Norbert Lewandowski on Cello

Norbert Lewandowski was born in Milwaukee, WI and began cello studies at the age of 13. He holds a Master’s degree in performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music and currently resides in Charleston, SC where he performs as acting principal cellist of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Prior to his position in Charleston, Norbert performed as a member of the Rochester and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestras, the Minnesota Opera, and the chamber music festival in Taos, New Mexico. He has also been featured as a soloist on numerous occasions including past performances with the New World Symphony, the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra, and the National Repertory Orchestra. Norbert’s extensive experience with new music includes a wide array of performances and recordings with the groups “Alarm Will Sound” and “Brave New Works”, and was highlighted in early 2008 by an appointment as cellist of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. Norbert’s cello was made by Emil Hjorth in Copenhagen, 1890, and is on a generous loan from the Virtu Foundation in Charlottesville, VA


Meet the Principal Violist for CBT’s Unplugged Performance

Jan-Marie Christy Joyce is in her tenth season as Principal Violist with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, where she has appeared frequently as soloist, most recently in Berlioz’ “Harold in Italy”. After earning a master’s degree from Louisiana State University, she completed a professional studies certificate from the Cleveland Institute of Music under Stanley Konopka (Assistant Principal Violist of The Cleveland Orchestra). Jan-Marie is former Principal Violist of the Canton (OH) Symphony and currently spends her summers as a member of the Breckenridge (CO) Music Festival Orchestra. In the summer of 2005, she was invited to perform in Seattle Opera’s production of Wagner’s “Ring des Nibelungen”. She is an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston, where she teaches viola and coaches chamber music. Ms. Joyce’s first CD of chamber music (works for oboe and strings with members of her family) was released in 2004. Jan-Marie also holds a bachelor’s degree in Trumpet Performance.

Ballet Unplugged Pianist – Andrew Armstrong

Andrew Armstrong

Praised by critics for his passionate expression and dazzling technique, pianist Andrew Armstrong has delighted audiences around the world. He has performed solo recitals and appeared with orchestras in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States, including performances at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and Warsaw’s National Philharmonic. He has performed with such conductors as Peter Oundjian, Itzhak Perlman, and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, and in chamber music with the Alexander, American, and Manhattan String Quartets, as a member of the Caramoor Virtuosi at the Caramoor International Music Festival, and as a member of the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players in New York City.

Armstrong’s future engagements reflect his steadily growing career, performing with major orchestras, including debuts with the Vancouver Symphony, Omaha Symphony and San Antonio Symphony during 2009/10. During the 2008/09 season, Armstrong is the soloist in Mozart’s Concerto K.488 at the Chautauqua Music Festival under the direction of Stefan Sanderling, before embracing Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with both the Fairfax Symphony (Gregory Vajda conducting) and the Nashville Symphony under Günther Herbig. He is also to appear with the Toledo, Fairfax, Augusta, Waukesha and Missoula symphonies, and overseas the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico.

2007/08 offered an array of engagements with the Florida Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, Boise Philharmonic, and the symphonies of Tallahassee, Charlottesville, Stamford, Harrisburg, Bellevue and Ridgefield, among others. Last summer, he shared the stage with Jennifer Frautschi and Eward Arron to perform Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Peter Oundjian conducting. During the summer, he performed a pre-concert recital at the Mostly Mozart Festival.

During his 2006/07 season, Armstrong performed Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the the Charleston Symphony, Saint-Saëns’ 5th Piano Concerto with the Monterey Symphony in a return engagement, Prokofiev No. 3 with the Bridgeport Symphony, and Mozart’s A-major Concerto K. 488 in his debut with the Columbus Symphony under the baton of Günther Herbig. He also played two concertos at the Peninsula Music Festival (the Chopin F minor Concerto and Prokofiev No. 3 under V. Yampolsky) and Rachmaninov’s massive Concerto No. 3 with the Brevard Symphony, Florida. Earlier in 2006 he was the featured soloist with Naumburg Concerts at New York City’s Central Park (Mozart’s Concerto K. 491). In 2004 he performed the World Premiere of Lisa Bielawa’s “The Right Weather” for piano solo and chamber orchestra with the American Composers Orchestra at the sold-out Carnegie Zankel Hall.

Having performed over 35 concertos, Armstrong has impressed his international audiences with a large repertoire ranging from Bach to Babbit and beyond. Before beginning his career as a concert pianist, Armstrong received over 25 national and international First Prizes. In 1996, he was named Gilmore Young Artist. At the 1993 Van Cliburn Competition, where he was the youngest pianist entered, he received the Jury Discretionary Award. The New York Times wrote, “Armstrong may have been the most talented player in the competition….He’s a real musician. We’ll hear more from him.” As the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, Van Cliburn himself, “in a rare showing of enthusiasm for an individual competitor,” called Mr. Armstrong “Fabulous! Fabulous!”

Andrew Armstrong’s debut CD, featuring Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Sonata and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, was released in 2004 to critical acclaim. The critic Bradley Bolen opined: “I have heard few pianists play [Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Sonata], recorded or in concert, with such dazzling clarity and confidence” (American Record Guide, Nov/Dec, 2004). His follow-up CD was issued in November 2007 on Cordelia Records and includes works by Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, and the world premiere recording of Bielawa’s Wait for piano & drone. Andrew Armstrong is devoted to outreach programs and playing for children. In addition to his many concerts, his performances are heard regularly on National Public Radio and WQXR, New York City’s premier classical music station.

Meet Yuriy-

The next few blog posts will introduce you to the amazing musicians who will be performing with Charleston Ballet Theatre on the Opening Night performance titled “Ballet Unplugged”  Yuriy assembled these fine musicians for this special evening of Brahmns, Schubert, and Vaughn Williams 

 Concertmaster, Yuriy Bekker, is a native of Minsk, Belarus, and now, a U.S. citizen. He has led the Charleston Symphony Orchestra as concertmaster since 2007 and will also be joining the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra as concertmaster for the 2010-11 season. Mr. Bekker has also played with the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera and Ballet Orchestras, and the Louisville Orchestra. He has collaborated with Herbert Greenberg, Claudio Bohorquez, Alexander Kerr, Sara Chang, Gil Shaham, and Andrew Armstrong in both chamber concerts and symphonic settings.

Engagements at the Kennedy Center include performances with the Indiana String Quartet and with the Degas String Quartet for the Chicago Chamber Music Society. Recent appearances include recitals in New York City, Chicago, Miami, Asheville, NC, Flagstaff, AZ, and Graz, Austria as well as numerous engagements as a soloist with the Charleston Symphony. His recent performance of the Korngold Violin Concerto led to critical acclaim:“Bekker’s sweet and singing tone never stopped soaring dreamily over his colleagues’ lush palette of supporting sound. Bravo Bekker!” – Charleston City Paper Mr. Bekker also performs regularly for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival at which his solo appearances have created a sensation: “This man [Bekker] was born to play the fiddle. Plump, smooth tone, uncanny control, stiletto sharp intonation, musicality and passion to burn. He’s got it all, and then some.” – Charleston City Paper

Mr. Bekker is also the concertmaster and a faculty member of the AIMS Festival in Graz, Austria. He has played in music festivals worldwide including the European Music Festival Stuttgart (Germany), the Pacific Music Festival (Japan), Spoleto USA, the Aspen Music Festival, and others in the Netherlands and Switzerland. He has been a frequent guest concertmaster and soloist with various orchestras including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble DuMonde and others in the New York City and Baltimore areas. In addition, he is on the faculties of the College of Charleston School of the Arts and the Charleston Academy of Music. He earned a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory where he was concertmaster of the Peabody Symphony under the tutelage of Herbert Greenberg. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees were acquired from Indiana University’s School of Music. There he studied violin with Nelli Shkolnikova and Ilya Kaler, and chamber music with Atar Arad, Emile Naomoff, and Janos Starker. Along with his positions as concertmaster, engagements for the 2010-2011 season include solo appearances with the Charleston Ballet, Ensemble Du Monde, Orlando Philharmonic, and other solo appearances in Charleston, New York City, Scottsdale, AZ, and abroad.

Les Six and Montparnasse- The Object of My Affection –

A Breeding Ground of Musical Inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.

Les Six is a name associated with a group of six composers who came together in the Montparnasse district of Paris in 1920. Their music is often seen as a reaction against Wagnerism and Impressionism. The members, who possessed distinctive creative individualities, were united by a striving for a new simplicity and structural clarity in musical language and by a renunciation of the aesthetics of impressionism. The members of Les Six are associated with the music aesthetic that emerged in France after the First World War. Influenced by the new focus on simplicity as described by poet Jean Cocteau, and embodied in the music of Erik Satie, Les Six produced music that is light, unpretentious, and appropriates form and gesture from informal settings such as circus music, popular music, and jazz.

 The group consisted of: Georges Auric (1899-1983), Louis Durey (1888-1979), Arthur Honegger (1892-1955), Darius Milhaud (1892-1974), Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) & Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983). Despite the elements the six composers had in common, their differences were far greater. In the 1920s each of them was pursuing solo careers.

They originally around and found a degree of inspiration from the idiosyncratic composer Erik Satie (1866-1925) but they eventually broke away and formed their own respective styles, which echoed his disdain for the conventions of the time. The context was post WWI Paris, which had become the world’s leading arts centre, attracting people as diverse as Diaghilev, Picasso and Gershwin.

Their music is very different, though. Auric is mainly known for his film scores, whilst Milhaud was influenced by Jazz and the folk music of his native Provence. Poulenc, one of the first openly gay artists, was the most versatile of the group, producing songs, chamber works, ballets, operas and concertos. Perhaps the most serious composer of the lot was Honegger, who produced the orchestral showpiece Pacific 231 and the profound Symphonie Liturgique.

The composer I have utilized the most in my scoring of Alice is Francis Poulenc.

My personal favorite, Poulenc, who is again a somewhat underrated composer is one of the most melody-gifted composer of the 20th century. Being very musical and talented by nature, unfortunately his personality and art preferences allow him to compose only works of limited deepness. As with other great composers, his style is original and individual, undoubtedly recognized from few measures of work. His style is a curious mixture, and can go from extreme dissonance to Debussyian voluptuousness from one bar to the next. La Voix Humaine, a one act opera with one character, a woman who is carrying on a conversation by phone with her ex-lover, is very moving and dramatic. He has created a very varied output, with such gems as the Concert Champetre, for Harpsichord and Orchestra. I consider Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani, to be a great work. The ascending theme played by the organ against a background of strings, which makes its appearance at the beginning & end, is so gripping & memorable. Anyone who dismisses the work of Les Six as trivial or superficial should listen to this work. In my opinion, it thoroughly beats Saint-Saens’ similar effort, Symphony No. 3 ‘Organ Symphony.’ The Poulenc Concerto provides much more of a visceral experience & is more profound.

The setting of Montparnasse

Like its counterpart Montmartre, Montparnasse became famous at the beginning of the 20th century, (the Crazy Years), when it was the heart of intellectual and artistic life in Paris. From 1910 to the start of World War II, Paris’ artistic circles migrated to Montparnasse, an alternative to the Montmartre district which had been the intellectual breeding ground for the previous generation of artists. The Paris of Zola, Manet, France, Degas, Fauré, a group that had assembled more on the basis of status affinity than actual artistic tastes, indulging in the refinements of Dandyism, was at the opposite end of the economic, social, and political spectrum from the gritty, tough-talking, die-hard, emigrant artists that peopled Montparnasse.

 They came to Montparnasse from all over the globe, from Europe, including Russia and Ukraine, from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and from as far away as Japan. Manuel Ortiz de Zárate, Camilo Mori and others made their way from Chile where the profound innovations in art spawned the formation of the Grupo Montparnasse in Santiago. A few of the other artists who gathered in Montparnasse were Pablo Picasso, , Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie, Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger, Amedeo Modigliani, Ezra Pound, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Rousseau, Salvador Dalí, Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, Joan Miró and, in his declining years, Edgar Degas.

 The Montparnasse cafés were the rallying sites for the so-called ‘Lost Generation’ and for the Surrealists and the Existentialists of Paris. These cafés, La Closerie des Lilas, La Coupole, Le Dôme, La Rotonde and Le Sélect, attracted the likes of Lenin, Trotsky, Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, Matisse, and Toklas. Toklas, Hemingway and Fitzgerald seemed to favor La Closerie des Lilas. Jean-Paul Sartre, Josephine Baker, Roman Polanski attracted their ‘family’ at La Couple and at the Deux Magots on St-Germain des Prés. Gertrude Stein held her court at 27 rue de Fleurus, near the Alliance Française Virtually penniless painters, sculptors, writers, poets and composers came from around the world to thrive in the creative atmosphere and for the cheap rent at artist communes such as La Ruche. Living without running water, in damp, unheated “studios”, seldom free of rats, many sold their works for a few francs just to buy food. Jean Cocteau once said that poverty was a luxury in Montparnasse.

Between 1921 and 1924, the number of Americans in Paris swelled from 6,000 to 30,000. While most of the artistic community gathered here were struggling to eke out an existence, well-heeled American socialites such as Peggy Guggenheim, and Edith Wharton from New York City, Harry Crosby from Boston and Beatrice Wood from San Francisco were caught in the fever of creativity. Robert McAlmon, and Maria and Eugene Jolas came to Paris and published their literary magazine Transition. Harry Crosby and his wife Caresse would establish the Black Sun Press in Paris in 1927, publishing works by such future luminaries as D. H. Lawrence, Archibald MacLeish, James Joyce, Kay Boyle, Hart Crane, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, Dorothy Parker and others.

The poet Max Jacob said he came to Montparnasse to “sin disgracefully”, but Marc Chagall summed it up differently when he explained why he had gone to Montparnasse: “I aspired to see with my own eyes what I had heard of from so far away: this revolution of the eye, this rotation of colours, which spontaneously and astutely merge with one another in a flow of conceived lines. That could not be seen in my town. The sun of Art then shone only on Paris.”

CBT’s Fast Track Rollercoaster Ride

Success and pride have been the hallmarks of this roller-coaster ride that has been our 23rd season as Charleston’s hometown world-class professional dance company. In that spirit I wanted to share with you some of the highlights of our past season including artistic success for myself and the dancers as well as success for our own staff. I could not be more proud to be at the helm of such a uniquely gifted group of people who make every day at CBT a new and exciting adventure in the arts. As a friend and supporter of Charleston Ballet Theatre, Don, Patricia and I hope you too can share the same enthusiasm.

I have personally been blessed enough to see two of my newest creations, Decadent Divas and Motown Mania, reach monumental success, something that reinvigorates me daily, keeping my mind fresh and churning with new inspiration for the future. Our Masterpieces of Dance program this year allowed us to present masterworks of two geniuses of the medium with George Balanchine’s Rubies & Serenade and in-house guest Bruce Marks’ stunning A Lark Ascending.

 New company members are always welcome at CBT, but I would like to acknowledge the loyalty and talent of the collection of long time dancers who have been with CBT for several seasons, sharing their grace and gifts with us for now and many seasons to come. I feel fortunate to have them, as they are the heart and soul of this organization.

 Another source of great pride for me is to see our own Administrative Director, Kyle Barnette, awarded for his business and community leadership by being selected as one of the 40 Under 40 young leaders in Charleston. CBT’s success over the past year has been varied and due to many reasons but none so much as to the loyalty of our generous and enthusiastic ballet patrons.

For the past 23 years CBT has brought the elegance and beauty of ballet to over one-million audience members. The company has touched the lives of more than 66,000 children through its vast arts education programs. The work of CBT is inspired by the brilliance of renowned choreographers and gifted composers, and our dancers create an effortless tableau of graceful and athletic movement on stage. Years of dedication, hard work and aching feet have brought these dancers to Charleston. To have a top-ranked organization, it takes the commitment of many people and a caring community with the passion and dedication to support it.  There also could never be enough words of thanks to the ballet company’s Board of Directors led by visonary Attorney Charles Patrick at its helm.-  Basically YOU ALL ROCK!!!  

As our landmark 23rd season of CBT concludes with the company’s fiscal year ending on June 30, 2010, I truly hope you will consider a contribution at any level to help us end our season strong and secure. Next season is packed with such exciting works as a brand new Alice in Wonderland full length ballet, the world premiere of my Nashville ballet and of course our classic The Nutcracker. Your generosity will ensure the continued legacy of artistic excellence at Charleston Ballet Theatre in one of the most culturally rich cities in the world. I ask that you share your pride in us with a gift today by simply filling out the form below. The dancers, staff and board of CBT graciously thank you in advance for your commitment and your support. I guarantee we will be here for you and hope the feeling is mutual!

Call  843- 723-7334 to make your donation today.. before the end of our fiscal year June 30, 2010.

or mail it in to

Charleston Ballet Theatre

477 King Street Charleston SC


My World is Empty Without You Babe! – Love You Motown


In 1959 Barry Gordy with a $800 loan from his family, started the label he ultimately expanded into an entertainment empire, despite the racial prejudices he and his staff encountered. In 1988, he sold Motown to MCA for $61 million.  This Piccolo  2009 we celebrate 50 years of Motown.  The incredibly talented CBT dancers  bring to life and honor the Motown legends that brought the world to its dancing feet with million-selling hit, following million-selling hit song . 

Just shy of finishing the Motown 50th Anniversary yearlong celebration — MOTOWN MANIA premiered for Charleston Ballet Theatre this past  January. . As with any creative project. the slow tedious process of  historical information  gathering began with  Steve Lepre, & Mark McKinney of Sunhead Projects.    I needed a hook- to tell my story.  The google digging became harder and harder.  The facts and more importantly for my needs, the images  are mind boggling which became my necessary thread to propel and jumpstart the viewer up to the setting. Take the Supremes as an example.

The most successful American performers of the 1960s, the Supremes for a time rivaled even the Beatles in terms of red-hot commercial appeal, reeling off five number one singles in a row at one point. Critical revisionism has tended to undervalue the Supremes’ accomplishments, categorizing their work as more lightweight than the best soul stars (or even the best Motown stars), and viewing them as a tool for Berry Gordy’s crossover aspirations. There’s no question that there was about as much pop as soul in the Supremes’ hits, that even some of their biggest hits could sound formulaic, and that they were probably the black performers who were most successful at infiltrating the tastes and televisions of middle America. This shouldn’t diminish either their extraordinary achievements or their fine music, the best of which renders the pop vs. soul question moot with its excellence.

The Supremes were not an overnight success story, although it might have seemed that way when they began topping the charts with sure-fire regularity. The trio that would become famous as the Supremes — Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard — met in the late ’50s in Detroit’s Brewster housing project. Originally known as the Primettes, they were a quartet (Barbara Martin was the fourth member) when they made their first single for the Lupine label in 1960. By the time they debuted for Motown in 1961, they had been renamed the Supremes; Barbara Martin reduced them to a trio when she left after their first single.

The Motor City music scene fills the Black Box Theatre with a rollicking tribute to the golden era of Motown’s biggest hits. Set in the same vein CBT’s instant classic Magical Mystery Tour, the dance company lets loose to a barrage of r&b/soul classics from such giants of the era as The Supremes, Marvin Gaye and The Jackson Five. Get ready for a throwback to a simpler time when dancing in the streets was common place and no mountain was high enough. The ballet also features multi-media visuals by Sun Head Projects on CBT’s multiple screens.
Show Dates: Sun. May 30th, Fri. June 4th, Thur, June 10th, Fri. June 11th at 7pm, Sat. June 12th at 9pm // Monday May 31st at Noon