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             ANDERSON, SC---- Anderson’s own community symphony, the Anderson Symphony Orchestra (ASO) under the direction of Dr. Andrew Pettus, will open its 43rd season with music inspired by South American rhythms and North American pride on Sunday, November 19, 2017 at 3:00pm in The Rainey Fine Arts Center at Anderson University.  Featuring the ASO in a “side-by-side” performance with members of the Southwood School of the Arts Sinfonia Orchestra along with a special appearance by the Electric City Big Band, this is one you and your family will not want to miss!  

            The first half of the program will feature the ASO’s performance of Mexican composer Arturo Marquez’s Danzon No. 2, made popular for its prominent use in the Amazon hit series Mozart In the Jungle.  Additional selections will include such beloved works as Bernstein’s Overture to Candide and Charles Ives’ Variations on “America.”  The Electric City Big Band, led by Mr. Alan Nowell, will join the ASO on the first half with Chick Corea’s Spain, Tito Puente’s Ran Kan Kan, and Bill Cunliff’s Chucho. 

            The Southwood Sinfonia High School Orchestra will join the ASO on the second half of the program.  Featuring strings students from Anderson School District 5’s Southwood Academy of the Arts, the Sinfonia High School Orchestra is led by ASO Concertmaster, Kathy Perry, whose mission is to inspire and instill knowledge, love, and enjoyment of music performance in students.  Members of the ensemble’s string section will perform Aaron Copland’s Variations on a Shaker Melody, Gershwin’s An American in Paris Suite, and the 4th movement of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, Op. 95 alongside ASO members.

            Founded in 1975, the Anderson Symphony Orchestra is a civic orchestra comprised of volunteer instrumentalists from Anderson and the surrounding area communities along with students from Anderson University. The ensemble came under the Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium’s (GAMAC) management umbrella in 2006 and is recognized as one of the state’s most successful community orchestras.  While providing performance opportunities to local instrumentalists, membership in the ASO also extends course credit to Anderson University music students as part of a unique partnership between the university and GAMAC. Instrumentalists interested in learning more about membership in the ASO are encouraged to contact the GAMAC office for audition information.  Dr. Andrew Pettus was named conductor of the symphony at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 Concert Season following a successful season as interim conductor.

            Tickets to Music of the Americas are priced at $15 for adults and $7 for students.  To purchase tickets in advance, please call the GAMAC office at (864) 231-6147.  Tickets will also be available at the door prior to the concert. This performance is made possible with generous support from Techtronic Industries North America, Inc.  The Anderson Symphony Orchestra is also funded in part by the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives funding in part from the National Endowment for the Arts.




GAMAC Receives Grants from Community Philanthropists



GAMAC was honored to receive two generous operating support grants from local philanthropists at a special event hosted by the Foothills Community Foundation on October 25, 2017.  Grants from Jeff and Danielle Roberts' Sol Flowers sunflower sale and the Louise Weston & Robert M. Rainey Donor Advised Fund were given in support of GAMAC's mission to entertain, educate, and enrich the quality of life in the Anderson area with high quality music education and performance opportunities.  GAMAC board president, Diane Lee, executive director, Dana Gencarelli, and operations director, Stephanie Clark, and board member Julie Miller were in attendance.  The event was sponsored by Countybank and Lilia Day Spa.  

The Foothills Community Foundation is an independent public charity that stewards philanthropic resources from institutional and individual donors to community based organizations.  For information, please visit



The following article appeared in The GAMAC Wire blog on November 3, 2017

     Shall I compare GAMAC to an autumn day?  We are bright and very colorful.  With our Chorale’s first concert of the season titled “…That Is the Question”- Wisdom from the Great Poets & Others coming up on November 3, 2017, poetry with its philosophical quandaries are on our minds.  Are music and poetry similar concepts?  Which came first?  Why?

     For anyone who toted the mammoth The Norton Anthology of English Literature around in high school, the connection between music and poetry should come as no big surprise.  Even some of the terminology is the same.  Meter, for instance, refers to the recurring patterns and accents which create a “beat” in both music and poetry.  Notes and measures form these patterns in music while accented syllables have the same pulse in poems.  Rhythm is created by the sound of words in much the same way as musical notes flow.  Ballad is a term used to describe both poems and songs which tell stories of sentimental bent and style.  Even our beloved Shakespeare’s nickname, “The Bard,” should be considered with its medieval Scottish Gaelic derivation from a rather derogatory term for traveling poets and musicians!

     Music seems to have come first.  In fact, some of the world’s oldest poems evolved from folk songs and oral histories centuries before the written word.  The oldest surviving written poem, The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Mesopotamia was written in the Sumerian language around 2100 BC.  Recounting tales with startling similarities to the Old Testament stories of Adam & Eve, Noah’s Ark, and the Book of Daniel, the epic is believed to have begun in song some 300-500 years prior to the use of cuneiform writing.  Homer’s Iliad is also based on folk music from 1194 BC which was written down approximately 500 years later.  Not surprisingly, The Iliad returned to its musical roots later with Greek performers known as rhapsodes singing it accompanied by drums and lyres at festivals and religious events a few centuries later.  With a name meaning “to sew songs together,” the rhapsodes were very deft at blending music and poetry.  There is even archaeological evidence to support that they performed The Iliad, Odyssey, and many other epic poems competitively throughout Greece!  The Mesopotamians and ancient Greeks were not the first or last to combine music and verse, however.  Every culture in every corner of the globe had its own style from the beginning.

     There is actually a scientific explanation for why humans put music and words together and it’s surprisingly easy to grasp. In a 2013 interview in the Wall Street Journal, Washington University Psychology professor, Dr. Henry Roediger explained that, “The hippocampus and frontal cortex are two areas in the brain associated with memory and they process millions of pieces of information every day.  Getting the information into those areas is relatively easy. What is difficult is pulling data out efficiently.  Music provides a rhythm, a rhyme and often, alliteration.  All that structure is the key to unlocking information stored in the brain with music acting as a cue.”   Rhythm, meter, and rhyme have a role to play in the way our brains function.  They help us organize information while music can trigger the recall. 

     Poetry and songs have allowed us to share the commonalities of human experience with each other for thousands of years. Our greatest joys, deepest sorrows, loves, and disappointments are all wrapped up in those meters and measures.  This human need to express, question, and comprehend through creativity is both mystical and instinctual.  It’s how our stories survive and evolve.



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This article appeared in The GAMAC Wire blog on October 10, 2017. 

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     Concert titles are tricky. The opening concert of GAMAC’s 27th Masterworks series, String Theory, is a prime example.  As a “Strings Only” performance featuring some of the violins, violas, cellos, and basses of our GAMAC Chamber Orchestra, String Theory seemed catchy.  It was all fun and games until retired physics professors started cracking jokes about particle accelerators…
     String Theory in physics is, well,….a theory which suggests that the four forces of gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, and weak nuclear force work together under tremendous tension to move particles (protons and neutrons) around into the fabric of space, time, stars, planets, galaxies, and so forth.  A “particle accelerator” is a large machine which can be used here on Earth to create a sort of vacuum where particles can be accelerated to very high energies and tension which physicists can then study to understand the universe.  Such machines are very expensive and are neither cost effective nor necessary for GAMAC at this time.
     String Theory as a GAMAC concert has some similarities.  Imagine a violin.  Its four strings (pawns themselves in the game of gravity) are under tremendous tension which results in musical notes when the player exerts energy with a bow and finger pressure.  The tension of the strings is so strong, in fact, that it actually holds the bridge and sound post of the instrument in place.  Like the particles creating the universe, the musical notes work together in a variety of combinations to create symphonies, serenades, concertos, divertimentos, and so forth.  Consider all the mathematical patterns and intervals which underlie musical scales and our concert title is truly in harmony with the arts and sciences. 
     At the risk of belaboring the metaphor, one could easily argue that conductors are the particle accelerators of the music world.  Despite getting musicians fired up the way they do, however, they aren’t always necessary.  In fact, they weren’t really considered an integral part of orchestras until the 19thcentury when ensembles tended to grow in size.  For String Theory, the GAMAC Chamber Strings will actually play without a conductor. (Don’t panic!  Don Campbell, Andy Pettus, Alan Nowell, and Bob Heritage are still with us and you’ll see them later this season.  We’ve even got Dr. Howard Kim joining us as a guest conductor in March! We’re just trying something different!)  GAMAC’s String Theory, by design, will be an intimate chamber music performance with a smaller ensemble which won’t require a conductor, but rather a special level of communication and virtuosity among the musicians to keep it all together. Chamber music is akin to a conversation among friends. Each member takes a lead at some point and yields to others. Whereas conductors typically decide what an ensemble will play, music choices are frequently made by chamber ensemble members collectively.  String Theory has been curated by our long-time concertmaster, Heather Strachan, with help from assistant concertmaster Kathy Perry and our Conductor Emeritus, Alex Spainhour who returns to the stage as a member of the violin section for the evening.  In putting this program together, they’ve chosen some of their personal favorites and are looking forward to talking about the music with the audience during the performance. The program will span 5 centuries of Western classical music beginning with Georg Philip Telemann’s Sinfonia Spirituoso and the first movement of Mozart’s Divertimento in D Major through snippets of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Serenade for Strings, Leos Janacek’s Idyll Suite for Strings and Gershwin’s Lullaby for Strings among others before concluding with Eric Whitacre’s Water Night.   Zooming through Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th Century styles, at the speed of light, the GAMAC Chamber Strings promise a joyous, entertaining journey through the space-time continuum of classical music on a string.
     String Theory is coming up this Friday, October 13, 2017 at 7:30pm in the sanctuary of St. John’s United Methodist Church located at 515 S. McDuffie Street in downtown Anderson.  Tickets are priced at just $20 for adults and $10 for kids and full-time college students.  Advance tickets may be purchased by calling the GAMAC office at (864) 231-6147 or visiting us online.  Tickets will also be available at the door beginning at 6:30pm Friday evening.  Experience in quantum physics not required.

by Dana Gencarelli
Executive Director for GAMAC