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Rock Hill Symphony names new music director and conductor

Rock Hill Symphony announced today that Christopher James Lees is its newly-appointed music director and conductor.

Lees, an emerging American conductor, is said to bring passionate and nuanced orchestral performances to the stage, a fierce commitment to contemporary music and a natural charisma to audiences all around the world. He will assume artistic leadership of the Rock Hill Symphony immediately, while remaining in his role as resident conductor for the Charlotte Symphony, an appointment he began in 2018. “We are elated to be able to hire someone with the breadth of experience Mr. Lees has,” said Sarah Lynn Hayes, president of the Rock Hill Symphony, in a news release. “Mr. Lees has conducted symphonies all over the world with engagements that have taken him to the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orchestra de Chambre de Paris, Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, and the Music in the Mountains Festival & Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão in Brazil. "We are delighted to introduce him to our esteemed patrons and sponsors who have supported us so graciously throughout this process,” Hayes said. An active guest conductor, Lees has performed a variety of programs with major American orchestras, from the New York Philharmonic to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well with the Houston, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Fort Worth and New World symphonies. Only the second American Gustavo Dudamel Conducting Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lees is also a winner of the James Conlon Conducting Prize and the Aspen Conducting Prize from the Aspen Music Festival and School. Lees is also an active pianist, and has considerable experience conducting operas. He has premiered more than 150 new works by a diverse range of composers, and collaborated closely with Pulitzer Prize-winning composers John Adams, William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Jennifer Higdon, Joseph Schwantner, Steven Stucky, Caroline Shaw, Roger Reynolds, and Julia Wolfe. The Washington native holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan. His musical education has also included close study with luminary conductors Robert Spano, Michael Tilson Thomas, Lorin Maazel and Larry Rachleff. The Rock Hill Symphony plans to introduce Lees to Rock Hill and other communities it serves during his guest appearance at its Overture Gala on Thursday, March 23 at the Center for the Arts.

About the Rock Hill Symphony

Founded in 2017, the Rock Hill Symphony was established by a group of musicians and local supporters with the mission to inspire, engage, and enrich the lives of community members with the transformative power of symphonic music. Serving all of York County and beyond, the Rock Hill Symphony stands today as a fully professional orchestra featuring some of the most talented players throughout the region committed to excellence in live performances, educational programs and community activities. Visit rhsymphony.org for more information.
Disclosure: Sarah Lynn Hayes is an appointed commissioner serving on the board of the South Carolina Arts Commission.

Jason Rapp

Tuning Up: Design lead selected for new performing arts center

Good morning! 

"Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...

Arts Center of Fountain Park selects designer

Remember our coverage of the upcoming Arts Center of Fountain Park? In late February, it announced the selection of Pfeiffer, a Perkins Eastman specialty design studio, as designer of the the performing arts center planned for the Fountain Park area of Rock Hill. The multi-year design project began last month. First step? A phase of gathering community input. Read more from ACFP here. The Hub is excited about this project in the rapidly-growing Piedmont area.

Did you miss it? Don't say you missed it!

South Carolina has five new recipients of the Governor's Awards for the Arts.
Got arts news? Remember to submit it to The Hub! Got arts events? Listings are free on the only statewide arts calendar—Arts Daily!

Jason Rapp

Nation’s largest free farm + arts crawl announces 2023 event

No bull! Annual event has ... bumper crop of counties

The annual South Carolina Ag + Art Tour is adding Aiken and Sumter counties while returning eight previously participating counties to feature a cornucopia of more than 100 tour sites during the 2023 iteration of the event—the largest such in the U.S.

[caption id="attachment_52401" align="alignright" width="300"] Click to enlarge.[/caption] Will Culler, Clemson Extension agribusiness agent and tour director, bills the free, self-guided farm and art tour as a great way to educate people about where their food and fiber come from while they're introduced to local artisans. Now in its 12th year, it has seen steady growth in length and counties and sites participating. Ag + Art Tour is looking for #SCartists who want to exhibit! Go here for information and to apply. Have a farm? Tour sites are being sough to apply too. “We are proud of the commitment of our farms, artisans, and county teams. Because of that, we can sustain continued growth,” Culler said. “One of our goals has been to give people a better knowledge of what is produced in their backyard and help them to support local businesses while making healthier food choices. This event does that by putting food and product with a face.” The 2023 tour include farms and artisans in Aiken, Chester, Colleton, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lexington, Newberry, Richland, Sumter, and York counties.

2023 schedule

Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1-5 p.m.
  • May 6: Lexington
  • May 13-14: Aiken, Lancaster, Sumter
  • May 20-21: Colleton, Newberry
  • June 3-4: Kershaw
  • June 10-11: Richland, York
  • June 17-18: Fairfield
  • June 24-25: Chester
Tour stops include farms and farmers' markets, with art at each location. Artisans on the tour range from weavers, painters, musicians, storytellers, metalworkers, and craftsmen to poets and live musical performances. Some farms will offer value-added products, such as jarred and canned foods, honey, baked goods, or even farm-fresh meals.  There is no fee to attend; visitors can start and stop their tour at any location.
The tour began in York County in 2012 and has added at least one new county each year since. The interest in the South Carolina Ag + Art Tour continues to be high, and it is the largest free farm tour in the nation. More than 85,000 visitors have enjoyed it since its inception. More information about the participating farms, markets, artisans, and ancillary sites can be found online at www.agandarttour.com and its social media accounts:
  • Facebook: @agandarttour
  • Instagram: @agandarttour
Various counties have accounts too, so do a quick search for yours. And don't forget the hashtag: #agandarttour. Plan your mooooooves now.
About the South Carolina Ag + Art Tour The South Carolina Ag + Art Tour is a free self-guided tour of farms and farmers' markets featuring artisans at every stop occurring every weekend in June.  The first Ag + Art Tour was held in 2012 in York County to blend agriculture and art. The tour began to expand in 2013 and has continued to do so yearly. It is the largest free farm and art tour in the nation. The tour is coordinated by leadership and county-level planning teams led by Clemson University Cooperative Extension. Partner organizations include economic development agencies, chambers of commerce, tourism bureaus, farm and artisan organizations, education and extension offices, arts councils, and community volunteers.
Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/corn-fields-under-white-clouds-with-blue-sky-during-daytime-158827/

Jason Rapp

Fort Mill teen’s art to ‘pop’ in Charlotte

All around Charlotte. On billboards and such.

It would appear today is Youth Day on The Hub.

You've certainly seen our earlier post about the finalists of the state Poetry Out Loud competition, right? Now we bring you news from the visual arts, as Fort Mill student Haley Horner is hitting the big time in Charlotte. Horner is one of 20 members of the ArtPOP Street Gallery artist class of 2023. Founded by a former outdoor advertising exec, ArtPOP brings art to the masses with unused billboard space, newsstands, digital screens in airports, and at mass transit stations. That's $7 million in ad space around Charlotte, some half a million impressions, and a $500 honorarium for the 20 artists in the class. But Horner gets more. The Fort Mill High senior is a painter focusing on visual art studies, and she will receive a $1,500 scholarship toward those. Check her out on Instagram: @haley.ayana.art, and remember you heard about her on The Hub first. (Yes, that's her featured artwork above.)  

Jason Rapp

Winthrop University shares open arts jobs

If a job change is one of your New Year's resolutions, maybe The Hub can help.

Winthrop University reached out to share three open positions, all in the arts and creativity realm. Best of luck!

Jason Rapp

Work in the arts in York County

  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, October 14, 2022
  • COMPENSATION INFORMATION: min. $37,000 + paid holidays, etc.

The Arts Council of York County is seeking an experienced professional to serve as its full-time office manager.

Reporting to the executive director, this position is responsible for the financial transactions and documentation of day-to-day business of the Arts Council’s office, all facility rentals, donor database management, and general office management. Learn more about this opportunity here.

Submitted material

Tega Cay middle school student is S.C. Google Doodle winner

[caption id="attachment_50538" align="aligncenter" width="684"] Carolyn Zheng's Doodle for Google. Image courtesy of Google.[/caption]

Google announced recently that Carolyn Zheng of Gold Hill Middle School in Tega Cay is one of its 14th annual Doodle for Google contest state and territory winners.

Zheng was entered in the 6-7 Grade group. Her doodle is above. To celebrate their achievements, each of the 54 state and territory-winning students received Google hardware and swag, and Google held celebrations in their hometowns to showcase their artwork.
The Doodles are judged based on artistic merit, creativity, and theme communication. The public can vote for their favorite Doodles at doodle4google.com until July 12. (The Hub regrets the late notice; we only just found out ourselves.-Ed.) Voters can help determine who will go on to become one of our five national finalists. A panel of Google employees will then select one national winner from that group. The winning artist will see their work on the Google homepage for a day, receive a $30,000 college scholarship, and the winner’s school will receive a $50,000 technology grant. In a release, Google said, "We were amazed by the submissions we received. Across ages, students showcased how they cultivate self-care practices in thoughtful and intentional ways. Young artists shared a range of helpful strategies including spending time in nature, being active, taking part in creative hobbies, and spending time with loved ones. Given the challenging nature of the past few years, we were really inspired to see the many ways students have been nurturing their spirits and building resilience." Doodles are meant to surprise and delight people when they visit Google.com. Past Doodles have celebrated some of the most brilliant, talented, and passionate people throughout history.

Jason Rapp

Arts Center of Fountain Park names first director

Non-profit veteran to start Aug. 1

The Arts Center at Fountain Park announced yesterday that it is appointing Todd Leahy as its first executive director.

Leahy’s appointment marks the conclusion of a "thoughtful" search conducted by the ACFP board of directors. ACFP aims to be the home for performing arts across York, Lancaster, and Chester counties in South Carolina. A news release said Leahy brings more than 16 years of major fundraising experience to ACFP and a deep passion for arts and community building.
"It was imperative for us to find someone who not only understood the job requirements but who also embodies the heart of our mission. Todd shares our vision to put The Arts Center truly at the center of the performing arts in our region both physically and metaphorically," Matthew Dosch, chairman of the ACFP board, said.
Most recently, Leahy was the major gifts officer for United Way of Central Carolinas. There he raised more than $2 million annually while managing a robust portfolio of donors at all levels. Since 2011—and across multiple roles—he not only raised record numbers but also forged lasting community relationships that continue forward. His passion for the performing arts was passed down to Leahy as a child, and it’s something he’s doing for his children today. "As a kid, I went to shows in Spartanburg, and just recently, we gave my daughter a season pass to [the] Blumenthal [Performing Arts Center]. I’m passing it down. That’s what I want to build within the region—a love of the arts that outlives us all,” he said. Leahy is tasked with leading ACFP in its mission to connect, educate, and inspire through shared celebration of the arts. “We met with many candidates who could do the role’s tasks, but it was Todd who truly grasped the need to connect an active, engaged, and inclusive community of performing artists and arts organizations, while touching the lives, passions, and imagination of those who share a love for the performing arts,” ACFP Board Secretary Melanie Jones said.
"I want every part of the community to feel like they can participate. Whether taking a class, attending a concert, listening to the symphony, or going to a school play, art should be accessible and enjoyed widely. I am immensely grateful to the ACFP board, the search committee, and the community for giving me this opportunity," Leahy said.

For more information about The Arts Center at Fountain Park, and how you can become involved, visit www.theartscenterfp.org.

Jason Rapp

Tuning Up: Amiri de Artist to be featured on Juneteenth + Arts Center of Fountain Park

Good morning! 

"Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...

New Amiri Farris exhibition tour kicks off on Juneteenth

You remember Amiri Farris, right? Farris' art figured prominently in the Art of Community: Rural SC's Creativity + Public Health initiative. He's back this summer with a touring exhibition that kicks off on Juneteenth. Before it hits the road, there's even a send-off concert with Quentin Baxter and his Quentin Baxter Quintet that will feature Farris painting live on stage. Where can you find this #SCartists goodness? All the details and more are right here.

New performing, gathering space coming to life in S.C.'s Olde English District

Big things in the works in York County. Arts Center of Fountain Park is coming to life to become the home for performing arts across York, Lancaster, and Chester counties. "The new center will be a hub for the organizations to produce and present events and activities year-round for diverse and eager audiences," according to its just-launched website. The Hub is eager to track its progress! (We promoted the search for its executive director earlier this year.)  

Jason Rapp

One Word Poetry Festival returning to Rock Hill this month

Rock Hill Poet Laureate Angelo Geter, in conjunction with the Rock Hill Poet Laureate Committee, Arts Council of York County, and Comporium, is pleased to announce the second annual One Word Poetry Festival, which will take place from March 30-April 2, 2022.

[caption id="attachment_49539" align="alignright" width="250"] Angelo Geter. Provided photo.[/caption] The first festival in 2021 attracted a crowd of approximately 500 people. Many of the events were free and open to the public. Events taking place during this year’s five-day festival will include:
  • a creative writing showcase by Winthrop University students;
  • a Youth Open Mic;
  • Adult Open Mic featuring music by Rock Hill Hall of Fame band, “Mellogroove,” where there will be a food truck and beverages for sale from the Rock Hill Bottle Shop;
  • and various workshops will be offered for free Saturday morning and afternoon for children 12 and under, middle and high school students, and adults.
The festival will also include the announcement of the 2022/2023 Youth Poet Laureate contest winner. Poets from across the country will compete in an epic poetic battle to determine the best of the best at the Saturday night Poetry Slam, with $4000 worth of prizes up for grabs. Capping off the festival will be a Sunday brunch with a keynote reading by the acclaimed poet Rachel McKibbens, and a performance by the toe-tapping musicians of the Jason Poore Trio. The festival’s additional sponsors include: South Carolina Humanities and the South Carolina Arts Commission; Duke Energy; the city of Rock Hill; Old Town Rock Hill; the Women’s Art Initiative; The Mercantile; Winthrop University English Department; York County Library; Barber Therapy & Associates; the Eta Alpha Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; the Rock Hill Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; the Kappa Alpha chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; Harriet & Martin Goode; Slow Play Brewing; and Flipside Restaurant. Some festival events are free. A $50 festival pass that grants free entry into all festival events is available, or guests may pay individually for the events that have a cost. Tickets can be purchased at onewordpoetryfestival.com.
Contact Rock Hill Poet Laureate Angelo Geter with questions: onewordpoetryfestival@gmail.com or 757.870.2497. 

Submitted material