Lawrence Toppman

Next season for Charlotte Concerts: keyboards, strings and a couple of (songwriting) kings

The 5 Browns, who have played as a sibling keyboard quintet for 15 years, will unveil a project on their 2017-18 tour, which includes Charlotte Concerts.
The 5 Browns, who have played as a sibling keyboard quintet for 15 years, will unveil a project on their 2017-18 tour, which includes Charlotte Concerts. Courtesy of The 5 Browns

Five string players, six pianists, one vocalist and a 17-piece big band exploring one song catalogue of infinite delights. That’s the raw material for five unique nights of classical music and classic jazz.

When season tickets go on sale March 26, Charlotte Concerts will offer a five-pack of shows in the 2017-18 season. All will take place in Halton Theatre on the CPCC campus, except for “The Gershwin Project.” (Jazz always sounds best in McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square.)

And after the success of “A Musical Showcase,” where CMS schools came together in a massive band-orchestra-chorus concert at Belk Theater, a second one will follow April 23, 2018 – though it’s not part of the season ticket package.

More good news: For the second consecutive year, ticket prices have not risen. They’re still $135, $165 and $200, a 25 percent savings over single-ticket costs.

New York Philharmonic String Quartet, Oct. 5 – The newest group on this tour was created in January and consists of concertmaster Frank Huang, principal associate concertmaster Sheryl Staples, principal viola Cynthia Phelps and principal cello Carter Brey. What might they play? Well, they’ll make their New York debut in November with Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in F minor, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 4 and Dvořák’s “American” String Quartet in F major.

Gil Shaham and Akira Eguchi, Oct. 20 – The American violinist and Japanese pianist will play one big, familiar work – Franck’s Sonata in A Major – and many we seldom or never hear in Charlotte: Kreisler’s “Preludium and Allegro,” Prokofiev’s Five Melodies, Bach’s Partita No. 3 for solo violin, a duo arrangement of Saint-Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and Avner Dorman’s “Nigunim.” That title means “melodies” in Hebrew; the piece represents the lost tribes of Israel, with influences from Northern Africa, the Balkans, and Central Asia.

The 5 Browns, Jan. 18 – Fifteen years ago, the siblings from Houston (two brothers, three sisters) became media darlings for their youthful piano chops. Now they’re all in their 30s and basing their 2017-18 tour on a book and album project dubbed “Little Tin Box,” which invokes the image of a childhood keepsake box filled with treasures. The program combines selections from that album with Browns favorites by Claude Debussy, George Gershwin, Bedrich Smetana and Igor Stravinsky.

“The Gershwin Project,” Feb. 18 – Vocalist/conductor Michael Andrew fronts a big band in a new program titled “American Rhapsody: The Gershwin Songbook.” The 17-piece ensemble performs “I Got Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “The Man I Love” and other time-honored standards by the brothers Gershwin, composer George and lyricist Ira.

Cliburn Gold Medalist, March 18 – Since 1981, Charlotte Concerts has regularly brought gold medalists from the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which is held every four years. The 2017 winner will be named June 10; check here to find out who it is.

Toppman: 704-358-5232