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USC Symphony Orchestra presents Concertos! on February 1

The concert highlights the winners of the USC Concerto-Aria Competition

Join Scott Weiss and the USC Symphony for a program featuring the winners of the University of South Carolina’s 2017-2018 USC Concerto-Aria Competition. The concert takes place on Thursday, February 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts. The first concert of the Spring semester includes performances by the three winners of this year’s competition: Michael Baker, trombone; Haley Kovach, violin; and Dillon Smith, saxophone.

In addition to the winners’ performances, the USC Symphony Orchestra performs Ravel’s Boléro and Mohammed Fairouz’s Pax Universalis, which the composer dedicated “by gracious suggestion of His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al-Faisal, to the children who have fallen victim to global conflict.” Fairouz, born in 1985, is one of the most frequently performed, commissioned and recorded composers working today. Hailed by The New York Times as “an important new artistic voice” and by BBC World News as “one of the most talented composers of his generation,” his large-scale works engage major geopolitical and philosophical themes.

Boléro is a one-movement orchestral piece by the French composer Maurice Ravel (1875–1937). Originally composed as a ballet commissioned by Russian actress and dancer Ida Rubinstein, the piece, which premiered in 1928, is Ravel's most famous musical composition.

2017-2018 Concerto-Aria Winners

Michael BakerMichael Baker - Born in Naperville, Illinois, Michael Baker has been playing the trombone since 2007. He graduated from Waubonsie Valley High School In 2015 and plans to graduate from the USC in 2019 with a bachelor of music degree in music education and a performance certificate. Michael currently performs with the USC Wind Ensemble, the USC Symphony Orchestra, and his brass quintet, MAASC Brass. Michael also teaches private lessons and teaches as the baritone instructor for the Blue Legion Marching Band at Blythewood High School. Michael has studied under Phil Brown, Max Bonecutter, Brad Edwards, Steve Wilson and is currently a student of Michael Wilkinson. For this concert, he performs on Danish composer Launy Grøndahl’s Trombone Concerto.

Haley KovachHaley Kovach - Haley Kovach hails from Seattle, Washington, and is a graduate student pursuing a master of music in violin pedagogy. Haley plays with the Aiken Symphony Orchestra, is a member of the Graduate String Quartet at USC, and is a teacher with the USC String Project and Carolina Music Studios. She studies violin under the guidance of Dr. William Terwilliger. Haley graduated in 2016 from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, where she studied violin performance. While at Whitworth she served as concertmaster, maintained a private studio, and won the music department’s concerto competition. She has also enjoyed furthering her studies over the summers, attending the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy in Powell River, British Columbia, and the National Music Festival in Chestertown, Maryland. For this concert, Haley performs on Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor.

Dillon SmithDillon Smith - Dillon Smith is a senior music education major from Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he attended Spartanburg High School. Dillon studied saxophone with Aaron Gantt, former director of Spartanburg High, before studying with his current teacher, Dr. Clifford Leaman. While at USC, he has been in several performing groups, including the Carolina Band for three years, the USC Symphonic Winds for two semesters, and the USC Wind Ensemble for five semesters. He has also been a member of several quartets and the saxophone choir. This past year, Dillon worked with the White Knoll High School Marching Band where he taught saxophone sectionals and marching, and he also taught a 5th grade band class at Lake Murray Elementary. He is currently student teaching and graduates in May with a degree in music education with a performance certificate. On this concert, Dillon performs on Italian American composer Paul Creston’s Saxophone Concerto.

The Program

FAIROUZ - Pax Universalis
GRØNDAHL - Trombone Concerto - Michael Baker, trombone
   Moderato assai ma molto maestoso
   Quasi una leggenda. Andante grave
SIBELIUS - Violin Concerto in D minor, op. 47 - Haley Kovach, violin
   Allegro moderato
CRESTON - Saxophone Concerto, op. 26 - Dillon Smith, alto saxophone
RAVEL - Boléro

Tickets On Sale Now

General public - $30
Discounted tickets must be purchased in person at the Koger Box Office:
Senior citizen / military / USC faculty and staff - $25
Children under 18 and non-USC students with ID - $8
NEW! USC Students - free with student ID (must be picked up from the Koger Box Office (corner of Park and Greene) before 5:00 p.m. on the day of the performance).

Call 803-251-2222, in person at Koger Box Office, corner of Greene and Park Streets (M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or online at

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