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Your Neighborhood Orchestra, a branch of Charlotte New Music, is not only about creating community with audiences but also reflecting the musical kaleidoscope of the Charlotte community. By featuring local artists across all genres, YNO aims to break down barriers and provide a safe space for new music creation. Like many other local music organizations, YNO has turned virtual this year, with a series of live streamed performances aired for free on Youtube. Each video has spotlit two local artists, and this one, titled "Journey," was the final installment in the series. This performance featured vocalists Lisa De Novo and Mercury Carter, orchestrations by Alejandro Rutty and Mark Lewis, and choreography by Tamara Williams and Arlynn Zachary. If anyone was unsure, this concert production is a testament to the vibrancy and resilience of Charlotte's artists during a time of uncertainty.
Hosted by the executive artistic director of Charlotte New Music, Elizabeth Kowalski, the livestream began with De Novo's "Wish Upon the Same Star," with orchestration by Lewis and choreography by Zachary. Designed specifically for a virtual viewing experience, this performance had all the pristine attention to detail that you would see in a music video. Floating footage of lyrical dancer Macie Brown was overlaid with shots of De Novo singing, or meditative close-ups of the orchestral musicians. Along with Chen Jiang's video design, Lewis' arrangement of simmering strings and harp broadened De Novo's heartfelt melody and acoustic guitar.
Afterwards, interviews with De Novo, Lewis, and Zachary illuminated the collaborative process of creating the film. From its inception over Zoom to the filming, each artist began their process keeping the wistful story of "Wish Upon the Same Star" at the forefront. For example, Zachary named the words "innocence," "longing," and "waiting," as inspirational points to center and create her choreography. With the film as a result, this project was clearly made with mindfulness and attention to detail.
The film for Carter's "Journey" took us outdoors; Williams' fluid movement reflected the gentle harp, strings, and flute coming to life in Rutty's arrangement. The increasing orchestral layers brought to mind imagery of a flower unfolding. Carter's exquisite and wide-ranging vocals increase in fervency and independence from the instruments, soaring above the orchestration in the song's climax. In the following interview, Carter described his experience of performing this song as an "out of body experience." Similar to the mood of De Novo's composition, "Journey" expresses a mood of longing in a free musical texture without restriction, making the overall concert experience a seamless one.
Although YNO's film series is complete for now, all episodes are available to view anytime on Charlotte New Music's Youtube channel.