Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A night on the town with the Charlotte Symphony

I can't say how much it counted toward qualifying Charlotte as a world-class city, but South Tryon Street was alive Friday night. 

The outdoor tables at the new restaurants helped set the scene, but the Charlotte Symphony generated most of the action. The orchestra drew a healthy turnout to its KnightSounds concert, which meant that hungry people started converging on the Knight Theater around 6:30 p.m. for the pre-concert food. Thanks to the balmy weather, the mingling spilled out onto the plaza.

Everyone went indoors at 7:30 for an hour or so of French music.  Christopher Warren-Green and the orchestra brought on a nimble pianist, Swiss-born Louis Schwizgebel, who zipped through the solo part of Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G. Some of the quiet spots sounded dim, no doubt because the stage had no acoustical shell to help project the sound. If a shell goes in this summer as planned, next season's concerts should fare better.  

For the concert's finale, the orchestra played Ravel's "Bolero" in tandem with a video by New York artist Matthew Weinstein. The star of Weinstein's show was a koi whose face was dolled up with a human woman's features. Since this was animation, realism didn't crimp her style. For instance, a couple of golden skeletons obligingly administered her makeup and lipstick for her. Then she went out and caused trouble, as befits Ravel's roaring conclusion. 

Then the concert was over, but the evening had more to go: The orchestra threw a street party on the closed-off Levine Avenue of the Arts. 

The trio slated for the next morning's Lollipops concert played on an outdoor stage. A woman on stilts wafted through the crowd as entertainers did their routines. Warren-Green, Weinstein and the musicians chatted with the concertgoers. Vendors offered dessert. Well after the entertainers packed up, people were still chatting and delaying the trip home. 

Even though the supermoon was 24 hours away, the orb hovering over the Green was so eye-catching that camera phones came out of pockets and purses to preserve the moment. Celestial phenomena aren't to be missed. If the Charlotte Symphony can  get on its feet once and for all, the phenomenon on South Tryon doesn't have to be so rare. 

Photos: John Graham