Orchestra’s ‘Romantic Classics’ concert features Grammy winner

Published 3:52 pm Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra and music director Sarah Ioannides present their fourth masterworks concert of the season on Saturday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.

The Twichell Auditorium performance features Grammy winner Sara Sant’Ambrogio on cello for Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo Variations.” Also included in the evening are Schumann’s “Symphony No. 2 in C major” and the premiere of “The Search for Stephanie Thayn,” an original piece by Converse College professor Dr. David Berry.

The career of Sant’Ambrogio began when she won the bronze medal at the 1986 International Tchaikovsky Violoncello Competition in Moscow. Since then she has appeared with the Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis, San Francisco and Seattle orchestras, in addition to numerous international engagements.

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But Sant’Ambrogio is perhaps best known as one third of the Eroica Trio, with whom she has recorded eight CDs, toured widely and garnered numerous Grammy nominations. As a soloist, she won a Grammy for best chamber music performance for Bernstein “Arias and Barcarolles.”

Along with having a Grammy-winning guest artist, the Jan. 22 Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra performance also has another feather in its cap: an original piece by a living, local composer.

Dr. David Berry, professor of music at Converse College, fell in love with schoolmate Stephanie Thayn at age nine. Years later on a return visit to his old hometown in Maryland, he tried to find Thayn or learn of her whereabouts. The resulting piece puts that quest to music, paying homage to opera overtures by Rossini and Berlioz.

The evening’s theme of love (or perhaps love lost) is extended with Schumann’s “Symphony No. 2.” Schumann is one of the most popular composers of the Romantic era, and his complicated life – filled with scandalous relationships, a debilitating hand injury, and a failed suicide attempt – pays tribute to the drama of the times. “Symphony No. 2” consists of four movements, each with a unique personality.

General admission tickets can be purchased through the Twichell Auditorium Box Office at 864-596-9725. To learn more, visit www.SpartanburgPhilharmonic.org.