Greenville Symphony 75 Years: Concerts and Community

February 18 – August 13 2023

Like individual instruments that form an orchestra and create a beautifully blended sound, cultural arts organizations weave together an atmosphere of creativity, collective collaboration, and cohesiveness that produce a harmony of entertainment and appreciation.

Following a post-war surge of growth in this Textile Capital of the World, forward-thinking community leaders began to recognize that cultural arts organizations could not only complement, but also strengthen Greenville’s booming economic development.

So, in the summer of 1948, a few dedicated musicians added their names to a handwritten signup sheet taped to a storefront window and turned their volunteer talents into days, weeks, and months of practice in preparation for the first concert. On December 6, the sounds of Wagner and Schubert filled the Women’s College Auditorium on the old Furman University campus, and a captivated audience enthusiastically responded to the prospect of more concerts to come. The Greenville Symphony was born.

Over the next 75 years, the Greenville Symphony grew into a respected segment of the larger fabric of a community coming of age. Throughout these more than seven decades, what began as a volunteer-driven group of musicians evolved into a professional orchestra that has offered performances of classical masterworks, hosted world-class musicians such as jazz great Duke Ellington and renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, established a strong music education component for children, developed innovative Pops programming, made national headlines for its role in helping music director and conductor Edvard Tchivzhel defect from the then USSR to the United States, introduced a Virtual Concert Hall in response to COVID-19 so music could still be shared, initiated a series of “pop-up performances” with small ensembles performing in unexpected places, and maintained a commitment to performing with passion and distinction.

This exhibition celebrates the remarkable history of one of Greenville’s cultural anchors; an organization that has embraced its love of music and created a composition of community engagement, enrichment, and enthusiasm season after season.