Spartanburg Music Foundation - Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra - Our History

The Music Foundation of Spartanburg is dedicated to the purpose of enriching the Spartanburg community and surrounding areas through performance of classical music by the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, both for entertainment and educational outreach.

The rich musical history of Spartanburg has its roots in the 19th century. Converse College, founded in 1889, was the home of a series of annual three-day festivals, which started in 1895. Famed musicians, orchestras and conductors from metropolitan centers of the Northeast performed at Converse. During these years the Spartanburg Civic Music Association (1884), later called the Spartanburg Music Festival Association, became the Music Foundation of Spartanburg in 1948.

Following the Great Depression in 1929 Spartanburg Music Festivals were revised to include musical talent from the community. Guy Hutchins, who studied at Wofford College, Clemson, and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, returned to Spartanburg where he started an all-volunteer orchestra using musicians from the area and music students from Converse College. As this group expanded and grew it became a permanent organization known as the Spartanburg Symphony Orchestra. Other conductors of this volunteer orchestra included Ernst Bacon (1938-1945) and Spanish conductor Pedro Sanjuan (1946-1952). Henry Janiec came to Converse in 1952 where he remained Dean of the School of Music and conductor of the orchestra until his retirement in 1995.

The orchestra became a paid professional organization under the leadership of Dr. Bill Scott who left Spartanburg in the spring of 2003 to take a position at Western Kentucky University. An intensive search under the leadership of James W. Hudgens brought our esteemed new conductor and Music Director, Sarah Ioannides, who has now concluded her 10th season with the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

Under the leadership of Sarah Ioannides outreach to the community has come through her balanced and innovative programing for the symphony series; through free concerts at the Spartanburg Public Library Headquarters and Barnet Park; through creative programing for our youth in the schools and through SPO performances to school children in Carnegie Hall’s Link-up program. Free tickets (Big Red Ticket program) are given to children K-12 and scholarships are provided for student instruction at the Lawson Academy for the Arts.

Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra


Visit Us

Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Chapman Cultural Center
200 E. St.John St., Spartanburg, SC 29306
864-948-9020

Twichell Auditorium (Converse College)
580 E. Main Street, Spartanburg, SC 29302
Tickets: 864-596-9724

Chapman Cultural Center
200 E. St.John St., Spartanburg, SC 29306
Tickets: 864-542-2787