The Charlotte Symphony is getting ready for Romare Bearden 2.0.
The orchestra opened this season's KnightSounds series last Friday by combining the Charlotte native's art - projected on a screen above the players - with music that amplified it. For instance: "Take the A Train" and other Duke Ellington hits became the soundtrack for Bearden's depictions of jazz musicians in full swing. The orchestra swung right along with them.
Versatility is one of American orchestras' virtues. The same musicians who dance a graceful Mozart minuet can turn around and kick up their heels with Bearden and the Duke. They'll have another date with Bearden on Thursday, when the orchestra plays an altered version of the concert at Central Piedmont Community College.
The bulk of the program will be the same, including the Ellington medley, Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" and Leonard Bernstein's "On the Town." If the orchestra delivers the "Fanfare" the way it did at the Knight Theater - with the brass and percussion lined up across the stage, firing into the audience at almost point-blank range - the Halton Theater may still be vibrating the next morning.
The concert will give the orchestra a second crack at the Bearden multimedia component, which hit a snag last Friday. Introducing Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings," conductor Jacomo Rafael Bairos told the audience about the black-and-white artworks that were in store. But as the music unfolded, the screen remained blank. What happened? The computer that was programmed with the images malfunctioned, says the orchestra's executive director, Jonathan Martin.
Maybe the second time will be a charm. The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at CPCC's Halton Theater. Unlike the KnightSounds evening, this one won't include free food or a free visit to an art museum. But tickets are only $20 for adults, $12 for students, available from the Charlotte Symphony box office (not carolinatix.com in this case) at 704-972-2000; www.charlottesymphony.org.