Cirque de la Symphonie performs April 1 with the USC Symphony Orchestra | courtesy photo
As director of the University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra, Donald Portnoy doesn’t just lead the music.
He’s also responsible for filling the seats, which means making sure that every performance has something extra, beyond just an evening of music for classical music enthusiasts.
“Orchestras nowadays have to create a lot of variety,” he says.
On April 1 at 7:30 p.m., the symphony’s Koger Center performance will be as much a matter of sight as sound, as the orchestra performs with Cirque de la Symphonie, an international group of acrobats, aerialists, contortionists, strongmen and magicians who will do all manner of juggling, twirling, flying, and swinging to the music of Wagner and Bizet, among others.
Portnoy was first introduced to Cirque de la Symphonie as conductor of the Augusta Symphony.
“It was so successful,” he says. “It’s something totally different.”
As the off-stage orchestra plays, Cirque de la Symphonie performs in synchronization with the music.
“The music really enforces what they’re doing,” he says. “There’s one piece where we play Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner, which is just so exciting, and that’s when they fly. The ride is really watching them fly. It’s really fabulous.”
The performers and gymnasts from Cirque — who hail from Russia, Mongolia and Moldova — will perform their acrobatic derring-do against music by Chabrier, Smetana, Leonard Bernstein and Rimsky-Korsakov, among others.
The performers know the music well in advance, Portnoy says, so all the orchestra has to do is just play it.
“They have worked out whatever they do to the music,” he says, “and we don’t have to synchronize that much.”
“They’ve been around for quite a long time,” Portnoy says. “They have played with almost every major orchestra. They played with Philadelphia, they played with Pittsburgh, many regional orchestras, and almost all their performances have been sold out.”
He’s hoping the same proves true for the Koger Center.
“I need the money to pay the bills,” he says.
Also, the music is familiar, which he hopes will make it attractive for people who don’t normally attend the symphony. Besides the whirling visuals, “they’re going to hear a lot of great music, and a lot of the music they’re going to say, ‘Gee, I heard that on TV,’ or ‘I heard that at the movies.’”
He is hoping, too, that this introduction to the symphony will make new converts.
Recent offerings from the USC Symphony Orchestra have included an evenings with Broadway music from Lerner and Lowe and Rodgers and Hammerstein. An evening of Cole Porter is on tap for next year, and Portnoy is hoping for an evening of Duke Ellington in the near future.
“I try to bring in a lot of world-class artists — those that are established, those that are a little bit younger, and have variety for the audiences,” he says. “I enjoy it, and I hope they enjoy it.”
There will also be a special Cirque de la Symphonie performance for schools groups and children with parents or chaperones at 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
Portnoy admits the special show, at a vastly reduced cost of $5, may be a bit of a financial risk.
“I figured, oh, what the heck, it’s going to cost a little more money — or a lot more money — but I think it’s worth it.”
“You go out on a limb for these things,” he says. “You just hope people will want to come to it.”
Cirque de la Symphonie will perform two shows with the USC Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday, April 1. Prices for the evening performance are $30 for the general public, $25 for USC faculty and staff and seniors, and $8 for students. Admission to the morning show is $5 for children and parents and chaperones. Call (803) 251-2222 or capitoltickets.com to order.
A two-day outdoor art and crafts show celebrating its 38th year. Being held on September 5 & 6, 2014, Click for details
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
Accepting Applications for Shakespeare’s Kidz!
Students ages 10-16 are invited to join South Carolina Shakespeare’s new youth company, with classes running September 20th-December 11th followed by a final performance. Learn and hone audition skills, monologues, and scenes from Shakespeare and modern works! Contact Katie Mixon with questions about scholarships and applications: PKatieMixon@gmail.com.
Back to School Tattoo Specials
Magnum Ink is offering 1/2 off all tattoos for students over 18 as well as 2 for $60 on letters or numbers for state employees. 1405 Rushmore Road, Suite B, right off of Broad River.
Music Break at Music Farm Columbia
Join COR for an evening of networking for music and business leaders on September 3rd, featuring performances by Josh Roberts and the Hinges, Death of Paris, Fat Rat Da Czar, and Lazy A and the Green Thang. Free admission for musicians and members! Register here.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Company seeking carpenters, plumbers, masons work is year around with a 40 year old company. Starting pay is $10.00 but experienced individuals will be compensated accordingly. Must have a clean driving record and must bring a copy of your driving record to the interview. Please call 803-865-1200.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Pool Cleaning-Full and part time available. Must have a clean driving record, be organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00 per hr, please call for an interview, please bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Cal 803-865-1200