When the museum opened in 1950 it became the center of the arts in the Midlands and concerts were regularly held there. During the past decade music programming at the museum has increased greatly with concerts several times a month ranging from world-class chamber music to rock and roll.
“With all of these music programs we want to connect the music to the art and show the interdisciplinary focus of the arts,” said museum executive director Karen Brosius, who holds degrees in music and music history. “It puts into context what was going on at the time in all the arts – nothing happens in a vacuum.
“The music programs provide a way to expand how we think about the arts and a learning opportunity to get people more deeply engaged.”
Music at the museum took a big step in 1986 with creation of the Baker and Baker Concert Series featuring local and regional musicians in an intimate setting.
The museum began hosting the Wadsworth and Friends Chamber Music Series in 2002. Charles Wadsworth, founding director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Spoleto Festival Chamber Music Series, brought to the series world-class musicians including the St. Lawrence String Quartet, clarinetist Todd Palmer and pianist Jeremy Denk.
In 2008 the Baker and Baker Series was renamed Art of Music and revamped to closely connect concerts to art exhibitions. It has offered music of ancient Greece, Renaissance tunes played on period instruments and French music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries tied to Impressionist exhibition.
The Wadsworth series has recently gone through changes as well with cellist Edward Arron becoming director when Wadsworth retired 2009. Arron, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Artists in Concert series in New York, has introduced new players and a wider range of music to the series now titled Chamber Music on Main.
Along with these classical concerts during the past few years the museum has expanded music offers to experimental and improvisational jazz, folk and pop-oriented groups.
“It was a natural step for the Southeastern Piano Festival to approach the museum to host one of our concerts, considering the museum’s long-standing tradition of presenting concerts through their multiple programs,” said Marina Lomazov, Festival Artistic Director. “It really brings the two art forms together in one of the finest setting in the Southeast.”
Music at the museum gets rolling again in the fall with USC School of Music faculty members cellist Robert Jesselson and pianist Charles Fugo (also a Piano Festival faculty member); a concert by Greg Stuart and Michael Pisaro in response to a photography exhibition by Annie Leibovitz; and new Music on Main series.
The museum, of course, is best known for its art. Located at Main and Hampton streets in a building that opened in 1998, it is the only museum in the state that collects and exhibits ancient to contemporary art from around the world. The collection strength is the Renaissance and Baroque periods and the museum hosts traveling shows from other institutions and creates its own exhibitions.
For more information about the museum call (803) 799-2810 or go to http://www.columbiamuseum.org/