ABOUT The Long Bay Symphony

Music is Our Mission

The mission of The Long Bay Symphony is to enhance the cultural and artistic environment of our region by providing high quality musical performances and programs to connect, entertain and educate patrons of all ages.

The Long Bay Way

  • Develop intellectual and creative capital which fosters educational excellence for our children and youth.
  • Endeavor to enrich the quality of life in our community through symphonic music.
  • Strive for quality, communication and collaboration throughout our organization.
  • Maintain a sound financial condition with accountability.
  • Be responsive to all our stakeholder groups.
  • Demonstrate commitment and accountability throughout our organization.
  • Operate in a culture of service, respect and collaboration.
  • Work cooperatively and productively with other arts organizations to achieve our common goals.

The History of The Long Bay Symphony

Since its founding more than 35 years ago, The Long Bay Symphony has grown into the largest, professional musical institution in our area, bringing culture and musical education to our surrounding communities. Here is a look at just a few of the many stories and people who have made the symphony what it has become today:


From 'lacking in culture' to Long Bay

The Long Bay Symphonic Society was founded in 1987 by Dr. Diana Swanner-Scroggins, a local music storeowner.

She determined the need for a local symphony orchestra after many customers, both music lovers and musicians, related their interests in such an organization. Having relocated to the area two years earlier she described the area's atmosphere at that time as "lacking in culture."

"At that time we have a concert series at CCU's Wheelwright Auditorium, Brown Bradley was starting a concert series at First Presbyterian Church and we had the Coastal Concert Association. That was the sum of the area's culture," said Swanner.

She felt that the area really needed a symphony and believed that because many of the area's residents had moved from cities with symphonies, that it could be successful. 

"People vacationed here from the mills, hardworking textile workers and the like. At that time country-western and hillbilly was the flavor of the year," she said. "We knew the symphony was a gamble, but we decided to take that gamble."

One of the biggest concerns was whether there were enough talented musicians in this he area to make it work.

"A musician who was playing with the Charleston Symphony came into my store and said she thought she may have a conductor for us," Swanner said.

Soon after she met with Dr. Won-Mo Kim who agreed to be the the first Music Director/Conductor of the Long Bay Symphony — he served in that post through the 1994-95 season.

Dr. Diana Swanner-Scroggins, a local music store owner, founded the Long Bay Symphony in 1987.
Dr. Won-Mo Kim was the first conductor of the Long Bay Symphony from 1988 through 1995.

Finding success and support

Once Kim took the helm, things really took off. 

The group formed under its first official name, The Long Bay Symphonic Society, Ltd.

The moniker “Long Bay” was chosen as the name of the symphony based on the geographical region it covers which is roughly a 60 mile coastal area of North and South Carolina, including Brunswick County in North Carolina and Horry and Georgetown counties in South Carolina.

The first auditions for the produced a core of 36 musicians who performed together for the first time in April of 1988 in Wheelwright Auditorium on the campus of Coastal Carolina College.

The early years of the Symphony were also highlighted by a number of successful events, including an Independence Day show at Chapin Park, which really helped solidify that the Symphony could be a success locally.

"Surprisingly enough in what had been called the 'Redneck Riviera', Chapin Park was packed to hear the symphony and the 1812 Overture," she said.

It was from these early successes that the seeds were planted for a fanbase which has grown over more than 30 years to help Long Bay Symphony become an institution that is part of a larger renaissance of cultural activity on The Grand Strand.

After a seven-year tenure, Dr. Kim stepped down and the orchestra embarked on its next era undergoing an extensive conductor search.


Supporting the Symphony

Another issue for Swanner early on was finding financial backing. In some of here first efforts to garner support the Chamber of Commerce president said flatly "nobody will come" while the South Carolina Arts Comission encouraged Swanner to give up and forget it.

Luckily, Swanner eventually found support from one of the area's most prominent families, the Brittains, who began their support by hosting visiting musicians at their hotels.

They later moved on to hosting receptions after events, which led to a long relationship of contributions throughout the years. 

"The Brittains are responsible for the Symphony making it this far," said Swanner. "Without them I don't know how I would have survived."

Clay Brittain often praised the efforts the Symphony made to enhance to the area's overall cultural scene. 

"It's such an asset to the area. The symphony is above and beyond anything we could expect," he said. "The importance of the symphony in the economic development of the area cannot be overemphasized. An area with cultural diversity is more like than others to appeal to relocating business and industry."

From its early years through his death in 2016, Brittain remained a great supporter of the symphony.

Clay Brittain, pictured with his wife Pat, was one of the biggest supporters of the Long Bay Symphony, financially and politically, until his death in 2016.
Dr. Charles Jones Evans has been the conductor of the Long Bay Symphony since 1996.

Moving the Music Forward

Dr. Charles Jones Evans the position of Music Director/Conductor starting in the 1996-97 season.

Evans, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music,  with an M.M. from Southern Methodist University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music, capitalized on the momentum the symphony had built in its early days and continued to expand its impact in the area.

For the past 27 years, Evans has been the creative force behind the Symphony, achieving a high standard of performing excellence and growing the organization’s education and artistic programs.

Today, under his leadership, the Long Bay Symphony is regarded as one of the most successful musical groups in the area.

During each season, the professional orchestra, Youth Orchestra and various ensembles perform 25-30 concerts for more than 30,000 people, with approximately one-third of those being young people, ages pre-school through high school.


The Future of the Symphony

From the beginning, the Long Bay Symphony has considered education a part of its mission.

The Long Bay Symphony Youth Orchestra was formed by Nan Hudson in 1990. Other educational programs introduced by the Symphony include the Young People’s Concerts series and the “Musicians in the Schools” program, each helping to foster a passion for the arts and music in young people.

The Long Bay Youth Symphony and new Long Bay Youth String Ensemble strive to provide the highest quality educational programs for both young people.

Education initiatives include the Long Bay Youth Symphony, the Musicians in the Schools program, annual Young People’s Concerts, Master Classes, and Pre-Concert lectures.

Symphony founder Diana Swanner-Scroggins praises the progress the group has made in recent years, considering the development of the youth orchestra program a crucial step to the future of the symphony.

"There is some much that can be done with the schools," she says. "We've come such a long way. It used to be that group leaders would get together and figure out the schedule for the year so nothing would interfere. Now there's so much going on any weekend that there are choice and it's absolutely wonderful."

Through the youth programs, concert series and other events Long Bay Symphony continually seeks to engage with the local community to increase awareness of the arts and garner support for its programming.

The dedicated members of the Long Bay Symphony Board of Directors and administrative staff continually work to secure the orchestra a strong administrative and financial base to ensure that the sounds of the symphony will be heard along the Grand Strand for many years to come!

Members of the Long Bay Youth Symphony practice their craft in preparation for a performance.
Season in review

2022-2023 Annual Report

Review the Long Bay Symphony's 2022-2023 Annual Report.

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