Rock Hill striking new note with its own symphony orchestra

Musicians, from left, Christopher George, Sarah Land, Elda Franklin, Essena Setaro and Ryan Knott from the newly formed Rock Hill Symphony Orchestra perform May 10 during a preview gala for early supporters and sponsors at Williams & Fudge.
Musicians, from left, Christopher George, Sarah Land, Elda Franklin, Essena Setaro and Ryan Knott from the newly formed Rock Hill Symphony Orchestra perform May 10 during a preview gala for early supporters and sponsors at Williams & Fudge.

Rock Hill now has its own orchestra with a sneak peek performance next month.

“It’s our time,” said Elda Franklin, viola player and educational outreach director for Rock Hill Symphony Orchestra. “Having an orchestra is the ultimate expression of the arts community.”

The city was introduced to its new symphony orchestra and met conductor David Rudge at the symphony’s “Prelude to a Symphony” gala earlier this month.

There’s another chance for a sneak peek to hear the musicians before the official inaugural season launches in fall.

On June 10, a symphony benefit dinner will feature Rock Hill native and pianist Andrew Cooperstock and violinist William Terwilliger at Heritage Hall at Westminster Towers in Rock Hill. The duo will perform songs by American composers Copland, Gershwin and Bernstein.

An internationally renowned pianist, Cooperstock graduated from Northwestern High School. He studied at the Julliard School of Music and Peabody Conservatory and joined the faculty at University of Colorado at Boulder, where he is a professor of piano.

Cooperstock has played at Carnegie Hall and for the United Nations. He has held concerts in London and Beijing and spoken on behalf of the U.S. Embassy.

“I could not be more thrilled,” said Cooperstock of the invitation to return to his hometown to perform during RHSO’s inaugural season. “I enjoy returning to Rock Hill and reconnecting.”

Cooperstock credited Rock Hill piano teachers, the late Jack Tait and retired Winthrop professor Eugene Barban, for their influence on his musical development.

A new note

Erin Harper McManus, board member and vice president of the RHSO, and friend Essena Sataro, a violinist connected with the Columbia music scene, hatched the idea for RHSO.

In October, McManus with supporters and other music lovers began exploring the idea of bringing an orchestra to town.

They secured director and conductor Rudge, who has worked with world-renowned celebrities and served as assistant director of the S.C. Philharmonic. About 68 musicians landed orchestra positions.

“The orchestra will consist of a fine assortment of the best musicians – some local, but others from around the state – the crème de la crème,” said Rudge, also the director of orchestras at New York University at Fredonia.

Russian soloist Marina Lomazov will lead the season, Sept. 8, playing Tchaikovsky’s popular Piano Concerto No. 1.

“It’s a big romantic showpiece which is a good piece to introduce orchestral music to the community,” Rudge said. “She is a fabulous pianist with powerful technical ability. “

Community reach

Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys said the new music venue will supplement the cultural offerings already available. In 2017, the S.C. Arts Commission designated Rock Hill as a foremost cultural district – a place that fosters a “supportive environment for arts and culture.”

“Having a symphony orchestra only strengthens that designation,” Gettys said. “Any chance we get to provide more opportunities for our citizens is a good day.”

Franklin said they hope to expand the number of concerts to include more venues for families or include a Pops series.

“We want everyone to come out,” she said.

A former Winthrop University music professor and author of several books, Franklin said if children have the proper music experience at an early age, they will develop an ear and acquire musical perception.

RHSO also plans to provide in-school concerts, establish residency programs and conduct workshops, clinics and master classes for all instruments.

“The symphonic orchestra is the ultimate musical expression, bringing together a group of musicians that is greater than anything anyone of them could achieve alone,” Franklin said.

Season Highlights

“Sneak Peek,” June 10: American Salute with “Opus Two” by Andrew Cooperstock and Concert Master William Terwilliger, Westminster Towers, 1330 India Hook Road, Rock Hill. Tickets, $20, include a light picnic dinner are available at rhsymphony.org or mail a check Rock Hill Symphony Orchestra, P.O. Box 542, Rock Hill, SC 29731.

Inaugural Concert, Sept. 8: Marina Lomazov, piano, featuring Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Local Connection, Feb. 23: Rock Hill native Andy Cooperstock, piano, with Concert Master William Terwilliger, violin, featuring Mendelssohn’s Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings.

Season Finale, May 11: Janet Sung, violin, featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.

Where: 7:30 p.m. Rawlinson Road Auditorium, 2631 W. Main St., Rock Hill.

General Admission: $25. Details: rhsymphony.org.