CAROLINA STRINGS NEWS
l to r, Jane Hart Brendle - violin, Evelyn
Blalock - violin , Susan Davis - cello, and
Ellen Ferdon - viola, perform in the ‘Mill
Village: A Piedmont Rhapsody’ at the
Gaston County Public Library. Gaston
Pictured: Carolina Strings performing in the world premier,
Left side - Jane Hart Brendle, Evelyn Blalock - violins
Right side - Ellen Ferdon - viola and Susan Davis - cello
The Mill Community Project wins a national award -
The MetLife Award for Excellence in Community
The Mill Community Project -
Mill Village: A Piedmont Rhapsody
An original multi-media chamber music piece by David Crowe,
in conjunction with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, made
possible by grants from the North Carolina Arts Council and the
National Endowment for the Arts.
ELEGANT STRING MUSIC FOR ANY OCCASION
Jane Hart Brendle
Jane Hart Brendle learned to play on her great-grand-father’s violin in the fifth
grade at Charlotte’s Double Oaks Elementary School. That same year, busing
began in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and in the years that followed, Brendle
bounced from school to school — a fact she believes lends to her musical
experience a depth she might not otherwise have achieved. “I feel like every one
of my teachers nurtured different types of music I wanted to play," she says. "I
don’t even know if they knew they were doing that.”
Today, Brendle uses her varied music education in a range of local performance
opportunities. She has been a member of the Charlotte Symphony since 1995,
and occasionally joins the chamber musicians who play Music at St. Peter’s.
She also adds a dynamic touch to Carolina Strings, the Hodges Taylor
Ensemble and multimedia works such as David Crowe’s “The Mill Village.”
Brendle’s favorite composers are Bach and Beethoven. “I feel a special
connection to the music of these two composers,” she says. “Their
compositions, the way voices are interwoven, and the way harmonies and
melodies are crafted speaks to me on a deep emotional level.”
Jane Hart Brendle featured in Today's Charlotte Woman (article below):
In addition to a classical repertoire, Brendle enjoys alternative jazz, and plays with Petri Dish, an “experimental, free-improvisational”
group, and with Big Octave, which has a steady gig at Blue each Thursday. While violins and jazz may seem an unusual mix, Brendle
says there is a long list of jazz violinists who have recorded over the years. “It’s just that not many classically trained violinsts play
jazz,” she notes.
“I weave my voice into what I’m playing, weaving in and out of the texture,” she adds. “With jazz, I’m either playing a big, exciting,
energetic solo or something quiet — or I’m staying out of the way so someone else can do that. With the Symphony, I’m just melding
into a whole section. It should be a big, round sound.”
When she’s not performing, Brendle is the quintiessential music teacher, having taught at Winthrop University, Davidson College,
Queens University and UNC Charlotte. She has also coached the Charlotte Junior Youth Orchestra. “ The pleasure of teaching
comes when I can tell a student something that helped me, and see it, in return, help the student,” she says.
As an artist, Brendle’s inspiration comes “simply from the chance to play music I love. Also, the sound of the violin making music with
others, and in the case of playing with ensembles, the feeling of being part of something bigger than a single voice.”
Classical and jazz.
Three musicians who have influenced her:
Beethoven, Bach and her husband, jazz musician Ron Brendle.
Played on Claire Ritter’s just released suite based on works by Georgia O’Keefe and entitled "Waltzing the Splendor"; Rick Spreitzer’s
"From the Bottom"; and pianist Ann Trenning’s "All One World". Several years ago, she arranged “Greensleeves” for A Queen City
Christmas CD, which has become a WTVI Christmas television special.
Classical and electric violin.
Find her online at:
carolinastrings.com and charlottesymphony.org.
Charlotte’s music scene can be summed up in one word — diverse. The fact is that many of the region’s best-loved voices are
female, but the performers are hardly just pretty voices. These women have the personalities to match their bold sounds. Meet the
lyrical royalty of the Queen City — women who fill the stages with sensational music — and our hearts with joy
Face The Music
Fem-iliar Sounds Of The Queen City
By Nicole M. Sikora
Photos By Scott Stiles
Sound level checks with cameramen before the filming of the
wedding-themed TV series “Hitched or Ditched” . Carolina Strings
provided the music. The show aired on the CW network.
Jane Hart Brendle -
jams with Tito Puente
at a Charlotte
Symphony Park at
Ice Sculpture of the
Firebird statue at the
Charlotte Center City
Partners 2011 Vision
Awards. Carolina Strings
performed at the 2011
Carolina Strings performs
with the band at the grand
opening of Forest Hills
Church, Ballantyne Campus.
Carolina Strings Award:
The Knot Best of Weddings Winner
Editor's choice as the top wedding music professional in North
Carolina. Carolina Strings was selected as top pick in the
"Ceremony Music" category
The Charlotte Observer
by Katya Lezin
Jeffrey and Ellen Ferdon are at every Charlotte Symphony performance, but they are not season ticket holders.
These south Charlotte musicians play for the symphony.
Jeff, 50, is the third chair, nonrotating double bass player and Ellen, 51, is a section viola player.
Both began playing their respective instruments as children, and neither envisioned making a career of their musical talents
until years later.
Ellen, who grew up in Raleigh, began playing the viola at age 9 at school because, she says, “they didn’t have enough violas.”
By middle school, she had plateaued and was on the verge of quitting. “Everyone else could do vibrato,” she recalls, “and I
In middle school, she began taking private lessons from a new viola soloist at her church, and everything clicked. She began
playing more interesting and challenging pieces and played in a youth orchestra and two different quartets. By high school, she
knew she wanted to major in music in college.
Across the country in Duluth, Minn., Jeffrey began playing the bass in middle school. Both of his parents were amateur
musicians so Jeffrey enjoyed music, but his top priority was long distance running. A stress fracture at the end of his
sophomore season sidelined him the next year, allowing him to focus exclusively on his music. He never looked back.
Both Ferdons ended up at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. Jeffrey was a finalist in a
competition put on by the Minnesota Orchestra, earning him a full scholarship. "A good thing,” Jeffrey recalls, “since my dad was
an out-of-work steelworker at the time.”
Ellen began her college studies at UNC Greensboro but transferred to UNCSA because of the additional musical opportunities
both the school and the area provided.
They met when they both landed spots playing in the Greensboro Symphony. It was a 30-mile commute and, says Ellen, “I
needed a ride.”
They married in 1983 and moved to Charlotte one year later when Ellen landed a spot in the Charlotte Symphony. It was a
regional orchestra at the time (as compared to its current status as a major orchestra, in the same tier as the Boston
Philharmonic and the New York, Cleveland and Minneapolis Symphonies), but even so, Ellen says she “had no idea how crazy
competitive it was to join an orchestra.”
One year later, there was an opening for a bass player with the Charlotte Symphony and Jeffrey applied for it. He won the seat
and both Ferdons have been with the symphony ever since.
They are one of five married couples playing in the symphony, a distinction that comes with many advantages but some
challenges as well. “Having kids and maintaining a life outside of the orchestra was tough,” Ellen says of the challenge of
raising their son, Aldon, 21, while both parents’ jobs often called for them to be away in the evenings.
They perform more than 100 performances each year on the symphony schedule, which averages up to eight rehearsals and
concerts per week. The 23 hours they spend each week at the symphony does not take into account the personal preparation
they must do at home. Each spends at least two hours each day learning and practicing music. Both Ferdons also supplement
their symphony work with freelance work.
Jeffrey coaches the symphony’s youth orchestra, teaches private lessons, and teaches at Davidson College. Ellen also offers
private lessons and plays in a quartet, Carolina Strings, that specializes in weddings and other sacred events.
“At the end of the week,” says Jeffrey, “it’s a full-time job, plus.” But they both relish being able to do the job together.
“Since we’re both musicians,” says Jeffrey, “we understand what we’re both going through.” Adds Ellen, “When he’s not there
(because of a different orchestra rotation), I really miss him.”
Symphony couple lives for music - Ellen Ferdon, Jeff Ferdon
Bass and viola players perform more than 100 shows per year
Ellen Ferdon- featured in a Charlotte Observer article, See
article below, "Symphony Couple Lives for Music"
Jane Hart Brendle featured in the
Charlotte Symphony playbill
Jane Hart Brendle- featured in Today's Charlotte
Woman, See article below, "Face the Music: Fem-iliar
Sounds of the Queen City."