Symphony's 'resurrection' season sees early success


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A new approach from The Charleston Symphony Orchestra is paying off in a big way.

The Orchestra opened their 2011-2012 season back on November 4th, calling it their renaissance and "resurrection" season. This marks a resurgence for the symphony, after they were forced to temporarily shut down their operations back in May of 2010, due to financial issues.

According to Charleston Symphony Orchestra Director of Marketing Nicole Ward, since then, CSO has trimmed about $1 million from their budget.

"The organization restructured administratively, and added a Director of Development," Ward said. "They are focused on fundraising and stewarding donors."

Ward says after making changes, CSO was able to finish in the black in late June, and has been going "up hill" ever since.

"We began our season with more subscribers (1800 season tickets) than we've seen since the 1990s," said Daniel Beckley, Executive Director. Beckley says with the current economic climate, these numbers represent a resounding amount of support from the community.

A sign of this season's early success came from a landmark performance featuring internationally-renowned pianist Emanuel Ax on November 12th. Organizers say they brought in more ticket revenue from that concert, than any other concert in the CSO's history.

CSO was established in 1936, and is the largest performing arts group in the state. Ward says while they are a year-round functioning organization, musically their season runs similar to a school year. The organization is made up of a core base of 24 musicians, and offers a large variety of music.

"In addition to these masterworks concerts, we have a lineup of fun pop series concerts that will perform songs from Broadway musicals, gospel Christmas, holiday celebration and the movie music of composer John Williams (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, etc.)," Ward said. "We are not doing things as we have done in the past. We are changing the way we think about ourselves, and present ourselves to the community."

This season's different approach has been to bring in world-class acts to Charleston to perform with the symphony.

"In the recent past, our community had expressed wishes for an increased presence of bigger name artists -- and we listened," Ward said.

"There is so much excitement around this season with the re-birth of the symphony," Ward said. "Music is a great way for the community to come together, and the symphony is a affordable way to get inspired by the arts."

Other major concerts CSO has planned for this season include:

January 12

The CSO will be lead by highly-acclaimed conductor JoAnn Falletta.

February 11

CSO will present a special premiere of a concerto written for concertmaster and artistic advisor Yuriy Bekker by Charleston composer and CofC associate professor of music, Edward Hart.

The concerto, titled Under an Indigo Sky, is considered a "love letter" to South Carolina and takes the listener on a musical journey through the state in three distinct movements dedicated to each region.

March 3

Joung cellist Joshua Roman, who has been deemed a "classical rock star" by the press, will perform with the CSO at the Masterworks concert.

April 21

CSO will close their season with Gustav Mahler's formidable "Resurrection" Symphony

For a full list of the CSO concerts visit their website at