A Look at Link Up – a Carnegie Hall Weill Institute Partnership


We sat down with new Education Director, Patrick O’Connor, for a more in depth look at the upcoming Young People’s Concert, The Orchestra Rocks.

Q What were you doing before you came to the SC Philharmonic?

Before joining the SC Philharmonic, I was the Music Director and Conductor for the District 214 Honors Orchestra and orchestras at Prospect High School in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago for ten years. I also served as Prospect’s Coordinator of Fine & Performing Arts at the beginning of my career.

Q What is your music background?

I started out as a trombone player in South Carolina’s Lexington District One. After graduating from Lexington High School in 1999, I attended and graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois with a degree in Music Education and emphasis in Conducting. I knew from a young age that I wanted to conduct orchestra, so I traveled to Illinois to study with a fantastic conductor, Steve Eggleston. My primary instrument is trombone, but I have also studied cello, piano, french horn, and tuba privately and performed with many orchestras, bands, jazz, and small ensembles across the country. I have also been fortunate to study conducting privately and participated in seminars with the current/former directors of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic of London, Tallahassee Symphony, Cincinnati Concert Orchestra, Oregon East Symphony, and the University of Illinois, Illinois Wesleyan, Boston University, and University of North Carolina Greensboro Orchestras.

Q  What are you most excited about regarding the Link Up programming?

When I was in middle school at Lexington, my music class attended a South Carolina Philharmonic concert.  I was inspired by the music and the orchestra’s sound, and admired the leadership the conductor displayed on the podium. The opportunity to hear an orchestra live had a huge impact on me as a child, and I am excited that the same may be possible for the students attending our Link Up program!

I am also excited that the Link Up program is engaging and interactive, providing students with the opportunity to play along on their recorder or sing with the Philharmonic. Two local school groups will also perform on stage with the SC Phil: the Dutch Fork High School Choir and Dreher High School Drumline. Dutch Fork’s choir will accompany the SCP, singing “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana, and the Dreher High School Drumline will perform a feature pieces for the students in the audience.

Q What is your favorite kind of food?

Definitely Asian food. I love Hot Pot, Korean BBQ, Pho…

Q Do you think being a dad will prove to be beneficial to you through this process? Any secrets you use in your parenting that will translate to the stage?

I was an educator first, so I really feel that my experience in education has helped me be a father. I think preparing for Link Up and being a father are very similar. Both take a lot of work, but are very rewarding experiences.

Q What is your favorite piece from this year’s Link Up selection?

My favorite piece on the Link Up program is “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana! It is a very recognizable and powerful piece that audiences love to hear, and musicians love to perform. I am also looking forward to hearing the SCP play Tchaikovsky’s Symphony IV Finale and Mars from The Planets.

Q Roughly how many children will be in attendance for Link Up?

 We will have more than 6,000 students performing in four concerts!

How often do you communicate with the folks at Carnegie Hall during the preparation process for Link Up?

The staff at Carnegie Hall has been fantastic! They hosted a Webinar last year, which provided a lot of guidance on organizing this year’s collaboration with the Philharmonic, The Orchestra Rocks! We also communicate often on the phone, via email, and through all of the resources on their website.

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SC Phil Extends Morihiko’s Contract for Four More Years!

by Rhonda P. Hunsinger

I am beyond delighted that the SC Philharmonic Board and Morihiko have agreed to a four-year extension of his contract. The relationship between an orchestra executive director and a music director can be tricky. Music directors are charged with moving an orchestra forward with great vision, and executive directors are expected to keep the budget balanced. With some orchestras, this creates a difficult friction between administrative and artistic. Creativity can be risky, and risk is difficult in the current economy.

I am fortunate that I work with a music director who understands the economic realities in Columbia. I also understand and fully support his desire to move the orchestra forward. We both want the same thing – the chance to bring a greater variety of musical programming to a broader audience in our city, and the funding to support it.

Morihiko is a wonderful partner, and I am excited to see what we can do in the next four years for our orchestra. To read more about the contract extension, please see the Free Times article at the link below:


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Not every rectangle is a square

Veteran S.C. Phil horn player Cyndi Williams answers the ages-old question: “So, what’s a  philharmonic?”

As a member of the South Carolina Philharmonic, invariably, I am asked to explain the difference between a “symphony orchestra” and a “philharmonic orchestra.” I hope this will clear things up a bit.

Remember when your brain exploded after your math teacher told you, “Every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square!” in fourth grade? It’s kind of like that. Every symphony is an orchestra, but not every orchestra is a symphony. Likewise, every philharmonic is a symphony, but not every symphony is a philharmonic.

Okay, let’s break this down!


S.C. Phil violists focus intently on the music during a performance. The S.C. Phil is a symphony orchestra, but used to offer a chamber orchestra as well.

“Orchestra” is a broad term for any ensemble featuring a large group of strings. Two basic orchestras exist – chamber orchestras (small) and symphony orchestras (big). Chamber orchestras employ about 50 or fewer musicians. As the name suggests, they play “chamber music” – written for private halls, aristocratic parlors, and glitzy palace chambers. Of course, contemporary composers still write chamber music, but the style peaked during the 17th and 18th centuries with composers like Haydn, Mozart, and Vivaldi.


Members of the S.C. Phil’s woodwind and brass sections in action. Symphony orchestras, like the S.C. Phil, can use 100 players or more to play one musical work.

On the flip side, a symphony orchestra can boast more than 100 players, divided into strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. As that name suggests, they play “symphonies” – large pieces that usually require 18 to 25 different instruments. (Think of the composers of the 1800’s: Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, etc.)

Essentially, if an orchestra is big enough to play a symphony, it’s a symphony orchestra.

Simple enough? Okay, next point. You might want to sit down.

A symphony orchestra and a philharmonic are the same thing – sort of. They’re the same size and they play the same kind of music. The two terms exist to help us tell different ensembles apart, especially in cities that boast multiple groups. They’re the same kind of orchestra, but they have different names so you don’t confuse them. The divide between symphony-philharmonic is just a matter of identity.

And that’s what makes them different. “Symphony orchestra” is a generic term, whereas “philharmonic orchestra” is always part of a proper name. So, you can call every philharmonic a symphony, but you can’t call every symphony a philharmonic – even though they’re talking about the same thing.

And as for “Pops?” That just means the orchestra isn’t afraid to let its hair down and play show tunes.

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Amazon Smile

Attention Amazon shoppers!

Did you know that for every dollar you spend on Amazon.com, Amazon will donate 5¢ to the South Carolina Philharmonic?

asmileIn order to participate, all you have to do is shop on smile.amazon.com instead of http://www.amazon.com. The first time you visit Amazon Smile you will be asked to choose which organization you wish to support. Simply search for “South Carolina Philharmonic” and then click on “Select.”

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Happy shopping!

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Customize your S.C. Phil Experience in 2014/2015

As long-time subscribers of the S.C. Phil know, our main Masterworks Series has consisted of seven concerts occurring between the months of September and May. This year, we are making a slight alteration and presenting six Masterworks concerts instead of seven.

Why the change? This decision is a result of several factors including feedback from our audience. Many subscribers reported that they were only able to attend an average of four or five concerts per season due to their busy schedules, and lamented the fact that they were paying for a 7-concert subscription but not seeing two to three of those concerts. We have also had requests to offer more pops concerts, including holiday and Broadway programs. In response, we are now presenting six Masterworks concerts and have adjusted the season prices accordingly. Subscription prices now range from just $82 to $230, or $14 to $38 per concert! Even larger discounts are available for seniors. military, students, and Notables. One may also, of course, purchase tickets to individual concerts without getting a subscription. Tickets go on sale September 15th. Here are this season’s Masterworks concerts, which will take place at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia:

The  S.C. Phil has also expanded its programming with a three-concert pops series at Harbison Theatre:

  • Beloved Broadway (Oct. 4, 2014; 7:30 p.m.),
  • Winter Wonderland (Dec. 14, 2014; 3:30 p.m.),
  • At the Movies (April 11, 2015; 7:30 p.m.).

(Note: “Beloved Broadway” is already nearing sold-out; to get your tickets call Harbison Theatre at 803.407.5111 or visit HarbisonTheatre.org.)

With all of these concert options, our patrons can customize their concert experience, attending just one concert or all nine!

For more information, visit scphilharmonic.com.
S.C. Phil Audience Services: 803.254.7445.

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Subscription ticket packets

Communications and Audience Services Director Jason Rapp updates subscribers on when to expect their tickets.

A couple of phone calls came in from long-time subscribers this morning wondering when to expect their tickets for the 2014/2015 season. I single out “long-time” subscribers because newer ones might not realize that before the 2013/2014 season, the S.C. Phil’s Masterworks Series began in about mid-September. Tickets were almost always mailed out by this point in time, so it’s understandable that some might wonder why they’ve not gotten theirs yet.

But as is now the custom, this season’s Masterworks Series begins in October (the 11th). The later start moves the ticket mailing back a couple of weeks, as you might imagine. We’re working toward having ticket packets mailed to subscribers the latter stages of the week of Sept. 8-12.

Two additional items of note:

  • Individual concert ticket sales begin Monday, Sept. 15. If all goes according to plan and ticket packets go out on time, new subscribers and those who renewed early (by April 18th) will have their reward vouchers in hand to redeem at the Koger Center Box Office for complimentary tickets to any 14/15 Masterworks concert — the day they go on sale.
  • Subscriptions ARE still on sale, and we’ve got great seats available. A subscription gets you the same seat to all six concerts, and they start at just $82.
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Kickstarter Campaign

We have some very exciting news to share!

Beatbox March 14

The Philharmonic is pleased to announce that we will be hosting the world premiere of the world’s very first concerto for string quintet and orchestra. The piece, by composer Dan Visconti, will be titled “Beatbox” and will be performed by the string quintet Sybarite5. The concert will take place on Saturday, March 14th, 2015 and is part of our Masterworks Series, so if you’ve purchased your season subscription you already have your ticket to this special event! Ticket sales for the 51st season concerts will open again on September 15th, 2014.

As well as presenting this new music, we are trying a new method of fundraising to help cover the cost of putting on this amazing performance. This is our most ambitious and exciting musical creation of the season, and we would like all of you to be sponsors! The S.C. Philharmonic is running it’s first Kickstarter campaign, which begins today, August 19th and last 30 days, ending on September 18th. During this time, anyone in the world is welcome to donate to the cause online. Click here to view the campaign and to donate!

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding venture, meaning a large number of donors are encouraged to donate small amounts of money that together meet the overall funding goal. Our goal for this campaign is $5,000, so if all of our Facebook fans donated just $2.50 each, we would exceed our goal!

The crowdfunding method has proven to be an extremely successful method of fundraising in many cases. Perhaps you heard about the Potato Salad Kickstarter that went viral this summer and raised over $55,000 with about 7,000 donors. Yes, if potato salad can raise $55,000, our goal seems quite attainable.

Please consider donating a few dollars to bring this world premiere to Columbia, SC. We are so excited to have the community of Columbia work together to bring this project to fruition. Those few dollars really do add up quickly. And of course, we will have thank-you gifts for all of our donors. View the Kickstarter to see the gifts.

And thank you, as always, for your generous support.

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