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School of Music

A Powerful Season Awaits

The University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra opens the 2022-23 season, “Power and Empower,” with The Planets. The six concerts feature a star-studded lineup of soloists, some of the most powerful orchestral works ever written and an empowered ensemble of accomplished musicians.

The next generation of performers, educators and community leaders make up the 100-member USC Symphony Orchestra. Consisting primarily of music performance and education majors, orchestra members also perform in professional orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout South Carolina and the country. 

Empowered students

To plan the season, USC Symphony Orchestra Conductor Scott Weiss empowered the orchestra members to vote for their favorite music. They chose powerful works, including the season-opening piece, The Planets, by Gustav Holst. Additionally, Weiss chose pieces by some of the best and brightest female composers, including Valerie Coleman’s Umoja, Anthem for Unity, commissioned and premiered in 2019 by the Philadelphia Orchestra. 

Weiss knows performing this collection of pieces helps students learn and grow as they progress toward life as professional musicians. Most orchestra members are already starting their careers as educators and professional musicians, including Holly Workman, Julia Jacobsen and Jessica Pelltier.

Doctoral candidate Holly Workman serves as concertmaster and studies with Assistant Professor of Violin Ari Streisfeld. Workman holds her Master of Music in Violin Performance and Literature and her Bachelor of Music in Applied Music with High Distinction from the Eastman School of Music. She also completed a Master of Music in Contemporary Performance at the Frankfurt Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst.

Julia Jacobsen is another member of the string section who plays in several professional orchestras. “I love sharing music with the local community and working with world-class soloists. I especially look forward to playing with and interviewing Zuill Bailey in October.” 

Julia has been playing violin for over nine years and serves as the social media manager for the USC Symphony Orchestra. She is most excited to perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in November. “I have great memories playing the piece with the SC Philharmonic last season,” said Julia. “And I love the lush sounds that Rachmaninoff creates between the piano and orchestra.”

Jessica Pelltier is a Flute performance doctoral student and flute professor at Coastal Carolina University. In addition to performing with the USC Symphony Orchestra, she plays with the Long Bay Symphony, Opera Wilmington and Florence Symphony. A musician for 17 years, Jessica loves the color, movement and sound the orchestra can make. “I am looking most forward to performing Valerie Coleman's Umoja. Her voice in the music world is as strong as her voice in this piece. She is such an inspiration for all women.”

Performing Holst’s The Planets 

Scored for a large orchestra and women’s choruses, The Planets is a seven-movement orchestral suite written in the early 1900s by English composer Gustav Holst. Many unfamiliar instruments are heard throughout The Planets, the most unique being the bass oboe, double the size of a regular oboe and pitched an octave lower.

Themes and melodies from The Planets are recognizable as movements have been used in many movies and TV shows. The music has also served as an inspiration for many composers, most famously John Williams. Star Wars creator George Lucas asked him to compose the score based on various pieces of classical music. The Planets opening movement, “Mars, the Bringer of War," influenced the theme for archvillain Darth Vader.

In 1921 Holst adapted a theme from the middle section of the movement Jupiter to the poem “I Vow to Thee, My Country” written by Sir Cecil Spring Rice. This setting has become known worldwide and was sung at the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1981 and at Diana’s funeral in 1997.  

Topics: USC Symphony Orchestra

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