USC Symphony celebrates the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein

The songs of musical theater giants Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein take center stage for the University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra concert Tuesday, Feb. 12. The orchestra, soloists and a 30-member chorus will perform tunes from Carousel, State Fair, The King and I, The Sound of Music, South Pacific and Oklahoma.

“These will be the most famous tunes from the shows,” says Donald Portnoy, USC Symphony Orchestra music director. “There is so much variety – solos, duos, duos with chorus, chorus alone, tenor, mezzo, baritone, soprano and everyone comes out for Oklahoma! People will go home singing all the tunes.”

Hearing this music performed by an orchestra will be a unique experience.

“Many people know these songs, but few have experienced them with a full orchestra, which magnifies the lush and dynamic qualities,” Portnoy says. “The orchestration is fantastic, the lyrics are fantastic – it’s just really special music.”

Among the 22 songs to be performed are “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello, Young Lovers,” “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” “There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’.”

The concert features soloists and USC School of Music faculty Tina Milhorn Stallard (soprano), Janet Hopkins (mezzo-soprano), Walter Cuttino, (tenor), Jacob Will (bass-baritone) and the Sandlapper Singers. Stallard was soloist in Timothy Powell’s Incarnation Mysteria at Lincoln Center and soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the prelude to the Olympics. Hopkins has sung with the Metropolitan Opera for 17 years performing in The Barber of Seville, Die Walkure, Der Rosenkavalier and other operas. Cuttino has given over 1,000 operatic performances and more than 500 concerts, including a concert tour with Leonard Bernstein. Will’s career has included concerts with orchestras around the world and on the stages of the Zürich Opera, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera and others.

“These are incredible singers with serious training and professional experiences who bring real depth to the songs,” Portnoy says.

Rodgers and Hammerstein began their collaboration in 1943 with a huge hit – Oklahoma! The musical ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances, finally closing after five years. Oklahoma! also ushered in an era of musicals with believable plots and songs that advanced the action.

Their last collaboration was in many ways their most successful. The Sound of Music contains more hit songs than any other Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in part due to the phenomenal success of the film version, which was the most financially successful film adaptation of a Broadway musical ever made.

During their quarter century as a team Rodgers and Hammerstein won 34 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards and two Grammy Awards.

The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia. Tickets are $25; $20 for USC faculty and staff, seniors and military; and $8 for students. Call (803) 251-2222 or visit to

Via: USC Symphony Orchestra