Bringing World-Class Music To The Lowcountry
The bridge was built, the land developed, people came, and some of them brought their musical instruments to Hilton Head Island! As early as 1982, a group of these new islanders wanted to get together and play classical music. “Chamber Music Anyone” said the flyer. Fourteen musicians responded including Frank Pape, who would become the first president of the soon-to-be orchestra. Pape credited Pat Rose as the one who brought everyone together, alongside Dorothy and Miles Mauney, who inspired through their playing and teaching.
That small group has developed into today’s Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra with 100 musicians under contract and world-renowned soloists appearing at many concerts. Today, the orchestra is satisfying its diverse audience with Classical Music, Pops, and Jazz. With widespread financial support and many hours of volunteer time, the HHSO has attracted thousands of devoted followers.
Conductor Dick Camp inspired spirit and a touch of showbiz through the orchestra, said Margaret Greer in her book, “Making Music, The First 25 Years of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra.” In 1990, with Camp retiring after 8 years as conductor, then Board President, Willis Shay is quoted as saying about Camp, “…His talent, devotion, and sparkling air have brought us artistically from infancy, through adolescence, and toward enduring maturity.”
John Gosling, music director from 1990-1997, continued the forward progress, and according to former Executive Director, Gloria Daly, Gosling made the orchestra, “One of the leading cultural organizations on the Island.”
Under Willis ‘Bud’ Shay’s leadership (1988-1993), the Board of Directors became more of a corporate entity with the orchestra transforming into one of the bigger businesses on a small island. Under his leadership, the Hilton Head Island International Piano Competition was founded, and rose to prominence on the national stage.
No history of the orchestra is complete without noting Charles and Ellen Taylor’s extraordinary dedication to the arts on Hilton Head. Charles served the orchestra board in one capacity or another for over eleven years, and Ellen was instrumental in developing the League of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra.
Mary Woodmansee Green served as Music Director and Conductor from 1999-2011 during which time she helped to develop the HHSO into a fully professional ensemble and established the HHSO Chorus.
Throughout the years, in addition to the HHIPC and the League of the HHSO, the organization developed a celebrated education and community outreach program.
With current Board Chairman, Robert Cherichella, and President and CEO, Mary M. Briggs, today’s HHSO is reaching out to numerous musical and art organizations in a spirit of cooperation. Working together with local schools, the Chamber, Lean Ensemble Theater, residential communities, as well as the Lowcountry arts community, they look to foster new relationships to bring recognition to the wealth of arts and culture available on the Island.
There is a continuing emphasis on presenting nationally recognized young artists as soloists for the season concerts, one element of the HHSO’s vision which guides the strategic plan for the organization.