Best Performing Arts Group
Charleston Symphony

The Charleston Symphony did not miss a beat during the pandemic. It was one of a handful of U.S. orchestras that performed full symphonic music for live audiences, albeit virtually.

With a strong sense that Charleston needed the healing power of music, the symphony decided early on to continue, said Michael Smith, the symphony’s executive director. “It began with digital engagement with our patrons and our community.”

In June 2020, the symphony’s associate conductor Kellen Gray led “Call and Response, a Concert for Equality.” The performance proved to be a test case for how to gather and work safely, Smith said. “We were delighted to partner with Roper St. Francis Healthcare, under the supervision of Dr. Ed Galaid, who gave us the roadmap for operating safely throughout the remainder of the pandemic.”

When the pandemic began to spread quickly, the symphony “recognized that our community was really hurting after the murder of George Floyd and that as artists we had an important role to play in our community’s healing and understanding through music,” Smith said. “‘Call and Response’ not only gave us a path to operate safely, it shined a light on our path for the future.”

The orchestra appreciates its partners, who include Roper St. Francis, the Medical University of South Carolina, the City of Charleston and the Charleston Gaillard Center.


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