Best Music Around!

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November 14, 2022 by Scott Crosby - Views: 73

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Best Music Around!

Greenville may be a comparatively smaller city, but it has something usually found only in the very biggest and most cosmopolitan of the world’s cities:  a world-class symphony orchestra.

S450-1.jpgThe Greenville Symphony Orchestra (GSO) is celebrating its 75th year.  If you have not heard their playing, if you have not attended one of their concerts, you are missing something truly remarkable.

The Orchestra has been featuring world-class soloists for decades.  Over the years, concert-goers have seen a great number of memorable world-class performers.

One of those world-class performers, Edvard Tchivzhel, became the GSO’s Conductor in 1999.  

Until 1991, Tchivzhel and his wife had been residents of St. Petersburg, Russia – at that time, called Leningrad, in the Soviet Union.

The story of Tchivzhel’s arrival in Greenville is an exciting tale of intrigue.  Tchivzhel, even then a world-renowned Conductor, had toured Europe extensively, and was deeply involved with orchestras all over Europe.  The year 1991 would ultimately be the last days of the communist Soviet Union – nevertheless, the KGB (Soviet secret police) still maintained ruthless control over the country’s citizens, particularly when they were given permission to travel outside the Soviet Union to Western countries.  

Typically, any such travel was limited to an individual; his family remained at home, with the implied if not explicit threat:  should the traveler make any move to defect and escape to a country of greater freedom, the family back home would suffer.  But Tchivzhel and his wife were allowed to travel to the U.S. together, touring the country as a “showcase” of the arts under Communism.  

While in Greenville, they were able to get a message out through local friends that they would like to defect.  While the whole process was being set up, the KGB agents who accompanied them as “chaperones” had to be kept unawares of the communications and activities of both the couple and the Americans around them who were involved.

Conductor Edvard Tchivzel

Tchivzhel considers Greenville his “American cradle”.  Every concert begins with the Orchestra playing The Star-Spangled Banner.

Ever since he joined the Orchestra as its Conductor in 1999, those who have attended GSO performances over the years have had the pleasure of watching the Orchestra’s progressive improvement.  Under Maestro Tchivzhel’s guidance, the musicians of the Orchestra have been trained, refined, and honed to a fine edge.  The Orchestra’s musicians are capable of much higher levels of quality than might be expected for a small town like Greenville.  

But there can be no doubt that, both technically and artistically, the musicians of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra now perform at a world-class level of quality.  

Their music is sharp, precise, and properly emphatic.  They consistently bring out the emotion of each piece of music which the composer intended for the audience to feel.

The Greenville Symphony Orchestra in
The Peace Center during intermission.

In addition to the full Orchestra’s annual schedule, a smaller Chamber Orchestra was formed several years ago, consisting of selected musicians from the full GSO.  They are “the best of the best”.  

While the GSO performs in the Peace Center’s full-size auditorium, the Chamber Orchestra performs in the smaller, more intimate Dorothy Gunter auditorium.  

Perhaps even more so than the full Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra is superb at bringing out the feelings their music is intended to evoke.

With its select group of musicians, the Chamber Orchestra may be one of Greenville’s best-kept musical secrets.  With fewer musicians in a smaller setting, the sound is that much better.  Their spirited playing makes for remarkable results, and standing ovations are not uncommon.  

The Chamber Orchestra in
Dorothy Gunter Auditorium

Each performance, whether by the full Orchestra or the Chamber Orchestra, typically includes one piece featuring a guest soloist.  The GSO has a decades-long history of bringing world-famous musicians to Greenville as soloists, and their presence provides a further incentive for GSO’s own musicians to play at their absolute best.  

Performances by both the full Orchestra and by the Chamber Orchestra begin in October and continue through April.  

The 2022-23 season will be Maestro Tchivzhel’s last year as the GSO’s Conductor; he will be retiring.  He will, however, remain the Orchestra’s Music Director, and also remain as its Conductor Emeritus.  The search has already begun for a new Conductor.  Do not miss this season’s concerts.  The opportunity to see him in concert, both with the full Orchestra and with the Chamber Orchestra, is a very special treat.

Don’t miss the chance to see the best music around! 

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