The Daily Gamecock

USC Symphony Orchestra plays tribute to Menotti

Koger Center concert showcases work of Spoleto founder

The USC Symphony Orchestra paid tribute to Pulitzer Prize-winning Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti in a performance at the Koger Center Tuesday night.

Menotti is known for founding the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy and its American counterpart Spoleto USA, which is held every year in Charleston. The performance, which also featured works by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, featured guest artist and pianist Phillip Bush and guest conductor Nino Lepore.

The night opened with Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, conducted by Lepore.

“It’s a beautiful piece that Tchaikovsky wrote after a visit to Italy, where he was inspired by the various native folk songs,” said conductor Donald Portnoy.  

First-year biology student Brianna Scheper was impressed with the orchestra’s skill.

“They were really, really good,” Scheper said. “They sounded like a professional orchestra and they blended really well.”

Menotti’s short comic opera “The Telephone” featured soprano and graduate student Diana Amos and USC professor Jacob Will. The opera was conducted by Portnoy, who also conducted it this past June at Piccolo Spoleto, a lower-cost offshoot of the more expensive Spoleto USA.

“It’s about a woman so busy with her telephone that she doesn’t hear a man professing his love for her and telling her he wants to marry her,” Portnoy said. “It’s really quite a hilarious piece.”

“The singers’ emotions were communicated really well,” Scheper said. “Some parts were really moving and others were really funny.”

Portnoy and the Symphony Orchestra will be taking The Telephone on the road, starting next week.

The program closed with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, featuring Bush and conducted by Lepore.