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Celebrate the Maestro’s years of conducting and music making January 17

The concert includes R.E.M. founder’s Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra

Join guest soloists and friends of Maestro Donald Portnoy as they celebrate the Maestro’s 31 years of conducting and music making. This special concert also includes Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra by R.E.M.’s Mike Mills for Grammy-nominated violinist Robert McDuffie, whom the Chicago Sun Times stated, “The evening’s hero was the remarkable American fiddler Robert McDuffie...[who] plays with magnetic energy and seeming effortlessness...”

“Maestro Portnoy & Friends” takes place at the Koger Center for the Arts on Tuesday, January 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Joining Maestro Portnoy and the University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra on the first half of the concert is Dr. Robert Jesselson, cello; Three Baritones: Jacob Will, Hal McIntosh and Marc Rattray; and soprano Diana Amos.

The second half of the evening presents Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra, composed by R.E.M.'s Mike Mills for violinist Robert McDuffie. Mike Mills, of two-decade rock powerhouse R.E.M., and Robert McDuffie, internationally renowned violinist, have been close friends since they were teenagers growing up in Macon, Georgia. The concerto, with orchestration and additional music by David Mallamud, features acclaimed violinist McDuffie; a four-member rock band led by composer Mills (performing on the bass and keyboard) with two electric guitarists and a drummer; and a string orchestra.

In the spring of 2016, inspired by the blurred lines between contemporary classical audiences, pop and contemporary music, McDuffie commissioned Mills to write a new composition that they could share with audiences both classical and modern. The friends debuted the new work premiering it in June 2016 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Following the world premiere, the concerto was presented in Rome, at the Aspen Music Festival and on a 14-city U.S. tour.

Tickets on Sale Now!

$30 general public; Discounts: $25 seniors, USC faculty and staff; $8 students.
Call 803-251-2222 or Koger Box Office, corner of Greene and Park Streets (M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or online at

Maestro Portnoy's Farewell Season

This season celebrates Maestro Donald Portnoy’s 31 years leading USC’s premier orchestra. His music leadership has drawn out the very best in thousands of young musicians. The Ira McKissick Koger Professor of Fine Arts retires as director of the USC Symphony Orchestra and Orchestral Studies after the 2016-2017 academic year. Dr. Portnoy has received countless accolades throughout his years conducting the university’s orchestra – one of the top university orchestras in the region. He will continue to teach conducting and violin and direct the Conductors Institute of South Carolina at USC.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.