Charlotte Symphony blends Ravel with digital animation in world premiere

Artist Matthew Weinstein, Knight Foundation and Charlotte Symphony Present May 4th Performance, Mint Museum Exhibit and Festival Events

March 20, 2012- The Charlotte Symphony announced today that it will feature the world premiere of a digitally animated work of art by Matthew Weinstein at the KnightSounds performance of “Bolero Comes Alive” on May 4.


Weinstein’s commissioned piece is a 16-minute original animated video to be displayed on a screen suspended above the orchestra. The audience will experience brilliant animation in sync with the hypnotic music of Ravel’s Bolero.

This is the first commissioned work under the leadership of Music Director Christopher Warren-Green. It will be performed during the symphony’s new multi-sensory KnightSounds series, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and is becoming part of a new national model for the modern concert-going experience.

“The application of digital animation to the frequently performed and well known Bolero exposes aspects of the work in a way that an aural performance alone cannot,” said Charlotte Symphony President and Executive Director Jonathan Martin.

“Today’s audiences have high expectations and increasingly want to become more deeply engaged in artistic performances,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation. “With this performance, and the entire KnightSounds series, we hope to spark new interest in our leading cultural organizations, and remind people of the power of the arts in their lives.”

Weinstein has achieved notoriety in the art world as the first artist to focus exclusively on 3D animation. He is represented by the Sonnabend Gallery and was the first American artist given a major exhibition at the new Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. Throughout his career, Weinstein has built up an index of characters, sets, and environments that he continues to explore in this specially commissioned work. His process usually involves song writing and scripted narratives but for this work his characters have to tell the story of Bolero without words. 

“When I first sat down with Christopher Warren-Green he spoke with me about Ravel’s fascination with machinery,” said Weinstein. “After listening to the piece, I realized that Bolero itself is like a machine, but the machine has these undercurrents of dysfunction that finally take over and explode it. Additionally, I felt a connection with the composer; the process of computer animation, like composing a piece of music, is rigorously technical but leads to results that can be both empathic and mesmerizing.”

Bolero is a perfect fit for Matthew’s work which deconstructs the expectations that have been built around the music through movies, television and pop culture,” said Martin. “There’s a sensual element and vibrancy to Matthew’s art that translates well to our KnightSounds concert format. We wanted something unusual and we knew the art would need to marry well and ultimately serve to exponentially amplify the final experience for the audience.”

“I approached the abstract narrative with Fantasia in mind,” said Weinstein. “Fantasia told a compelling story through classical music and animation, meanwhile introducing the music to those who wouldn’t otherwise have experienced it. Pop culture can be used in a way so that it doesn’t degrade something old but instead enhances it.”

Music Director Christopher Warren-Green will lead the Charlotte Symphony in this exciting, venture that represents a marriage of classical music, digital art, and modern dance. In order to make his non-human characters live on screen and appeal to a human audience, Weinstein works with actors, dancers and choreographers to capture human movement which he then applies to his animations. For this piece, he worked closely with a choreographer to translate his ideas into a modern dance.

Commissioning a piece of multimedia artwork is representative of the forward-thinking vision of the orchestra. As the commissioning agency, the Charlotte Symphony aims to give the work a continued existence in the orchestra world beyond the premiere. The Charlotte Symphony will license the work to other orchestras to help offset the cost of the commission. One prominent American orchestra has already expressed interest in using Weinstein’s work at an upcoming performance.

Events around the premiere are indicative of the artistic synergy the Charlotte Symphony strives to foster within the community. The Mint Museum will present a spotlight exhibition of Weinstein’s work, on view at Mint Museum Uptown from May through August of 2012. As the oldest art museum in North Carolina, and the art museum with one of the largest collections in the Southeast, Mint Museum offers its visitors inspiring and transformative experiences through art from around the world via innovative collections, ground-breaking exhibitions, riveting educational programs, and profound scholarship.

On May 3, a community dialogue will take place between author Robert Goolrick and Weinstein at the Museum.  A post-concert street festival will follow the May 4 performance, featuring local food vendors, artisans and continued entertainment from the high-octane PROJECT Trio.

Since its inception in 2010, the KnightSounds series has been met with full houses and critical success. A tenet of the KnightSounds mission, multimedia is used to enhance and intensify the musical experience. The concerts are one hour in length and include a beverage and hors d’oeuvre in the ticket price, along with engaging pre and post-concert activities.

“The KnightSounds series is changing the nature of the concert experience,” said Martin. “It’s taking the model away from solely aural to one that encompasses the entire experience including the drinks, lighting, multimedia, and activities that encourage community amongst the audience. We are using our successes within this series to inform changes across everything we do as an organization in order to engage new audiences.”

About the Charlotte Symphony

Founded in 1932, the Charlotte Symphony aspires to serve the whole community through classical music that educates, entertains and enriches. The orchestra’s recently launched New American Orchestra Campaign will provide the financial stability for the Symphony to build a renewed and sustainable funding model. A non-traditional venture, the New American Orchestra Campaign seeks to address the immediate nature of the need through community-wide operating support. Through education, innovation and relentless passion, the Charlotte Symphony has served the community for 80 years and is a vital organization that fervently believes in the artistic enrichment of the human spirit.


About Christopher Warren-Green

Music Director of the Charlotte Symphony and London Chamber orchestras, Christopher Warren-Green has formed an international career that has included appearances with the London Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the Camerata Resident Orchestra of the Megaron Athens.Warren-Green has been personally invited to conduct on many occasions for the Royal Family in the last thirty years. In April 2011, Warren-Green conducted the London Chamber Orchestra during the marriage ceremony of HRH Prince William Duke of Cambridge and HRH Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey, which was televised to millions worldwide. Warren-Green is a regular on television and radio, and in summer 2008, he featured on the BBC’s high-profile television series ‘Maestro’. He has recorded extensively for Sony, Philips, Virgin EMI, Chandos and Deutsche Grammophon.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

About the Mint Musem

Mint Museum Uptown houses the internationally renowned Craft + Design collection, as well as outstanding collections of American, contemporary, and European art. Designed by Machado and Silvetti Associates of Boston, the five-story, 145,000-square-foot facility combines inspiring architecture with cutting-edge exhibitions to provide visitors with unparalleled educational and cultural experiences. Located in the heart of Charlotte's burgeoning center city, Mint Museum Uptown is an integral part of the Levine Center for the Arts. Mint Museum Uptown also features a wide range of visitor amenities, including the 240-seat James B. Duke Auditorium, the Lewis Family Gallery, art studios, a restaurant, and a museum shop.  For more information, check out

About the Levine Center for the Arts

The Levine Center for the Arts is one of Charlotte’s key cultural destinations, comprised of Bechtler Museum of Modern Arts, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture,John S. and James L. Knight Theater and Mint Museum Uptown. The center was made possible through the Campaign for Cultural Facilities, the support of the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, and the generosity of the Leon Levine Foundation, one of the country’s largest and most impactful philanthropic organizations.

Opened in 2010, the Knight Theater’s contemporary, flexible design of 1,150 seats provides for artistic grandeur in an intimate setting. The theater is the primary venue for the North Carolina Dance Theatre, and features performances by Opera Carolina and the Charlotte Symphony, as well as musical theater, popular music, touring productions, lectures and film.

Events surrounding the premiere are listed below:

Thursday, May 3          

Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 South Tryon Street, Charlotte: Mathew Weinstein and author Robert Goolrick community discussion and reception. Visit for more information and tickets.

Friday, May 4

10:00 a.m.     Weinstein spotlight exhibit open to the public at Mint Museum Uptown.

5:00 p.m.   Free admission to Mint Museum Uptown begins for all concert ticket holders, continuing through Sunday, May 6.

6:30 p.m.    Pre-concert reception with Dean & Deluca hors d’oeuvre at the Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts, 430 South Tryon Street, Charlotte.

7:30 p.m.    Charlotte Symphony KnightSounds concert premiere of Weinstein work.

8:30 p.m.    Post-concert street festival outside the Knight Theater featuring vendors, artists and musical entertainment.


Tickets to the KnightSounds performance and premiere are $39, available at (704) 972-2000 or



 Charlotte Symphony: Eva Mowry Lewis, Public Relations & Digital Media Coordinator

(704) 714‐5114


National: Nikki Scandalios, Scandalios P.R.

(704) 340-4094


About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit