Alexander Xavier Charles

Performer, Composer, Educator

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Alexander Xavier Charles

 

is an accomplished instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, and educator dedicated to the study and development of vocal pedagogy within the instrumental medium. He has performed in venues across the United States and abroad, and his compositions have been performed by some of the top groups in their field. He has a plethora of experience as both a featured soloist and an ensemble member, across a wide variety of instruments and settings. Alexander has studied with such names as Paul Rawlins, former bass trombonist and arranger for the U.S.A.F. Airmen of Note jazz ensemble, and Lynn Hileman, Associate Professor of Bassoon at West Virginia University and member of the contemporary bassoon collectives Dark in the Song and the Rushes Ensemble. Alexander has played with such organizations as the Rappahannock POPS Orchestra and the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra, and currently serves as the principle bassoonist for the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, located in Niceville, FL, and is a member of both the Civitasolis Reed Quintet, and the Copeland Street Vocal Quartet. Mr. Charles holds a Bachelor's of Music degree in Instrumental Performance from West Virginia University, and is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Bassoon Performance from the Florida State University, where he studies with Prof. Jeff Keesecker. Mr. Charles is a proud brother of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, and a card-holding member of the Barbershop Harmony Society. 

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Growing up 

in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Alexander was exposed to a wide variety of music from a young age; situated directly between the state and nation's capitol, a little over 50 miles outside of both Richmond and Washington, D.C., Charles had frequent interactions with some of the country's best musicians and ensembles. Throughout his childhood, Alexander was frequently involved in Fredericksburg's musical atmosphere, playing his first professional gig at age 15. During his high school years, Charles met the musician Paul Rawlins, who took a personal interest in his development, giving him his first instruction in both performance and composition. After graduating from Riverbend High School in 2013, Alexander began his undergraduate degree at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia, where he attended on a full scholarship. It was here, while studying with Dr. Lynn Hileman, that Mr. Charles discovered his fascination with vocal technique and its effects on the instrumentalist. Being inspired by the vivacious teachings of Dr. Kym Scott and Prof. Rob Chafin, Charles began his studies on the combination of vocal and instrumental pedagogy, a pursuit which he has continued since. During his time at WVU, Alexander was involved in almost every ensemble the school had to offer, and became an active member of the city's musical community; from singing lead in his barbershop quartet, to playing trombone in several local pop groups, there was seldom an event that Charles wasn't involved in. As a student, Alexander was fortunate enough to represent the university in performances all across the country, most notably at the 2015 Percy Grainger Festival in Chicago, IL. Despite the distance, Mr. Charles tries to stay involved in his previous communities whenever possible, frequently returning to Morgantown and teaching in the Northern Virginia area.

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Singing has

played a large role in Alexander Charles' musical development; so much so that the artist has frequently said that he considers himself as much a vocalist as he does a bassoonist. Although he sang frequently in high school, his interest in vocal development truly began in 2014 with the formation of his first barbershop quartet, The Barbers of Seville. Initially beginning as a hobby, Alexander quickly became fascinated with the intricacies of the human voice, and began taking casual lessons with the vocal faculty at WVU. Since then, the musician has been as active a vocalist as possible, becoming heavily involved in both classical choral and barbershop settings. Charles has had the distinct pleasure of singing alongside the fantastic musicians of the West Virginia Symphony, representing WVU at Barbershop Harmony Society events, and performing in such venues as St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland.

During his instruction, Charles noticed a peculiar parallel: the habits and qualities that come with good vocal production can be equally beneficial to instrumental technique. Alexander observed that, when applied, vocal technique not only allowed for healthier instrumental playing, but added a distinct depth to his tone and furthered his musical understanding to a point that had previously went unexplored in his strictly instrumental teachings. This discovery has played a large part in the development of the artist's philosophies on both playing and teaching, and has aided in developing the distinctly vocal characteristics that define his style.