Arts & Humanities Society & Culture

2014-2015 2nd Thursday Concert Series opens with pianist Damon Denton, UGA Symphony Orchestra

UGA Symphony Orchestra 2012 (violins)
The UGA Symphony Orchestra performs during "Carmina Burana" in 2012. (Credit: Elizabeth Stowell)

Athens, Ga. – Pianist Damon Denton will appear as featured soloist with the University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra on Sept. 11 in Hodgson Concert Hall. The performance, which opens the 2014-2015 Hugh Hodgson School of Music’s 2nd Thursday Scholarship Concert Series, will be the first at the series’ new 7:30 p.m. start time.

In addition to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major “Eroica,” one of the most beloved compositions in the Western music canon, the UGA Symphony Orchestra—directed by Mark Cedel—will showcase Denton during its performance of George Gershwin’s “Concerto in F.”

“One of the reasons I love this composition is because it highlights the piano and orchestra in equal measure,” said Denton, a faculty accompanist in the Hodgson School, speaking of “Concerto in F.” “It gives the entire orchestra—not just the piano, but all the wonderful musicians onstage—a chance to shine.”

As one of the country’s most celebrated composers, Gershwin had an affinity for combining distinctly American idioms, including jazz, the blues and ragtime, into his compositions. “Concerto in F,” while more closely tied to classical concerto tradition than “Rhapsody in Blue,” incorporates many of the sounds, textures and harmonies for which Gershwin is known.

“The concerto is all about real life,” Denton said. “It mirrors the street—cars honking, crowds cheering, dirty streets and bright lights. Gershwin’s work is distinctly American music that joyously reflects American life as opposed to abstract melody.”

A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Denton graduated from Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute and completed his postgraduate work at the Juilliard School of Music. Denton has performed with members of the New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco and Atlanta symphony orchestras, as well as musicians of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble and New York’s “Winds of New Amsterdam.”

Tickets are $18 for the general public and $5 for students and are available at the Performing Arts Center box office, by calling 706-542-4400 or online at

Established in 1980, the 2nd Thursday Scholarship Series offers showcase performances by UGA students and faculty on the second Thursday of each month throughout the academic year. Proceeds from individual ticket sales and season subscriptions help fund year-long academic scholarships and assistantships for students and present donors the opportunity to sponsor individual students of the music school at several levels of giving.

The next concert in the series will be Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Hodgson Concert Hall, when new Director of Bands Cynthia Johnston Turner makes her debut with the UGA Hodgson Wind Ensemble. Subscriptions for the 2014-2015 2nd Thursday Scholarship Series are on sale from the UGA Performing Arts Center box office at 706-542-4400 or toll free at 888-289-8497.

For more information on the 2nd Thursday Series or the Hodgson School of Music, see