North Carolina Symphony
By Heather Gordy
Music lovers rejoice; the North Carolina Symphony will be returning to Wilmington this Valentine’s Day! 21-year conductor Grant Llewellyn will lead the orchestra at the newly constructed Humanities and Fine Arts Center at the Cape Fear Community College. The symphony will begin with Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, followed with Hayden’s Symphony No. 59, “Fire”. Keeping with the luminescent theme, Sean Shepherd’s Blue Blazes will follow, with the evening closing on a suite from Stravinsky’s The Firebird.
Lamar Stringfield created the first incarnation of the North Carolina Symphony in 1932 with local, unpaid volunteers. Within three years, they were performing in more than fifty cities and towns around the state in over 140 concerts. Dr. Benjamin Swalin picked up as Music Director for the next four decades, continuing the orchestra’s mission to reach as many North Carolinians as possible.
The symphony officially received state support in 1943 when the “Horn Tootin’ Bill” passed the General Assembly. From then, it has become an essential block to what helped build North Carolina’s culture. Based in Raleigh, the North Carolina Symphony performs about 175 concerts annually throughout North Carolina at schools, auditoriums, concert halls, and gymnasiums reaching large and small communities in more than fifty counties.
Offering one of the most extensive education programs by any U.S. orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony also presents about 45 free concerts throughout the state at schools as part of the students’ music education studies. The Symphony supports the annual Youth Concerto Competition, provides master classes for adults and young musicians, and is a proud sponsor of the Triangle Youth Philharmonic.
The North Carolina Symphony is a full-time orchestra consisting of about seventy dedicated musicians. Seeing and hearing the North Carolina Symphony is not only a cultural experience, but is a delightful event that anyone can enjoy. If you think of orchestral music as too homogeneous, don’t worry; they have a well-known reputation for playing many different genres outside of classical. In 2007, the symphony toured the western part of the state with a program featuring traditional folk music that included Cherokee flutists and banjo players.
The North Carolina Symphony will be performing at the Humanities and Fine Arts Center again in March and May of this year. More information on these events can be found on the North Carolina Symphony webpage as well as the Cape Fear Community College webpage.