From royal weddings in Britain to after-school music programs in the Queen City, Charlotte Symphony music director Christopher Warren-Green strives to build a sense of community through music.
Charlotte Symphony music director Christopher Warren-Green has traveled the world as an orchestra conductor. His knowledge and techniques—which allow him to speak to musicians with a wave of his baton— have earned him multiple personal invitations to conduct for the royal family, including the weddings of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, and of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle this past May.
Prince Charles of Wales had initially become familiar with the conductor through the London’s Philharmonia Orchestra. Warren-Green, 63, conducted his first royal event by request of the prince in 1980, which was a concert in Buckingham Palace.
A native of England, Warren-Green has served on the Charlotte Symphony since the 2010-11 season, with the 2018-19 season being his ninth.
In the Charlotte Symphony’s upcoming season, listeners can expect performances like Beethoven’s Fifth, Mozart’s Requiem, E.T. in Concert, Home Alone: Movie in Concert, The Music of Elton John, The Best of Rodgers and Hammerstein, and more. See charlottesymphony.org for more details.
SouthPark Magazine spoke with Warren-Green about his role as a conductor, whether that’s with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, the London Chamber Orchestra, or when serving as a guest conductor. Lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
What, to you, is the most fulfilling aspect of conducting?
Sharing the music with the audience. People are connected, and yet so disconnected these days, there’s nothing like bringing a community together to feel the music. It’s truly a gift.
Is there anything that you do, or rituals you perform, in preparation for a performance?
Every performance is different. I just try to get in the right frame of mind to bring all of my energy to the stage.
Do you have different approaches for conducting different orchestras?
I really don’t. I bring the same focus and energy to each conducting engagement I have.
What do you love most about conducting the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra?
Sharing music with our Charlotte community. Working with our fine musicians. Hearing audience responses; seeing their joy. There’s nothing better.
You play a key role in Project Harmony, an organization in Charlotte that provides after-school music education in communities that have little to no resources, and in Music Junction, which brings people together in London to create a community through music. Why do you find music education to be so important?
Youngsters need outlets about which they can be passionate. They need a way to learn that they fit in—and how to express themselves. I was one of those children, and music meant so much to me growing up; I can’t imagine not having discovered that outlet. There’s also a proven correlation between academic success and learning music. Not to mention all the communal aspects: learning to rely on others and being relied upon as well.
Is there a piece you have always wanted to conduct, but haven’t had the chance to yet?
I always love conducting anything by Mahler, and I’m pleased that the Charlotte Symphony is performing his First Symphony this season. You’re going to love it.