The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra recently announced its 42nd Season, to include nine Orchestra Series programs, two Symphony Under The Stars Outdoor Pops concerts to launch the season and another in April, the Hilton Head International Piano Competition’s (HHIPC) triennial BRAVOPIANO! festival, and many other offerings.
“The HHSO continues to build on the momentum of this past season,” said HHSO President and CEO Alan Jordan. “Like most other U. S. orchestras, we are experiencing remarkable re-growth of our audiences, and we are attracting new audiences through our diverse offerings. The HHSO is rapidly becoming the ‘go-to’ place for extraordinary musical events in the Lowcountry.”
The HHSO’s third annual Jazz In The Park series launches the season, with six free outdoor concerts at Lowcountry Celebration Park, beginning at 7:30 pm on Tuesdays, June 27, July 11 and 25, August 8 and 22, and September 5, 2023. The series will feature the Martin Lesch Band; the Junior Jazz Foundation’s Jazz Camp students and faculty with special guest, Tuffus Zimbabwe from the Saturday Night Live Band; the Eric Jones Quartet; Ranky Tanky’s Charlton Singleton and his band; Folderol; and the John Brackett Quartet.
The season kicks off with two free outdoor Pops concerts; the first on October 19, 2023, at 7:30 pm at Martin Family Park in Bluffton, an affiliated event of the Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood
Festival. On October 20, 2023, at 7:30 pm, the HHSO will perform at Lowcountry Celebration Park at
Coligny. John Morris Russell and the HHSO will present “Hollywood in the Lowcountry,” with music from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Forrest Gump, and The Prince of Tides, along with epic action and adventure soundtracks, and sweeping romantic scores to create an evening of sonic technicolor. Lawn seating is free for both concerts—audience members should bring a blanket or chairs, and a picnic dinner and enjoy the HHSO al fresco. Hilton Head Island ONLY: limited table seating will be available by advance reservation.
The Orchestra Series begins that same weekend on October 22 and 23, 2023, at First Presbyterian Church with “Symphonie Fantastique,” an evening of evocative, spine-tingling orchestral music that will put everyone in the mood for Halloween. This orchestra showcase program includes Bernard Herrmann’s Suite from Psycho, Suite from Us by Michael Abels (featuring the HHSO Chorus), James Stephenson’s Legend of Sleepy Hallow, and the programmatic masterpiece, Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz.
On November 12 and 13, 2023, the 2022 HHIPC Silver Medalist and 2023 Honens Piano Competition winner, Illia Ovcharenko, will perform the first and second piano concertos by Franz Liszt, with Richard Wagner’s Overture to The Flying Dutchmann and Prelude to Die Meistersinger opening and closing the program, respectively. The Ukrainian pianist Ovcharenko has been praised as “technically flawless and impeccably musical” by International Piano.
The HHSO’s traditional Holiday Pops will serve as the third Orchestra Series program, where John Morris Russell will be joined by the 2023 HHSO Youth Concerto Competition winner, violinist Audrey Goodner from Reston, VA, acclaimed baritone Joseph Parrish, and members of the HHSO Chorus for a program of holiday favorites, old and new. Brilliant orchestra showpieces, and music of the deepest heart and beauty, highlight the Lowcountry’s most beloved holiday tradition. A special Holiday Pops concert will take place at St. Gregory The Great Catholic Church’s Parish Life Center in Bluffton on Saturday, November 25, 2023, at 7:00 pm. The Orchestra Series concerts will be held November 26 and 27, 2023 at First Presbyterian Church, Hilton Head Island.
On January 21 and 22, 2024, the 2023 Hilton Head International Piano Competition winner, Zhonghua Wei, will return for the fourth Orchestra Series program to perform Edward Grieg’s Piano Concerto. John Morris Russell will open the concert with In the Steppes of Central Asia by Alexander Borodin. Johannes Brahms’ joyful Symphony No. 2 will close the program.
2021 HHSO Youth Concerto Competition winner, cellist Brando Leonard, returns to the HHSO stage after winning the Gold Medal at the Sphinx Competition, Junior Division, earlier this year to perform Piotr Ilyich Tchailovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme on February 4 and 5, 2024. Guest Conductor Vinay Parameswaran recently concluded five seasons as an Assistant Conductor with the Cleveland Orchestra and is widely praised for his “ability to find sensitivity in scores than many do not detect (Philadelphia Inquirer). The program also features the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 by Johann Sebastian Bach, Jessie Montgomery’s Strum, and Symphony No. 38, “Prague,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The sixth Orchestra Series concerts on February 18 and 19, 2024 will be a John Williams Birthday Celebration. The most critically acclaimed composer of our time, Williams has won 25 GRAMMY and 5 Oscars, with a total of 53 Academy Award nominations to his credit. John Morris Russell and the HHSO will celebrate his birthday in style with some of his most endearing and enduring scores, including music from Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and the Raiders film franchises.
On March 17 and 18, 2024, guest conductor David Amado, long-time Music Director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, conducts the HHSO in a lively program of symphonic dances. He is joined by Jennifer Montone, principal hornist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and a GRAMMY winner, who will perform Richard Strauss’ Horn Concerto No. 1. The concerts open with Rhapsodic Dance No. 1, “The Bamboula,” by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and close with two works by Sergei Rachmaninoff, his Symphonic Dances and the Men’s Dance from Aleko.
The 2024 BRAVOPIANO! Festival, presented by the Hilton Head International Piano Competition, takes place in various locations from February 29 through March 4, 2024. Titled, “PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS…,” the festival showcases the piano’s countless collaborative capabilities, and
features outstanding HHIPC alumni—both prize-winners and judges—as well as prominent jazz pianists performing in a variety of ensemble settings. The finale concert is a spectacular three-concerto extravaganza with the HHSO and John Morris Russell, called Rhapsody and Fantasy, featuring George Gershwin’s iconic Rhapsody in Blue (in honor of the 100th anniversary of the premiere), and the thrilling Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
On April 2, 2024, John Morris Russell and the HHSO will be joined by Reggie Deas and his incomparable band, Deas Guyz, for an evening of Motown, titled “Great American Soul Book.” Music by Nat King Cole, Sam and Dave, James Brown, and Ray Charles, as well as everyone’s favorite Beach Music will be featured at the HHSO’s Spring “Symphony Under The Stars” at Lowcountry Celebration Park. Lawn seating is free—audience members should bring a blanket or chairs, and a picnic dinner and enjoy the HHSO al fresco. Limited table seating will be available by advance reservation.
GRAMMY Award winning violinist Tessa Lark returns to Hilton Head Island on April 7 and 8, 2024, performing Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. John Morris Russell conducts this Latin-influenced program that includes Ruperto Chapí y Lorente’s Preludio from La Revoltosa, the Symphony in D by Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga, and Arturo Márquez’ Danzón No. 2.
The Orchestra Series closes in dramatic fashion on April 28 and 29, 2023 when John Morris Russell and
the HHSO are joined by four soloists and the combined forces of the HHSO Chorus and Claflin University Concert Choir for a rare performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, “Choral.” “This singular work expresses Beethoven’s deepest desire for unity, hope, and joy among all people,” said John Morris Russell. “Its spiritual essence involves our connectedness between earth and heaven, of humanity and the divine.”
The season will also feature the HHSO Youth Concerto Competition, attracting the most talented young string players from throughout the southeastern United States with finals taking place January 27, 2024, and the 10-day Hilton Head Chamber Music Institute in June, 2024, where 16 string students from across the U. S. learn from and work with top faculty from Vanderbilt, Florida State, and Michigan University with public performances and master classes.
The Coastal Home Supper Club, running monthly from September through June, the Gullah Cultural Series, and a new Great American Songbook series will all be part of the offerings at SoundWaves, the HHSO’s intimate dinner-performance venue in Coligny.
All Orchestra Series concerts will take place at First Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island, with Sunday performances beginning at 4:00 pm and Mondays beginning at 7:30 pm. Most concerts will be preceded by a pre-concert discussion hosted by John Morris Russell and featuring soloists for each performance.
Orchestra Series subscriptions in 9-, 6-, and 3-concert packages are available by calling the HHSO office at (843) 842-2055. Single tickets will go on sale beginning September 1, 2024.
For more information, visit hhso.org, or call the HHSO at (843) 842-2055.