Review: The Philharmonic's 90th Season Celebration

by Melanie Coblentz

Music is intertwined in every person’s life. Regardless of social status, where you call home or how old you are.

As infants, music soothes us when almost nothing else will.

As young children, music helps us learn.

As adolescents, it's music that gets us through the ups and downs of becoming an adult.

Throughout the rest of our lives that very same music, when heard, helps us recall all of the milestones we experience.

It's for this reason and more, I believe the Spartanburg Philharmonic has endured for 90 years.

In its 90 year span, the Philharmonic has endured the many changes of Spartanburg’s community life. When the Philharmonic began, the city was dependent on mills for its income, and about to experience the great depression. The Spartanburg we know today is a thriving city with a passion for the arts. Our city's support of the arts is just one of the things that attracted Stefan Sanders, the new Maestro, to the Hub City. As with many transplants to the Upstate, it didn't take long for him to want to call this place home. His debut with the Philharmonic was a celebration for two reasons. This was an introduction of the first new conductor to the Philharmonic patrons since 2005, as well as the first performance of this milestone season.

In celebration of its 90th anniversary, Sanders chose two selections that share the same birth year as the Philharmonic. Ravel’s Bolero and George Gershwin’s An American in Paris. These pieces have influenced music for the past 90 years, and are still influencing artists today. 

I was excited to see a crowd of music lovers both young and old. Patrons in the audience also included a fan of the Philharmonic who celebrates the same birth year. The entire auditorium sang happy birthday to him, something I'm sure he was not expecting.

In my opinion, the night went off without a hitch and the new Maestro seemed well-received by the audience. My favorite part was when Sanders, in introducing the Ravel's Bolero piece, said something to the effect of “If, when we start to play, you have an urge to get up and dance, don't.” I looked around, embarrassed. How did he know I needed to be told that? 

If you have the opportunity to see the Spartanburg Philharmonic perform in its celebratory 90th season, with Maestro Stefan Sanders at the helm – do it. You will not regret the night of exceptional music. I'm looking forward to the next concert, Heroes and Villains. This show would be a perfect introduction to the Philharmonic, for the children in your life. The program will include music from some Disney and sci-fi favorites.

Just remember, if when they start to play, the need to dance overcomes you – don't.


Melanie Coblentz is freelance writer, currently living in the Upstate. She is a regular contributor to the family blogs Kidding Around Greenville & Kidding Around Spartanburg. She enjoys sharing her love of the arts with her children, and in her youth was a member of the West Coast Symphony’s Youth Orchestra in Sarasota, Florida.

Rachel HansenReviews, Classics