University of South Carolina

USC symphony

Students bring Wagner’s music to life

By Liz McCarthy,, 803-777-2848

Before the scholars arrive, before The New Yorker’s Alex Ross begins his speech, before any academic analysis is given, the USC Symphony Orchestra, led by students, will bring Richard Wagner’s music to life.

Several students will conduct the show (at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Koger Center for the Arts), presenting “The Ride of the Valkyries” and excerpts from “Tristan und Isolde.”

While students conduct concerts a few times a year, presenting a concert of Wagner’s music is quite different, the students say.

“It’s not every day you get to stand in front of that many musicians because Wagner uses huge forces – six horns, four trombones, tubas, six woodwinds, massive string orchestra,” says Robert Brown, a second-year master’s student in orchestral conducting in the School of Music. “It’s quite exhilarating.”

Wagner’s music also carries great emotions and mass appeal, students say. The music can be intense and powerful or tender and sensuous, says Cullan Lucas, a first-year master’s student in orchestral conducting.  

“It’s something everyone is familiar with whether they’re fans of opera or they just love Bugs Bunny cartoons,” Lucas says. “It’s something people can instantly relate to and as a conductor, that’s fun because you’re getting to create that music.”


The symphony’s performance is just the beginning of many Wagner events for WagnerWorldWide: America conference at the university. The conference is part of a multi-year global initiative by the University of Bayreuth, and will examine the influence Wagner’s life and work have had on music and culture of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

The College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Music are co-sponsoring the events around campus.

For more information see our story here

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Posted: 01/24/13 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 01/24/13 @ 5:00 PM | Permalink



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