Since he first picked up the violin at the tender age of three, classical artist Charlie Siem has been on a quick rise to stardom. On April 29, the same week of his Carnegie Hall performance, the virtuoso played an intimate benefit concert at SPiN NYC's Fred Perry Room as part of the Music Unites' Classical Music Showcase Series. He was joined by an acoustic guitar player of the same first name who he jokingly referred to as "Charlie #1" who added an even hipper dimension to his set and DJ Jamie Biden kept the music going before and after the performance.
The Music Unites classical music initiative is dedicated to celebrating, supporting and promoting classical music in a modern setting to appeal to a broader audience. This event clearly epitomized that mission as well as the organizations larger goal to support emerging and established artists.
Guests like Alexandra Richards, Richie Rich, and musicians who are part of the Music Unites family, including Tamarama and Rachel Platten, mingled in the private space and attentively gathered around Charlie to watch with rapt attention as he stood on a small platform in the center of the room. The young musician played a few songs he had written himself and made his rapt onlookers crack a collective smile as he played his dizzying version of Michael Jackson's 'Beat It."
"It was really raw to play to people in such a crowded and intimate setting. It made it more of a challenge to keep people involved and engaged especially without any amplification," said Charlie, who has appeared at renowned festivals all over the world and played for crowds in the hundreds of thousands. "I loved it! I felt that the people were genuinely getting into the music and interacting with it. It makes it easier for younger people to enjoy it in this atmosphere. Playing with guitar is also very disarming for a new audience and brings a fun jamming spirit to the performance."
Charlie's tour in the UK with the Moscow Philharmonic in October 2008 playing Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto put him on the map and his debut CD won international praise. Currently, he is working on a new album scheduled to be released in 2011 and at just 23 years old, is seeking to tap into the younger demographic that was present at the Music Unites show.
Before and after the performance, guests mingled to the sounds of DJ Jamie Biden and enjoyed drinks from Barterhouse and St. Germain. People were also able to purchase raffle tickets and a lucky winner received a Music Unites tee-shirt designed by David Arquette and tickets to Music Unites upcoming events. After the event several guests including Charlie head out into SPiN's main space to try their hand at a few rounds of ping pong.
All the evenings proceeds benefit Music Unites and go to the Music Unites Youth Choir, an after-school music program in partnership with the Young Audiences New York for inner city students, and for bringing music education into underfunded New York City schools.
By Mara Siegler