As we prepare to ring in the New Year, there is still a lingering holiday cheer in the air. For those who would like to continue the festivities before the dullness of January strikes, the Charlotte Symphony has the perfect evening in store for you. They have partnered with the Cirque de Noel in order to combine both feats of music and body in one marvelous show. Playing pieces from The Nutcracker and classics like “Sleigh Ride,” the CSO manages to combine musical excellence with songs everyone knows and loves. Their playing provided an alluring stage for the cirque performers to mesmerize with their graceful, impressive, and sometimes silly, tricks.

The visual collaboration of the Cirque and CSO was brought together by the subtle lighting of the performance. As audiences arrived, the organ facade lining the rear wall of the Belk Theater glowed in festive red and green. Throughout the night, the lighting on the rear wall would set the mood for the upcoming piece. The partnership between these two art forms felt natural as the audience watched. The bright colors and vivid movement of the Cirque performers combined with the Orchestra’s concert blacks and skillful playing felt incredibly cohesive, much like a concert version of a musical.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the standout Cirque performances of the night because they were so different and exciting. Fans of graceful and lyric movement would love the stunning aerialists that soared above the orchestra to the tune of Debussy, Williams and Tchaikovsky. If you are looking for thrill, perhaps the silver-coated acrobatics of “Little Bolero Boy” would take your breath away. And for those with children or child-like wonder, the juggler and the onstage quick changes would be your favorite.

One thing is for sure, the CSO succeeded in bringing the magic of live music to a widespread audience. Their performance of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” is absolutely enchanting. Tara Villa Keith‘s conducting shaped the piece with such elegant nuances that it became more than a simple underscore for the aerialist onstage. This was audible throughout the night. It is sufficient to say that the Cirque only enhanced the music being played. There was a tangible synergy between every section of the Orchestra. Even for young audience members, the music was not the supporting act, or even a palate cleanser, but a feat within itself.

Last night’s performance was truly a unique experience. The union of Cirque and orchestra is not a common occurrence and definitely a must-see for anyone who has never witnessed it. The CSO succeeds in erasing the stereotype that some have of classical music being stuffy and pretentious. Collaborations like the Cirque de Noel allow audiences to experience live music that they are familiar with, but are made new with the skill of an orchestra. Not to mention, it gives children the opportunity to absorb orchestral music as well, capturing their ears as well as their eyes. As the year comes to a close, let’s celebrate the return of live music by supporting our own communities of music. If you are seeking a night of both auditory and visual wonder, look no further than the CSO’s Cirque de Noel performance.

The Cirque de Noel repeats at the Belk Theatre through December 30th. For more details on this production, please view the sidebar.