The Spartanburg Philharmonic’s Celebration Week

SPARTANBURG, SC (October 2, 2018) – On Saturday, September 29, over one-thousand seats were sold in Twichell Auditorium as the Spartanburg Philharmonic opened its 2018-2019 season. The energy and excitement over the orchestra’s 90th Season Celebration and new Maestro radiated in the hall. This was Maestro Stefan Sanders’s first concert since he was named winner of Project Maestro in March of this year. Sanders and his wife, professional harpist Kela Walton, moved to Spartanburg in August and have been proud “Spartanburgers” since. 

The 90th Season Celebration week began on Tuesday. Stefan and Kela dined with more than 65 community members at the sold-out event, “A Night in Paris,” a French-themed sit-down dinner sponsored by Spartanburg Marriott. During the event, concertmaster Joanna Mulfinger graced the audience with beautiful French music on violin. On Wednesday morning, the 10th Music Trail sign was unveiled in Downtown Spartanburg with Chris Jennings, Executive Vice President of the Convention of Visitors Bureau, Betsy Teter, Editor and Director of Development at the Hub City Writers Project and Mayor Junie White in attendance.  

Thursday night, rehearsals began for Saturday’s performance. General Manager and Composer in Residence, Peter B. Kay was excited to have students from Converse College, Furman University and University of Georgia among the seventy-two musicians on stage. “It was fun to have students and local talents such as Omar Wingo (2nd Saxophone), Sara Nichols (Double Bass), Tom Wright (Principle Saxophone) and others join us for the first time on stage. The program also called for a huge assortment of instruments which is always fascinating to hear in harmony.” These instruments included a full range of saxophones, an oboe d’amore, taxi horns in the percussion section and a piccolo trumpet. 

On Friday afternoon, Maestro Sanders addressed members of the Piedmont Club during their Lunch and Learn event. General Manager of the Piedmont Club and board member of the Spartanburg Philharmonic, Peter Grzan, will be hosting this event for members of the Piedmont Club for the whole season. Later, Sanders talked about his journey to programming the 90th Season Celebration and gave tidbits of music history about each composer. Those in attendance were able to ask questions about the music and composers in a relaxed atmosphere. Joining Maestro Sanders at this event was guest soloist, Anton Nel.  

Saturday night began with the traditional “Classical Conversations” with Maestro Sanders and Director of the Petrie School of Music, Dr. Chris Vaneman. Scrapbooks that outlined the 90-year history of the Philharmonic were available for viewing in the lobby. Among the historical documents, were programs dating back to the early 1930s, photographs of orchestra members from the Philharmonic’s early years and articles written about the organization.  

At a little past 7 o’clock, Chair of the Board of Directors, Rachel Deems, along with Executive Director, Kathryn Boucher welcomed the crowd. The orchestra honored Kurt Zimmerli (who celebrated his 90th birthday in May of this year) by playing “Happy Birthday.” It was wonderful listening to over a thousand people singing to Mr. Zimmerli who has been such a faithful patron of the Spartanburg Philharmonic. Other attendees who were recognized were lifelong board members, Dr. Sidney Fulmer and Dr. Joella Utley, current and past board members of the Spartanburg Philharmonic, and Carolina Sanders, Stefan’s mother. Deems also recognized Stefan’s wife Kela, who played 2nd Harp.  

“It is really fulfilling to see the community join us in their appreciation of some of the finest music South Carolina has to offer. The record turnout for the Philharmonic opening, and the enthusiastic welcome given to Maestro Sanders, delivers notice that there is something remarkable happening in Spartanburg, and people are thrilled to be a part of it. Sanders and the Philharmonic deliver the goods, and people are going to be talking about it for a long time to come,” says board member and Treasurer for the Philharmonic, Travis Sutton. He adds, “Sanders balances delicate grace with strapping gusto in his conductor’s arsenal, and the deep, talented orchestra responds in kind, injecting bold vitality into his new musical vision for Spartanburg.”  

From Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide Overture” to Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero,” every piece was met with resounding applause and appreciation. "This entire event was such a delight to be a part of! The repertoire, the orchestra, the audience, our new conductor--all were wonderfully energetic and animated. And it was especially fun for me, as I got to play not only my oboe but also English horn and oboe d'amore, two instruments that I really enjoy but seldom get to play in an orchestral setting,” said Dr. Kelly Vaneman, Associate Principal Oboe and Professor of Oboe and Musicology at Converse College.  

“Everything about the concert was sheer perfection. “Rhapsody in Blue” was stunning, and Ravel’s “Bolero” still gives me chills when I think about it. I cried when we sang Happy Birthday to Kurt Zimmerli, reflecting on all the generous music lovers that have brought us to this place in time. I’m so privileged to be included on this team,” says Karen Parrott, Board member and Chair of the Development Committee.  

After the concert, the Maestro, musicians and audience members celebrated with cake and congratulations. Executive Director, Kathryn Boucher said “We are thrilled with the response from the community at all of the events that surrounded our 90th Season Celebration. The concert set a record for opening night attendance and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome Stefan to the podium with this enthusiasm.” 

Join us for our next concert, Heroes and Villains: Music from Hollywood Films on November 10.  

About Spartanburg Philharmonic  

The Spartanburg Philharmonic’s mission is to enrich, inspire and educate through live performances of high-quality music.  Founded in 1948, the Spartanburg Philharmonic is comprised of professional musicians from diverse backgrounds who form an ensemble capable of performing a variety of musical styles and repertoire. This year, we celebrate our 90th season. 

Press ReleasePeter Kay