It’s a new era for the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.
In its 2023-24 season, the orchestra will spotlight six candidates for the position of music director in six Peace Center Concert Hall programs.
An additional four guest conductors will lead the Gunter Theatre concerts.
The orchestra’s 76th season includes a number of firsts:
- More 20th and 21st century works are scheduled than ever before.
- Women and minority composers make up 40% of the composers featured in the Peace Center Concert Hall performances.
- All six music director candidates will be appearing with the Greenville Symphony for the first time.
Cornerstone classical works by Brahms, Berlioz and Mussorgsky will be featured throughout the season along with several contemporary pieces, including a 2015 Violin Concerto by jazz great Wynton Marsalis and a concerto for beatbox (vocal percussion) that premiered only last year.
“We want the whole experience of this season to feel fresh, joyful and full of energy,” said Jessica Satava, the orchestra’s executive director.
“So much of the programming consists of music that Greenville audiences have never heard our orchestra play,” she said. “Much of it has been has been written in the last couple of years. We’re really excited to share this work with the community because we believe in it and we think it’s going to provide an incredible experience for audiences.”
Edvard Tchivzhel, the orchestra’s music director and conductor for the past two decades, will return as conductor emeritus to lead the Holiday at Peace Concerts.
The orchestra will accompany a screening of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” with three performances, Jan. 13-14, following this season’s highly successful screening of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
Familiar and new
The six programs in the Peace Center Concert Hall were designed by the music director candidates themselves.
“We owe it to our art form to protect and sustain our traditions, but we also need to promote and highlight new works so that legacy continues to grow,” Satava said.
Fittingly, the programs feature a mix of the familiar and the new.
Quest and Destiny (Sept. 9-10): Geoffrey Robson, currently artistic director and principal conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, opens the Greenville season with African American composer Florence Price’s “Ethiopia’s Shadow in American,” a 1932 work that incorporates spiritual-like themes in a romantic texture. The program also includes Richard Strauss’ tone poem “Don Juan” and Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2, with Grammy-nominated Andrius Zlabys as soloist.
Music for our Moment (Oct. 7-8): John Devlin, currently music director of the Wheeling (West Virginia) Symphony Orchestra, leads the Greenville Symphony in an innovative vocal percussion work by Evan Meier and Christylez Bacon: “Migrations in Rhythm: A Concerto for Beatbox and Rhyme,” with Bacon as soloist. Devlin opens the performances with Caroline Shaw’s “Entr’acte” and concludes with Shostakovich’s powerful Fifth Symphony.
Through the Looking Glass (Nov. 11-12): Lee Mills, who has conducted major symphony orchestras in such cities as Seattle and Los Angeles, leads the Greenville orchestra in minimalist composer Philip Glass’ Violin Concerto No. 1, with soloist Simone Porter. Mills opens the program with contemporary African American composer Mary D. Watkins elegiac “Soul of Remembrance” and concludes with Schumann’s Second Symphony.
Tales of Transformation (Jan. 20-21): Janna Hymes, currently artistic director of Indiana’s Carmel Symphony Orchestra, conducts contemporary American composer Adam Schoenberg’s energetic “Bounce” and Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No. 1, with Joshua Roman as soloist. Also on the program: Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite” and Paul Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis.”
Fusion and Fantastique (Feb. 17-18): Wesley Schulz, music director and conductor of the Auburn (Washington) Symphony Orchestra and associate conductor of the North Carolina Symphony, leads the orchestra in British composer Anna Clyne’s “Masquerade” and Marsalis’ Violin Concerto, with soloist Tessa Lark. Concluding the program is Berlioz’s thunderous Symphonie Fantastique.
The French Connection (March 16-17, 2024): Yaniv Attar, music director of the Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra, conducts Lilli Boulanger’s “D’un matin de printemps” (“Of a Spring Morning”), Astor Piazzolla’s Concerto for Bandoneon, and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”
The Greenville Symphony’s search committee and board hope to choose a new music director by April 2024.
“I’m excited about the energy that is swirling about the Greenville Symphony right now,” Satava said. “The growth in the organization is mirroring the vibrant growth of Greenville. It feels like the sky is the limit. We’re creating something truly unique, beautiful and unifying for Greenville.”
Gunter Theatre performances
The orchestra’s concerts at the Gunter Theatre, formerly known as the chamber series, will be led by four guest conductors based in the Upstate:
- Gary Malvern conducts vocal music by Handel, Mozart, Rossini and others on Sept. 30-Oct 1.
- Thomas Joiner leads a program on April 6-7 with music by Faure, Copland and Mark O’Connor.
- Gary Robinson conducts music by Gluck, Bach, Respighi and Philip Glass on March 2-3.
- Leslie Hicken leads a program of Richard Strauss, Stravinsky and Weill on May 4-5, 2024.
The orchestra will also feature two intimate chamber concerts with the themes “Day of the Dead” (Oct. 28) and “Rebirth” (March 24, 2024) at the Greenville County Schools Fine Arts Center.
In addition, the orchestra will continue to offer an array of educational concerts and other small-ensemble community performances.
Three programs remain in the 2022-23 season. Next up is “Rachmaninoff Rhapsody,” featuring Sergei Rachmaninoff’s popular “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” (Maxim Lando, soloist) and his Second Symphony, March 25-26 at the Peace Center.
Season subscribers have early access to tickets for the “Harry Potter” screening and Holiday at Peace concerts. Tickets for the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s 2023-24 season go on sale March 17. Call 864-467-3000.