Aiken Civic Orchestra to mark fifth season with symphonic concert

As it marks the finale of its fifth season, the Aiken Civic Orchestra reaches a milestone with its symphonic debut on May 21.


Orchestra director Adam DePriest has spent the past few years building and strengthening his strings section, with plans to augment later for a balanced sound. And on Sunday, May 21, 70 musicians including brass, woodwinds and percussionists will be part of this concert.

“I hope this will be a major event for the community,” he said. “It’s a celebration of community.”

A fundraiser for the University of South Carolina Aiken’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts, the concert will feature a classical repertoire, including pieces from Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, Op. 84, a Mozart flute concerto, a Mozart piano concerto, as well as a Rachmaninoff piano concerto. Featured guest performers include pianist Susan Zhang, flutist Kendall Driscoll and violinist JulieAnne Bennett.

Money raised from the event will go toward the department’s piano fund.

DePriest began the orchestra as a vehicle to give musicians the opportunity to play in an ensemble. There were few ensembles for adults in Aiken, and he wanted to rectify it.

As it’s progressed, the orchestra has added more members, including some who make the drive from Augusta to attend rehearsals.

The orchestra typically plays a season of four concerts of its own. In the fall, there was one featuring popular songs from film; in December, there was a Christmas concert with the Aiken Choral Society; and in March, the orchestra presented the Aiken Civic Orchestra and Friends, joining forces with area vocal ensembles.

Forging relationships among community groups is important to DePriest. Not only has the group played for Aiken audiences, it joined with the Augusta Chorale at Paine College for two concerts this season – once during December and for the chorale’s spring concert.

“It’s terrific teaming up with Dr. (Phyllis) Anderson,” he said of the chorale’s director.

Collaborations with other musical groups are important to the orchestra’s mission, he said, and he hopes for more of it in the future as he watches the orchestra continue to grow and expand its performance opportunities.

The May 21 concert will be at 3:30 p.m. at USC Aiken’s Etherredge Center. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $7 for students.

For ticket information, call the Etherredge Center box office at (803) 641-3305.