The Charleston Symphony (CSO) will perform as part of opening weekend for acclaimed artist Mary Whyte’s highly anticipated new collection, We the People: Portraits of Veterans in America.
The CSO’s Oct. 25 and 26 performance, "Pictures at an Exhibition," will feature the orchestra performing iconic works by Copland, Respighi and Mussorgsky while high definition images of Whyte’s paintings are projected on stage.
A Charleston resident, Mary Whyte is considered among the premiere watercolorists in the world. In 2010, Whyte embarked upon a seven-year mission across the country to paint a portrait of one veteran from every state. Meant to depict the everyday lives of veterans in America, the collection’s images include everything from a Missouri dairy farmer, to a Rhode Island lobsterman, to a South Carolina single mother. Together the fifty portraits will be on display at the Charleston City Gallery from Oct. 25 through Dec. 22.
Most of the 50 veterans Whyte painted will be in attendance at the Oct. 26 CSO performance. Both the Friday and Saturday evening performances will feature a special moment of recognition for all veterans in attendance.
Also of significance is the repertoire to be performed by the Charleston Symphony. Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, a well-known composition that includes a spoken narration of Abraham Lincoln’s own words, will feature Mayor John Tecklenburg in the speaking role. The last time the CSO performed Lincoln Portrait was in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo exactly 30 years ago, that time featuring Mayor Joe Riley as narrator.
The Charleston Symphony’s music director Ken Lam chose repertoire specifically designed to complement the gravitas of Mary Whyte’s collection.
“All of the works on the program are musical ‘portraits,’” Lam said, referring to repertoire like Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Copland’s Lincoln Portrait. “We’ve been working closely with Mary to carefully match each portrait with the right movement.”
When asked about working with the CSO, Whyte said, "Collaborating with the Charleston Symphony for the debut of We the People has been an absolute pleasure. Their selection of music perfectly coordinated with the watercolors of the veterans has created a true feast for the senses.”
“I look forward to our audience experiencing the portraits and music together,” Lam added. “It’s going to give people goosebumps.”
To purchase tickets for this and other CSO performances, visit CharlestonSymphony.org, call the CSO box office at 843-723-7528 ext. 110 or visit in person at 2133 N. Hillside Drive, Charleston 29407 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. and noon on Friday.