The SC Philharmonic opens 59th Season


Violinist Holly Mulcahy and composer George S. Clinton come to Columbia
for the SC Premiere of The Rose of Sonora at Koger Center

“Not only was [The Rose of Sonora] a story that captivates, it gave me what was missing from
just about every Western movie I’ve watched: A strong female lead.” – Holly Mulcahy, violin

The South Carolina Philharmonic will open its 59th Season with The Rose of Sonora on October 7th, 2023 at 7:30 PM at Koger Center for the Arts. This wild west-themed program will feature John Williams’ The Cowboys Overture, Ferde Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite, Wang Jie’s America the Beautiful, and George S. Clinton’s The Rose of Sonora – a violin concerto in five scenes. Clinton will be visiting Columbia with violinist Holly Mulcahy, for whom the concerto was written. The concert will be preceded by The Saloon of Sonora – a western-themed fundraising event to celebrate the opening of the season in the Large Rehearsal Room at Koger Center for the Arts 5:00-7:00 PM. Tickets for the concert and the pre-concert event are available at Student Rush tickets are available 30 minutes before all Masterworks Series concerts for $10.

The South Carolina Philharmonic is no stranger to adventurous and ambitious endeavors since it has been under the artistic leadership of Music Director Morihiko Nakahara. Entering its 59th season as the Midlands’ premiere professional orchestra, the SC Phil is bringing the South Carolina debut of The Rose of Sonora to eager audiences. This “violin concerto in five scenes” was composed by George S. Clinton – an award-winning composer who has scored over 100 films, most notably Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and its blockbuster sequels; Disney’s hit Santa Clause sequels; Mortal Kombat 1 & 2; Wild Things and John Water’s A Dirty Shame. Clinton created The Rose of Sonora specifically to be performed by renowned violinist Holly Mulcahy – who will be performing the concerto with the SC Philharmonic on October 7th.

Clinton intentionally set out to create something different for the symphonic canon. “Rather than a passive listening experience,” he says, “it [is] an interactive one. Prior to each scene being performed, a description of what is happening in that scene will be [presented]. Inspired by the scene descriptions and the music they are hearing, by the end of the concerto, each member of the audience will have created their own ‘mental movie’ of The Rose of Sonora.”

Clinton composed The Rose of Sonora specifically for violinist Holly Mulcahy, and she has exclusively performed this concerto since its world premiere in 2019 with the Chattanooga Symphony. A nationally celebrated performer, Mulcahy is currently serving as concertmaster of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra as well as Wichita Symphony’s Partner for Audience Engagement; a position dedicated to building meaningful relationships with audiences by breaking down stereotypical barriers. 

“George and I spoke by phone several times and we discussed and planned what kind of concerto this should be,” said Mulcahy. “We shared our observations of various concertos and concert pieces, and we talked about classical music and today’s audiences and concert atmospheres.”

Mulcahy continued, “When George shared his idea of a story arc about a wild west outlaw woman compiled from real outlaw women, I knew we had something unique and very much needed. Not only was it a story that captivates, it gave me what was missing from just about every Western movie I’ve watched: A strong female lead.”

Music Director Morihiko Nakahara is excited to open the season with a full program focused on the American West. “As someone who grew up outside of the United States, I was always drawn to the glory and grandeur of the American West where everything and everyone seemed larger and more dramatic than anything I could imagine,” said Nakahara. “All of these pieces use the vast canvas of full orchestra to vividly portray the sights, sounds, and stories of the frontiers. Music captures our imagination, and I know this opening concert will be a sonic adventure like no other.”

In addition to being excited about bringing The Rose of Sonora to South Carolina, Nakahara shares Mulcahy’s passion for presenting symphonic performances in new and accessible ways. “I have been following Holly’s blog Neo Classical for several years,” said Nakahara. “In addition to being a dynamic violinist, Holly has been a tireless advocate for making classical music (in particular orchestral music) accessible, exciting, and relevant for everyone. I’m always excited to see notable composers of film/tv/videogame soundtracks writing for concert stage (and vice versa), so bringing The Rose of Sonora to the Koger stage for our audience is particularly meaningful.”

The concert will be preceded by a fun western-themed dinner event: The Saloon of Sonora. Barbecue, beer, wine and live entertainment will be served up in the Large Rehearsal Room at Koger Center for the Arts, 5:00-7:00 PM. Composer George S. Clinton will even take the stage and entertain guests. Tickets for this event are $55, and can be purchased at

The first Masterworks program of the 23|24 season promises to be an exciting Midlands event. The Rose of Sonora, featuring violinist Holly Mulcahy, will begin at 7:30 PM at Koger Center for the Arts. Concert ticket prices range from $20 to $55, and they can be purchased at or by calling the Koger Center Box Office (803) 251-2222. Student Rush tickets are available for $10 starting thirty minutes before the concert. 

The South Carolina Philharmonic is committed to performing live symphonic music and providing dynamic educational opportunities in the Midlands. We carry forward a legacy of passion for the music and embrace our responsibility to be a vibrant part of the cultural fabric of our diverse community.

This program is sponsored by Pat & Tom Fortson, Terminix and in part by Eric Duncan. This program is also made possible through grant support from the City of Columbia H-Tax Grant Program, the Richland County H-Tax Grant Program, and the South Carolina Arts Commission which is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and collaborates in its work with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and South Arts.

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