Charlotte Symphony’s Chamber Singers Debut

COURTESY CHARLOTTE SYMPHONY
Kenney Potter took the lead at Charlotte Symphony Chorus during the summer.

THIS FALL is a season of a change for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s 150 volunteer singers. The Oratorio Singers of Charlotte have been rebranded as the "Charlotte Symphony Chorus." A new Young Artists in Residence program gives area high-schoolers a chance to perform onstage with the group for some of the year's most anticipated concerts. And on Saturday, an offshoot effort called Charlotte Symphony Chamber Singers debuted at Ascension Lutheran Church.

At 35 singers, the new ensemble is a chamber group, which is smaller, more intimate choir. Kenney Potter, director of choruses for the symphony, won't take sole credit for the new ensemble. “There was much interest within members of the chorus to start a chamber group for some time,” Potter said. “And our goal is just to pursue artistic excellence within the chorus in any way.”

Potter began his work as director of choruses with the symphony this summer, following the departure of longtime leader Scott Allen Jarrett. Potter, who also directs choral activities at Wingate University, says this weekend’s opening concert from the Chamber Singers “is not what the casual concert-goer would expect.”

That becomes more obvious when you take a look at Saturday’s program. Along with the names of celebrated Renaissance composers, modern figures like Eric Whitacre and Kurt Knecht are seen. “Whitacre’s “Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine” would be considered a ‘cutting-edge’ piece for choral concerts,” Potter says. “I think there’s room for cutting-edge and progressive works in Charlotte. But it’s also an audience that appreciates classic works.”

This concert is a mix of those concepts, and Potter maintains that “classics are the backbone of a repertoire.” But the show is titled Renaissance Inspirations, and that influence runs throughout the program. “There was so much choral music written in the Renaissance,” Potter says. “In fact, from a music history perspective, the form owes a lot to Renaissance figures like Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Shakespeare. As much as I like looking for cutting-edge, the more I’m in front of choirs, the more I connect to pieces that are 400 years old. There’s a reason some of these have endured for so long. Are some of these new pieces going to be around 200 years from now? I highly doubt it.”

Categories: Arts + Culture