Charlotte Weinstein is a recipient of the 2020 NextNotes High School Music Creator Award.

Charlotte Weinstein found an old cello her mother had and she also knew that her mother truly enjoyed the sound of the cello. So she started experimenting with it. It was rough going initially as she tried to figure out proper bowing technique. Eventually that love for experimentation grew into a love for improvisation and composition. She remembers when she first “tasted” music in pre-kindergarten: 

“Someone came in and taught us about different rhythms and different beats and I was fascinated by that and wanted to play an instrument. My parents saw the piano as an instrument that was good for pre-K [children] because it’s very visual. I distinctly remember the time that my first piano teacher ever taught me how to play piano and it was almost miraculous to immediately make music.”

Now a freshman at Bard High School Early College Queens in Queens, NY, things have certainly shifted over the past few months for Charlotte.

“It was sort of just another until this played. School is the routine that I go through everyday, it’s all that I know and this has shifted my reality. But I appreciate the resources that I have.”

but she also admits that this adjustment due to the coronavirus means that she is completely swamped.

Always in search of silver linings, Charlotte feels fortunate to be able continue to participate in an orchestra–a Zoom orchestra and at the time we spoke she had just performed in her first Zoom concert with The Face of Music Philharmonic, an young people’s orchestra that exclusively performs works by living composers.

One of Charlotte’s favorite pieces by a living composer is George Crumb’s Black Angel and it serves as one of main inspirations for her own original composition Disequilibrium for String Quartet. She spoke about her other inspirations:

“There are a lot of ideas of equilibrium in Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Earth Sea” series which I read a few years ago. It was about the idea of this kind of equilibrium that needs to be reached between the outside world’ like animals and bugs and humans human activity. And, I was sort of inspired by a beekeeper who said colony collapse disorder is a human collapse disorder and how the disequilibrium of human impact on the environment affects an ecosystem that we collectively live in.”

Charlotte wrote Disequilibrium before the global pandemic but admits to the timeliness of these themes. 

Charlotte has been experimenting with composition and improvisation for a few years. Disequilibrium is her second composition but her first in which she is starting to explore extended techniques and a new software, Dorico.

“I have always been fascinated with the idea of improvisation. That’s always sort of the way that I usually get started on my pieces; I can’t figure out the full purpose of my piece without improvising some but this piece, itself,  doesn’t really give a lot of room for improvisation, except the glisses where you have to go to your highest possible note.”

Charlotte was shocked when she found out that she was a NextNotes winner. Her orchestra had recommended that she apply and she had a finished piece so she gave it a shot. It seems so important to her now.

“It’s really cool to know that in spite of all these limitations that I am facing now, that I can still work on a piece and have a dynamic part in my life because I feel like for me life has stopped in a lot of ways.”

She is very grateful that ACF is providing this opportunity.

Join us on Saturday, June 27, 2020 at 7:30pm CDT as, for the first time, NextNotes will culminate in a live-streamed awards ceremony emceed by public radio and podcast creator of Trilloquy, Garrett McQueen. The ceremony will celebrate Charlotte and the other five talented creators who were selected from over 140 across the US and represent the skill and range of music being created today. Learn about their experience as part of this year’s cohort and hear samples from the award winning creations. Livestream the ceremony here.

The NextNotes High School Music Creator Awards are generously supported by The Augustine Foundation, the Rosemary and David Good Family Foundation, The Thelma Hunter Fund, the Dr. Fred Noah Gordon Charitable Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation, and other generous individuals.