Special Performances



Union Symphony TRIO CON BRIO performed Saturday, September 17, 2016 at Matthews Community Farmers’ Market.

The Nutcracker

It was with pleasure that Union Symphony partnered with the Union County Youth Ballet for their twenty-fourth production of The Nutcracker. With your help, we raised funds to support the 2016 Nutcracker Performance.

Union Symphony & Union County Youth Ballet’s The Nutcracker was held on Friday, December 9th & Saturday, December 10th at the Batte Center on the campus of Wingate University.


The Nutcracker by Piotr Tchaikovsky is based on the story by E. T. A. Hoffmann and choreographed by Marius Petipa. This ballet has been delighting audiences since 1892. The magical story of young Clara and the toys under her family’s Christmas Tree—The Nutcracker in battle with the Mouse King and their travel to the Land of Sweets—includes some of the best-loved melodies ever written. In Tchaikovsky’s colorful score (“Waltz of the Flowers”, “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”), both the celesta and bass clarinet were introduced to the symphony orchestra.

Past Special Performances:

Palm Sunday and Easter Services at First Presbyterian Church

This season, Union Symphony Orchestra performed an Advent music service with

First Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir under the direction of Kenneth Brown.

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First Presbyterian Church Music Director

Kenneth Brown, Music Director at First Presbyterian Church, began his lifelong love of music and music performance during his youth spent in New York and Michigan. Brown attended Central Michigan University (CMU) where he studied under organ professor, Steve Egler, and received his degree in organ performance and church music. Brown received his master’s degree in organ performance, music theory and music history at the University of Michigan where Dr. Robert Glasgow provided a strong professional influence. Brown has served as the music director and organist at First Presbyterian Church for nearly three years. Among his artistic duties, he directs both The Chancel Choir and the Hand Bell Choir. Brown also performs on piano, and for the past three years, cello, under cello instructor Jill Fung. Brown is a member of Phi Eta Sigma (National Freshman Honor Society) and a member of American Guild of Organists and Organ Historical Society. Currently, Kenneth Brown is engaged in the project of building a pipe organ in his residence in Belmont, North Carolina. When not involved in musical pursuits, Brown enjoys woodworking and biking.



Union Symphony Orchestra performs with Wingate University Opera each year at Wingate University’s Batte Center.

Wingate University Opera Director

WrightMartinJessie Wright Martin, mezzo-soprano, has enjoyed great success singing on both the lyric and concert stages. She has performed with Opera Carolina, South East Kansas Symphony, Baton Rouge Symphony, Union Symphony Orchestra, Pensacola Opera, The Ohio Light Opera, and Hays Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Martin has also performed numerous roles in both opera and operetta. She has been the winner of several awards and scholarships including the Katherine Dunham Baton Rouge Opera Guild Scholarship, the Rotary Club Scholarship, and the Jules F. Landry Scholarship, as well as being named a finalist in the Rose Palmai Tenser Mobile Opera Competition. She was the winner of the 2004 Kansas NATSAA competition. She can be heard on both the Albany Records and Operetta Archives labels on several recordings including Ruddigore, The Gondoliers, Bluebeard, Mlle. Modiste, and The Mikado. In 2104, she made her solo debut at Carnegie Hall on the Weil Recital Hall Stage. Dr. Martin holds her Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from Louisiana State University. She also holds a Master’s in Music in Vocal Performance from Louisiana State University and a Bachelor’s in Music in Vocal Performance from The Florida State University. Dr. Martin is currently on the faculty at Wingate University serving as Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Opera. In 2011, Dr. Martin received the Debra O’Neal Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Martin is an AT.I. certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.


First Baptist Church Christmas Concert with Choir

First Baptist Church Christmas Choir Union Symphony Orchestra annually performs a Christmas concert with Central United Methodist Church Chorus under the direction of long-time symphony supporter, James O’Dell. This performance is a highlight each year for Union Symphony.





Jim O'Dell

James A. O’Dell is the Director of Music/Organist at Central United Methodist Church, Monroe – a position he has held for over eight and a half years. Currently in his 33rd  consecutive year as a Music Minister/Organist, he has held full-time positions in Indianapolis, IN, Victoria, TX, and Lancaster, PA.

Mr. O’Dell’s primary music instructors have included Emily Vanderpool (Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY), Robert Hobstetter (Nazareth College of Rochester, NY), Craig Hella-Johnson (University of Texas at Austin) and Barbara Harbach (University at Buffalo) where he received the Master of Music degree in Organ Performance.

As a member of the American Guild of Organists, he has held the chapter positions of Treasurer, Newsletter Editor, and Sub-dean. His active participation in this organization has included numerous public organ recitals, choral and organ workshops.




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