American Rhapsody


Guest Artist
Lara Downes, piano & Dreher High School Steel Pans (Chris Lee, Director)



February 24, 2024
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Koger Center for the Arts Ticket Info >

Sponsored by Baker Commercial Properties, LLC, and in part by M.B. Kahn Construction

The SC Phil presents a rhapsodic celebration of symphonic works created by American composers. Pianist Lara Downes has been called “an explorer whose imagination is fired by bringing notice to the underrepresented and forgotten” (The Log Journal). An iconoclast and trailblazer, Billboard chart-topping recording artist Downes joins the SC Phil to perform A Lovesome Thing: Billy Strayhorn Suite. This new co-commission is built on three of Strayhorn's most expressive songs: A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing, Strange Feeling, and Something to Live For. Beautifully arranged by seven-time Grammy nominated composer Chris Walden, Downes will bring Strayhorn's music into the symphony hall, responding to the classical influences and inflections at the heart of his writing.

AMERICAN RHAPSODY opens with the perfect remedy for the cold of winter with Gottschalk’s steamy Festa Criolla from “A Night in the Tropics.” Margaret Bonds’ Montgomery Variations was composed as a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. after her visit to Montgomery, Alabama in 1963. Based on the spiritual “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me,” Montgomery Variations is a set of freestyle ruminations on Montgomery as a focal point of the Civil Rights Movement. The evening concludes with Gershwin’s classic Jazz Age composition: Rhapsody in Blue. Flappers welcome!

Lara Downes sponsored by Dr. Helmut & Gillian Albrecht and Rick & Debbie Cohn

Dreher High School Steel Pan Band sponsored by Dennis & Val Grady



Program Overview

Louis Gottschalk: Festa Criolla from “A Night in the Tropics”
Featuring the Dreher High School Steel Pans

Margaret Bonds: Montgomery Variations

Billy Strayhorn/Chris Walden: A Lovesome Thing: Billy Strayhorn Suite (SC Phil Co-commission)
Featuring Lara Downes, piano

George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Featuring Lara Downes, piano



The Koger Center for the Arts is located in downtown Columbia at the corner of Assembly and Greene Streets, 1051 Greene Street. Parking is available at the Discovery Garage behind the building (usually around $10), accessible off Park Street. Additional garages and street parking are located at least one block away, which is a further walk to the theater but may help you avoid the pre-concert rush.

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Other Ways to Purchase


There are other ways to purchase single concert tickets through the Koger Center Box Office.

By Phone

  • Charge by phone at 803.251.2222.
  • Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.
  • American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa accepted.
  • Additional charges applicable.
  • Single tickets are not available through the SC Philharmonic office.

In-Person at the Koger Center

  • Located at 806 Park St., Columbia SC 29201
  • Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Friday.
  • Accept cash, American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa.
  • No additional fees for in-person purchases.

Concert Night

  • Purchase any remaining tickets at the Koger Center ticket kiosk on concert night starting one hour before each concert.