By Nicole Bartlett, Program Director, Public Art
Last Friday night I had a big date. Not with my husband, but with my son who turned 12 over the weekend. To celebrate his birthday we chose to attend the season opener of the Charlotte Symphony’s KnightSounds series. You may not believe me but I gave him other options – a night at the movies, dinner at a favorite restaurant, even staying home and playing video games. I think he chose this because he wanted to do something “grown-up”. It was my son’s first time attending the symphony and this series could not have been a more perfect introduction.
We dressed up and headed Uptown. After picking up our tickets at the Knight Theater, we crossed the plaza in front of the Mint and Bechtler, vibrant on this perfect fall night, and headed in to the Mint. Friday’s performance was a collaboration with the Mint celebrating the life and work of Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden. Our tickets allowed us to explore the exhibition of his work before the performance.
Viewing the collection gave us context for the pieces the Symphony played. It allowed us to reflect on the how music influenced Bearden’s art. Throughout the performance images of Bearden’s’ works played on the screen above the musicians, helping to keep a 12-year-old’s attention. The conductor, Jacomo Rafael Bairos, made the concert even more engaging by speaking prior to each piece and explaining the connection of the chosen piece to Bearden’s life and work. The conductor also shared connections to his own life – making the performance even more personal and relevant.
For their encore, the Symphony played a wonderful piece called “Up!” by Adam Schoenberg. This uplifting work was the perfect end to the night. The piece, and the night overall, left me feeling hopeful for our city’s cultural future. Our cultural groups are making a true effort to adapt, reach out to new audiences and make art more accessible and relevant. My son told me afterward that he wanted to attend each one of the KnightSounds concerts. At least with one 12-year-old, the series has served its purpose, and I couldn’t be more happy.