With the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in reorganizational limbo, we recommend, for your classical music fix, a busy chamber group, world-class pianists, students to watch, a couple of community orchestras, and a new series aimed at visitors but great for local ears
Chamber Music Charleston
Chamber Music Charleston tuned up in 2006 as a nonprofit founded and directed by bassoonist Sandra Nikolajevs. With a core group of 15 musicians, CMC’s engaging and musically adventurous professionals perform house concerts (you’re invited!), gallery concerts, classical kids’ concerts, and special events. Their repertoire of music for string quartet, wind and brass quintets, voice, piano, harpsichord, and reeds ranges from Mozart and Schubert to Prokofiev and Piazzola.
Live: November 21 for Gallery Concert 1: Music for Wind Quintet, Soprano, & Piano; December 22 & 23 for “The Gift of the Maji,” a collaboration with the Actors’ Theater of South Carolina; & December 23 for Classical Kids’ Concert 2: “The Night Before Christmas”
The professional and amateur musicians in Charleston’s community orchestra include school teachers, doctors, students, and retirees. The orchestra formed in 1995 as an outlet for its musicians and to provide affordable symphony orchestra concerts to the public. Music director Andrzej Zabinski is a composer, violinist, and former conductor of the South Carolina Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Southcoast Symphony’s four concerts a year are free, but tax-deductible donations are accepted. Gifted young violinist Anne Cai, who began playing at age four, will be featured in the Winter Concert.
Live: January 16 for the Winter Concert at Cathedral of St. Luke & St. Paul
Summerville Community Orchestra
The SCO was founded in 2003 by 20 professional and amateur musicians, all volunteers. The group reformed and expanded under music director Alexander Agrest, a member of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra since 1991 and former principal violinist at the Leningrad Conservatory Opera Theater. Its four concerts a year are called the First Federal Friday Evening Series in Summerville, and it performs regularly at Charleston’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival. Next up in the Friday night series: Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite and Piano Concerto (with Summerville pianist Stephen Jones), Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, a Duke Ellington medley, and a medley called “Christmas at the Movies.”
Live: November 12 for Family Favorites at St. John the Beloved Catholic Church
The Sound of Charleston
This brand-new concert series by Charleston Musical Heritage Productions premiered last month and aims to showcase the city’s rich musical history—from Civil War camp songs to gospel, Gershwin, and jazz—in 75-minute repeating shows at Circular Congregational Church. Artists include gospel and jazz singer Ann Caldwell, soprano D’Jaris Whipper-Lewis, piano prodigy Micah McLaurin, folk musicians William Schlitt and Bart Saylor, The Sound of Charleston String Quartet, and pianist Maida Libkin.
Live: November 5, 19, & 22 & December 10, 13, & 21 at Circular Congregational Church (featured artists vary)
Now in its 20th year, the College of Charleston’s School of the Arts presents many musical choices—always interesting, always different—with remarkably talented students and professors
Monday Night Concerts
This Music Department series, usually held in Simons Center for
the Arts’ Recital Hall, costs a mere $10 at the door and is free for CofC students. It features a range of performers, from the early music of Charleston Pro Musica and Madrigal Singers to a chamber orchestra to a concert choir.
Live: November 8 for Faculty Cabaret hosted by Dean Valerie Morris, Boo Sheppard, & Joy Vandervort-Cobb; November 15 for Young Artist Series; November 22 for CofC Chamber Orchestra; & December 6 for CofC Concert Choir at Cathedral of St. Luke & St. Paul
St. Luke’s Recital Series
Hosted at the chapel on the grounds of MUSC, these free midday concerts offer varied music for organ, guitar, voice, strings, and winds on Tuesdays at 12:15 p.m.
Live: November 9 for Ulyana Machneva, classical guitar; November 16 for Walter Boyce, tenor; Bob Gant, organ; Peter Kiral, viola; & Ellen Moryl, cello; November 30 for Elizabeth Tomorsky Knott, oboe; December 7 for Fernando Troche, classical guitar; & December 14 for Charleston Virtuosi string quartet
International Piano Series
Internationally renowned pianist Enrique Graf has played a full schedule of concerts from Charleston to Montevideo, Uruguay, and Perugia, Italy, this year. He is also the founder and director of this CofC series, now in its 21st season.
Live: November 4 for Christopher O’Riley at Sottile Theatre & February 8 for Frederic Chiu at Memminger Auditorium
Photographs:(CMC) by Rick Rhodes Photography, (SCO) by Arlene Hoffman, (Mclaurin) by Gustav Alink & (Enrique Graf) by Steve J. Sherman