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Koger Center for the Arts

SC Philharmonic • American Rhapsody


SC Philharmonic • American Rhapsody
Saturday, February 24, 2024 | 7:30 p.m.


Masterworks 4 



Saturday, February 24, 2024 | 7:30 PM 

Lara Downes, piano 

Dreher High School Steel Pans – Chris Lee, director 


Louis Gottschalk: Festa Criolla from “A Night in the Tropics”  

Margaret Bonds: Montgomery Variations 

Billy Strayhorn/Chris Walden: A Lovesome Thing: Billy Strayhorn Suite (SCPhil Co-commission) 

George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue 

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, her dynamic work as a sought-after performer, a Billboard chart-topping recording artist, a producer, curator, activist, and arts advocate positions her as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene. Now, Downes joins the SC Phil to perform A Lovesome Thing: Billy Strayhorn Suite. With this powerful new work, 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 with the special permission of the Strayhorn estate, Lara 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, which was considered a crowning work in her extraordinary career, 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!  

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