by Eren Tataragasi

DAVIDSON – For several years, Davidson College’s Concert Series struggled to fill the seats at Tyler-Tallman Hall,

But in the last two years, with help of Alan Black, the numbers are on the rise and the series has expanded to offer six performances in 2012-13.

Black, who has been the principal cellist for the Charlotte Symphony for 26 seasons, is an artist associate in cello and chamber music at Davidson College.

The entire music department once helped arrange the school’s concert series, but this year, Black took on the role of artistic director and has arranged for seven stellar performances.

“Part of the problem in the past was the faculty there has a lot to do and they needed someone that had more ability to put attention to it and also someone who’s already had experience in how to do it,” said Black, who used to arranged the concert series Chamber Music at St. Peter’s in Charlotte. “All it needs is a little tender love and care.”

Black and Amanda Preston, Davidson College’s music production and promotion assistant, have been working closely to make sure the concert series gets that extra attention.

“It’s kind of nice to have one leader of the concert series rather than multiple people from the department working on it,” Preston said. “He’s taken it all on himself and he’s done an amazing job.”

Preston said Black was the right man for the job because of his reputation, his personality and his connections in the music world.

“He also has really good taste,” she said. “He would never invite someone that wouldn’t produce the highest quality performance. He’s very organized and knows his stuff, and he has really strong taste and created a very interesting series this year. We have more concerts than we’ve had in past and the caliber is unreal.”

One such high-caliber performer is world-renowned piano soloist Jon Nakamatsu, who will perform one number with Black during the series’ opening concert on Sept. 8.

Black said it was easy to pick this season’s musicians.

“I know most of the people in town here and because of what I did before I got to know a lot of really good players, so I just want to expose the public to all the very best the Charlotte region has and there are a lot of really great players,” Black said. “Nakamatsu, aside from being friend of mine, is a world-class pianist, so it’s natural to have him to Davidson. Davidson deserves a great program and great music.”

In addition to performing with the Charlotte Symphony, Black performs as part of the Davidson Trio alongside Davidson professors Rosemary Furniss on violin and Dana Protopopescu on piano. The trio will perform again during this year’s series after completely selling out last year.

“I love playing in the trio format,” Black said. “And as far as chamber music, it’s some of the best.”

Preston said Black has turned the series around with increased publicity through word of mouth, more high-caliber performers and larger audiences.

“I would just like to ramp up the effort we put into it,” Black said. “The whole emphasis is to let people know we have a great concert series. With that in mind, it’s a natural it’ll work out. We want a full house every time we have a concert. I don’t see why that’s not a viable option.”

Last year, when Black was just helping with the series, Preston said they had about 600 people attend. Two of the performances completely packed the 179-seat Tyler-Tallman Hall.

And this year the college is offering several ticket options to help encourage attendance.

Tickets for one show cost $15 per person.

Subscriptions packages are available for $70 to all of the shows for the general public and $40 for Davidson faculty, staff and senior citizens. There is also a partial subscription package for $40 for the general public, which will allow them to see any three concerts of their choice.

For more information on the concert series, visit