College of Charleston SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

Magnetic South: Contemporary Music in the Lowcountry

Magnetic SouthMagnetic South is an innovative partnership between the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and the Composition area of the College of Charleston Music Department. It combines the resources of the two institutions to present contemporary classical music in Charleston in an informative context. The series launches on Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 with a concert titled Dances and Reflections. Featuring music from Béla Bartôk, Theodore Antoniou, Cindy Cox, and Paul Chihara, Dances and Reflections takes place at 8:00 pm at the Simons Center Recital Hall, 54 St. Philip St.

The goal of the Magnetic South partnership is to bring to the audiences of the Lowcountry masterworks of the 20th and 21st centuries along with important new works by living composers. The concerts, performed by CSO musicians and conducted by the College of Charleston Music Theory and Composition Professor Yiorgos Vassilandonakis, feature carefully selected works from a variety of aesthetic directions and styles to represent the panorama of the music of our times.

“Our aim is to establish Charleston as a center for contemporary music creation, education, and performance by inviting world-class living composers to work with us,” says Vassilandonakis..

Composers Cindy Cox and Paul Chihara are giving master classes during the week of the concert. Cox – whose 2011 work Transfigurations of Grief  will make its East Coast premiere at the concert – will lead a master class on January 18 at 4:00 pm. Chihara  – whose Chamber Symphony composition will make its South Carolina premiere at the  concert – will hold a master class with a focus on film music on January 19 at 3:00 pm. Both master classes take place in Simons Center, Room 315C at the College. The master classes are free and open to the public.

In an age where orchestras in larger cities might be hesitant to venture beyond conventional programming, with the Magnetic South Series we are in a unique position to become an important player in the international new music scene and reach a broad audience,” says Vassilandonakis.

Ticketholders will have an additional chance to interact with the composers during a pre-concert talk held by Cox and Chihara from the stage prior to the concert at 7:30 pm.

In addition to the pieces by visiting professors, there are two other compositions that are being performed by the CSO for Reflections and Dances. On the program is Hungarian composer Béla Bartôk’s 1917 work, Rumanian Folk Dances. Bartôk is not only one of the most well-known composers of the 20th century, he was also widely recognized as a proponent of the folk music of his time. Rumanian Folk Dances is among the compositions Bartôk wrote to express his fascination with the genre.

Theodore Antoniou’s piece from 1984, Octet, is also on the program and makes its South Carolina premiere at the concert. Antoniou has received many awards and prizes, including National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship grants and the Richard Strauss Prize, as well as commissions from the Fromm, Guggenheim, and Koussevitzky Foundations, and from the city of Munich for the 1972 Olympic Games. He has been recognized with ASCAP Awards for several years, and in 1991 he was awarded the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching by Boston University.

The second concert in the Magnetic South Music Series is on Friday, March 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm. The concert (titled Bookends: Chamber Symphony Then & Now) features music by Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, Arvo Pärt, and John Adams.

Tickets for the concerts are $20. Student tickets are $10 with valid ID. Tickets may be purchased in advance through the CSO online or by calling the CSO at (843) 723-7528.

PRESS: Charleston City Paper, Jan. 13, 2012

The Post and Courier, Jan. 18, 2012