Back by popular demand, the Duke Symphony Orchestra is coming to town Saturday, March 26 to perform a benefit concert for Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s Keyserling Cancer Center and Healing Arts Program.


It’s the eighth year the North Carolina university ensemble has made the springtime trip to the Lowcountry.



“We love doing it,” said Harry Davidson, professor of music and director of the Duke orchestra. “It’s a win-win situation. Every student who has ever made the trip has had a great time. And the community seems to welcome them readily.”


Once again this year, Beaufort High School Voices will be joining the orchestra on two of the evening’s selections. The 50-member advanced choral group has performed with the symphony the last four years and in 2008 on the Duke University Campus. Voices also been featured at the Disney Jazz Festival in Orlando, the South Carolina Jazz Festival and in a concert at the Lincoln Center in New York.


“Over the years, we’ve performed all kinds of music at the orchestra’s Beaufort concert,” said Victor duke-symphony-groupVarner, director of the 50-member chorus. “Last year we did a medley from ‘The Wizard of Oz’. The year before that we sang The Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’.”


The concert will be presented at 7 p.m. March 26 at The Arts Center at Beaufort High School on Lady’s Island. General admission tickets are $35. Patron tickets are $75 and include premium seating and the conductor’s reception at the historic Old Point home of Dr. and Mrs. John Gray.


“It’s a wonderful after-party” said Alice Moss, executive director of the Beaufort Memorial Foundation, which organizes the event. “The entire orchestra attends. As you would imagine, the students are very entertaining.”


About 65 of the 85 orchestra members will be traveling to Beaufort to perform the concert. While in town, the students will be staying in the homes of residents who volunteer to host the young musicians.


Most of the members of the orchestra are undergraduate or graduate students studying everything from engineering to medicine. Duke’s Department of Music does not offer  music performance majors.


duke-symphony-voices“These are kids who have been playing for years and want to keep music in their lives,” Davidson said. “Many of them could have gone to a conservatory and pursued music as a vocation. They are quite competent.”


Filling in as needed are several community musicians and Duke staffers, including a brain surgeon.


“Surprisingly, we’ve always had a full complement of instruments for the orchestra,” Davidson said. “Sometimes the oboe and horns can be a problem, but we have musicians from the area that can cover those spots.”


The orchestra rehearses twice a week and performs three to four concerts a semester. They play mostly symphonic classical repertoire from the 18th to the 20th century.


The Beaufort concert will include selections by composers such as Schumann, Barber, Liszt, Hovnaness, MacDowell and Grainger.


“When Harry and I cooked up the notion of doing a fundraising concert, we thought it would be a one-time deal,” said Moss, who met Davidson at a mutual friend’s 60th birthday party nine years ago. “We never dreamed it would become an ongoing event.”


For more information on the concert or to purchase tickets, call the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation at (843) 522-5774.


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