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History of the SCO

In October of 2020 Donna Swahlan, amatuer oboist and occupational therapist moved from Chapel Hill, NC to Charlotte NC following the birth of her dearly loved granddaughter, Sophia. One of the very hardest things about leaving Chapel Hill was leaving The Raleigh Community Orchestra, a wonderful community orchestra Donna had enjoyed being a part of. Donna joked, well maybe I will just start an orchestra in south Charlotte. She wanted to continue playing in a community orchestra but there were no wind openings in the Charlotte Civic Orchestra, the Queen City Community Orchestra was strings only, and the drive to play with Lake Norman Orchestra was just farther than desired.  The idea continued humming along however, and in the spring of 2022 (April 2022) Catawba River Winds was formed in Fort Mill NC. One of the co-founders of CRW was Connie Grantham. 


In June 2022 Connie graciously agreed to meet with Donna who was playing with CRW and share her experiences with starting a musical ensemble. She said “you should talk to Martin Dickey.” Martin, good friends with Connie, is the Director of Music at Pineville United Methodist Church. In the meantime, Donna had met Gail Clarke (french horn)  and Jim Edwards (conductor, violin, and viola) and asked them if they would be willing to meet to brainstorm about the potential orchestra.  June 27 2022- Donna, Gail, Jim meet at Tega Cay Deli and June 29 the 3 of us meet with Martin at the church. We tossed around ideas, Martin checked on line for us, and our name, Stateline Community Orchestra was agreed upon.  The planning and actions for music, and recruitment began. 


Our first rehearsal was held at PUMC on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 with 7 people (2 strings (Jim doubling conducting and violin), 2 flutes, 2 french horns and an oboe in attendance with Jim Edwards conducting. We played mostly simple flex arrangements and actually played some Christmas carols. Not everyone loved the Christmas carols in August or the level of challenge they offered!


On September 16, 2022 David Gordon a USC doctoral student contacted SCO, having seen our Facebook page and said “I would love to help in any way I can!”  What an amazing gift and blessing!!! Since that first time, David conducted us (was it Sept 20 - 1st rehearsal David was at, or the following week, September 27?) David has been conducting ever since then and has been an invaluable part of our growth, planning and success.  


Fall of 2022 - met for 14 rehearsals with ups and downs. One rehearsal was only 3 musicians and the conductor. But we kept going and started looking at playing harder music and doing everything we could to make it a success, including developing a website, being visible in google searches and continuing the recruitment process. Through it all our concert mistress, Shari Schwarzwald and her stand partner Tomoko Hannah stuck with us and provided us with an amazing start to our string section. 


Spring of 2023 - Our numbers were growing, we had many parts covered and were averaging 20-24 people per rehearsal. In late January 2023 with the help of Shirin Biswas, (an engineer, artist and volunteer designer) we finalized our logo and started using it. We now have 32 committed people on our roster as of April 1, 2023. Our inaugural concert, Pirate Ships and Movie Clips occured on May 2, 2023 at PUMC.  

Looking ahead, growth in our musical skills and knowledge, growth in number of musicians, growth in our outreach to the community, growth in our connection to PUMC and the town of Pineville.

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