Denim meets classic at SC Philharmonic’s Beethoven and Blue Jeans

Allen Wallace photos.

In its 1998-99 season, the South Carolina Philharmonic decided to combine the works of one of the most famous composers in history with a very popular clothing style not very often seen at classical concerts. The combination was a hit, and 20 years later it still is.

The Koger Center was packed for Saturday night’s Beethoven and Blue Jeans concert, sponsored by Dick Dyer Toyota, with the musicians and many of the audience members dressing in denim for the occasion.

The philharmonic performed Symphony No. 8 in F Major by the man who gave the event the first half of its name, but the night was not entirely devoted to Ludwig.

International touring violinist Sayaka Shoji joined the local musicians for a performance of Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major, with Shoji playing a 1729 Récamier Stradivarius violin.

The concert audience also enjoyed (and responded with a standing ovation to) a performance of a modern work by Adam Schoenberg called “Go.” The piece, first performed in 2014, The piece opens with sounds of roaring engines, designed to call to mind the starting line of a race, and ends with what the composer’s website calls “a sprint to the finish.”

Students from the Suzuki Academy Columbia performed in the lobby as guests arrived at the Koger Center.

The popular casual-atmosphere concert has not been performed every year since its debut, but plans for an encore a year from now are already underway, with 2020 marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

“Next year’s Beethoven and Blue Jeans is really going to be a blowout,” said SC Philharmonic Marketing and Communications Director Kristin Morris.

The Phil also has several more concerts coming up this season, with Symphonie Fantastique next up, scheduled for Feb. 9. A complete list of events and ticket information is available at

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Columbia, Richland County