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Maestro Portnoy’s Grand Finale: The Spirit of Romanticism

Celebrate Donald Portnoy’s 31 years leading the university’s premier orchestra April 18

Celebrate Maestro Portnoy and the USC Symphony Orchestra’s rousing season finale, as they perform magnificent masterworks from the Romantic period. Israeli guest artist Vadim Gluzman joins the orchestra on Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major for this special concert.

Maestro Portnoy’s Grand Finale concert, “The Spirit of Romanticism,” takes place on Tuesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts. Tickets are on sale now by calling 803-251-2222, online at, or at the Koger Box Office, corner of Greene and Park Streets (M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). $30 general public; Discounts: $25 seniors, USC faculty and staff; $8 students.

This season celebrated Dr. Donald Portnoy’s 31 years leading the University of South Carolina’s premier orchestra. He has received countless accolades throughout his years conducting the university’s orchestra – one of the top university orchestras in the region. His music leadership has drawn out the very best in thousands of young musicians. The Ira McKissick Koger Professor of Fine Arts retires as director of the USC Symphony Orchestra after this concert. He will continue to teach conducting and violin and direct the Conductors Institute of South Carolina at USC.

Guest artist Vadim Gluzman plays the extraordinary 1690 ‘ex-Leopold Auer’ Stradivari, and his performances are heard around the world through live broadcasts and a catalog of award-winning recordings. He returns to USC to play Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major. wrote that Gluzman “plays the violin as if it was the easiest thing on the earth to do. He produces a beautiful cantilena violin tone…delivers strong rhythms and virtuosity as natural components…”.  A Limelight Magazine review of Gluzman stated, “His rich, warm timbre comes allied with a smooth, buttery legato to set the heart aflutter, and his willingness to make bold interpretative statements in the meaty opening Allegro moderato made for compelling music making.”

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major was written in 1878 in a Swiss resort on the shores of Lake Geneva, where Tchaikovsky had gone to recover from the depression brought on by his disastrous marriage to Antonina Miliukova and his suicide attempt. Inspired by the presence of the young violinist Josef Kotek in his circle there, the composer completed the entire concerto in less than a month in 1878.

Also on the program is Antonín Dvořák’s Sympony No. 8 in G Major. In contrast to other symphonies of both the composer and the period, Dvořák’s Eighth is cheerful and lyrical. He wanted to achieve a marked difference to his stormy romantic Symphony No. 7, and the Symphony No. 8 draws its inspiration from the Bohemian folk music that the composer loved.

Dvořák composed and orchestrated the symphony within a two-and-a-half-month period in 1889 at his summer resort in Vysoká u Příbramě, Bohemia. The score was composed on the occasion of his admission to Prague Academy and dedicated "To the Bohemian Academy of Emperor Franz Joseph for the Encouragement of Arts and Literature, in thanks for my election." Dvořák conducted the premiere in Prague in February 1890.

Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin, first performed in 1850 in Weimar, Germany and conducted by Franz Liszt, may be the most beautiful of Wagner’s operas. Prelude to Act III is included on the April program and is a spectacular showpiece for orchestra – a musical depiction of a wedding ceremony — the one popularly known as “Here comes the bride.”

Please join us for this special Grand Finale as we celebrate Dr. Donald Portnoy’s rousing last concert conducting the University of South Carolina’s premier orchestra.

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