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By Andi Stevenson, Community School of the Arts

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending a Charlotte Symphony performance with a large group of Community School of the Arts music students participating in the Knight Artistic Engagement Fund ticket access program.

Led by music director Christopher Warren-Green, the evening including Don Juan by Strauss, the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4.  The symphony’s soloist for the Mendelssohn concerto, Chad Hoopes, was the highlight of the evening for our students thanks to his age:  just 17 years old.  His youth immediately made the performance personal and engaging for our own young musicians, most of whom are between 10 and 15 years old.

Charlotte Symphony soloist Chad Hoopes

Hoopes provided abundant inspiration for any music students in the audience, as Steven Brown noted in his review in the Charlotte Observer:  “Hoopes…..played with a young person’s enthusiasm combined with a veteran’s confidence. He treated the music to a silvery tone, breeziness and the ability to add suave touches to even the most dashing action.”

Most joyfully, our music students and the entire audience were invited to a post-concert reception and question-and-answer session with both Warren-Green and Hoopes.  One of our nine-year-old violinists managed to overcome his nerves and ask, with awe, “How much do you practice?”

And that was the perfect question to embody the goals of the Knight Artistic Engagement Fund:  Inspiring CSA’s young music students by connecting them to the highest levels of professional performance and showing them the forward path in their musical studies.  ‘See the future, see what you can do with hard work and practice, and see how the Charlotte community applauds and cherishes outstanding musical performances.’

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