Foothills Philharmonic was founded in the early months of 2000 by a group of musicians who felt that a void in the community existed. At that time, there was not an outlet for community musicians to come together and perform orchestral music.
Led by Len Clayton, the orchestra formed relatively quickly, commencing the inaugural season in the fall of 2000. That first season the orchestra was led by Dr. Victor Vallo, and the group had the official name of the Greenville Community Chamber Orchestra. The work done that season, along with the philosophy of being a community oriented organization helped to lay the groundwork for much of the organization's mission statement and vision for the community.
At the beginning of the 2001-02 season, Foothills Philharmonic introduced Gary Robinson as the second Artistic Director in the organization's history, as well as had a new name: Greenville Community Symphony Orchestra. Under Dr. Robinson, Foothills Philharmonic grew technically as an organization, as well as expanded its base of operations. Performing throughout Greenville County, concert venues ranged from Greenville Tech and the Cascades at Verde to the Younts Center in Fountain Inn and the Gunter Theatre in Greenville.
Because of the name similarity with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the name Foothills Philharmonic replaced Greenville Community Symphony Orchestra at the start of the 2002-03 season, a name which the orchestra has gone by up to the present day.
During the 2010-11 season, Foothills had a series of Guest Conductors who helped direct the organization at the conclusion of Dr. Robinson's tenure as Artistic Director. The four guest conductors this season were Dr. Michael Weaver, Jonathan Neal, Kory Vrieze, and Benji Allsep. At the end of that season, it was Kory Vrieze who would emerge as the permanent Artistic Director. It was during this season that Foothills Philharmonic developed its current relationship with Greer, transitioning from performing at different venues throughout Greenville County to basing all performances in the City of Greer.
Under Maestro Vrieze, Foothills has witnessed an unprecedented era of growth. From expanding our concert audience and creating two different concert series (Mainstage Orchestra Series and Spotlight Chamber Series) to the addition of community events and the Future Stars Scholarship, Maestro Vrieze has helped the orchestra grow substantially, and as we look to the future, we are excited to see what new heights he will be able to direct us as an organization.
As we enter into our third decade of existence, we look forward with great anticipation to how we can best serve the City of Greer and the Upstate of South Carolina. However, we don't want to just look towards the future. We must also not lose track of our history, remembering the individuals and events that have helped shape us into the organization that we are today. If you have documents that you feel would b pivotal in helping us to preserve the history of Foothills Philharmonic, please click the "Preserve Our History" button below. Whether it is a program from past concerts or possibly even a music recording that you came across, we would love to have that in our archives.
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