grades 3 to 5; Encore! Kids, inspires students in grades K-2; the Junior Orchestra serves over 100 students in grades 3-12. Musical instruments are loaned to learners. Children come up on stage and perform their stringed instruments with The Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra in a multimedia, interactive concert. There are few communities in America where such a wide range of musical opportunities are afforded to musically motivated children without charge.
These creative music educational programs spark within children an enthusiasm for music and the arts that they may carry throughout their lives. Remarkably, since these programs began, they will have impacted more than 14,000 kids, with more than 7,000 who have been through programs for more than one and often several years.
Beginning this fall, children in grades K-2 will be preparing with their music and art teachers to join Wolff and The Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra. In the spring, the orchestra will host three interactive, multi-children’s concerts, two for Encore! Kids and one Link Up.
Fortunately, the public has reacted to this musical largesse by generously supporting The Carolina Philharmonic, but as programs expand to serve more children, the need for money will persist. That is why The Carolina Philharmonic Music Education Endowment Fund was established six years ago. Gifts and pledges to it help the orchestra continue its good works and meet its future goals.
What many do not realize is that for America’s performing arts organizations, ticket sales typically account for only 30 percent to 40 percent of total income. That is why private and public contributions are vital to their health and growth.
The Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra does not receive any state or federal public funding. Even the famed North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, which has been performing since the height of the Great Depression in 1932, only receives about 23 cents from each citizen in state funding. That allows it to travel throughout North Carolina, so its music may be heard far and wide. None of the other symphony orchestras in the state receive funding.
If the state’s contribution to symphony orchestras was increased from a mere 23 cents to 33 cents per capita, then each of the other 16 orchestras, including The Carolina “Phil,” could receive a grant averaging $50,000 annually, subject to proven need and demonstrated good management. Music lovers may wish to suggest to their state representatives that this be done.
There is much to commend about life in the Sandhills. The Carolina Philharmonic’s music is sweet to the ear.