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Alumni Brass perform Pines of Rome

The Symphony Orchestra will perform one of the premier pieces in the orchestral repertoire, Pines of Rome, on February 3, 2022 at 7:30 p.m.  in the Koger Center for the Arts. Pines of Rome is a tone poem completed in 1924 by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. Not only is this piece a tour de force for the entire orchestra, it gives Conductor Scott Weiss the chance to bring in six additional performers to play offstage trumpet fanfares, depicting the Roman Army marching into the city.

To play these important parts, Dr. Weiss has enlisted six University of South Carolina alumni who are all excited to return to their alma mater. Greg Abraham, Charlie Polk, Blake Lawson, Dave Allison, Doug Leadbitter, and Jason Ortiz have led careers spanning from executive manager to attorney to band director to professional musician. They are all incredibly proud to be Gamecocks for life.

The upcoming performance is not the first time the Symphony Orchestra has played Pines of Rome. Blake Lawson graduated from the School of Music in 2019 with a Bachelor of Music in trombone performance. Ten years ago Lawson was introduced to the piece when he was a sophomore in high school.

"I went on a date to see the Symphony Orchestra perform Pines of Rome. When the ensemble arrived at the fourth movement, I got the craziest goosebumps in my life when the offstage musicians laid it down along with the massive sound of the orchestra." 

Blake Lawson

Charlie Polk is no stranger to performing with the School of Music. In 1979, he earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree with a performance certificate in trumpet and later earned his master's degree. Charlie has been asked to perform with a featured brass group at a halftime show with the marching band and has played with Opera at USC

"Throughout my 33 year career as a band director, I was always appreciative of the strong foundation I received at the University of South Carolina. The music education program here prepared me well for classroom teaching. I will always be grateful to the many professors who inspired and guided me along the way."

Charlie Polk

Two of the alumni performing with the orchestra played in various music ensembles while at the university and earned degrees from across campus. Doug Leadbitter received his Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and Jason Ortiz received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

Before law school, Doug Leadbitter was a member of the United States Air Force field bands stationed at Travis Air Force Base in California. Doug earned a Bachelor of Music Education with a performance certificate in trumpet from the University of South Carolina in 1987. He opened his own firm, Douglas E. Leadbitter, LLC, to focus specifically on insurance defense. As an accomplished performing musician, Doug stays very active in the music community in South Carolina as a freelance trumpet player. He is a founding member of the Capital City Brass Quintet and the Palmetto Concert band.

Receiving a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 2001, Jason Ortiz has spent 14 years with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina as a manager and 18 years in healthcare. Jason played trumpet in the Marching Band, Symphonic Band and trumpet ensemble. As a student, he performed at the 1998 American Bandmaster's Association Convention in Biloxi, MS, and the 2001 International Trumpet Guild in Evansville, IN.

Dave Allison earned a master's degree in music performance from the University of South Carolina after undergraduate studies at Ithaca College and the Eastman School of Music. He has taught in public schools, privately, and at the college level, and retired in June of 2021 after 17 years as the Director of Bands at Spring Valley High School and 28 years teaching in Richland School District Two.

As a trumpet player, Dave continues to perform in both the classical and commercial fields in shows, recording sessions, clinics and teaching. He is a founding member and solo trumpet of the Palmetto Brass and performs in the Dick Goodwin Big Band and the Palmetto Concert Band. Dave is the Principal Trumpet Emeritus of the South Carolina Philharmonic after serving for 25 years as the Principal Trumpet.

In 2012 Greg Abraham graduated from the School of Music with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. He is currently in his seventh year as the Director of Bands at Hammond School. Greg is the Principal Trombonist for the Palmetto Concert Band. In addition to performing in many ensembles during his time at the university, Greg was Drum Major for the Carolina Band for two years. He is thrilled and honored to be asked to perform as an alumnus with the orchestra for this concert.

"My experience at the University of South Carolina has been essential to my current success as both a musician and a band director."

Greg Abraham

Join us for the Symphony Orchestra Pines of Rome on February 3, 2022 at 7:30 p.m.  in Koger Center for the Arts. Tickets for Pines of Rome are available at the Koger Center for the Arts Box Office (803) 251-2222 or here. 

Support the Symphony Orchestra

The Symphony Orchestra is entirely self-sustaining, and a donation for critically needed funds is greatly appreciated. Support these talented students to strengthen the orchestra's future and make sure you can continue to listen to notable works like Pines of Rome. Give

Topics: School of Music, Symphony Orchestra, The Pines of Rome, Palmetto Concert Band 

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