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Charleston Symphony Orchestra

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Symphony Orchestras

Mission: The mission of the charleston symphony orchestra is to enrich the cultural life of south carolina's lowcountry with high-quality performances of symphonic and chamber music, and unique and engaging music education opportunities throughout the region.

Programs: During the 2013-2014 season, the charleston symphony produced three main concert series; masterworks, pops, and chamber orchestra. The masterworks series is the flagship series of the cso, focusing on the greatest orchestral "masterworks" from the past 400 years. This series featured a large orchestra with at least 70 musicians on stage, as well as guest artists who are either world-renowned or well on their way to stardom. In 2013-2014 the cso produced six distinct masterworks concerts, performed three times each. Subscriptions for the masterworks series increased 35% from the prior year, and produced $85,647 in additional revenue. The pops series focused on music from more diverse genres and allowed the cso to reach a broader segment of the community. The diversity of programming in 2013-2014 including a latin night, holiday pops, broadway divas, and jazz. The cso produced four distinct pops concerts, performed twice each. Subscriptions for the pops series increased 34% from the prior year, and produced $24,154 in additional revenue. The chamber orchestra series focused primarily on repertoire from the baroque and classical period. Led by acting artistic director and concertmaster, yuriy bekker, it primarily showcased the talent of the full time core 24 musicians of the charleston symphony orchestra, with a relatively small orchestra on stage. Subscriptions for the chamber orchestra series increased 70% from the prior year, and produced $23,105 in additional revenue. In addition to the series above, the cso performs special events for the community with works such as handel's messiah. The cso conducted a national search for a new music director. Six finalists out of over 100 applicants were invited to charleston and conducted one masterworks performance each to audition for the position. After all six distinguished conductors had a chance to perform with the cso, a committee comprised of board members, musicians, staff members, and community members selected ken lam as the new music director of the charleston symphony orchestra. Overall, the cso performed over 45 concerts over the 2013-2014 and reached 21,183 people in our community.

the 2013-2014 season marked the most robust year for educational programming and community outreach in the history of the cso. Through the work of cso education coordinator, nearly 18,000 students experienced one or more of our free or low-cost educational programs. This season, a special emphasis was put on reaching as many students as possible at title i schools and expanding the impact of the cso into new parts of the tri-county area. The share the stage concert was held on november 8, 2013 at the cathedral of st. Luke and st. Paul downtown charleston, where 15 students (violin, viola, and cello) selected via you-tube audition, performing fantasia on a theme by thomas tallis, by vaughan williams. Students participated from schools across charleston county, and from as far as greenville, sc. A family concert on january 25, 2014 at the sottile theater featured hip-hop violinist seth gilliard, a dynamic young dancer, and a talented young cellist. The music was family friendly and engaged the 500 audience members from start to finish. The charleston symphony orchestra league hosted an instrument petting zoo beforehand giving young children a hands-on experience with various instruments. Throughout the 2013-2014 season, small ensembles made up of charleston symphony musicians traveled to a total of 24 schools to provide in-school demonstrations. A total of 48 performances (2 per school) reached approximately 3,600 students. Musicians traveled to schools in charleston, berkeley, dorchester, and williamsburg county. Many of the schools visited were title i schools. The cso's instrument petting zoo gives students an opportunity to experiment with instruments before family concerts and family-centered events. The charleston symphony orchestra league purchased instruments specifically for ipz use, and the instrument doc, llc, of mount pleasant generously donated several instruments to the collection as well. Students were able to try the violin, cello, trumpet, trombone, and clarinet. More instruments are scheduled to be purchased in the near future. This season's cso young people's concert was titled, "reduce, reuse, and recycle," and was led by the nashville symphony orchestra's chorus conductor, kelly corcoran. There were 2 performances at charleston southern university's lightsey chapel. Teachers were given a curriculum guide to help prepare students for the concert. A total of 2,316 students and parents from charleston, dorchester, and berkeley counties listened to classical and hip-hop fusion music. Students learned about how composers use the concepts of reducing, reusing, and recycling in their music. 520 title i students attended free of charge through a sponsorship from boeing south carolina. Also at this ypc, a hearing-impaired class used balloons to feel the vibrations of the music. Memminger elementary school, located in charleston county, was selected for the cso's composition and critique program this year. Two composition majors from the college of charleston were selected by the faculty to help the memminger students compose music that represented characters in a book. The composers compiled the students' musical ideas into an original composition that cso musicians performed for all composition and critique participants at the college of charleston's recital hall on february 28, 2014. Students gave narrations from the book while their compositions were being performed. An interactive discussion period followed, between the students, composers and teachers. Classical fusion is a new program that fuses classical music with hip-hop and pop music. The purpose of this program is to expose students, especially students from under-served populations, to classical music. Guest artist, violinist seth gilliard, headlined the program alongside the charleston symphony string quartet. The cso visited 6 title 1 schools in charleston county, reaching approximately 1,200 children through this program. Classical fusion was also utilized as the theme for the 13-14 family concert and the young people's concert. This season marked the inaugural pepsico national young artist competition (nyac), a concerto competition that challenged top-tier, conservatory-bound young musicians from across the country to compete for an opportunity to perform with the cso under the baton of michael rossi. The centerpiece of the cso's community engagement season, the nyac was widely-publicized across the nation. Outstanding young musicians in communities from coast to coast competed for a chance to perform with the charleston symphony. The competition drew eighty-eight applicants from twenty-two states. Of the eighty-eight candidates, six semi-finalists were selected to travel to charleston, sc and perform for a panel of distinguished judges. Three finalists then competed in a live performance with the charleston symphony orchestra for the final round, in which fifteen-year-old violinist, kiarra saito-beckman, from bend, oregon, was named the first ever pepsico national young artist of the year. Musicians of the cso dedicate about a third of their work time towards the cso's educational programing. The cso spends $172,678 on educational programming.

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