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SC Philharmonic presents American Rhapsody at the Koger Center for the Arts

Saturday, February 24, 2024 @ 7:30 pm


The SC Phil presents a rhapsodic celebration of symphonic works created by American composers. Pianist Lara Downes has been called “an explorer whose imagination is fired by bringing notice to the underrepresented and forgotten” (The Log Journal). An iconoclast and trailblazer, Billboard chart-topping recording artist Downes joins the SC Phil to perform A Lovesome Thing: Billy Strayhorn Suite. This new co-commission is built on three of Strayhorn’s most expressive songs: A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing, Strange Feeling, and Something to Live For. Beautifully arranged by seven-time Grammy nominated composer Chris Walden, Downes will bring Strayhorn’s music into the symphony hall, responding to the classical influences and inflections at the heart of his writing.

AMERICAN RHAPSODY opens with the perfect remedy for the cold of winter with Gottschalk’s steamy Festa Criolla from “A Night in the Tropics.” Margaret Bonds’ Montgomery Variations was composed as a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. after her visit to Montgomery, Alabama in 1963. Based on the spiritual “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me,” Montgomery Variations is a set of freestyle ruminations on Montgomery as a focal point of the Civil Rights Movement. The evening concludes with Gershwin’s classic Jazz Age composition: Rhapsody in Blue. Flappers welcome!

Lara Downes sponsored by Dr. Helmut & Gillian Albrecht and Rick & Debbie Cohn