Charlotte's Symphony Has the Power to Transform Lives
From Christopher Warren-Green, who will succeed Christof Perick as music director for the Charlotte Symphony in the fall of 2010:
Posted: Thursday, August 6th
Since the announcement in May that I would become the next music director of the Charlotte Symphony, I have often been asked what led me to embrace the challenge of building and sustaining an American orchestra in such hard times. Part of my answer lies in the story of the power of music and a boy from Brazil.
Several years ago I was invited to conduct the State Orchestra of Bahia in Brazil. While there, I was taken to hear a group of young musicians play. After the performance, I was impressed by a young boy who shook me confidently by the hand and addressed me as "Maestro." I later learned that this boy had been living on the streets since the age of five and at the age of nine had become a dangerous gang leader, successfully robbing bus passengers. But he no longer robbed buses. He wanted only to play the saxophone.
The boy was part of a project where street kids could go in the afternoons to paint, play an instrument, or take part in any one of many artistic endeavors - a thriving project that has produced two youth orchestras and turned throngs of ruffians into productive and creative citizens. That is the power of art.
Globally, the arts are nearly always the first things to suffer in a financial downturn. Of course, when we look at the need to maintain our hospitals, for example, one may say that there is no competition. However, when I think of my nine-year-old bus gang leader, I cannot but wonder that if we understand the power of art - nurture and cherish it - we may not need so many hospitals.
So, why have I come to Charlotte? As a conductor I have traveled to more places in the United States than most Americans. Charlotte is indeed a "Queen City," and it was without hesitation that my family and I accepted the invitation to leave what is arguably still the world's musical capital - London - to join this community. As I get to know this wonderful city, I see tremendous promise. I see musicians who are eager to build upon the excellent artistic foundation that Christof Perick has established. I see fine cultural institutions filled with energetic and talented people. I see a community that takes pride in its city and leaders with a positive, can-do spirit.
Every investment that we as a community make in our orchestra returns to us ten-fold. The Charlotte Symphony will inspire and entertain, lift our hearts and stimulate our minds, teach our children and build bridges within our diverse population.
Whether in Brazil or London or right here in Charlotte, music has the ability to transform lives. I am confident that Charlotte will continue onwards and upwards as a "great American city" and that, together, we will make sure that our symphony does the same.
By Christopher Warren-Green
The Charlotte Observer
To read the original article, visit the The Charlotte Observer.
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