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USC Symphony Orchestra 2016–2017 Concert Series

 All concerts at the Koger Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. Preceding each concert at 6:45 p.m., Maestro Portnoy presents “Illuminations,” a pre-concert talk in the Koger's large rehearsal room.

The University of South Carolina’s premier orchestra ensemble, led by acclaimed music director Donald Portnoy, receives accolades for its fine performances and guest artists. World-renowned guest artists join the ensemble throughout the year to bring you a stirring seven-concert season with music by the most dynamic composers.

“...the orchestra was spectacular, switching effortlessly from sumptuous and sultry to brilliant and brassy....” – Free Times

Season subscriptions

Save with a season subscription (7 concerts) and enjoy the best seats in the house: $150
Discounts: $110 seniors, USC faculty and staff; $45 students.

Concert tickets

Single concert tickets are  $30 general public; Discounts: $25 seniors, USC faculty and staff; $8 students.
Call 803-251-2222 or Koger Box Office, corner of Greene and Park Streets (M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or online at

Maestro Portnoy's Farewell Season

This season celebrates Maestro Donald Portnoy’s 31 years leading Carolina’s premier orchestra. 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 and Orchestral Studies after the 2016-2017 academic year. Dr. Portnoy has received countless accolades throughout his years conducting the university’s orchestra – one of the top university orchestras in the region. He will continue to teach conducting and violin and direct the Conductors Institute of South Carolina at USC.

Tue., Sept. 13, 2016

The Russian Romantics

Marina Lomazov, piano

Marina LomazovThe first concert of the new season includes Marina Lomazov performing on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor. Praised by critics as “a diva of the piano” (The Salt Lake City Tribune), “a mesmerizing risk-taker” (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland), and “simply spectacular” (Chicago International Music Foundation), Ukrainian-American pianist Marina Lomazov has established herself as one of the most passionate and charismatic performers on the concert scene today. Following prizes in the Cleveland International Piano Competition, William Kapell International Piano Competition, Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, and Hilton Head International Piano Competition, Lomazov has given performances worldwide. She is the Ira McKissick Koger Professor of Fine Arts at USC and a Steinway Artist.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) – Symphony No. 4 in F minor, op. 36
Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) – Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, op. 18

Tue., Oct. 18, 2016

John Williams Blockbusters!

Clifford Leaman, saxophone

John WilliamsClifford LeamanBack by popular demand, the USC Symphony Orchestra performs music from award-winning film scores by legendary American composer John Williams. Experience music from some of your favorite films like Jaws, Catch Me If You Can, Saving Private Ryan, Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, Memoirs of a Geisha: The Chairman’s Waltz, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Clifford Leaman, professor of saxophone at USC,  joins the orchestra on “Escapades” for alto saxophone and orchestra from Catch Me If You Can. American Record Guide wrote, “Leaman reveals himself to be an artist of technical brilliance and emotional commitment.”

Tue., Nov. 15, 2016

Hanson and Shostakovich

Sandy Cameron, violin

Sandy CameronDeclared “brilliant” by the Washington Post and “a shameless showstopper” by the New York Times, virtuoso violinist Sandy Cameron joins the orchestra on Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto in A minor. Broadway World declared “Sandy Cameron was a real showstopper…dancing, bobbing, prowling, weaving, and playing up a storm…”
Howard Hanson (1896-1981)- Symphony No. 1 in E minor, op. 21 (Nordic)
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) - Violin Concerto in A minor, op. 77

Tues., Jan. 17, 2017

Maestro Portnoy and Friends

Donald Portnoy

 Join guest soloists and friends of Maestro Donald Portnoy as they celebrate the Maestro’s 31 years of conducting and music making. Also on the program: Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra, composed by R.E.M.’s founding member Mike Mills for Grammy-nominated violinist Robert McDuffie. Read more about it.


Tue., Feb. 21, 2017

Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody

Joyce Yang, piano

Joyce YangThis concert presents music from Copland to Mozart to Rachmaninoff and is sure to shake off the February chill. Special guest Joyce Yang, a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition silver medalist and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, showcases her colorful musical personality in solo recitals and collaborations with the world’s top orchestras. Praised for “poetic and sensitive pianism” (Washington Post) and a “wondrous sense of color” (San Francisco Classical Voice), Yang captivates audiences with her virtuosity, lyricism and interpretive prowess.
Morton Gould (1913-1996) - Symphonette No. 2
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) - Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K. 385 (Haffner)
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) - Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43

Tue., March 21, 2017

Dvořák and the Historic Cello of Pablo Casals

Amit Peled, cello

Amit PeledAmit Peled is professor of cello at Peabody Conservatory of Music and a highly sought-after performer and pedagogue. The New York Times wrote of Peled’s “glowing tone” and “seductive timbre.” He performs on the historic cello of Pablo Casals (a Goffriller ca. 1733) for Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor. Performances by winners of the USC Concert-Aria Competition also play on this concert. Performers and program to be announced.
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) - Cello Concerto in B minor, 104
USC Concert-Aria Competition winners:
Margaret Van Norden, soprano: Donizetti- “Chacun le sait” from La fille du regiment
Ke’er Wang, piano: Rachmaninoff- Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, op. 1, movement 1
Chase Banks, vibraphone: Rosauro- Vibraphone Concerto No. 1

Tue., April 18, 2017

Grand Finale: The Spirit of Romanticism

Vadim Gluzman, violin

Vadim GluzmanCelebrate 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’s performances are heard around the world through live broadcasts and a striking catalog of award-winning recordings. He plays the extraordinary 1690 ‘ex-Leopold Auer’ Stradivari and 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…”
Richard Wagner (1813-1883) - Prelude to Act III from Lohengrin
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) - Symphony No. 8 in G Major, op. 88
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) - Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 35

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